Former F1 driver, Juan Pablo Montoya, has said that he finds it “crazy” that drivers are penalized with time penalties and penalty points for defending from drivers attempting to overtake from around the outside at the Austrian Grand Prix.
McLaren’s Lando Norris was awarded a 5-second penalty for forcing Red Bull’s Sergio Perez off the track after the Safety Car restart, in an incident that resulted in Perez going off into the gravel and dropping to P10. Perez would later be awarded 2 such penalties for incidents with Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc at Turns 4 and 6.
“I think the hard thing is, it’s either the drivers have control and they go and let us race or the stewards go, oh no, you need to share a space,” Montoya said. He has acknowledged the grey area in side-by-side battles and has also called for clearer rules for wheel-to-wheel battles.
“If you need to share a space, then you need to define, OK, half of the car is there, so you’re side-by-side, when do you need to give space,” Montoya explained.
“It becomes again a judgment call, and when you have a judgment call, this is when everybody gets really, really unhappy, because [they’ll say] ‘oh, I thought I was there, and somebody else is going to say, ‘no, you were not far enough, you were missing that much.”
Montoya has said that drivers who attempt to go around the outside should be aware of the consequences and that the onus of the maneuver primarily lies on them. He has also questioned the legitimacy of the penalties, implying them, in this case, to be unnecessary.
“If there’s a run-off, is it not a penalty? If somebody drives somebody over a banana and off the race track, why is there not a penalty and why in Turn 4 is there a penalty? Because it was gravel? Anybody that you are side by side with and pushes you off the track should get a penalty?”
Montoya has further added that controversies such as these arise due to the teaching methods in their grassroots training, whether it be in karting or other feeder series.
“In my opinion, if I was the deciding person, I would say that if you were on the outside, you have no business being on the outside, and that’s been taught from the karting days.”
“Unless they change the mentality on the karting and the small formulas, how they do things, it’s very difficult. All these kids grew up [being told] that if somebody tries to pass you around the outside, you drive them off the fricking race track! And you have to,” Montoya concluded.