Former Grand Prix driver Johnny Herbert has given Formula 1 fans his clear views on why he supported a penalty for Felipe Massa during last weekend’s Indian Grand Prix.
The Ferrari driver was issued with a drive-through penalty – a decision that surprised many – for causing an avoidable collision with Lewis Hamilton on the race’s twenty-fourth lap. Herbert serves as the drivers’ representative on the FIA Stewards’ panel that weekend.
“The decision to penalise Felipe Massa for his contact with Lewis Hamilton came down to one simple fact – it could have been avoided,” the three-time Grand Prix winner wrote in his regular column in The National newspaper.
“I know Massa was upset by our decision, but I believe we made the right call. Here’s how the process worked:
“When Massa’s Ferrari came together with Hamilton’s McLaren on Lap 24 of the race, we looked at replays to see if a punishment should be given for the incident. After looking at it from different camera angles and studying all the data available to us, it was clear that Massa knew where Hamilton was before he chose to turn across him.
“You could see that Massa looked in his side mirror, so he knew Hamilton was on his left as they approached the left-hand turn. It appeared he was giving up the corner as he moved wide to the right, effectively opening the door for Hamilton to go down the inside on the left. Only, Massa swept across in front of him, leading to contact.”
It is Herbert’s opinion that by doing so, Massa gave Hamilton no avenue to avoid the collision.
“There was nothing Hamilton could have done to avoid it,” he continued. “He did try to get out of the move, but it was too late and the contact was made. If Massa had not gone wide that would have been a different scenario altogether; if there had been contact then, the blame would have been Hamilton’s, but as it happened the incident could have been avoided.”
A decision that we wholeheartedly agree with…
[Images via FOM and Sutton Images]