The Monaco Grand Prix steward – who include former Champion Damon Hill on its roster – have slapped Michael Schumacher with a 20-second time penalty for overtaking Fernando Alonso on the final lap under Safety Car conditions, dropping the German out of a points’ finish.
The seven-time World Champion caught the Ferrari driver napping at the final corner of Sunday’s race, as the Safety Car peeled into the pit lane after the debris from the Trulli-Chandhok smash had been cleared.
A new-for-2010 rule allows drivers to start racing for position when the Safety Car pulls off and once the cars have passed the Safety Car control line, usually located at pit entrance.
Schumacher appeared to time his move to perfection, passing Alonso into the Anthony Noghes corner to take 6th place.
Confusion in the interpretation of this rule arises that if the race finishes under Safety Car conditions, overtaking is prohibited even if the Safety Car peels into the pits on the final lap.
Not surprisingly, Ferrari and Mercedes disagreed in their interpretation of the regulations, and eventually the Stewards agreed that Schumacher had breached Article 40.13 of the Sporting Regulations – which states that "the cars will take the chequered flag as normal without overtaking" if the race finishes under the Safety Car – and awarded Schumacher with a time penalty in lieu of a drive-through penalty.
The result now means that Schumacher is stripped of his 6th-placed finish and drops to 12th in the standings.