Jules Bianchi has become the second driver to have two points added to his FIA Super Licence, following an incident in todays Malaysia Grand Prix. The official reading from the stewards, is that “Car 17 [Bianchi] collided with Car 13 [Maldonado] in Turn 4” on the first lap of the race, which we saw on TV resulting in both Bianchi and Maldonado spinning off the track and loosing track position. The Marussia driver was awarded a five second time penalty, which meant that on his first pitstop his mechanics had to wait five seconds before they worked on the car.
However upon closer inspection, it seems the decision made by the stewards might be worth revisiting as it has emerged that an earlier collision on the run up to Turn 4 between Bianchi and Vergne might be the reason why the Marussia driver was unable to slow down in time and avoid the contact between himself and the Lotus of Maldonado. The FIA state that the offence committed by Bianchi was to be “involved in an incident as defined by Article 16.1 of the FIA Formula One Sporting Regulations” which states that a driver has been referred to the stewards because they “caused a collision” with one or more drivers.
Whilst the stewards do state both Maldonado and Bianchi as cars that got caught up in the incident, it does not note the earlier collision between Vergne and Bianchi on the run up to turn 4, which the onboard from Vergne’s car showed the Toro Rosso’s front wing tagging the rear tyre of Bianchi’s Marussia causing an instant puncture. This then led to the documented incident which we saw on screen.
Causing a collision is often referred to as the stewards as “causing an avoidable incident,” however if a driver has a puncture heading into a braking zone, isn’t their ability to stop compromised? This certainly looks like the case with Bianchi. The car was squirming as he hit the brakes heading into the corner, which send it sliding and into the side of the Lotus. Whether the FIA know something we don’t and can prove that the tyre did not get punctured through telemetry provided by Marussia is perhaps why they issued the penalty, although it seems strange that they would also add two Super License points for an incident which is unclear.