Why 10-Place Grid Penalty for Mark Webber Isn't the Right Punishment

Fraser MasefieldContributor ISeptember 24, 2013

Webber hitched a lift back to the pits on Alonso's Ferrari
Webber hitched a lift back to the pits on Alonso's FerrariPaul Gilham/Getty Images

Mark Webber has branded race officials decision to hand him a 10 place grid penalty for hitching a lift on Fernando Alonso’s Ferrari in Singapore as “comical”.

Webber retired on the final lap of the Singapore Grand Prix and hopped on the back of Alonso’s car to hitch a lift back to the pits.

But race stewards deemed his actions dangerous for entering the track without the marshal’s permission, and Alonso was also reprimanded for stopping his car at a dangerous place on the circuit.

"For [Alonso] and me to receive reprimands for our actions after the race it is comical to say the least," Webber wrote on Twitter. "Great moment, and fans loved it. And while I'm at it, contrary to reports, there was no interaction at all with any track officials after we put the fire out."

Lewis Hamilton agreed with the stewards verdict, saying that he was “shocked” at Webber’s actions and that he had to take avoiding action on his slowing down lap to avoid running Webber over as quoted on Autosport.

I was doing my in-lap, came around the corner and Fernando was there, and I was really shocked. I went to the right of him, but if Mark had been walking across where I went then I would have run him over. Fortunately, that wasn't the case.

Hamilton, however, appears to be in the minority of opinion here and I also tend to side with Webber and his Red Bull boss Christian Horner who told Autosport that the situation should have been addressed with a fine or a "slap on the wrist" rather than a grid penalty.

It should have been dealt with by a fine or a slap on the wrist. Some of the most iconic images I can remember are of Nigel Mansell giving Ayrton Senna a lift home. What is a shame is that it has ended up with a reprimand, which ultimately because it is the third reprimand has ended up with a 10-place penalty. Unfortunately the reprimands are now the only thing available to the stewards. Perhaps, in this instance, a talking to the drivers would have sufficed. Ideally a fine would have been better, but I don't believe that is something available to the stewards now. It is a shame and frustrating because that puts Mark now on the back foot now in Korea. It is what it is and we certainly can't change it.

Horner went on to insinuate that there appears to be a lack of consistency in the doling out of punishments, citing Fernando Alonso picking up a flag in Valencia after he had won last year as a prime example.

We have seen things go through before. Fernando picked up a flag in Valencia after he won [in 2012], and there was no penalty for that despite it being a breach of the rules. Common sense prevailed on that day. But I understand the difficulty the stewards have with the tools they have at their disposal.

As Mark Webber recently tweeted, such an incident has happened many times over in different categories of motorsport the world over.

For the casual observer, are F1’s ever-so-stringent and sometimes inconsistent laws making a bit of a mockery of the sport? It would appear so.