It’s that time in Motorsport where another undeserved penalty is handed out faster than you can say “Opps, Sorry!” Yes, I’m talking about James Moffat’s pit-lane-penatly he received during yesterdays Sydney SuperSprint race.
Instead of describing the incident you can watch it for yourself below, but here’s a bit of background. It’s lap 47/51 and Moffat, 5th, is closing the gap to Shane van Gisbergen, 4th, showing his quicker pace after electing to pit last and have the fresher rubber for the final stint.
Moffat did the decent thing and readdressed his move, and while both he and van Gisbergen only lost one spot and more importantly Moff hadn’t actually gained anything on SVG, the Volvo then received a Pit-lane drive through penalty the following lap. While a penalty was probably deserved, after all he spun out another driver, a drive through was not the right call in this case and certainly has not been given for similar incidents in the past, so why Moffat?
Lets take a look at some very similar spins that didn’t result in a PLP. I must disclaim, however, as all of these incidents involve Shane van Gisbergen, that I am a big SVG fan, and I am not purposely singling him out, these are simply similar incidents that came to mind.
Shane van Gisbergen and James Courtney – Adelaide 2016
This incident is almost identical. A driver makes a dive on the other and spins him around. They both lose only one spot, with the driver at fault readdressing and handing the spot back. No penalty was given to #97 during the race, which was fair enough, it was a genuine mistake.
Shane van Gisbergen and David Reynolds – Phillip Island 2015
This one was slightly more controversial, however this incident resulted in David Reynolds’ Bottle-O Falcon being relegated to the back of the field. Argue-ably this incident should see a harsher penalty for SVG, however he lost only 25 points. That is much lesser penalty than Moffatt, who effectively lost 60 points as a result of his PLP.
The big point that comes out of this is consistency that never seems to happen in Motorsport. We under penalise some and over penalise others, which creates a bit of a lottery when a driver contemplates a passing manoeuvre. “Do I risk 60 points in case something goes slightly wrong or play follow the leader?” This in my opinion is no good for the sport, drivers shouldn’t be scared of passing in case they get an outrageous penalty for it, there should still be consequences however.
What are your thoughts? Should PLP’s be handed out for these incidents or should it be dealt with post-race?