By Alan Baldwin
SILVERSTONE, England (Reuters) – A zero tolerance approach to drivers who go off track risks turning the British Grand Prix into “a mess” and penalties must be applied fairly, Renault rookie Jolyon Palmer said on Saturday.
Formula One drivers were warned in their Friday briefing that anyone who went off track with all four wheels at the Stowe, Copse and Club corners, where there was an advantage to be gained, would face stewards’ action.
Triple world champion Lewis Hamilton was one of those who fell foul of the rules in qualifying, the Mercedes driver having his first quick lap deleted because he went fully over the white line at Copse.
“It’s rubbish for the fans because… Hamilton’s on (provisional) pole but then he gets the time deleted and then he was on the pole in the end anyway,” said Palmer.
“It’s just confusing. I saw (Force India’s Nico) Hulkenberg’s time in Q3 (the final phase) got changed after the session had finished,” added the Briton.
“It’s a real problem I think because it makes it more confusing for fans and less enjoyable because you have to wait until it’s definitely been verified.”
Palmer, yet to score a point in his first season, qualified 18th after having a lap deleted.
Danish team mate Kevin Magnussen, who appeared to exceed the limits without being punished, starts 16th.
“I don’t have a problem with your time getting deleted if you go over the track limits but I have a problem with going over the track limits and not having your time deleted, which is the case I think for some people,” said Palmer.
“We all know the rules. So long as it’s policed properly. I think maybe there were some that were not policed properly… It’ll be the same mess (in the race) I think.”
Last weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix dealt with the problem by installing harsh kerbs that risked damaging suspensions. Silverstone, a former airfield, has more room and runoff.
In the first phase of Saturday’s qualifying, McLaren’s Jenson Button got out of his car after being eliminated and then hurriedly returned when it appeared Magnussen might have his best lap deleted.
That would have sent Button into the second phase instead of the Dane but the stewards took no action.
“It’s just really stupid when some people can seemingly go four wheels off and get away with it. And then some people get their times deleted,” said Palmer.
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Ken Ferris)