Are F1 penalties too inconsistent?

The subject of inconsistent penalty application in F1 was discussed at Indianapolis with David Coulthard once again backing the case for at least one permanent race steward

Are F1 penalties too inconsistent?

Three incidents involving different penalties thus far this year are: 1) Kimi Raikkonen's collision with Takuma Sato in qualifying at Monza, which earned the cancellation of his quickest qualifying lap; 2) Felipe Massa's move-over on Pedro de la Rosa at the same meeting, penalised by a 10-place demotion on the Indy grid, which ultimately led to Sauber dropping him for the race; and 3) Nick Heidfeld's T-boning of Sato when the Safety Car pulled off in Austria, which escaped sanction.

Three times world champion Niki Lauda said in America: "I fully agree with David that there has to be consistency from race stewards - nobody understands why Heidfeld got nothing for a much bigger accident..."

Rubens Barrichello sees it differently, however.

"I don't think you can compare Heidfeld's accident with Raikkonen/Sato," said the Ferrari driver. "I don't think there should have been a penalty for Heidfeld for misjudging his braking because that can happen to any one of us. But not looking in the mirrors and being aware that somebody is coming, for me, is lack of respect. I don't rely, for example, on people telling me on the radio, I keep on looking. When we started learning about driving, we already had mirrors..."

Coulthard's point is that consistency would be aided by a full-time steward, possibly with a couple of sidekicks changing race-to-race.

"I still don't know if I've had a proper answer as to why we don't have at least one permanent steward," the Scot said. "I don't see how different ones can follow as closely what's happening race-to-race just by being at home watching TV. You've got to be here, with the 30-odd screens available. At this level, there should be at least one permanent presence."

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