Symonds: Spa penalty will stifle racing

Renault director of engineering Pat Symonds believes Lewis Hamilton was hard done with his Belgian Grand Prix penalty - and reckons the controversy will only harm attempts to make the sport more exciting

Symonds: Spa penalty will stifle racing

Speaking on the official Renault podcast in the wake of Hamilton being stripped of victory for gaining an advantage by cutting a chicane, the highly respected Symonds sees nothing wrong with the way that Hamilton let Raikkonen retake the lead as they battled at Spa-Francorchamps.

And although rubbishing accusations in the media and from fans that the penalty was evidence of a bias towards Ferrari by F1's chiefs, he thinks there are implications from the controversy that could result in drivers being less willing to take risks in the future.

"As it happened in real time, we were talking on the intercom and said: 'Wow that was definitely a situation where he has to give the place back,'" he said. "I guess we weren't that surprised when the stewards were found to be investigating it. Having looked at it again, I feel very, very sorry for Lewis. I think he has been very hard done
by.

"It raises lots of interesting questions, and I am not talking about 'Are the FIA on the side of Ferrari?' We have to believe that they are impartial, the sport would not exist if we didn't believe that. But I think it does call into question [the sport's] philosophy, because everyone is saying we need more overtaking in Formula One, we need more excitement, and we need more personalities.

"And yet it seems to me that everything that actually happens seems to be against that.

"Here we had a great race with people really challenging each other and for why? If it's taken away, then why take that risk?"

Symonds has looked at video replays of the incident since Sunday's race and now believes that Hamilton had complied with the rules and not gained an advantage by cutting the chicane.

"To me the facts are quite clear in retrospect. I have had a look at the videos, I've had a look at the published data which shows that Lewis was nearly 7 km/h slower than Raikkonen across the line, you can quite clearly see on the in-car camera that he lets him get completely in front, and in my view Raikkonen just braked very early.

"Lewis went inside him, and if you look at the in-car camera stuff, Lewis drove around the hairpin very easily. He didn't have a big slide, he didn't have to correct it, he hadn't gone in too deep and come out wide, it was a perfectly legitimate manouevre, and it wasn't that much later that Raikkonen went past him.

"This is racing, this is what we want."

And Symonds believes that more should be done to improve the speed by which decisions are made.

"I think motor racing should be like football, not like cricket," he said, with stewards taking two hours to decide on Hamilton's punishment on Sunday night. "Let's have action, let's know what is going on in real time, not wait for two days to find out the result."

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