“When a Penalty is not a Penalty”

Following last weekend’s opening GP3 Series race at Spa-Francorchamps, it was no surprise to see several penalties issued due to avoidable contact.

Yet the penalties – ten-place grid drops for Jack Harvey and Adderly Fong and a five-place demotion for Emanuele Zonzini; all for race two – did little to penalise any of the drivers involved.

The crash strewn event ensured that Harvey and Fong were classified as retired, but listed as 22nd and 25th finishers. With the race two grid largely formed by the results of race one, the punishments were always going to be softened to a degree.
In the end, following their ten-place penalty, Harvey and Fong were made to start from 27th and 26th respectively. Meanwhile Zonzini, who had been classified 27th and last, ended up being promoted to 25th on the grid for race two due to the penalties handed to Harvey and Fong.

While there is no doubt the penalties handed down to the trio were entirely justified, one must surely question the point of these sanctions, when their powers are so severely limited.

It may make more sense to pass any penalties onto the next event’s opening race, where practice and qualifying play such a pivotal role.
For now, that seems unlikely to change.

Thoughts are of course welcome as always.

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