Kimi Raikkonen lost ninth place at Emilia Romagna Grand Prix in Imola after the decision of the stewards, who sentenced him to a 30-second penalty.
What was it really about? Raikkonen was in eighth place in the restart after the collision between George Russell and Valtteri Bottas, and the race management decided not to allow the start from the grid for safety reasons, as required by regulations in recent seasons, and instead choose rolling start behind a safety car.
Raikkonen spun on SC in-lap and was overtaken by Lewis Hamilton and Yuki Tsunoda. The rules stipulate that in such a case, the racer may regain his place back to the safety car line, otherwise he must start from the pits. The same situation happened in the warm-up lap to Charles Leclerc, who then returned to his fourth starting position, while Raikkonen, following the team’s instructions, stayed behind Hamilton and Tsunoda until the restart.
The problem is that this rule is written for a normal start from the grid and not for a start behind a safety car, as this time has exceptionally decided by the FIA. Raikkonen, who initially intended to overtake his two rivals, abandoned this maneuver at the behest of the team, as he would find himself in conflict with another rule that strictly forbids overtaking behind a safety car.
Alfa Romeo immediately contacted race director Michael Masi, but as they did not get a response, they decided to keep Raikkonen behind Hamilton and Tsunoda. After almost three hours, the stewards wrote that the Finn would have to start from the pits in this case, which would be stupid to say the least, since it was a flying start. Raikkonen thus found himself in an extremely strange situation where he would be punished no matter what he actually did, as in a very similar case the FIA punished Sergio Perez, who regained his position behind the safety car after making a mistake.
Even more bizarre in all this is the fact that the stewards also found contradictions in the rules, but then justified the harsh punishment for Raikkonen with the consistency of respecting the rules, which they interpreted differently three times in a single race. It’s hard to imagine that a pitlane start at a flying start is something common that has been in practice for years.
The biggest loser of this burlesque is, of course, Alfa Romeo F1 team, which leaves Imola with zero points and a very bad aftertaste instead of a hard-earned two points.