It hasn’t happened very often in FF1M and not since the 2002 season, but there was a time when drivers were penalised for poor driving standards, as well as a couple of occasions when teams were disqualified for very unusual regulation breaches. Sebastian Vettel could well consider himself fortunate that penalties are a thing of the past after causing the retirements of both Exolites and Jean-Eric Vergne during the Singapore Grand Prix, but others haven’t been so lucky.
The first instance of a disqualification happened during Season 4 of the masters era, shortly after FJR took their maiden win at Hockenheim courtesy of Jenson Button, but it was the Dodgem team who were disqualified for promoting a forbidden piece of commentary. The rule may have been introduced after Button won the Brazilian Grand Prix during the previous season when the AFIA were bombarded by cries of “HE’S DONE IT! JENSON BUTTON WINS! GET IN THERE!”
It wasn’t until the opening round of the 1997 season when Gui Racing were disqualified for breach of rule 13.1b, which states that “no team shall post pictures of Sean Connery in a mankini or they could face disqualification.” The misdemeanour was later traced down to the pre-season launch, where Sean Connery made a guest appearance and found himself himself in a racey photoshoot with Angus McBarnes, Gui Racing’s press officer. Race winner Damon Hill was allowed to keep his points.
The following season saw the first case of a driver being penalised for poor driving, when a lapped Bruno Junqueira drove straight into the wall at the bus stop chicane, effectively causing the retirement of race leader Jos Verstappen. FJR lodged a protest against Maestro Motorsport’s driver which resulted in the Brazilian being excluded from the results, irrelevantly as Junqueira didn’t even finish the race.
The 1999 Canadian Grand Prix involved another altercation between a race leader and a Brazilian backmarker. Under no pressure from behind, Jarno Trulli outbraked himself while trying to lap Rubens Barrichello. A quick trip across the grass proved harmless, right up until the point when Trulli rejoined the circuit and t-boned Barrichello into retirement. Not only did the MRD driver hand the win to Ralf Schumacher, but he received a ten second time penalty, dropping him from 3rd to 4th.
2000 saw two more cases of poor driving standards, both involving Gui Racing, but with differing applications of how their drivers were penalised. Once again, Trulli was the offending driver as at Hockenheim, he ran wide going into the stadium complex and rejoin into the path of Olivier Panis, causing a major collision. As both drivers retired on the spot, Trulli’s penalty was a one race ban. Three races later at Monza, the other Gui Racing driver was at the centre of attention as on the first lap, an optimistic lunge from Ralf not only resulted in both MRD drivers flipping upside down, but the gathering of thoughts caused him to shove his teammate off the track and into retirement. Having finished 2nd, he was promptly disqualified, and those lost eight points ended up costing Ralf the drivers championship.
All was well during 2001, but a new type of penalty was introduced for the 2002 season, one which was handed to no less than six drivers. MRD’s Fernando Alonso was the first of these after he punted Dario Franchitti into a spin at Sepang, causing the retirement of Ricardo Zonta. Although Alonso went on to win that race, he would be forced to start from the back at the next race in what would become known as the Qualifying Penalty. Alonso’s teammate Felipe Massa was the next to receive a QP rejoining into the path of Jacques Villeneuve.
The 2002 Austrian Grand Prix was a particularly bad race for Scottish drivers as David Coulthard inexplicably decided to brake on the grass going into the Remus curve, lost it, and careened into Alonso. Although both would continue with Alonso managing to finish in the points and Coulthard nowhere near, the Ajay driver was still penalised. Later in the race, Allan McNish punted Trulli into retirement, earning himself a QP.
Kimi Raikkonen was next to receive a QP for unsafely rejoining into the path of Takuma Sato at FF1M’s only race at the remodelled version of Hockenheim, although this was slightly controversial as Raikkonen had been tipped into a spin by Juan Pablo Montoya before ending the Andy Racing’s race. Sato’s teammate Michael Schumacher was the last driver to receive a QP for dishing just deserts to Montoya at the Hungaroring. The penalty system was then abolished completely due to the unpredictable nature of these incidents.
Another rare occurrence is the red flag, which has only been seen in FF1M thrice. The first of these appeared during the 2006 Singapore Grand Prix when MRD’s Raikkonen and Mitchell’s Alexander Wurz found themselves stranded at exit of the Sling on the first lap and marshals were unable to move the cars. Four seasons later at Monza, Shannon’s Sebastian Vettel found himself upside down at the first chicane after an enormous pile-up triggered by Karun Chandhok.
The final and most recent red flag happened at the 2012 United States East Grand Prix at Road America where the two Pedersen and Sean Connery Motorschhh drivers overestimated their speed into the Morraine left and careered off the circuit, much to the amusement of James Whiteley. He’ll probably find the news of an unsuccessful appeal against Sebastian Vettel’s shambolic 8th place at Singapore not quite as entertaining.