A mistake in the Formula 1 race director’s Monaco Grand Prix event notes prompted a contradiction with the FIA International Sporting Code that was at the centre of Ferrari’s failed Red Bull protests.
Every F1 race is managed by instructions that are issued by the FIA race director ahead of the event and occasionally updated throughout the weekend.
The FIA race director for Monaco is Eduardo Freitas, who is in his second event in the lead role after acting as deputy in other races.
After the grand prix, Ferrari lodged two protests against Red Bull drivers Sergio Perez, who won the race, and Max Verstappen, who finished third, over the lack of penalties for them allegedly touching the pit exit lines after their stops for slicks.
Ferrari dropped its argument against Perez when presented with counter-evidence but maintained that part of Verstappen’s front and rear left tyres were on the left of the yellow line and that this breached the race director’s event notes.
The relevant part of the notes stated: “In accordance with Chapter 4 (Section 5) of Appendix L to the ISC drivers must keep to the right of the solid yellow line at the pit exit when leaving the pits and stay to the right of this line until it finishes after Turn 1.”
Ferrari’s argument was that the instruction to “stay to the right”, a legacy of a clarification in Turkey in 2020, meant no part of the car could touch the pit exit line.
In the stewards’ explanation of why they rejected this protest, they revealed that race director Freitas’ event notes contained a key error.
The relevant part of the ISC has been changed for 2022. Instead of specifying that the pit exit line “must not be crossed by any part of a car leaving the pits”, it says “any tyre of a car exiting the pitlane must not cross” the pit exit line.
The stewards said that based on that new description a full wheel must be to the left of the pit exit line to “cross” it.
But this was not clear in the event notes because, according to the stewards, Freitas stated that they were a “cut and paste from the 2021 version of the event notes and hence had not been changed to reflect the 2022 Appendix L changes”.
Had the event notes been properly maintained they would have presumably been amended to match the stewards’ interpretation of the ISC.
As it was, the stewards implied that the race director’s instruction was a contradiction of the ISC, which takes precedence over any interpretation of the notes.