Last night I did not sleep well. Re-enacting yesterday’s events and to be fair not believing what I did. I disobeyed FIA rules and regulations by ignoring a flag during a race at the British GT Championship (one of the UK’s most spectacular racing serie) in front of 10,000 spectators, 15 people in Race Control watching 24 screens with replay capability and my peers.
I know the best way to go in for the judiciary is to let the team manager support the driver and deny everything point blanc, fight tooth and nail. It’s a dog eat dog situation. Induce doubt in the Clerk’s mind so as to lessen the penalty.
My wife and kids have already read me the riot act. It has been quite an exercice explaining to my kids what happened and I need to show them that we have to take responsibility in life.
I have sinned and I will take whatever comes my way; that is my destiny. I am at peace with myself.
Lesley, my wife is driving us to Brands Hatch. I have 2 races today. But I still don’t know whether I have a car ready to roll…but for now I need to see the Clerk for yesterday’s mishaps.
I walk into the Ginetta hospitality and recognise many faces waiting to be called in. Phil, Rob, Richard, Jack, Jon, Shawn…everybody is putting a brave face and nobody seems to know why they have been called in…I do!
Andy, the Chief Clerk is not in a good mood. John and I get called in, we watch the videos and Andy asks for comments. I step in, explain what happened and admit guilt. I apologise to John and we shake hands.
Judgement: 3 points on my license. I sign the paperwork and waive my right to appeal.
I don’t feel good, I would rather go home now. Yet I know the worse is yet to come!
I get called back by myself for the second offense – the serious one. Once again I explain without trying to dodge. For him either I did not obey, not see or not know what the flag meant. None of these lead to palatable outcomes.
We talked about 3 subjects that annoyed him further:
1) Confusion: Some drivers saw the flag once, or twice, while others saw it up to 5 times. Drivers argued whether it was the number 15, 10 or both that were shown. David Holloway, number 15, thought he had been given the flag and lifted, then carried on… About 8 drivers asked me what the flag meant but that’s another story! Suffice to say, there was some confusion in Parc Fermé.
2) Rules: I could not understand why no other Marshall waved any flag at me. Incidentally the Blue Book (our rules and regulation’s Bible ultimately controlled by the FIA) also states that Race Control will communicate with the driver at the start/finish line. That sounds crazy as an unsafe driver can still legally race nearly 2 laps between the incident and exit in the pit lane.
3) Equal treatment: in Zandvoort, they allowed a competitor to race with a bonnet completely up, with strictly no vision; who went on to smash into another competitor. That event was deemed safe! I did not like to be told that every situation is different and that there are other rules in Holland. We all race under the same set of rules and regulations!
Yes I will take responsability, all I ask is to be treat fairly. My heart is pounding, there is no smile on my face; I am ready to hear the judgment:
- 3 points on the license
- a fine
- a deduction of 30 points in the championship, leaving me with a net -23 points for that race!
- a loss of rank by being pushed back to the end of the grid
This is the worst penalty given that I know of. I think it’s a bit harsh. I go for a walk and a think. Now I’m officially a criminal! Ray reminds me: Touché!
I remember the words of my skydiving instructor: small mistakes lead very quickly to a harsh reality if not stopped in time. Always remain calm in order to let your brain make the right call. How true…it will never happen again I swear to myself.
Being a referee is the hardest job there is. You always have people complaining and nobody thanking you. All the while, you are actually there to make sure that everybody has a good time and is safe. So I thank him for doing that job.
I take this opportunity to officially apologise to the clerk, marshalls and my peers.
Melvyn has repaired the bonnet, I’m grateful and Phil added his pizza box: Dominos. It’s funny but fails to make me laugh under the circumstances.