Jolyon Palmer's GP2 Diary - Silverstone
Our GP2 columnist reflects on a frustrating home race and blasts what he believes to be inconsistent penalties.
By Jolyon Palmer
Last Updated: 17/09/13 1:29pm
The track is very enjoyable to drive with some of the best sections on any circuit, mixing exhilarating high speed corners with some good overtaking opportunities thanks to the new loop section which was introduced a few years ago.
As always the British weather was unpredictable and following a wet practice, we had a qualifying session with changeable conditions that caught a number of drivers out, including myself. As it was only dry for around ten minutes at the start of the session it was crucial to do the qualifying lap early, however after traffic on my first lap, yellow flags stopping me doing a second lap I was called into the pits on what would have comfortably been my best lap just as the rain came harder, ending my hopes of improving on my 20th place, a huge disappointment at my home race.
I always have lots of friends, family and sponsors down for the weekend and on Saturday I had a lot of support and was very keen to move forward from my grid spot. After a crazy first few laps coming through, passing a car at what seemed like every other corner I found myself in sixth place after the pit stops and not too far away from a podium position. I lost the tyres a bit at the end of the race and had to settle for sixth, but considering where we started it was a good salvage and looked very promising for the Sunday race.
On Sunday, starting third, I got off to a bad start and was then hit from behind by Stephane Richelmi and fell a long way down the order. Again I set about a recovery drive until I came across the lapped car of Sergio Canamasas. I had already passed him earlier in the race and he put in a dangerous swerve which ultimately cost him his front wing and a lap as he made contact with Rene Binder.
As I came up behind him the second time there were no blue flags, but even so he would have known he was a lap down but still set about defending hard from me and heavily compromising my race to battle back to the points. After a while I managed to get a good run on him coming into Brooklands and went for the inside without locking up in a simple manoeuvre. Whilst clearly ahead of him, he turned sharp left into me, puncturing my front right tyre which meant I couldn't turn, locked up and went straight on.
I parked the car up by our garage in the support pit lane and went into the truck to watch the end of the race. I was then amazed to see that Canamasas' penalty for taking me out was a stop go penalty (the same penalty Marcus Ericsson got for squeezing Felipe Nasr a bit wide in race one.
As he was already a lap down this was basically no penalty at all and I can honestly say that in my eight years of car racing I have never raced anyone who has pulled off such a stupid manoeuvre on me and at GP2 level it was shocking, firstly that he did it and secondly that he effectively received no punishment for it.
Seething, I went over to talk to him as he parked up after the race, away from the cameras in the support pit lane. After hearing his quite frankly pathetic excuses of 'I knew I was a lap down but I just didn't see you' (He was clearly defending from me and I was actually ahead when we made contact) and being told I was the idiot.
I was absolutely furious and uncharacteristically for me, let him know how I felt, in no uncertain terms. When you and a lot of others around you put so much into a race weekend, especially at your home race, when someone takes you out in that manner, in what was in my opinion a deliberate move it can be extremely difficult to control your emotions! Having spoken to a few other drivers I think they feel that he compromised their races as well.
I was called to the stewards an hour after the race. Thinking it might be to discuss Canamasas' penalty or to discuss a penalty for Richelmi after he took me out at the start of the race I was both amazed and appalled to hear that it was actually me under investigation after a marshal had reported me for showing some aggression to Canamasas. After explaining to the stewards exactly what had happened, completely honestly from my perspective, I was hit with a €12,000 fine and told I was lucky to have not been given a race ban.
It's difficult to accept a fine like this for a small reaction to a disgraceful bit of driving. Either the stewards thought that the incident was a lot worse than it was or they were misguided by the reports they had. Canamasas escaped penalty, Richelmi escaped a penalty and I was hit with a big fine. What also really irritated me was the penalty for Fabio Leimer's incident on Saturday.
I actually don't have a problem with the penalty itself although it is strange that I haven't seen one like this before. What annoyed me more was that I was thrown off the podium in Barcelona for an incident which was certainly not worse. If I had had the same penalty as Leimer I would have been 14 points better off albeit, six places further down the starting grid for the Sunday.
Overall as you might have gathered I feel very hard done by by the stewards. The penalties at the moment seem hugely inconsistent and disproportionate. I really enjoy racing in GP2, some of the wheel to wheel racing is great to be a part of and I have a lot of respect for nearly all of the other drivers out there. There are a couple though who don't respect anyone else and I think it's a shame for GP2 if they are not dealt with more harshly.
Now I am heading over to Nurburgring for the next round. It is good to get going again after the disappointment of Silverstone and hopefully my luck can turn and I can pick up the points I feel I have deserved in the last few rounds.
Follow Jolyon on Twitter: @JolyonPalmer