Mercedes GP has decided not to press ahead with its appeal against Michael Schumacher's 20-second penalty at the Monaco Grand Prix, after the FIA agreed to talks about tidying up the safety car regulations.
Schumacher grabbed sixth place from Fernando Alonso at the final corner of the Monaco Grand Prix, shortly after the safety car had pulled into the pits at the end of the last lap. The Mercedes GP team believed that the move was legitimate because racing, this season, is allowed from safety car line one at a safety car restart, rather than just from the start-finish line.
The FIA believed, however, that Schumacher's move was not allowed because it breached Article 40.13 which states that no overtaking is allowed if the race finishes behind the safety car. The rule says: "If the race ends while the safety car is deployed it will enter the pit lane at the end of the last lap and the cars will take the checkered flag as normal without overtaking."
Mercedes GP argued that the race did not finish under the safety car because there were "Safety Car in this lap" and "Track Clear" messages from race control, plus green flags and lights after Safety Car line one, suggesting that racing had briefly restarted. A statement issued by the team on Tuesday stated: "This opinion appears to have been shared by the majority of the teams with cars in the top 10 positions who also gave their drivers instructions to race to the finish line."
The team's claims were not supported by the race stewards in Monaco, however, who reported that Schumacher had breached Article 40.13 and handed him a 20-second penalty in lieu of a drive-through from the team. That dropped him down to 12th in the standings.
On Sunday night, Mercedes GP notified the FIA that it planned to appeal the stewards' decision – even though drive-through penalties cannot in theory be protested. It needed to confirm its appeal plans by the end of Tuesday, but has decided not to follow it through.
In its statement, Mercedes GP said it understood why there could be differing interpretations of Article 40.13, which is why it welcomed an agreement from the FIA to discuss and clarify the rule at the next meeting of think-tank the Sporting Working Group.
"It was clear from our discussions with the stewards after the race that they understood the reasons for our interpretation and acknowledged that this was a new and previously untested situation but ultimately disagreed with our interpretation," said a Mercedes GP statement. "Mercedes GP would like to emphasize that we fully support the inclusion of past drivers on the stewards' panel and are completely satisfied that the Monaco Grand Prix stewards acted professionally, impartially and properly in this matter.
"The FIA has agreed to include article 40.13 on the agenda of the next Sporting Working Group for discussion and to consider the scale of post-race penalties. We believe that the 20-second penalty imposed on Michael to be disproportionate in the circumstances.
"While we cannot be happy with the outcome, we are pleased that the FIA has recognized the reasons for our interpretation. Therefore in the best interests of the sport, Mercedes GP will not be submitting an appeal."