Romain Grosjean’s move on Felipe Massa on lap 29 was seen by many at the Hungaroring as being a brilliant overtaking manoeuvre at a track where such things are very difficult. The Stewards reacted by giving the Lotus driver a drive-through penalty that effectively ended his challenge for victory in the race. The Stewards ruled that the move had been a breach of Article 20.2 of the Sporting Regulations that states that “drivers must use the track at all times”. This is defined as being between the white lines at the track edge. A driver is ruled to have left the track if no part of his car is in contact with the track area. The driver may rejoin if he goes off, but only when it is safe to do so and without gaining any advantage. There is no doubt that Grosjean’s car was fully off the track and that the move did gain him a place, but the argument that Romain was left with nowhere to go by Massa was rejected because it was deemed that the Frenchman made the move only because he knew that there was run-off available and would not have attempted such an overtake if that had not been the case.
There were still some who felt that it was a harsh decision, but the Stewards tend to stick to the rules as written, to avoid making decisions that can later be used as precedent in other incidents in the future.