In Singapore, Daniel Ricciardo was excluded from qualifying after a kerb strike led to a power spike over the MGU-K limit of 120kW.
When called to the FIA, Renault pointed it out that it hadn’t occurred on the lap that got the Australian out of Q1, and that the time benefit was just one microsecond.
However, the stewards stressed that it wasn’t necessary to demonstrate that there had been an advantage, and that the precedent for any clear technical offences was exclusion. Ricciardo lost his eighth place, and had to start from the back of the grid.
Abiteboul believes that some margin should be built into the system, and that for the good of the show less draconian penalties could be applied.
“It’s a bit sad because we all know the fans want less penalties, that’s obvious,” Abiteboul told Motorsport.com.
“It’s strange because on the one side you can see that on the race track Michael Masi is coming with a new doctrine, the black and white flag, a sort of yellow card, so we’re trying to be sensible about the regulations and the impact on the sport and the show.
“And on the other side we have this, and for me there is disconnect between the two that we can only regret because we were on the receiving end, and obviously you can’t expect anything else from me.
“In my opinion in the future there has to be a discussion with the FIA on whether we want to follow more that system that is going on on the race track, or that strict application based on machines, not based on people.
“We will be able to save lots of money when we will be able to be governed by machines in the future.
“We’re trying to be a bit less black and white on track. There are other precedents. The same thing happened to Pierre Gasly [a fuel flow irregularity in Baku] earlier in the season. I think some of the people at the FIA are losing the plot, in my opinion.”
Race director Masi dismissed Abiteboul’s suggestion, stressing that technical infringements are regarded as black and white.
“When it comes to technical infringements, Martin Brundle put it best, you’re either pregnant or you’re not,” he said.
“It’s one of those. I think everyone knows when it comes to technical infringements of that nature what the outcome is. You either are or you aren’t.
“I can feel for Daniel, it was an error, and sadly it is what it is. Personally I think we’re treading on dangerous territory when we’re starting with technical infringements in particular building margins in upon margins.”
One counter argument to Abiteboul’s claims is that some leeway is built into the system in that technical delegate Jo Bauer often warns teams to address an issue without it necessarily going to the stewards, who then have no choice but to act.
It’s understood that Renault had suffered similar power spikes in practice sessions in previous races and had been encouraged to address the issue.