Michael Schumacher became embroiled in the first controversy of his ‘second’ career when he was penalised for passing Fernando Alonso on the last lap in Monaco.
Schumacher jumped the Spaniard for sixth place when the safety car peeled into the pits before the last corner of the race. He was subsequently given a retrospective drive-through penalty, which dropped him to 12th. Mercedes initially announced its intention to appeal, then thought better of it on the Tuesday after the race.
The case pinpointed an anomaly in the rules that had not previously appeared. It’s long been understood that if a safety car is out on the last lap, it will peel into the pits and allow the cars to stage a photogenic finish. Overtaking is explicitly banned, and in any case under a normal safety car release no passing is allowed before the startline.
This year, however, passing is allowed from the safety car line, in other words the pit entry. The Mercedes view was that in Monaco the safety car went in because the track was actually clear, not just as a prerequisite for a TV finish. Since green flags flew, drivers could race from the last corner to the startline.
The FIA has agreed to review the new rule at a later date.