If you thought Mark Webber's taxi ride on the sidepod of Fernando Alonso's Ferrari was one of the few fleeting highlights of the Singapore Grand Prix, you are now probably pissed beyond belief after hearing that both drivers got a reprimand for it.
Spectators always love these shows of sportsmanship, which continue to live on in iconic images, archive footage, and even die-cast models (one such valued collectible is that of Ayrton Senna perched on Nigel Mansell's Williams at the 1991 British GP). Michael Schumacher gave Jean Alesi a lift on his Benetton in the 1995 Canadian GP, while David Coulthard picked up teammate Mika Hakkinen after a last-lap retirement for the Finn at the 2001 Spanish GP. In the 2011 German GP, Alonso himself was previously a passenger on Webber's car.
But really, the above-mentioned instances have nothing on the 1986 Mexican Grand Prix, when not one, not two, but three hitchhikers clung on to Nelson Piquet's Williams!
As we reported in our post-race feature, Webber was issued a reprimand by the stewards for returning to the track and flagging down Alonso without the permission of the race marshals, which goes against Article 30.9 (b) of the sport's regulations. Alonso, on the other hand, was found to be in breach of Article 30.3 by driving "unnecessarily slowly, erratically or in a manner which could be deemed potentially dangerous to other drivers or any other person." The stewards based their decision on CCTV footage that showed the two Mercedes cars of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg having to swerve on either side of the Ferrari after it stopped on a blind corner.
Because this was the third reprimand for Webber this season, and because the two previous reprimands relate to on-track racing incidents, he automatically gets a 10-place grid penalty for the next race in Korea. It is not the taxi ride per se that nets him the grid drop, but rather the accumulation of three reprimands.
Autosport has also reported that the FIA is set to strongly advise drivers against picking up their stranded fellow racers at the trackside, and that potential hitchhikers will not be allowed to return to the track following a retirement. The sport's governing body says that these guidelines will be effected on safety grounds, although no forthright ban against taxi rides has been declared so far.
A YouTube clip of the Webber/Alonso incident can be found here. Judge for yourself whether or not the stewards' decision was fair. (Please note that the Formula 1 management orders the removal of unsanctioned F1 footage from video-sharing websites, just in case the link suddenly leads to a dead page.) In the meantime, you may take the poll below.