Prodrive’s Mark Winterbottom has called for greater consistency when it comes to handing out penalties following Saturday’s race at Phillip Island and its slew of pitlane infringements.
Winterbottom was one of eight drivers issued a 15 second penalty for crossing the dashed line delineating the fast lane from the working lane at pit entry during the race.
As previously reported, Prodrive had raised the issue of the pit entry with officials on Saturday morning, requesting that a cone be placed to mark out the start of the line separating the two lanes.
While no cone was installed, a bulletin was sent out to all team managers prior to the race reaffirming that cars can only enter the working lane when within two pit bays of their own.
Shell V-Power Racing’s Scott McLaughlin was the first to be penalised in the race, with his infringement investigated following a complaint sent to race control from a rival team.
Although admitting to his own error, Winterbottom is critical of the fact that not all who appeared to infringe were punished.
“I knew the rule and in all honesty, do the crime, pay the time,” the 2015 champion said on Inside Supercars.
“The drama is that social media is a big thing in our sport now and Saturday night there were all the photos came in of the coverage. Whincup did it. Caruso did it. Tander did it.
“I could have finished P2 (if everyone was penalised). That’s probably where I would have finished with all the penalties coming back in and my penalty.
“That’s the thing that sort of gets you a bit. If you’re on TV, you get pinged. If you’re not on TV, you don’t.
“I don’t think that’s fair. We all should get penalised… not just a few of us.”
Following the controversy, a cone was finally placed at pit entry ahead of Sunday’s race and no further infringements were recorded.
Joining Winterbottom on Inside Supercars, commentator Neil Crompton noted that officials and stewards are now under more pressure than ever to make the correct decisions.
“One of the dramas with social media is that such a firestorm erupts now with these types of things - who would want to be an official?” he questioned.
“The people we have in race control at the moment, any time they exercise anything that’s in a rule book, they get ripped apart.”
Crompton also questioned whether more resources need to be applied to officiating the category in general, given its extreme level of competitiveness.
“It’s a good problem in a sense,” he said.
“Because the whole thing is so ultra-competitive to the ridiculous, way beyond anything we’ve seen in its history before, you’ve got to micro-manage every little thing to the last crack in the road.
“The problem is that I don’t think the rest of it is armed to be able to deal with that at the moment. It is a problem.”