One may or may not agree with the decision of the FIM Stewards to inflict a penalty on Johann Zarco for last Sunday’s incident at the Red Bull Ring – a start from the pit-lane – but this is not the point.
The point is not even that if Zarco is guilty, the punishment is too light: it is evident that the FIM Judges – and I am sorry that they include the great Freddie Spencer, whose experience can be put in doubt because he 'has never ridden a MotoGP bike' – just don't have the situation in hand.
After all, there are too many interests at stake for Fast Freddie, and his two colleagues, Bill Cumbow and Ralph Bohnhorst, whom I don't know have ever had any experience in MotoGP, can judge serenely.
The problems, which have persisted for years in the case of decisions relating to accidents, is the uniformity of judgment and the cumbersome and slow nature with which they are taken.
This is why I wonder: does the FIM give judges courses? Because having ridden a Grand Prix bike undoubtedly helps but having some knowledge of the law is also important.
And when judges judge, as well as on law they also refer to so-called jurisprudence. Which is what the law has produced in similar cases.
They are not obliged to follow it, because it does not make the law, but precedents are always important. Indeed, it is they who make the judgment, as far as possible, uniform.
We suggest going and having a look at a very similar accident, which happened precisely between Zarco and Marquez on the Phillip Island straight, when Marc, coming back in after overtaking, touched Johann making him crash.
"My Yamaha was slower - the French rider recalled yesterday - and they said to me: you shouldn't have been there".
We do not want, with this example, to blame anyone for that accident. If we remember correctly it was dismissed as a simple racing incident, but anyone who has seen a bit of Grand Prix racing will undoubtedly remember incidents in which those in front, moving a little too ‘free and easily’, took out the front wheel of the man who followed him.
For example: Rossi with Marquez in Argentina, if we remember well…
Because – and always keep this in mind – it is always the man who is behind and touches who crashes first.
Our impression is that if the two bikes involved in last Sunday's collision hadn't re-entered the track, almost overwhelming Vinales and Rossi, this incident would have been dismissed as a simple racing contact.
Let's finish this reflection aloud with two suggestions for the FIM: the first is to get the MotoGP judges to take courses in jurisprudence, because knowing how to ride a motorcycle is not all that is required of a judge.
The second is of an even more self-evident simplicity: have the judges be assisted by a press office, better still assisted by a lawyer, who is then able to fix the sentence on paper with his reasons. They will help other judges to make decisions in similar cases.
What have we decided in a case like this in the past? must be the first question. The riders also ask for a uniformity of judgment. In addition to independence, of course… but this is inherent (or should be) in the judiciary.