Hyundai Motorsport driver Ott Tänak won’t appeal his suspended ban for driving on a punctured tire during last week’s Monte Carlo Rally – but the 2019 World Rally Champion questions the parity of penalties coming out of the round one stewards’ room.
Tänak retired from the event on Saturday morning, having suffered punctures on the first two stages of the day. With only one spare, the Estonian tried to make it back to service with only three fully inflated tires. That contravened sporting regulations and his Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC was retired.
Tänak was then informed of a subsequent stewards’ decision on Sunday informing him that a repeat offence this season would lead to him being banned for one WRC round.
This news was framed by a myriad stewards’ decisions for drivers not having their helmets secured. Rally winner Sébastien Ogier and Hyundai co-drivers Carlos del Barrio and Martijn Wydaeghe were hit with €400 fines for their offences.
The difference in decisions is what concerns Tänak.
Asked about the penalty, Tänak told DirtFish: “My first feeling was that it’s a pretty harsh one. I didn’t know that I was going to have something like this, to be honest.
“I would say to take me out or retire me from the rally was already quite harsh one. To get the suspension after the rally, I don’t know, for sure, it’s a hard one. To drive [with] a flat tire at 50km/h, OK, open road, but still pretty carefully – and doing nothing crazy – you get a suspension for that.
“I don’t know, other people driving with helmets open on a stage, which can be fatal immediately [in the event of an accident].
“A human life is worth €400, comparing what we have done.
“I don’t know if I did anything crazy for somebody. I don’t really think so, I’m pretty sure we knew we were not driving the road section on the rim, for sure, we were checking it time to time. We were coming pretty slow, definitely didn’t do anything crazy.
“We tried to be as careful as possible, you see things like this.”
Tänak was quick to add that he wasn’t advocating a similar suspended penalty for those guilty of the helmet transgression.
He said: “I’m not saying that the suspension should go to these drivers, I don’t know. But for sure, it’s not right, things like this happen I get suspended, then other people not.
“They took me out from the rally, I got zero points and, in this championship, it’s hard. To compare in the same weekend these kinds of things, it doesn’t look too smart, but OK, it’s done.
“To fight FIA people is a waste of energy. So, I would say let it be that way. But for sure, it doesn’t look too smart from outside.”