Egregious images were seen at the Karting World Championship last weekend. Calls for a lifetime ban have been made. Should sport focus on retribution?

There are different conceptions on what justice should look like. The paradigm of restorative justice tries to repair harm, to make offenders understand their harm and allow them to redeem themselves, whereas a retributive system is principled on making an offender suffer in proportion to their actions, so as to deter and potentially rehabilitate the offender.

A complexity in both paradigms is that it is difficult to assess both when damage has been repaired or when a punishment is deemed proportionate. In both cases it is also difficult to determine when a person has been rehabilitated.

Sport’s institutions should consider the same when determining punishment. Since sports are games and are inherently good for individuals to practice, we prefer a restorative paradigm.

This weekend we saw one of the most egregious acts of violence in motorsport.

Driver Luca Corberi abandoned the CIK-FIA KZ Karting World Championship race at the Lugano karting track -owned by his father- (Racefans.net), decided to ignore the marshalls and literally attacked Paolo Ippolito by throwing a bumper at him from the side of the track, which fortunately did not hit anyone.

Ippolito was also disqualified, leading to speculation that he originally also had an unsportsmanlike behavior.

He then refused to follow a marshall’s instructions and physically assaulted Ippolito in parc ferm√©. Others also attacked Ippolito. It is believed his father was among those.

The images went viral. Motorsport figures have called for a lifetime ban and CIK-FIA President, Felipe Massa -a former F1 runner-up-, has vowed serious action will be taken (The-Race).

Lifetime bans have been given in sport for actions such as doping, which in perspective do not necessarily put others at risk, while Corberi’s actions could have resulted in the worst possible consequences for Ippolito and other drivers that were not involved.

It is also, however, important to consider that this is a first offence and that we have previously seen other drivers that have been violent redeem themselves and continue on with their successful careers.

Examples include Kyle Busch, Dan Ticktum and Santino Ferrucci. For the moment, Corberi -who is 23 and had already stopped competing full-time- has apologized and announced that he will not compete in motorsport again, saying “that’s not a self justice, it’s simply the right thing to do” (Autosport)

Ten years ago, Angelo Lancellotti was suspended for six months after crashing Marcel Tiemann into the wall, ending his career with life-changing injuries. The consequences last weekend were not as bad, but could have been as bad if not worse.

Persons must not be lynch-mobbed, but in an already inherently dangerous sport, putting someone else at risk is unacceptable and under both, restorative and retributive justice, the consensus will be that the punishment should be exemplary.

Let’s this victory not overshadow the great KZ World Championship triumph by Jeremy Iglesias (FRA) and the KZ2 Super Cup win by Simone Cunati (ITA). Both have been in karting for years and have their victories well deserved.