There has been a lot said about the current Safety Car regulations. If the Safety Car comes out in about the time one needs to pit for fuel there are only 2 options – pit and face the penalty or run out of fuel. Either of them is good enough to ruin the race.
But after watching the Singapore GP it looks like there may be also another outcome. Pit early, come out in front of the field, hope the stewards will take their time to confirm the obvious then once the penalty is announced stay out as long as legally possible. If all goes well by the time you do have to serve the 10 second penalty you may have well over 20 second lead and a chance to fight for a podium.
I am not suggesting that this is what Nico Rosberg counted on in Singapore. He could not have known that he would get 9 laps flat out in the lead after his Safety Car period pit stop – enough to build up a lead big enough to secure him 2nd place even after serving the 10 second penalty. He himself considered his race ruined the moment he had to pit while the pitlane was closed … Even his own team told him on the radio shortly after rejoining the race that there sure must be a penalty (and it was the same in Robert Kubica’s case)…
Stewards probably do not have any set time limit for imposing the penalty. But why it took them that long to come up with the penalties for Rosberg and Kubica ? Yes, there was the issue of Massa’s pit stop to be dealt with. But giving a driver in the lead 9 laps before having to serve the penalty sort of borders with granting him an unfair (even if unintentional) advantage.