Video: Lewis Hamilton and Heikki Kovalainen investigated over blocking

Lewis Hamilton and Heikki Kovalainen have been summoned to appear before the Malaysian Grand Prix stewards to answer questions about why they apparently delayed BMW’s Nick Heidfeld and Renault’s Fernando Alonso on their final qualifying laps.

The penalty for delaying other drivers in qualifying is typically five grid places – which would move the back from third and fourth to eighth and ninth. Should they be penalised?

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44 comments on Video: Lewis Hamilton and Heikki Kovalainen investigated over blocking

  1. Josh that’s what they should do but I think they’re having trouble working out what kind of penalty to impose.

    How about you loose a place for every lap you do > 110% speed?

  2. Both Mac’s were in the way, they get the penalty they earned. As Josh stated they had the in lap requirement last year and inexplicably dropped it this year. Look for it to be reinstated next race. They’ll figure out a penalty as well, but won’t impose it unless someone is blocked. Unless it’s a McLaren of course and can help Ferrari!

  3. Although as it’s an in-lap it’s quite hard to measure presumably.

  4. Rohan said on 22nd March 2008, 15:28

    Only giving McLaren a 5 place penalty was rather lenient imo. But then teh FIA and stewards are generally lenient when it comes to McLaren anyway, so I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised.

  5. craig said on 22nd March 2008, 15:44

    well it does’nt much matter what the boys at the FIA do or don’t do as the rules thes day seem to be written on the fly from race to race…Blocking   yea the Macs sure had the look of blocking.. now of course besides the being set back 5 spots will the FIA and Mad Max start an invetigation to see who "ordered’ the blocking..galds the F1 seasons are turing into really bad soap operas….how about for qualifing  we send one car at a time out with whatever fuel load they want  than make everone top off to start the race…naw to simple for thes boys

  6. Number 38 said on 22nd March 2008, 16:19

    One of my favorite rants is none of the teams have ever got out of the “one hot lap” mentality. They wait until the clock runs out and then ‘roll the dice’. One wide turn, one off, one missed brake point their entire qualifying is worthless. What a foolish way to qualify.  And at that point they are ALL running in ‘traffic’. Why they don’t turn their hot lap sooner and then wait to see if they have to improve puzzles me.  Fuel load is NOT an issue, they’re only runing 5 or 6 minutes of the 10 minute session, perhaps 12 pounds of fuel in a 1600 pound vehicle, immeasurable.  With the threat of rain it looked like Kova was going to try that routine, he came to pit exit early, but then didn’t. Heidfeld and Alonso…..it’s their own fault, they should have tried earlier when there was less traffic. If you want to penalize someone……it looked to me like a McLaren crossed the circuit directly in front of the on-coming Alonso. That is worth more discussion than any “blocking” complaint.
    Blocked for a micro-second, this is nothing more than a minor ‘racing incident’ not worthy of discussion.
    Penalties, penalties, penalties, hasn’t the FIA got something better to do that manipulate the event?

  7. Arun said on 22nd March 2008, 17:11

    I really was waiting for a time when the arrogance of LH would come out (man, 22 years, world champ, driving for McLaran!!) and it has now. Clearly George has a point in the comment no-2 but he should not be going in the faster line anyway to begin with, the point of not moving to avoid collisions is less beaming here!! Anyways, got sick without sleep and couldn’t watch the quali, if anyone has a video link, please please send it to arunzin@gmail.com, gonna sleep now for 15 hrs – race comin up guys..

  8. Fer no.65 said on 22nd March 2008, 17:14

    another question… i remember some cases similar to this (or even less important) that the stewards decided to penalise a driver by deleting his fastest laps at qualy… For example, Monaco 2006, Fisichella was penalized by blocking Coulthard so they deleted his fastest lap.

    why now a 5 place penalty?

  9. Arun — I think Lewis was simply following Heikki and wasn’t paying attention, so not sure you can call it arrogant (silly, yes … arrogane, no)

  10. Brad Pitney said on 22nd March 2008, 18:00

    FIA are lenient towards McLaren at all, but the stewards were doing there job. Not much to do with the FIA in actual fact.

    Heidfield is a fine one to talk about blocking, not like he’s never got in someone’s way before now is it?

    Why 5 places? who knows, they just might as well as delete their qualifying times.

    IMO, this qualifying still is not working aswell as it could be; it would be a lot more interesting if in all three qualifying sessions each car carried just enough fuel to go on an out lap, hot lap and in lap, with a mandatory minimum of three tries, with each session all being 10 minutes whilst having a 110% rule for the in lap.

    or even better, on Q1, they should all run for one lap before getting in their car :P who ever is still running, well tough! j/k.

  11. Qualifying is fine the way it is leave it alone, have a min in and out lap time!
    When are Mclaren gonna start playing by the rules?

  12. NDINYO said on 22nd March 2008, 19:03

    I guess the penalty is justified though what a bad weekend for the Woking outfit. Nonetheless this is the time for Lewis to prove that he is worth all the awards he has been earning lately, which will mean a podium finish and no less. What i can’t seem to find in the regulations on http://www.formula1.com/inside_f1/rules_and_regulations/sporting_regulations/6835/fia.html
    is the specific clause requiring a docking of five places. Is this arbitrarily decided?

  13. Graham Bos said on 22nd March 2008, 20:04

    what i cannnot understand is how kubica isnt being talked about wen he was on the other side of the road ahead of hamilton going just as slow…are team mates aloud to block eachother…? the FIA want a nice little title fight this season, and seeing as Ferrari had a double ret. in Australia it looks like there are trying to get the teams on level terms again…

  14. Cooperman said on 22nd March 2008, 20:19

    Can’t help feeling that two drivers are being penalised when it’s the system that requires attention (as Mark Blundell said in ITV’s coverage). More than the problem of blocking, you’ve got one car on a balls-out fast lap while others are trying to conserve fuel for the race. This obviously leads to immense differences in speed and is therefore incredibly dangerous. If there’s a crash than the closing speed would be in triple figures.

    From the McLaren drivers’ perspective, what were they supposed to do? Drive their cars off the tarmac and into the gravel to ensure the BMW-Sauber had space? You’ve got to be on the racing line at some point just to get round the corners so if you’re unlucky with timing (as I believe is the case here) and you’re caught near a corner by a car on a hot lap then you’re slapped with a penalty. The cynic in me suggests that McLaren are being penalised for just having two cars on the track now, but I’m sure that can’t possibly be the case.

    From a purely balanced perspective, right at the start of the on-board coverage from Nick Heidfield’s BMW-Sauber (32 seconds into the above clip) – before he gets anywhere near the McLarens – there is another car on the inside of Heidfield at the previous corner on the racing line. Why is he also not being penalised?

  15. The cars shouldn’t have been going so slowly on the racing line to start with. That’s dangerous. The trouble is that creating a rule to prevent slow cars on the racing line that can be fairly enforced is extremely difficult. So punishing the two McLaren drivers for the nearest rule in the books that they broke – baulking Heidfeld and Alonso – is perfectly fair. What isn’t fair is that there were about four other drivers engaging in the same behaviour, yet the stewards didn’t investigate them. Is it too much to ask for consistency from the stewards? (That question is rhetorical, by the way).

    The lap requirement last year only applied to completed laps and was only used for the purpose of fuel crediting. Non-completed laps (such as in- and out-laps) could not be counted because there hasn’t been a completely accurate and consistent way of timing individual in/out-laps since 2002 (when all circuits had a fibre-optic loop). I can see such loops being reinstalled eventually, not just as a rule enforcement tool but to enable true digital TV broadcasting again. Next race, however, is too soon to hope for…

    Fer no. 65, the fastest-time removal penalty was removed because drivers got differential punishments according to how they’d gone about qualifying up to that point. When one driver gets penalised one place (Villnueve against Fisichella, Nurburgring 2006) and another is penalised five places for the thing (Alonso against Massa, Monza 2006), it suggests a certain inconsistancy in the way punishments are applied, even though both of them had the same initial punishment (loss of fastest lap). N grid places is considered to be more transparent and a more equal punishment between cases.

    NDINYO, there’s a good reason why you can’t find a specific clause calling for the docking of five grid places. It doesn’t exist. The nearest thing in the regulations is Article 31.6:

    "In the event of a driving infringement in any practise session the Stewards may drop the driver such number of grid positions as they see fit…"

    While this doesn’t explicitly cover qualifying, it does suggest that the stewards are free to use whatever number of grid positions they deem appropriate and that five places is an arbitrary number. Surely this is another recipe for inconsistency in decisions.

  16. Cooperman.. refer to this figure on how they tackle the apex, and why LH should’ve known better not to be in the fast lane…
    http://www.goforceindia.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/03/geometric-apex.png

  17. Josh said on 22nd March 2008, 21:21

    The more I look at the video, the more I think it’s a load of crap giving them both penalties- I’d love to see just how many people they passed over the course of their hot laps who were in some way inconveniencing them. As somebody else said, if they choose to wait till the last possible moment for their hot lap, then that is naturally going to have consequences, and they should just deal with it. Fot heidfeld to say he reckoned he lost 2 tenths there is absurd – he never even let up on the throttle, and frankly his teammate on the inside was far more of a distraction, it seemed.

    Still, in a team as well run as Mclaren, you would have expected both the drivers not to be anywhere near the racing line, or at least for their engineers to have warned them over the radio that they were being approached by some drivers on their hot laps  and to make sure they were nowhere near – smacks to me of the kind of incompetence that never happened under Ross Brawn at ferrari (if Schumi ever got in someone’s way on a hot lap – you knew he damn well meant to!), and is just another example of the way Mclaren seem to want to throw away championships.

  18. don wilson said on 22nd March 2008, 21:32

    WHY DID DID HEIDFIELD & ALONSO, {IF IT WAS THEM PERSONALLY} MENTION ONLY THE 2 McCLARENS, WHEN THERE WERE OTHER CARS GOING SLOWLY ON THE FINAL MINUTES OF PRACTICE.
    I  AGREE THIS A SERIOUS SITUATION, BUT IT HAS BEEN CAUSED BY THE RULES & AS THIS IS ONLY THE SECOND RACE UNDER THESE RULES, IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN A WARNING, NOT A PENALTY. & ALSO  TO WARN  ALL TEAMS, THAT IN FUTURE THEY ARE  TO DRIVE AT RACING SPEED UNTIL THEY REACH THE PITS.
    HOW CAN THEY IMPOSE A PENALTY ON ONLY 2 CARS { STRANGE, THAT THEY BOTH HAPPEN TO BE McCLARENS ] WHEN OTHER CARS WERE ON THAT LAP DOING EXACTLY THE SAME THING. I THINK THE THING THAT DRIVES EVERYONE MAD IS THE INCONSISTENCY OF THE STEWARDS & THE FIA IN THE WAY THEY APPLY THE RULES, OR IN THE WAY THEY INTERPRET THEM, OR THE WAY THEY MAKE IT UP AS THEY GO ALONG. ANY WAY, LOOK ON THE BRIGHT SIDE, THE GOOD NEWS IS, WE SHOULD SEE A GREAT RACE TOMORROW, WITH LOTS OF OVERTAKING, & CARS GOING OFF, & PROBABLY ONLY 6 FINISHERS AGAIN.

  19. Green Flag said on 23rd March 2008, 0:16

    Don, firstly, it’s impolite to use caps for an entire posting, second, the McLarens weren’t penalized for going slowly, they were penalized for going slowly on the racing line, which interfered with other drivers’ qualifying laps and could have caused an accident. Only the McLaren drivers were that thoughtless or irresponsible.

  20. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 23rd March 2008, 0:45

    I agree with a lot of what’s been said here (apart from the few bits of partisan axe-grinding) – particularly Alianora and Cooperman’s remarks.

    I do think that, on the whole, the stewards have been fairly consistent with this sort of thing: Alonso blocked Hamilton at Hungaroring, five place grid penalty. Hamilton and Kovalainen blocked Heidfeld and Alonso, five place grid penalty. Hamilton didn’t block Raikkonen at Interlagos, no grid penalty. Although I wonder how Raikkonen went un-penalised for blocking Kubica in Q1 at Melbourne?

    I think the point raised by Cooperman is the most important – the wider issue is the problematic regulations. Some people have suggested ways of making sure drivers don’t slow each other down while preserving fuel on the way to the pits. I think the simplest answer to this is to stop making drivers qualifying with race fuel loads. As I’ve written before, it’s a useless rule that has failed to achieve the purpose it was introduced for.

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