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. 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?

  2. 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?

  3. 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…

  4. 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?

  5. 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.

  6. 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

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. When watching the qualifying the only car I saw at that moment impeding others was Timo Glock. And he was also immediately a topic of the commenators on Star TV. Apparently no drivers complained about Glock, so he was not investigated and penalized.

  12. mail123456 said on 23rd March 2008, 5:34

    And again we see another episod of soap opera … after just two qualifications FIA will make changes according to autosport
    did all we tired about these rules changes ?
    "And it is the fear of an accident that has prompted calls for a maximum lap time rule to be introduce from the next race in Bahrain to ensure there is no future repeat of the incident."
    Safety is only aspect what is described here … BUT what excactly will hapen when driver is moving with min allowed speed and some other driver trying to pass him with racing speed ? We see it in every race … no matter how fast someone is, he can’t pass on every place on track … so drivers will be forced to drive outside ot racing line with some minimal speed just to be sure not blocking someone … it’s strange for me …

  13. Manatcna said on 25th March 2008, 23:06

    Absolutely.
    You want to stop blocking after qualifying has finished?
    Have an exit lane to the pits 100-200 metres after the finish line.  The drivers who have finished their last hot lap would be off the racing line – and off the track – and on a scenic route back to the pits.
    Seems simple to me.

  14. Santy said on 26th March 2008, 7:15

    Think Lewis should avoid these thing. What I concluded from
    http://www.octanmen.com/articleDetail/165/Lewis-Hamilton–profile.htm
    Hamilton is a rising star with lots of achievements in his kitty and these acts leave a bad impression about him.

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