Hamilton and Raikkonen’s Fuji clash – the penalty they got wrong (Video)

Lewis Hamilton made a rash mistake at the start of the Japanese Grand Prix – but did it deserve the drive-through penalty he received?

Or to put it another way, has a driver ever got a penalty for forcing another driver off the track before?

After losing the lead to Kimi Raikkonen at the start Hamilton dived down the inside of the Ferrari driver to re-pass him at turn one. He clearly out-braked himself, and locked his tyres hard, forcing Raikkonen wide and onto the tarmac run-off.

Predictably, there’s nothing written in the rules about it. Article 16.1 of the sporting regulations allows the stewards to penalise drivers for forcing each other off the track.

But we’ve seen drivers force each other off the track many times in recent races, but I’m struggling to remember an occasion when anyone has been penalised for it. Hamilton wasn’t penalised for it with Timo Glock at Monza, nor Kimi Raikkonen when he forced Hamilton off the track at Spa.

It’s hard to see how Hamilton deserved a penalty for the move. And the precedent it sets is extremely strange:

Raikkonen out-braked himself at Monaco and took another driver out (Adrian Sutil) but didn’t get a penalty. So the rules seem to state that if you force a driver off the track and out of the race, you don’t get a penalty, but if you force another driver off the track and he stays in the race, you do get a penalty.

Where is the logic in that? Once again the FIA stewards have rendered a baffling verdict that leaves themselves open to accusations of inconsistency and favouritism.

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193 comments on Hamilton and Raikkonen’s Fuji clash – the penalty they got wrong (Video)

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  1. I dare say hamilton did deserve the penalty, he did a stupid move and put half a dozen drivers at risk of crashing as well as making some go off track. He almost his his own team mate in his desperation to keep Kimi behind him, if he goes on like this it will not be long before he hurts someone.

    Massa will be WDC 2008 and not because of his own driving skills, but because of hamilton’s lack of them when the pressure is on, I thought he had learned from last year but he hasn’t and he will do the same again.

  2. Chalky said on 13th October 2008, 19:26

    Well one things for sure. Thanks for the updated video. It explains to me how Lewis ended up behind Massa on lap1. He not only stuffed up the 1st corner he did it again at the 2nd corner. :D

    I reckon these are the “Mistakes” that he said he made to the press, following the race.

    Looking at the overhead shot on this new video (I didn’t see it on the ITV coverage), there simply didn’t appear to be enough room for everyone. The distance from the start line to this 1st corner hairpin resulted in a high speed to low speed stop for the whole field. I’m impressed only 1 driver was eliminated mid field.
    Hardly anyone made the apex and you can’t therefore really penalise a driver for locking wheels. Especially when they didn’t hit anyone else!
    Kimi was still on the racetrack until Kovi bumped into him. Another bizarre F1 moment from the stewards.
    I guess this year is “Penalty-gate!”

  3. Dorian said on 13th October 2008, 19:37

    @ El Gordo: Have to disagree with you mate. I don’t believe Massa DELIBERATELY caused the accident anymore than I believed that Hamilton deliberately rammed into Raikkonen in Montreal. Loads of people accused Hamilton of running into Raikkonen but I rigorously defended Hamilton by saying that it was nonsense for the same reason. Why would they want to risk taking themselves out??

    If it was the last race of the season and a driver was ahead his rival in points then YES it would make sense taking out your rival as well as yourself (think Schumacher). But this was not the case with Massa as it was not the case with Hamilton in Montreal.

    Did Massa make a mistake? Yes, Did he deserve the penalty? Definitely. Was it intentional? Ludicrous, and I think Hamilton accusing Massa of that was very unsportsmanlike (though I’m none too impressed with some of Massa’s comments of late either).

  4. Oliver said on 13th October 2008, 20:17

    @Number 38
    I have seen replays of the incident between Massa and Hamilton, even without the benefit of those replays, I am certain Massa was in the wrong.

    He had run very wide, so wide that he was, perpendicular to the next corner he was going to negotiate. Also, he had lost momentum and was already fully behind the Mclaren. Hamilton took the proper line through the corner, yes he still gave Massa almost a cars width at the following corner.

    If you claim you watched the replay, you hould have seen that he did not make any attempt to climb the kerb. The car following behind them, Kimi’s, took the corner the same way Hamilton did, so how did you arrive at your conclusion?

  5. Gusto said on 13th October 2008, 20:48

    (Steam coming out of ears down to a trickle) Are there m/any examples of a driver being penalized for losing it under braking into the first corner of a race?. and considering it was Kova that done the dirty deed, makes it all the more bizarre (well not to me!). I think Massa was just praying that the move would stick, he had more to lose ie suspension failure, lost nose cone, puncture etc.. than Lewis ,the fact that Lewis spun and he`s own car was ok is a bonus, then a racers natural arrogance will kick in and say “nothing wrong with that”. The day you stop going for the gap, is the day you stop being a racing driver and become a `also ran`. But as they were gonna nail Lewis they had to nail Massa as well or they would`ve `let the cat out of the bag`. And then they do the Boudais decision.???????..You couldn`t make this stuff up!

  6. Gusto said on 14th October 2008, 0:53

    Oh, I nearly forgot, You know, Massa `leaving the track and gaining an advantage`, Webber shuts the inside door as to make Massa take the outside line and all that slow in fast out *********, No I`ll drive straight through the Pit Hatchings and frighten the life out of Him`… quality….. but as Martin implied “That could of ended with a very big accident”……..but if there`s a gap, I`am your chap…. thats what the new punters want, thats what the new punters will get.

  7. @Jolene
    …and for those who do not like FIA/Stewards decisions, stop watching F1.

  8. motion said on 14th October 2008, 4:30

    Without Hamilton, and with Alonso, McLaren and Mercedes would have had consecutive world championships last year and this. Mercedes’ board should be pushing for them to dump Dennis this year and Hamilton the next if he keeps his record of screwing up when the chips are down. That would mean luring Alonso back for 2010.

  9. Motion….let me guess, Ferrari fan?

  10. raikkonen got a drive through penalty in melbourne for forcing schumacher go off track on turn 1 once

  11. motion said on 15th October 2008, 2:02

    Dcal, no a slightly disappointed RBR/Webber fan (not bold or good enough recently – I hate watching 1 stoppers who can’t race from P6 down).

    Otherwise it is pure business in my views of Ferrari/McLaren/Alonso. Hamilton is fast but ratty and his being a choker is on record and he should only be given 1 more year. Dennis lost the plot last year as a team manager and will never recover.

    Alonso and Kubica are the two top performing drivers this year by far and I think McLaren should give de la Rosa a steep pay rise for holding the development side up after Alonso’s departure.

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