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

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

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. It’s a fact that the controversial decisions this season have involved Hamilton, and just because people disagree with the stewards decision doesn’t mean it’s because they’re blinkered toward one driver or the other. Especially this site, where there have been reasoned arguments backing up any position taken. All that’s come back today arguing for Hamilton’s penalty is that he was stupid, rash and didn’t need to race Raikkonen. That’s irrelevant. The question is, was Hamilton’s move at the start worthy of penalty, irregardless of whether he needed to make the move or not.

    Also, having watched it again a few times, how was it not Kova who was penalised? Not that I think he should be either, but it’s him who nudged Kimi off the track is it not?

  2. Keith, this is for sure you; You can’t use the pitlane
    (Alonso was penalised -10.000$- in Valencia for this in practice and warned that a severe punishment will come if he reapete this in the race.)
    What if someone was going out of the pits ?…We would experience a big crash

  3. Keith, Hamilton had control of championship and He can avoid these types of accidents and penalties. He just needs to use his brain if he has little bit in his head.

    Otherwise he and H1Fanatic fans both will be crying about these penalties after every race.

  4. Keith,

    ah we’re back to talking about precedents. Fair enough. I for one believe the rules should stick even if the stewards made a different decision earlier. But I will grant that it is strange that they’re being sticklers for the rules at these specific incidents and not at others. If that is your point, then I agree with you.

    But looking at this incident on its own merits, I would call for some penalty or the other. If there was contact, it would definitely reinforce my position.

    Regarding RAI and Sutil: RAI didn’t gain a racing advantage from his mistake. HAM made a mistake and gained a racing advantage. I don’t see how the two can be compared?

  5. @Gusto and @MrPippy

    Please check what happened on Spa 2007 before start talking nonsense.

    In Spa Alonso was ahead of Hamilton. Now compare it with what happened today.

    F1fanatic mutating to H1fanatic? Despite Keith efforts, some users try to make it happen.

  6. Maybe drivers who forced others off the track and caused serious result like this race will get a penalty.

  7. Getting a penalty for outbraking yourself is laughter!
    And the stewards should have judged anyway that massa hitting lewis was a good enough punishment!

  8. What a load of tosh! Lewis certainly overcooked it into turn 1 and paid the price at the next corner, but he gave Kimi plenty of room – Kimi tucked in behind Lewis. It was Heikki who “pushed” Kimi off the track. I think if you are going to comment about this, you should make sure you are clear about where the cars were at the time of the incident.
    And Bourdais? Please…. this is beyond a joke.

  9. This is so ***** BENT. Outside of the other (valid) debate about other cars that have forced each other off the track (where was Kimi’s penalty at Spa 08 for doing just that! All the focus was on the “cut” chicane but the Ferarri forced Lewis off!!), I have just watched the replay about a dozen times.

    Objectively, while it is clear that Lewis’ locking up prevented Kimi from taking the normal racing line, it is also CLEAR AS DAY that he did not “force” Kimi off the track.


    Watch it again in slow-motion and you’ll see that while pushed wide, it was arguably Kovi that finished off Raikonnen, not Lewis. That’s a statement of fact. Anyone who says anything else is lying, either to us or to themselves.

  10. Watch it again in slow-motion and you’ll see that while pushed wide, it was arguably Kovi that finished off Raikonnen, not Lewis.

    I did think that myself on re-watching the video, but I’m not sure. As with the Massa/Bourdais incident, the low camera angle at turn one makes it a bit hard to tell. Would be good to see the onboard camera views.

  11. Hi Keith,

    Wouldn’t it be great if BernieTV released on-board footage from every camera-carrying car at the end of each race? As in a full video stream of the full race. I’m sure future “interactive” services will get that far in a few years (if the sport lasts that long!)

    Incidentally (if you excuse the pun) here is a good image I’ve borrowed from the PlanetF1 thread

    Says it all IMO.

  12. Pope – thanks for the pic. The thing I can’t tell for sure from it is whether Raikkonen is already heading off the track at that point because of Hamilton’s move. If not then it’s an even poorer decision than I thought in the first place.

  13. The_pope – I think your right, Ive been watching it a few times since and seems like the penalty is debatable, but the wrong car appears to have been picked for the punishment.

  14. Kov should get a 10sec stop/go penalty and Massa too for hitting Hamilton plus a drive through hor hitting Bourdais.

  15. Hamilton’s move endangered the whole field and such extreme foolhardiness had to be penalised…

    Sorry guys but this could have been truly awful if Kimi and others not got out of the way, and had Lewis gained from it that would have been very very wrong….

  16. If you watch the replay Kovalainen was the one who forces Kimi wide and he should therefore get the penalty. But of course it’s the FIA trying to massage the results to get a close finish yet again, which is why Bourdais got his nonsensical penalty.

  17. Having just got some sleep and having played the video a few times back that looks another very flimsy penalty.I know the stewards have access to other camera angles and telemetry but what Hamilton did , although foolhardy isn’t enough to gain a penalty.

    Same thing as in Spa – there seems to be no benefit of the doubt here and this is why there is a perception that Lewis is being penalised whenever it’s possible , hence the “Ferrari International Assistance” stuff going round.This lot of cronies aren’t helping themselves at best to say the least.

  18. OK, so here is an honest question: can someone provide any reason why the stewards shouldn’t explain their actions whenever they apply a penalty? I mean, are they afraid if they present “evidence” that their decision would be further questioned?

    I can only assume there is a good reason that escapes me as to why we have to be kept in the dark. Let’s get some full-time pro-stewards and have the Head Steward available for questions from the press at the end of the race!

    Hell, I’d LOVE if we had fly-on-the-wall cameras in the Stewards’ box and have them all mic’ed up. How’s that for transparency, Mr Mosley? :)

    OK true, so I don’t think we get that level of accountability / transparency in other sports where there are TV-replay judges (like cricket / rugby etc) but since these guys have a rulebook and replays, why aren’t the public privvy to every available angle?

    For the record, while I agree that Lewis’ move was “ill-advised” I dispute the fact it was *dangerous*. Too many people are saying “but what if…” but it’s not about What If, it’s about What Was.

  19. francois, don’t forget the Bourdais incident. He suggested in an interview that maybe he should roll out the red carpet the next time? That is exactly what FIA’s has been busy with: rolling out the red carpet for the red team. I wonder how FIA can be that amazingly consistent in their inconsistency of interpreting or making rules in favor of one team while applying the same set of written and unwritten rules disfavoring others. Well some say it is totally random, as if these little Ferrari miracles just keeps on “happening”. Today’s result: FIA corruption vs Ferrari incompetence 2:1, thereby yielding another undeserved point to Felipe.

    Btw Hamilton drove like an idiot, not like a crook.

  20. I think the second camera angle on the above video, from the inside of the corner, makes it a bit clearer that although Hamilton held Raikkonen wide, Kovalainen also went too deep into the first corner and in doing so prevented Raikkonen from staying on the track.

    To me, this still adds up to ‘racing incident’ and certainly not the sort of thing the stewards should be getting involved in. The fact they punished Hamilton and didn’t so much as investigate Kovalainen is strange.

    As ever, they’ve given no reasoning for the penalty, and the teams will not be allowed to appeal (not that the penalty could be reversed anyway). I don’t see how anyone can be satisfied with such an inconsistent, arbitrary and unaccountable means of dispensing justice.

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