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. mail123456 said on 12th October 2008, 12:40

    screen capture from f1.com live timing commentary:
    http://i.f-e-n.net:6666/3/aac42c2b566f5770094f9cce811ef33a.png

  2. I agree with PJH. McLaren have to do it cleaner and better than anyone to win this. The Max and Bernie show and money is all that this sport is becoming. Makes us lot the mugs for spending so much following this ‘sport’.

  3. Keith: I don’t know if you have the time but you are certainly the one with the expertise to compile a few articles of the arbitrary decisions that has been going on for god know how long. Don’t draw any conclusion, just put the cases there and everybody can believe what they want to believe and we could have a fair discussion. I am afraid on your last sentence that a lot of people are pretty satisfied as long as the decisions go their way.

    About Kova, was he out already when the investigation was announced?

  4. dear keith, i think that there is consistency from the stewards, becouse they penalised , in this race , hamilton , but also hamilton. if hamilton did what raikonen did (backing off) he would maby have a race with points. sorry for my bad english.

  5. i think a good way to resolve all of these dodgey steward decisions is for the stewards to veiw a screen with all the cars the same colour so they cannot tell whether the car is a ferari or a mclaren etc. this would make the stewards decision a lot fairer and they will not be biased toward any side as they don’t know which car is which.

  6. hamilton but also massa
    srry

  7. Tom – easy tiger. I agree generally but careful old chum.

  8. Oliver said on 12th October 2008, 13:27

    The FIA has made a real mess of things.

    First corner incidents, (START OF RACE), have never, from my entire memory of racing, attracted a penalty. Hamilton didn’t hit Kimi, it was Heikki who touched with Kimi, though I admit its Lewis who pushed Kimi wide.

    Forcing a driver to go wide, when you are fully side by side by side with him, has never been considered a transgression.

    Massa in his incident with Lewis, clearly drove off track and was always on the losing end of that move. His was a clear penalty similar to what Heikki was given at Spa.

    Massa didn’t use the pitlate to over take, He used the run off between the pit wall and the inner white line of the race track, which appear to be outside the race track.. and he had both wheels in there.

    Massa – Bourdais incident, well draw your own conclusions.

    Those who complain of bias on this site, need to question their own prejudice. This articles question the stewards actions, and inactions. The fact that certain drivers we may like or dislike happen to be the subjects of these penalties, is just besides the point. The issues here are about the penalties not the drivers.

    Take you back to monaco. Kimi’s race crew committed an infringement at the beginning of the grand prix, before the race had even commenced. The FIA appointed race stewards were aware, yet they allowed Kimi to drive well into the race before calling him to serve his penalty. By that time he had established enough of a gap to come back out still capable of scoring healthy points. The fact that events later overshadowed that shortcoming of the stewards doesn’t in any way absolve the stewards of questionable conduct.

    Emotions run high, but we should always not allow our love or hatred for a driver to always cloud our judgment.

    Like Keith said, put your argument forward.

  9. DASMAN said on 12th October 2008, 13:35

    @Tom – what a load of C**p!!!

    Keith, I generally agree with you and think these penalties are getting rediculous. I don’t think you can compare this incident with the Rai – Sutil incident as in that instance the track was wet and very tricky and Rai crashed trying to avoid the barriers. Here Lewis simply braked way too late.

    Still, when are we just going to let them race? I think 5 years ago this race would have passed by without any penalties being applied (rightly or wrongly)

    Any true F1 fan would not be happy with the way the penalties went today – regardless of who would benefit, because who knows, next week it could be your driver/team on the receiving end.

  10. Oliver said on 12th October 2008, 13:39

    I like Massa a lot, and feel he has been underrated for much of his racing career. But I cant understand his madness in this question and answer session. Claiming he was pushed when in fact he was given plenty of room.

    If this isn’t madness then I don’t know what else is.

  11. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 12th October 2008, 13:58

    Thanks for your comments guys, sorry to those of you who’ve seen a few disappear but one or two remarks made were potentially the type of thing the type of thing I could get in trouble for.

  12. jc_12 said on 12th October 2008, 14:06

    im sorry but penalties these days in F1 are just stupid,they ruin the on-track action. Instead drivers who break the rules should be spanked with a paddle until they learn their lesson.

  13. Both HAM and KOV went off-track after braking late and going incredibly wide on the first corner. Neither were pushed into doing that by other cars on their inside. It almost looks like they were looking at a much wider chicane than everyone else. RAI tries to turn in twice but HAM and KOV just kept coming.

    I don’t know about precedents and inconsistency, but if this approach to first corners remains unpenalized, pole position would take on a whole different meaning. Just look at how long HAM locked his tyres, he flattened it almost to the canvas I would think. He was simply skidding along ready to take out anything in his way. The rest got out of his way, otherwise we’d have a nice pile-up.

    Tough but fair would be nice for a change.

  14. the limit said on 12th October 2008, 14:42

    Looking at the evidence, I think the penalty was the wrong decision. Raikkonen, by backing up the pack the way he did, was always going to come under attack at the first corner. Hamilton, realised, following his bad start, that he had to make the pass or risk being passed himself by Kovalainen and Alonso on the inside.
    If there was contact, in looked, from that angle atleast, to be small. Kovalainen certainly gave Raikkonen’s car a good lick but was not given a penalty.
    Lets remember, that Alonso ran Hamilton off the road, at the first corner, at Spa last year. There was no penalty, and rightly so. If you take away this aspect, which is just a product of good racing, then you will see alot more races like Valencia in the future. The whole event though, would have been different, if Hamilton had made a better start. His poor getaway from the grid really cost him some serious points today. A great, great race to watch, even at 2 in the morning!

  15. NAVS, I agree. HAM is a predigious talent and I’m a massive fan. Fingers crossed he will still win the championship.

    Whilst there may not be a hard written rule about recklesness, there’s no doubt he could have cause carnage in the first turn with his desperation to make up for his poor get-away. I think frankly, over the course of the race, he was pretty lucky to end up only 2 points down.

    The stewards have showed more to worry about with their delayed Sebastien penalty which, once again, favours Ferrari.

    The FIA should stop post race decisions like this. I want future steward decisions to be made within say 5 laps of the incident and for the driver to have to carry out the penalty immediately. This will lessen the very credible charge of bias, one way or the other.

  16. SoLiD said on 12th October 2008, 15:28

    first full onboard races can be seen via premiere (german pay tv)
    Also if you caught the press conference you hear Alonso and Kubica tell about the conditions and all running wide by a bit late braking… clearing Hamilton even more I think!
    This years stewards need to be fired, first Spa now this, it’s clear they are Hamilton haters imo

  17. Lady Snowcat said on 12th October 2008, 15:30

    DC – Loads of people have pushed other drivers off the track and not got penalties – until today. There’s the inconsistency.

    Also, Hamilton didn’t hit Raikkonen, whereas Massa hit Hamilton (and went off the track to do it) so we’re really talking about two very different incidents. That’s why I wrote two separate posts: Massa and Hamilton’s Fuji crash – the penalty they got right (Video)

    Afraid he did hit Kimi Keith, as did Heikki actually…

    There are some pretty damning photos apparently taken by one of the official snappers which, no doubt we will see in time… verdict of those who saw them is that the stewards had no alternative but to give Lewis a penalty…..

  18. Fernando said on 12th October 2008, 15:31

    Please just change the name of this blog to Hamilton Fanatic Already!

  19. This has started to look like 2007 all over again. conspiracy theorists are out and about. However, the truth is, the chap could/ should have had waited and could have avoided the incident. Ham would have gone back home with a bigger lead on Massa.

    @ Keith
    As someone rightly pointed out, Kimi spun in the wet(in Monaco) and the car was fishtailing quite spectacularly, when he collected Sutil and BAMMMMMM. In Spa, Kimi held the inside line and the apex at the Bus-stop chicane. Ham was on the outside line and braked rather too late, so technically speaking, Ham ran himself out. Kimi can’t be blamed as he had the apex and the lead on track, till Ham shot ahead with a cunning stunt(he has done it before, hence…).

  20. mail123456 said on 12th October 2008, 15:50

    @Lady Snowcat – could you be kind to point us these photos?
    meanwhile I make just a couple of screen shots from video which is published here frame by frame where I can’t see actually when Hamilton hit Kimi:
    http://f1.f-e-n.net/2008/Japan%2010.10%20-%2012.10.2008/FirstCorner/first_corner.html
    this is the closest moment which I can see …

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