Hamilton’s third place under threat again (Update: FIA opening new investigation)

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Lewis Hamilton's version of events in Melbourne are in dispute
Lewis Hamilton's version of events in Melbourne are in dispute

Lewis Hamilton may have thought that Toyota’s press release announcing it would not appeal Jarno Trulli’s 25 second penalty was the end of the matter.

But according to a report in Auto Motor und Sport (translation here) Hamilton could still lose the third place he inherited from Trulli at Australia – and potentially a lot more.

Hamilton passed Trulli for third place during the safety car period after Robert Kubica and Sebastian Vettel’s crash. Amateur video evidence later showed Hamilton had done this legally, as Trulli had gone off the track at the time:

However there is not yet any footage of the moment Trulli passed Hamilton, which is at the heart of the stewards’ concerns.

The AMuS story claims Hamilton told a journalist after the race that he was instructed by McLaren to let Trulli past. But Hamilton either did not tell the stewards this, or told them it didn’t happen.

The stewards are now investigating what radio communication there was between Hamilton and the pits at the time, and whether Hamilton’s claim he had slowed down because he was examining his car’s display is true or not.

Toyota accepted they are not able to protest the decision for the same reason that McLaren were not allowed to protest Hamilton’s penalty at Spa last year. However the stewards may choose to investigate of their own volition. And if Hamilton is found to have lied or misled them, the punishment could be severe.

Or, failing that, this is just a strange German April Fools’ joke. What do you think?

Update @ 20:57, 4/1/09 – No April Fools’ joke – the FIA are officially investigating

According to Autosport the stewards are examining a new record of the McLaren radio transmission. The decision will be announced tomorrow, but it’s safe to assume they wouldn’t be calling for a fresh investigation if they hadn’t found something significant.

Update 2 – Thanks to Rob B for posting this recording of Toyota’s radio traffic from the final laps. If only we had McLaren’s too we could do the hearing ourselves!

Read more: Trulli penalised, Hamilton takes third (Update: Video of Hamilton?s pass)

133 comments on “Hamilton’s third place under threat again (Update: FIA opening new investigation)”

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  1. What a suprise hamilton under investigation!

  2. Trulli span off, Hamilton had no option but to pass him. Trulli then regains his position (unseen). It seems very likely that Hamilton/McLaren relinquished the position to be avoid a penalty and leave Trulli/Toyota with the onus of deciding whether to stay ahead or give the position back to Hamilton. Whether through a decision or simple omission, they decided to keep 3rd.

    The question, then, is how both Hamilton and Trulli chose to interpret Hamilton slowing down. Neither driver acknowledged that the position had been given up by Hamilton, which, in my view, suggests neither were confident that saying they were second-guessing the FIA regulations/stewards interpretation of the incident would be sufficient to clear them of any penalty.

    In other words, Hamilton may have been ‘economical’ with the truth, but no more than Trulli being ‘disingenuous’ in claiming he thought Hamilton had some kind of problem. Both were convenient non-truths. Just worth pointing out before everyone comes down solely on Hamilton.

  3. Macademianut
    2nd April 2009, 0:25

    Here we go with more stupidity. They should have simply given the 4th place to Trulli and not penalized him. I say give back the fourth place to Trulli. Let’s get on with the next race.

  4. With the diffuser row and the inability to make any decision that can’t be reversed, particularly one feels if not a ‘favoured’ ream – the FIA continues to make a mockery of itself and the sport.. embarrassing ..

  5. Macademianut
    2nd April 2009, 0:31

    Or even better, let Trulli take his third place. Please don’t massacre the sport for the heck of it. Both drivers did what they did just to avoid the 25s penalty. Let’s see the “stewards” go with the “intent of the rule” and not “letter of the rule”.

  6. Getting really tired of this now.

  7. simple as this. the stewards dont like lewis hamilton.

  8. *groan*

    Really, really, really over these sorts of FIA/Stewarding debacles.

    Seems that all of these after the fact ‘clarifications’ are just muddying the waters further. Keep the race result as Trulli third and Lewis fourth and change the wording in the rule book so this doesn’t arise again. Simple.

  9. McLaren and Hamilton supporters can’t apologise for this one if proved. At some point a cad is a cad.

  10. let trulli gave 3rd place and hamilton 4th finished

  11. Trulli left the track, he lost 3rd place without question.

    I agree with Macademianut that the obvious solution ought to be awarding Trulli 4th position.

    The stewards/FIA are going to play a bigger role in this season than the drivers.

  12. The only fair result really would be to put Trulli third and Hamilton fourth. Basically, Hamilton rightly passed Trulli when he went off, and McLaren foolishly, with an excess of caution, let Trulli back in front again. That would be just, and give everyone the rightful consequences of their farily informed actions.

    Nonetheless, the narrative of Trulli being blamelessly dispossessed of the position, post race, against a deceiving Hamilton is a little rich. From Trulli’s point of view, why would he think he rightfully gained a place from a suddenly crippled McLaren when that car promptly resumed on his tail after he went by? A reasonable person would immediately conclude that there was mix up related to his preceeding off, and whether it constituded enough of a gaffe to lose his spot. He would even ask his team whether he should cede to spot to avoid making the clearest and most readily punished delict in the sport: passing under yellow.

    Let’s hear Trulli’s radio tapes and see if he expressed this view or simply gloated that some fool had just gifted him back the spot he likely fairly lost. I’m a big fan of Trulli and always have been, but I’m not buying any story in which he is some victim here.

  13. For all of you complaining about the FIA already ruining another season of good competition- perhaps the best we have seen in some time- I’m with you all the way!

    I understand that driver safety and fair competition are important, but it’s getting to the point where if a GP involves any action at all (and even sometimes if it dosen’t) then we are already looking at the podium and standings after it ends and asking ourselves “Will the results hold up? Who is being summoned to see the stewards? How many more times will we need to put up with this junk?”

    We’re getting to the point where every move in every race is coming under suspicion, and fans obviously don’t appreciate races that are decided in the steward’s lair and not on the race track. Let’s get on with it, FIA, and let we the fans get back to the racing we all love!!

  14. The stewards made the correct decision with Trulli passing Hamilton under yellow, on all of the evidence that they had at the time.
    If more evidence comes to light, its not their fault if they reinvestigate it.

  15. These situations challenge the sport’s credibility. Why do they always do this? It seems like no one knows whats going on in the FIA.

    Having said that, this is the case with most Multi Nationals/Global Operations anyway..hhahaha

    In you guys’ opinion, which is the most well run sporting body in the world? I’m going with UEFA.

  16. @Jay: There were two changes in track position under the yellow flag when the race was still in progress – it would hurt the sport’s credibility if all this wasn’t investigated!

    This could get interesting: Has there been a precedent of a driver clearly lying to the stewards before? If there isn’t, and HAM is found to have lied, the stewards may have no choice than to be very draconian, since they would want to discourage teams deciding to consider the “tradeoff” of lying or not disclosing the whole truth in the future. They need to make it clearly not worth it.

    1. Kurtosis,

      I’m not questioning the FIA’s decision to investigate the matter, just the manner as to how its being done. Instead of flip-flopping, they should have issued a firm directive from the right get go of this whole thing. Its obvious there is a discrepancy somewhere, be it Trulli, Toyota, Hamilton, Mclaren or the Rules itself.

      They should have come out and said something like “There is a discrepancy in the final standings of the cars of Lewis Hamilton and Jarno Trulli at the finish of the 2009 Australian GP. Until further notice, these standings will remain conclusive (Trulli to remain 3rd and Hamilton 4th). The FIA and stewards will launch a full investigation into this matter and a conclusion will be annouced at a later date at which point the results may be overturned based on the findings of the respective committees.”

      Doesn’t that sound a lot more professional? I’m sorry for sounding like a *****, but I work in a large corporation, this is the classic politically correct statements that I am used to writing and getting when we find ourselves in a bit of a bind.

    2. How about the Massa/Trulli incident at Fuji last year? We don’t know exactly what Massa said to the stewards but, if it was anything like what he said to the press, it was a load of BS. And the stewards bought it…

    3. Clive, not exactly the same. I agree that Massa version of his incident with Bourdais is BS, but it’s still his version and one can’t claim he was telling something he knows is false. He could as easily just be an arrogant driver suffering from delusion. The Fuji stewards decide to believe in Massa over Bourdais, but I imagine they thought Bourdais was wrong in his believe that there were nothing else he could do, not that he was liying to them. Most drivers never think they are wrong about this accidents, anyway.

      The Lewis story is likely much more specific. It all depends on what happened when he was called into question as they might just had made very general questions while Lewis gave equal non-specific answers, in which case he might had been desingenious, but hardly a liar. But if their questions were more carefully done and Lewis gave a specific excuse about why he might have slow down for while and what was on radio tells something else it’s not a case of driver giving his version of an incident anymore, but something that can be verified.

      Most collisions are a matter of interpretation, this is much more particular situation.

    4. Okay, Filipe, I admit I was being somewhat mischievous in introducing that one. Just thought I’d stir things up a bit… ;)

  17. Ok, I did not want to comment on this but I am like most my word this is messed up. This sport is skew with junk that it makes watching it hard to do cause at the end of the day we still dont know the whole stroy of who is where in the standings. I dont know if this is worth it anymore. This may be my last year of F1, I feel that I can not support a sport that cant get its act togeter and I am sure F1 will go on long after I stop watching but this is a sad thing to see. IMO Hamilton and Trulli did what they thought was right. Trulli went off Hamilton went by. Hamilton 3rd Trulli 4th. Simple!

    1. Not exactly. If Hamilton was economical with the truth when he talked to the stewards, and new information comes up, the stewards SHOULD reopen the investigation.

      I’m sure the FIA would only reopen this if something of huge significance came up in the last 7 days.

    2. Don’t tell me Pedro de la Rosa has been writing emails to Fernando again! :-O

    3. Journeyer

      Yes, here:

      The FIA has called the meeting under Article 179b of the International Sporting Code, which gives the governing body the right of review of events if ‘a new element’ is discovered.

  18. MacademiaNut
    2nd April 2009, 4:38

    Can someone clarify this for me.

    When the stewards gave 25s penalty to Trulli, did they question Hamilton and Trulli before giving the penalty? If so, what questions were they asked?

  19. Refereeing and umpiring exists in all sports. Unlike in other sports, in a Formula 1 race the action cannot be stopped while the officials ponder and review evidence (third umpires in cricket, and line reviews in tennis, for e.g.), so it has to be done retrospectively. It’s part of the sport.

    For those whining that this detracts from the sport: be advised that it is not going to get any better this season. Cars have wider front wings, regulations have created more opportunities for cars to tangle, there is a massive difference in tire quality and hence speed differential while racing, and world champions are racing from the back of the grid. There will be many more reviews and incidents. Get used to it – it’s part of the sport.

  20. As we say it here in our country: “Don’t tell a lie coz Liars go to Hell.”

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