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

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)”

  1. Mclaren should have investigated with the stewards first as to whether they were required to let trulli back past.

    After the Spa debacle last year the teams were told they’re not allowed to do that. Which I think is wrong – it happens in other championships and, as this sorry mess goes, it could spare us a lot of trouble.

    thanks Keith i forgot about that:)

  2. From the radio the team asks Jarno when did Hamilton overtake you? Trulli replys saying when he was out joining the traffic, which i assume he means he was off the track about to rejoin.
    The team then tries to clarify if Hamiltons pass was under SC, Trulli replys thats its difficult to say.
    The team then asks if it was under the area of the yellow flag, Trulli confirms it was under yellow flags, which is kinda obvious because if the yellows wernt already out because of the SC they most certainly should have been waving for Trullis car off the track.
    Trulli also tells his team he passed Hamilton and slowed but Hamilton didnt pass again.

    Clearly confusion over how to proceed in the Toyota team, i imagine similar confusion for the McLaren team. Its a shame they can no longer trust or rely on Charlie Whiting’s interpretation of the rules or his guidance.

    IMHO, after the race the stewards should have declared Hamilton 3rd and Trulli 4th. Though i suspect Max is still hurting after being forced to stand next to Ron Dennis and clarify his position after virtually calling RD a liar to the worlds media last year during the McLaren witch hunt. Regardless of the outcome of this issue i wonder how much longer we have to tolerate a vindictive FIA boss, despite what he said last season i fear he still has scores to settle and will campaign to remain in power for another term.

  3. with advice like Whitmarsh & co’s (re giving place back to Trulli and then obfuscating this), it feels LH’s most sensible option is to drive for a team in which Bernie has a commercial interest (whether declared or not in some tax haven). It appears incongruous for someone to drive out of skin for 99% of the race and then let muppets take over.

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