Hamilton excluded from Australian Grand Prix, Trulli third

2009 Australian Grand PrixPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Melbourne, 2009

Lewis Hamilton has lost his third place in the Australian Grand Prix following a new investigation by the FIA stewards.

Jarno Trulli’s third place has been reinstated. His claim Hamilton had deliberately slowed to let the Toyota driver pass during a safety car period was upheld.

The FIA examined new evidence from McLaren’s radio communications which proved McLaren instructed Hamilton to slow down.

After the race Hamilton and McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh gave conflicting accounts of what happened to reporters: Hamilton claiming he had been told to let Trulli past, Whitmarsh saying Trulli passed Hamilton of his own accord.

Before the appeal Trulli said:

The FIA really got it wrong in that decision. We have all the evidence, including Hamilton’s admission, that I did not overtake him. He let me pass.

More needless controversy

It?s clear McLaren and Hamilton made a mistake by first encouraging Trulli to pass Hamilton on the track, and then not explaining why they had done so to the FIA. They have paid the price for this error of judgement.

But it is equally clear that the both the FIA?s rules and their implementation of them are far from perfect.

Hamilton originally passed Trulli when the Toyota driver went off the track during a safety car period. At that moment McLaren were unsure whether he had broken the rules or not. It later transpired they had not, but given their track record with the FIA stewards it is hardly surprising they were paranoid about making a mistake.

This sort of confusion might once have been resolved straight away with a call to the race director to check the correct running order of the cars. But when McLaren tried this at Spa last year they were incorrectly informed they had not transgressed, and ended up getting penalised

Max Mosley subsequently declared teams should not communicate with the race director on matters like this during the race. This needs to change.

A short message from race control could have informed McLaren and Toyota who was in the right straight away, and cleared up the matter without any fuss. Such calls are commonplace in other racing series, particularly in America, and there is no obvious reason why F1 couldn?t do the same.

Instead we have the same old story of the stewards fiddling with the results after the chequered flag, and F1 spoiling an excellent weekend?s racing by following it with days of needless acrimony.

Update: Full verdict from the stewards

At the first hearing following the Australian Grand Prix the Stewards did not have the benefit of the radio exchanges between driver No 1 Lewis Hamilton and his Team Vodafone McLaren Mercedes nor did they have access to the comments to the Media given by Lewis Hamilton immediately after the end of the race.

From the video recordings available to the Stewards during the hearing it appeared that Jarno Trulli?s car left the track and car No 1 moved into third place. It then appeared that Trulli overtook Hamilton to regain third place, which at the time was prohibited as it was during the Safety Car period.

During the hearing, held approximately one hour after the end of the race, the Stewards and the Race Director questioned Lewis Hamilton and his Team Manager David Ryan specifically about whether there had been an instruction given to Hamilton to allow Trulli to overtake. Both the driver and the Team Manager stated that no such instruction had been given. The Race Director specifically asked Hamilton whether he had consciously allowed Trulli to overtake. Hamilton insisted that he had not done so.

The new elements presented to the Stewards several days after the 2009 Australian Grand Prix which led to the reconvened Stewards Meeting clearly show that:

a. Immediately after the race and before Lewis Hamilton attended the Stewards Meeting he gave an interview to the Media where he clearly stated that the Team had told him to let Trulli pass.

b. Furthermore, the radio exchanges between the driver and the Team contain two explicit orders from the Team to let the Toyota pass.

The Stewards, having learned about the radio exchanges and the Media interview, felt strongly that they had been misled by the driver and his Team Manager which led to Jarno Trulli being unfairly penalised and Lewis Hamilton gaining third place.

The FIA has also published a recording of an interview Hamilton gave to the media and a part of his team’s radio broadcast.

586 comments on “Hamilton excluded from Australian Grand Prix, Trulli third”

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  1. What a Joke… This is Crazy…

    1. Whewbacca the Cookie
      2nd April 2009, 11:52

      Word is McLaren is not going to appeal. They seem to have accepted the judgment.

    2. McLaren don’t have a good track record with the FIA and appeals, do they? LOL.

      What Max said: really, pretty stupid. Race positions should be decided during the race, never after it.

    3. No it’s not a joke…

  2. If he did not tell the stewards pertinent details he should be punished accordingly. Especially when he goes blabbing it elsewhere and ‘forgets’ to tell the stewards some pretty important details, thats just poor and bad sportsmanship. He should be telling the stewards everything that happens, even if its to his own detriment.

    1. Whewbacca the Cookie
      2nd April 2009, 11:31

      Second that… If he did indeed hold back some truth he has deserved the penalty.

    2. I think people should back down from the Hamilton fetishizing – ‘he,’ ‘he’, ‘he.’ It’s kind of juvenile. Hamilton told various sources he’d been told to let Trulli pass. If McLaren then made a TEAM decision to claim otherwise, the onus is on them, not Hamilton, who was basically placed in an impossible position by his employers.

      I think the decision’s right, though, at a team sporting level. McLaren are looking just as shoddy as they did in the spygate and Alonso episodes.

    3. I agree with David. McLaren have caused this to come about, not Hamilton. Listening to his team radio, he seemed like a young driver trying to find out where he should be, not like a cold, calculating tarred-with-the-same-brush-as-Schumacher figure. It seems to me that the team have decided to keep this info from the stewards to gain podium prestige, but failed to inform their driver before he spoke to the media. They deserve the punishment, but Hamilton doesn’t. He does have to wear it, however. Team sport ‘n’all.

  3. FIA makes F1 a shambles again

    1. FIA’s contribution to this problem was, as stated before, Mosley’s rather ridiculous undermining of Charlie Whiting’s authority as race director.

      And the rather strict options about what penalties can be handed out (though, as discussed earlier, before Hamilton/McLaren’s misleading of the stewards came to light, in this case a 10-slot grid penalty plus dropping Trulli to 4th would have been a more appropriate penalty)

      What’s mindboggling is, was the team aware that Hamilton had given the interview? And they think the stewards will not find out? They’ve pretty much given away any chance that they will be treated fairly from now on — any of their testimony would be treated with justified suspicion by stewards in the upcoming races, who would not want to be cuckolded as the Melbourne ones did.

  4. I’m getting fed up with F1.

    Not that I want to see Lewis and VMM getting away with stuff when they are clearly misleading others, but because of the constant inconsistency of the stewards and the FIA. Get it right on the day, during the race and let that be an end to it!

    Pathetic state of affairs.

  5. Go Renault 09"
    2nd April 2009, 10:03


  6. Rubbish! So what does this mean? Does Lewis keep fourth? Or does he get the 25 second penalty which would place him 12th?

    If the team is at fault, the driver should not be penalized. I know its a team sport but this is clearly the teams wrong doing. Strip the team of Contructors points or fine them, they should strip the driver of points.

    1. Hamilton gets disqualified from the classification. If they did mislead the stewards then it is just, but as he went and told the media I don’t beleive it was intentional. If they intended to mislead you’d imagine they would get their stories straight…..

  7. Philip Mortstedt
    2nd April 2009, 10:04

    Forget rule changes, this is what F1 really is, needless, continous post race controversy and meddling which essentially makes the idea of a race completely pointless.

  8. So let me get this straight. And before I start, McLaren are geese for not being honest.


    Trulli slides off. Slides back on then, knowing he cannot pass under safety car, did it anyway. Then, after the usual FIA faffing, he’s penalised 25s and Lewis gets the third that was technically his anyway.

    So they’re recalled, despite Toyota giving up (ie declining to press charges) a new meeting is called, McLaren’s flexibility with the truth uncovered and, despite the fact that Trulli had broken the rules, he is reinstated. So instead of just bumping Lewis back to fourth, he is DQed?


    1. yeah DQ seems harsher than trulli’s 25 second penalty.

      end of the day, trulli went off, they let him back in front.

      then the fia stuck it’s nose in, messed up the results, threw in a penalty, then, messed the results again and threw in a bigger penalty.

      really the teams sorted it out on the track it all was fair.

      as much as i really don’t want to see all the whining, it does seem harsh for something that was never an issue.

    2. oh i see why now. because once the FIA decided to investigate the 3rd place they then hid the evidence and mislead the FIA into giving them the position rather than telling the fair truth and allowing toyota to retain the 3rd place.

      oh well, burnt for being bad.

    3. Williams 4ever
      2nd April 2009, 12:24

      That Trulli Slid of Behind the Safety Car, he was entitled to get back his position as per rules. So McLaren like good boys gave back Trulli his position. Stewards in Australia were incompetent enough Not to know the Rules deemed Trulli wrongfully overtook Lewis behind Safety car. And stripped the Italian off his righful result. Now another bunch of idiots try to undo it without honestly confessing botch up was at their end. And Hamilton loses his fourth place. Two wrongs doesn’t make it right, it just makes bloody screw up.
      To be honest I am not a fan of the brit ( solely due to his loud mouth and “ME” Talk), but the kid is wronged this time for sure. SPA actions of the Brit were contentious for sure.. but this time around he is being wronged

    4. Correct events ; Trulli slides off track, Hamilton slow s down (80KMH too slow for safety car regime),Trulli overtakes Ham ,Trulli disqualified after interview with stewards , Hamilton mislead the stewards pass and do not say anything to stop the wrong decision to disqualify Trulli. What a champion!!(thanks to Glock )
      By the way you defend the cheating guy looks like you are english!!

  9. It just says Ham lost his 3rd, so he’s most probably been put back to 4th. Its not the end of the world people.

    1. He has been disqualified. So he will not be classified.

    2. Oh well. He misled the stewards so he deserves what he gets.

    3. I wouldn’t say Hamilton mislead people. He told the truth originally, it seems his team lead him into the situation and then lied.

  10. Starting to think its all fixed now.

    1. You mean you only just think that?

  11. Hmmm, if he didnt tell the stewards stuff that he later admitted in an interview then fair enough, he should be penalised for it, although it does seem a little harsh given that the whole situation was rather confusing to start with. And as much as i think that Trulli deserves his points back, how have they removed a 25s penalty – they wouldnt have been able to remove a drive thru – is that not why you cant appeal it in the first place! Technically, both drivers should have then recieved the 25s penalty if they were going to do anything about it – rather than remove Hamilton altogether, not that it makes much difference.

    Ideally id have liked the original result to stand, and I am a fan of neither driver – but they both deserved some points! If only Hamilton had been honest to the stewards in the first place thats what would have happened! All over an extra one point.

    1. I agree that if Hamilton was misleading, he should get some punishment, but to be DQed from the whole thing is terrible.

      I hate to sound like a broken record, but do any of us think that Raikkonen and/or Massa would be excluded from the results if they had been in the same position?

  12. Well it isn’t a massive surprise Hamilton and McLaren getting penalised is it, what are the odds they won’t be allowed to appeal?

    I hope the FIA release all the evidence they have to make their decision as transparent as possible. From what I read so far it is based on the radio transmissions not matching Hamilton’s and McLaren’s statements, so I have to ask why did the stewards not look into these before issuing their original penalty in Australia considering how big an impact it had on the final results, as Trulli lost his podium and ending up with nothing.

  13. Go Renault 09"
    2nd April 2009, 10:12

    they FIA need to clarify things sooner so we don’t have issues and results to races being decided nearly a week after the race has finished.
    I agree that lewis and Mclaren should not get away with this behavior or actions and is probably mostly there fault it has gone on so long. if there wasn’t conflicting story’s from them it should have been resolved by monday at latest.
    Oh well bring on Malaysia i say!!

  14. Ferrari no points so far, therefore Mclaren are’nt allowed any points so far!! is someone trying to line up the season for a grand finale at the end again. Or am I just being paranoid My guess is via the FIA the season will be decided at the end. Come on chaps I thought you wanted cars to race not deciding who wins in the stewards office.

    1. I dont think this has anything to do with Ferrari – Lewis and Mclaren broke the rules by allowing Trulli to get penalised for something that wasnt his fault. If he had admitted it straight away that he slowed down to let him back past, he would probably have fourth place right now.

    2. yeah that’s right bring ferrari into it…i knew someone had to be that pathetic!

  15. keepF1technical
    2nd April 2009, 10:14

    since when should the outcome of a race be dictated by what a driver SAYS. Its his actions that we all tune in to see.

    so how many post race interviews do you think we will get from drivers now? It will be ‘no comment’ to every question

    nice one FIA… you cant write rules, you cant be consistent. Why not just tell us now who will be champion.

    Keith, how about running a pole to see who agrees the fia are any good at their job??? could be the most one sided yet.

    1. oh c’mon mate, the drivers can say whatever the heck they want to reporters, as long as they tell the stewards the truth!

      Don’t be blaming the stewards for Hamilton’s and MacLaren’s lack of honesty.

  16. To clear up according to Autosport Hamilton has been disqualified from the Australian GP, not just demoted back to 4th as some seem to beleive.


  17. C’mon enough with the FIA/Ferrari stuff. As a fan of Lewis and Mclaren I agree with the stewards. If they lied or did not say something they knew vindicate Toyota then the penalty is fair. They should no by now to be open and honest. Perverting the course of justice. say no more.

    1. I see your point I really do and accept that, but its all kicking off again isn’t it, why do they have to meddle with the race results days after. It just isn’t racing to decide all this after, in other sports the refs decision is final. Does this mean we should look into Englands world cup win in 66 and have a re-think!!! Maybe Eddie the eagle should have won gold after all so on and so forth.

    2. I agree Graham, it’s a little frustrating. Ref’s decision is final.. But F1 is a dictatorship!

      They may need to impliment a de-brief after race prior to the podium to allow ll issues to be resolved. It wouldn’t do much for the show but it may avert some un-necassary messings about like this.

      On a lighter note – I suggested earlier in the week to do the parade lap and then see if they can borrow a lotto machine from camelot to draw the race results..

    3. I see your point as well, but the FIA are making the appearance that McLaren/Hamilton ‘lied’ (or rather ‘intentionally mislead’) without showing us their documentation of the original hearing. How can we trust that their interpretation of the conversation that took place as FACT without hearing it. Everyone can interpret things differently and I would chalk this up to that sort of circumstance.

      Its pretty clear McLaren’s position on this after hearing the audio from the team radio. THEY DIDNT KNOW WHAT TO DO AT THE TIME and were most likely still unclear after the race. Like them, I too would have assumed that, with the radio transmissions being COMPLETELY OPEN, the FIA ‘stewards’ would have done their JOB and reviewed all the facts before making a decision in the first place. Granted, I would have tried to get that clarification, but I can easily see (again, without the actual transcripts of what happened behind closed doors) where the confusion could run over into the ‘hearing’ that occurred after the race and Hamilton made the mistake. FIA wants to portray it as an outright lie without providing the evidence to back it up. If indeed it was, shame on McLaren/Hamilton – but I just don’t believe it was an intentional effort to mislead the officials.

      At worst, give Trulli back his 3rd place and Hamilton his 4th because Hamilton, it seems, did slow at the order of the team to let Trulli by, or at least he slowed as a byproduct of being on the radio repeatedly and veered off line. Who says you have to stay on the ‘racing line’ when behind the safety car? Disqualifying a driver because one interpretation of the conversation/questions (again, unpublished, so I do not know exactly how they were worded) differs from another is highly suspect. I am sure this is an unprecedented situation, as are most situations Hamilton gets involved in, it would seem. But, when there are precedents (Spa, last year) they just get thrown out because its him driving.


  18. Lol, this just adds to the spectacle. If Lewis’s is not careful he may just get that ‘Schumacher v2.0’ tag after all. Ooh, what a shame :)

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