Hamilton excluded from Australian Grand Prix, Trulli third

2009 Australian Grand Prix

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.

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

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  1. Cameron said on 2nd April 2009, 17:50

    After listening to the audio, McLaren and Hamilton look like idiots. Why would they not just tell the stewards it was an honest mistake, and take the 3rd they were going to get. Idiots!

    Now, to most of the F1 fans around the world, McLaren and Hamilton are nothing more than cheats. Their reputation is stuffed!

  2. Antifia said on 2nd April 2009, 17:52

    It comes down to this: either LH/Mclaren lied or the FIA did. If Mclaren are the victims here, it is a clear case of slender. They should bring the FIA to court and perhaps they would even get those USD 100 million back (what was that for again? Oh, yeah, I remember now).

  3. bloody ridiculous – teams spend months preparing for this, the money involved just getting to the starting grid of the first race is staggering. Then after the first qualifying session, the grid is re-arranged overnight -because nobody seems to know the rules!

    Now this, race results decided by commitee after the event – because nobody seems to know the rules!

  4. Stomp & Steer said on 2nd April 2009, 17:58

    When a full course yellow is displayed, either stop all cars on the track away from the mess to be cleaned up or allow cars to continue to circulate the track behind a pace car.
    Positions will be reverted back to the previous lap before the yellow. Those going into the pits will line up at the rear of cars on track.
    Only laps under green will count as laps completed.
    Forget about time limits. If I pay to see a race I want the advertised amount of laps to be under green not cars passing by on a yellow, yet counted as a racing lap.
    What about fuel & tires? To bad. Teams will have to plan these extra stops as the race works to a conclusion.
    I know, I know this is too simple for a supposed ________
    (you fill in your thought) race organization to adapt.

  5. Number 38 said on 2nd April 2009, 18:08

    England’s newest MBE …. LIED !
    Had the kid kept his yapper shut in public he could have pulled it off. I back ALL Empire drivers but this one has been a problem from the get-go. The sad part is he’s not just tarnished himself but all of F1. Of course the FIA are just power hungry idiots, Trulli’s penalty was unwarranted and so is Hamilton’s disqualification. Returned to 4th would have been sufficent.

    • Macademianut said on 2nd April 2009, 18:18

      I think I play both sides of the coin here; there’s no evidence that HAM lied or what question the stewards asked him exactly. The stewards are saying that he lied. If true (they release audio or show a transcript), I think McLaren should be banned for a few races.

  6. kurtosis said on 2nd April 2009, 18:15

    Martin Whitmarsh in his Q&A with Autosport [1] says:
    “Once that instruction was given to Lewis, he did not agree. He said: ‘Look, the guy was off the circuit, I don’t need to do this.’ A discussion was occurring and before that discussion was finished, Trulli had re-passed.”

    This ordering of events is simply not true. If you look at the radio transcript, Lewis, on receiving the instruction to let Trulli pass, immediately says “OK” and lets him pass. He begins to “disagree” only well after Trulli retook track position.

    Infer what you will from this inconsistency, but there it is.

    [1] http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/74153

  7. Am loving the arguements, looks like Lewis and Mclaren both were caught out lying…you gotta love the F1 drama!

    • Macademianut said on 2nd April 2009, 18:20

      I for one can believe that FIA would go to any extreme to enforce their power and make everyone look bad. Their goal is to make FOTA invalid.

      The drivers cannot stay united. FIA puts out a character assassination that HAM is a liar. Show us the evidence that HAM and Team Manager lied. Then, expel them from a few races or even the 2009 championship.

  8. Scott Joslin said on 2nd April 2009, 18:22

    I am seriously appalled at Mclaren & Lewis for this.

    They are guilty of lying and taking not just the stewards for a bunch of idiots, but us the fans as well as they seek to cheat us out of the correct result.

    Where they so stupid to think that they could change their story after the race in which they had already discussed letting Trulli through on the radio?!!!

    To me the punishment of disqualifying Lewis form the Australian Grand Prix results is not enough. They are doing something that is rotten to the core. The FIA should come down on Mclaren hard to try and ward off any other attempts by other teams to do this – not that I am sure any other team would be so arrogant to do so I feel they should be banned from the Malaysian Grand Prix at least.

    Mclaren now have history of being not telling the truth and the damage this does to their integrity is huge in my opinion.

    I am glad Trulli has been reinstated and hope Whitmarsh gets a grip on his team as it far too frequently displays poor sportsmanship!


    • Scott Joslin – I assume you are British?

      Then you’d do well to remember that famous “British Justice” you are so proud of, as enshrined in the Magna Carta.

      There just so happens to be a little fundamental inclusion in the British Justice System that you are innocent until proven guilty. So where is the proof?
      And remember, some bland press release from the FIA is not proof. Please provide your evidence that Lewis is ‘guilty’. I’m sure I’m not the only person who would like to see it. And was this a tribunal where Lewis was under oath? Did he swear to tell the truth? And why are the FIA suddenly such moral watchdogs, given S&Max is their president? Hardly a ringing endorsement.

      I’d also like to remind you that court transcripts are generally available to the public in the real world. So why is the FIA not releasing the transcripts of the meeting?

  9. Banishment from Malaysia GP is excessive, but having both cars starting from pit lane would be fitting. Make them compete, keep 20 cars on track, and minimize their points scoring potential.

    • Scott Joslin said on 2nd April 2009, 18:35

      Not strong enough in my opinion! What they did was attempt to cheat. meaning they tried to deceive on purpose.

      3 race ban is more like what I expect!

    • Cameron said on 2nd April 2009, 18:38

      Give me a break… like no other team has ever cheated/lied.

      We all remember a certain Ferrari driver pulling over to block the track at Monaco, and telling porkies about that. And what about all the drivers in the past that have claimed they ‘couldn’t see’ another car after an on track incident?

    • Scott Joslin said on 2nd April 2009, 18:43

      Cameron, in all those cases we could not prove beyond reasonable doubt that they were done to cheat on purpose. It is your view against the driver.

      There are hard facts here in this case – so that is the difference.

      Honda / BAR were punished for cheating – why would they go easy in this case?

    • Cameron said on 3rd April 2009, 7:12

      Until the audio from the hearing is released, I have not seen any proof, other than the FIA’s word, that McLaren and Lewis Hamilton have lied.

  10. rfs said on 2nd April 2009, 18:31

    I really am amazed at how the FIA, Lewis and McLaren can make such a simple looking issue get blown completely out of proportion. It’s clear that Hamilton didn’t tell the stewards the truth about how Trulli got past him and should be punished, but ideally the stewards should have immediate access to all radio transmissions and race video from every car so they can make decisions based on solid evidence instead of someone’s word.

    As a Hamilton fan, I just hope he isn’t punished further and that he and McLaren can bounce back from this somehow.

  11. Jess said on 2nd April 2009, 18:34

    Ok so Hamilton lied to the stewards and then told the truth to the rest of the world. I see I am not alone on how the heck that would come to pass.

  12. Oliver said on 2nd April 2009, 18:35

    There are 2 different issues here and the FIA is mixing things up.
    Did Hamilton slow down for Trulli to pass?
    Did Hamilton lie to the FIA?

    If Hamilton didn’t slow down for Trulli, then trulli should also lose his position.

    If Hamilton lied to the FIA, then he shouldn’t lose his position if the first question is false, but should face a seperate disciplinary action.

    • Macademianut said on 2nd April 2009, 18:37

      No wonder FIA website nor the formula1 website doesn’t take any comments.

      This is turning into the worst reality show.

    • Macademianut said on 2nd April 2009, 18:38

      Also, where are Trulli’s and Toyota’s conversation about this incident?

      It appears that they too would have had the same confusion.

    • David said on 2nd April 2009, 19:33


      There’s an account by Trulli here. Though I’m not at all convinced Trulli thought Hamilton had a problem with car: he no doubt thought Hamilton/McLaren too were unsure what the hell should happen.

      As Oliver says, it all turns on whether Hamilton slowed down (a lot) or veered off line, which would tend to suggest he had in fact followed the team order (even though it was soon after rescinded). Funny that FIA didn’t include this evidence (telemetry, video?) in their statement. If he didn’t do anything much different, as Whitmarsh said he didn’t, I think McLaren should pursue this to at least clear his name.

  13. Mig.Golf said on 2nd April 2009, 18:40

    There is some weird stuff here… Some of you guys must be blind to the evidence and think only in the hatred you have for Lewis Hamilton…

    After seeing all evident, from the FIA official site, all news, all comments…

    I only ASK you guys ONE QUESTION:

    People make mistakes – McLaren has made then in the past, as Ferrari and other team and nobody is perfect.

    I could even accept all this as a McLaren error that leads Trulli to make another error, although he will not be punished for it now.


    Believing McLaren did all this to gain ONE POINT ?!?!?!?

    Are you guys thinking??!??!

    How much it cost just to put a racing car on that grid?

    You really think (as those FIA mental retarded) that they DID RISK IT ALL JUST TO GAIN AN EXTRA POINT, knowing FIA can’t wait for something to drag McLaren through the mud and they could loose it all?….


    Call it conspiracy theory, call it whatever, but I can’t be convinced of that.

    Believe me that even if McLaren is not racing for winning, there will always be something those FIA henchmen will try to blame it on them.

    Lewis won the Championship in 2008, but he will never win again, not because he doesn’t have a good car (maybe not today, but things change), not because he is not on a good Team (is the best in F1 right now) but because Briton Mr. Max Mosley has a thing against him and the Team, and ever since that preposterous sex scandal that torn motorsport world apart, that guy is playing at the attack, not on defense and the power he has from all lobbies is strong enough to turn all international members of FIA, that demanded his resignation after that grotesque thing, around… What happened? What did they do so everybody shut up and nobody talks about that? Is he even considering run again? My God… What’s happened to the World? Is everybody just plain crazy?!…

    Mark my words – McLaren can be his main target, but other will suffer as well – the man is senile….
    Some commission, FOTA, whatever MUST that command and retire Max and Bernie and send them to do some comedy act on TV or something… This is not funny, this SHOULD BE FORMULA ONE!!! But it’s not… IT’S A JOKE!!!

    • Touche.

      Seems this subject has attracted a lot of folks whose hatred for Lewis blinds them to reality.

      You just have to ask yourself why, don’t you? Not even MS at his worst attracted this sort of vilification.

      On another note, I see the FIA has gone very silent on their Race Against Racism campaign…..

  14. Luigismen said on 2nd April 2009, 18:40

    All this is pure BS

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