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

  1. Graham said on 2nd April 2009, 10:12

    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.

    • Clare msj said on 2nd April 2009, 10:20

      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.

    • Armando666 said on 2nd April 2009, 10:28

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

  2. keepF1technical said on 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.

    • Ben said on 2nd April 2009, 10:22

      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.

  3. PJA said on 2nd April 2009, 10:15

    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.

    http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/74146

  4. Rob B said on 2nd April 2009, 10:16

    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.

    • graham said on 2nd April 2009, 10:25

      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.

    • Rob B said on 2nd April 2009, 11:18

      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..

    • 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.

      /rant.

  5. pSynrg said on 2nd April 2009, 10:16

    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 :)

  6. GQsm said on 2nd April 2009, 10:18

    FFS

    Honesty, unfortunately underrated by many. Great start to the season.
    How dumb is Whitmarsh to think they would get away with this. They didn’t edge on the side of caution in this instance did they.

    Disappointed with Mclaren.

  7. xen said on 2nd April 2009, 10:18

    What a farce.

    It seemed under the safety car none of the drivers had a clue what they were supposed to be doing, like when they had to overtake the safety car. Hamilton and McLaren were probably just as confused about how to deal with this situation too. First Vettels arguably unfair share of the blame for his crash with Kubica, then the 25s penalty on Trulli which was just harsh given the circumstances, and now this? I can’t wait for the diffuser hearing.

  8. chill said on 2nd April 2009, 10:18

    I think, it’s cool with Lewis-Trulli incident now. Lewis probably would have had the 4-th place if he would have told the truth at the first place.

    I also agree with Schumi that Vettel’s punishment was too much as well.

    But, I think they are now having second thoughts on this one as well.

  9. Chris said on 2nd April 2009, 10:20

    As a mccca fan this is very bad news.

    As the points haul was probably the last we were going to see for a while not that has gone it is going to be very bare in the macca trophy cabinet!!!

  10. Paul said on 2nd April 2009, 10:23

    If Lewis Hamilton has been disqualified from the results of the GP then this sounds like he will get no points.

  11. What next? Brawn, Toyota and Williams all disqualified over the diffusers, Ferrari handed the 1-2 instead because had the ‘naughty’ other cars not been running on the same racetrack they wouldn’t have caused the same wear and tear on the Ferrari engines or the mistakes made by the drivers! Well anything is possible these days!

    • Gman said on 2nd April 2009, 20:27

      Indeed, for those of us sick and tired of the FIA and their henchmen stewards deciding the outcome if races, let’s not forget that “diffuser-gate” is still brewing, and that the entire course of the season could be completely changed in the next few weeks :(

  12. S Hughes said on 2nd April 2009, 10:24

    Excellent article Keith. You have really summed it up succinctly. I bet Lewis wonders why he bothers. The thought that such a brilliant drive, just like the one in Spa, should lead to nothing, is such a farce and a smack in the face for F1 fans.

    • Clare msj said on 2nd April 2009, 10:27

      The penalty has nothing to do with his driving, or the actual incident itself – it is they way they kept quiet about slowing down to let Trulli back past that is the problem. It is their own fault – harsh but true.

    • Well not really – in fact it’s more like a warm comforting arm around my shoulder (as an F1 fan), so please don’t bracket all F1 fans under your terms.

      He and his team were disingenuous and have been punished. End of story.

    • SYM said on 2nd April 2009, 12:20

      Well said….

    • Gman said on 2nd April 2009, 20:28

      I agree S Hughes- terribly harsh for the circustances. I’m a Hamilton fan, and thought that was one of his best career drives. But yet again, the stewards much up the whole situation…..

  13. Rui said on 2nd April 2009, 10:24

    What a mess and shame :(
    Ruining a person’s hard work over a faulty message..
    Disqualifying is way too harsh a penalty..

  14. sea11 said on 2nd April 2009, 10:25

    Wow, the FIA has no idea what their doing. i cant believe how long this B.S. has gone on without it being solved immediately. Trulli ran off course so Hamilton moves into P3 and Trulli takes P4, and all the crap after about radio transmissions and what ever else…FORGET ABOUT IT, just throw it out the window, and leave the results as that. I cant stand F1 this year:(

    • todd said on 2nd April 2009, 10:31

      no you have no idea what you are doing. the FIA DQ’s him for lying about giving back the position, by lying they got given the 3rd place.

  15. Rachel said on 2nd April 2009, 10:25

    So, the FIA decide that Hamilton cannot get points for being confused in a situation THEY have allowed to arise by refusing calls to the race director.
    May be the FIA just can’t stand having a black guy doing well with a dog of a car (how many on this forum alone – usually fairly balanced – would have clapped gleefully if Hamilton had had a bad race?). With a fascist like Mosley involved, we can’t expect him to tolerate equality.
    Go on – lambast me for suggesting there’s rascism in F1. And I’ll laugh at you for believing this is “motorsport”. This is politics. Only a mug believes there’s a sporting element left in this organisation – maybe the teams can lay claim to sportsmanlike behaviour at times, but the FIA is about as sporting as UKIP. And about as relevant.

    btw. If I’d suggested that the FIA are anti-McLaren/pro-Ferrari, while less controversial, it would no doubt spark just as much criticism, so I’m sticking my head above the parapet to make the link between fascism and rascism. Daring.

    • Clare msj said on 2nd April 2009, 10:31

      He didnt lose the place because of the confusion, he lost it for not admitting he slowed down to let Trulli back past – leading to Trulli getting unfairly penalised for overtaking under the saftey car when he was left with no choice – just like Hamilton overtkaing Trulli in the first place had no choice. If he had said to the stewards ‘look i slowed down – it was all a bit confusing, i didnt know whether to let him back past or not’ he would probably have fourth place right now – which whilst isnt third – is a lot better than a dsq!

    • S Hughes said on 2nd April 2009, 11:24

      Rachel, you are right. Don’t fear being lambasted. Of course racism is a factor in F1 politics and stewards’ decisions. Anyone who would deny that is someone who wants the status quo because it ties in with their own vile views, or is someone who is too stupid to acknowledge racism exists just because it has never happened to them.

      The FIA just do not want a black man to come into a previously “white man’s sport” and show them how it’s done. It makes me feel physically sick.

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