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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    • Cameron said on 3rd April 2009, 7:15

      Still no transcript of the hearing… seems really odd that the FIA would release everything, except that. Really odd.

  1. dan said on 2nd April 2009, 20:20

    for everyone who thinks that this is a crazy decision, it isnt, there is big evidence mclaren let trulli pass. its all in this car-to-pit transmission:

    Transcript of the radio transmission between Lewis Hamilton and his team:

    Team: OK Lewis, you should need to make sure your delta is positive over the safety car line. After the safety car line the delta doesn’t matter but no overtaking. No overtaking.

    Lewis Hamilton: The Toyota went off in a line at the second corner, …, is this OK?

    Team: Understood, Lewis. We’ll confirm and get back to you.

    LH: He was off the track. He went wide.

    Team: Lewis, you need to allow the Toyota through. Allow the Toyota through now.

    LH: OK.

    LH: He’s slowed right down in front of me.

    Team: OK, Lewis. Stay ahead for the time being. Stay ahead. We will get back to you. We are talking to Charlie.

    LH: I let him past already.

    Team: OK, Lewis. That’s fine. That’s fine. Hold position. Hold position.

    LH: Tell Charlie I already overtook him. I just let him past.

    Team: I understand Lewis. We are checking. Now can we go to yellow G 5, yellow Golf 5.

    LH: I don’t have to let him past I should be able to take that position back, if he made a mistake.

    Team: Yes, we understand Lewis. Let’s just do it by the book. We are asking Charlie now. You are in P4. If you hold this position. Just keep it together.

    Team: OK Lewis, your KERS is full, your KERS is full. Just be aware. You can go back to black F2, black Foxtrott 2.

    LH: Any news from Charlie whether I can take it back or not.

    Team: Still waiting on a response Lewis, still waiting.

    Team: Lewis, work on your brakes please. Front brakes are cold.

    Team: If we are able to use one KERS that would be good. If you deploy KERS please do so now.

    Team: OK, Lewis, this is the last lap of the race. At the end of the lap the safety car will come in, you just proceed over the line without overtaking, without overtaking. We are looking into the Trulli thing, but just hold position.

    • pSynrg said on 2nd April 2009, 20:32

      Thanks for that Dan. God knows how or why they screwed up so royally after this.
      Seems to me like Lewis IS following team orders.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 2nd April 2009, 20:39

      there is big evidence mclaren let trulli pass.

      That isn’t why they gave the penalty. Read the stewards explanation again:

      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

    • Does anyone know what “yellow golf 5″ and “black foxtrott 2″ is? obviously codeword for something.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 2nd April 2009, 20:59

      It’s part of the NATO phonetic alphabet:

      f = foxtrot
      g = golf

      Full list here. Each letter corresponds to a distinctive word and they’re commonly used over radio broadcasts so letters can be easily identified.

      Presumably the colours refer to a dial or something on the steering wheel.

    • Thanks for clearing that up!

  2. Heckie said on 2nd April 2009, 20:27

    @ i Blaze

    Good links. Pretty damning evidence I would say.
    Honda got a 2 race ban for cheating back in 2005 with the extra fuel tank. I would expect at least the same in this instance.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 2nd April 2009, 20:43

      What the FIA has quoted proves McLaren instructed Hamilton to let Trulli pass. But it doesn’t prove they lied about it – that’s McLaren’s word against the FIA’s. Perhaps they will publish the transcript of the stewards’ hearing later, and then we’ll know for sure.

  3. Keith Duncan said on 2nd April 2009, 20:31

    Can we have a way of filtering out comments with unbelievable spelling mistakes? Ok, so “deliberately” can be a tricky one for non-English speakers, but “McLaren”? Please, i don’t want to read any more about “Maclaren” cheaterzzz…

  4. wazithim said on 2nd April 2009, 20:34

    Hamilton could still face a suspension or worse disqualification this season!


    • John H said on 3rd April 2009, 0:24

      ridiculous. Makes me want Hamilton to quit this stupid ‘sport.’ Alonso had it right – this isn’t a sport anymore.

    • Bernification said on 3rd April 2009, 1:24

      That would be disguting.

      His highness Schumacher can ram people off the track, ignore black flags, park in the middle of the track and get nothing but a slap on the wrist and worship from Max and Bernice.

      I can’t see McLaren being so stupid as trying to lie to the stewards. I’m reserving judgement on this one until the transcripts of the enquiry are released.

      Massive own goal if they did though. Really silly.

  5. Gman said on 2nd April 2009, 20:49

    What a bunch of junk!!!

    Keith did a very good job on the article, and my favorite point he makes is about other racing series where the teams and drivers can check in with officials about the running order. On that same note, we don’t see running orders and official results being changed days afterward very often in those series either.

    I can see that Lewis and the team had a mix-up at best, a deliberate mislead at worst. If they are going tobe punished, fine, but do it after the race, and get it right the first time!!! This political nonsense is ruining the sport- I really don’t even feel like dragging myself out of bed at 4:30 AM this weekend to watch Malaysia when I know Lewis is going to be hit with another joker penalty. And if he’s excluded, they’ll figure out something to get Heikki with, or maybe Max and co. will want to slow down the Brawns and change that result after the race as well.

    The FIA are incompetent morons- as I said before, the officials at my local dirt track oval do a more professional job of regulating races.

  6. Bernard said on 2nd April 2009, 20:54

    It’s unreasonable to conclude that Hamilton would tell the worlds media one scenario before telling the stewards the another. Especially due to the fact that they have access to radio, data and footage which as it happens confirms the truth of his (and Trullis’) statements.

    There is clearly a misunderstanding in the stewards meeting, definately not a conscious attempt to mislead. When people of different nationalities enter a conversation is it out of the question to have some misunderstandings?

    The stewards have got this shockingly wrong. But why am I not entirely suprised?

    Hamilton did nothing wrong.
    Trulli did nothing wrong.

    The stewards made a catastrophic blunder by acting on instinct instead of the evidence.

    • Than you for bringing that up. I actually have thought the same thing, but with no evidence to base it on. Could having English as a foreign language caused any issue in the confusion at the initial hearing? I like to think not, but I still cant imagine that McLaren/Hamilton would intentionally try to mislead the stewards into thinking one thing when all the public data they had access to said something else. Especially if McLaren thought the stewards had already done their due diligence and reviewed the audio/video before the hearing.

    • Patrickl said on 2nd April 2009, 21:45

      The guy who did the hearings is Alan Donnely. He’s Brittish right?

      Just checked him on Wiki. This is what Wikipedia has to say about him:
      “He is known for awarding penalties to Lewis Hamilton, which are often controversial. He previously worked for Ferrari.”

      Still I agree completely with your sentiment (I think I posted the same thing here a few posts up actually). The whole thing just makes no sense at all.

      BTW the team probably was speaking the truth when they said they didn’t order Hamilton to let Trulli pas. The dufus on the radio was quite surprised that Trulli was passed already. I guess he forgot he just ordered Hamilton to let Trulli pass “NOW”.

      Could be that Hamilton was confused too. He obviously was told that he should not have let Trulli pass, so he might very well have assumed that he heard it wrong the first time. So He might have assumed that he didn’t officially get the order to let him pass.

      To the press he would still have to explain why he let Trulli pass and that was because he thought he got the order. Makes sense he leaves the “thought” out in his explanation to the press, because it sounds rather silly.

      Also, the team WAS discussing the matter and during this Trulli passed and the team did NOT expect this. So far everything Whitmarsh said adds up.

      The only thing that does not compute is the claim that Hamilton would have said that he did not consciously let Trulli pass. I cannot believe he actually said that. Or not as literaly as they claim he did.

      It’s pretty likely this was a simple misunderstanding. For instance, maybe they asked “Did you want to let Trulli pass?”, Answer “No”.

      We really need the transcripts of the hearings. Something very fishy is going on there.

  7. Noel said on 2nd April 2009, 20:56

    I haven’t read through all the comments – what a response! But I’d like to add my thoughts.

    McLaren have been punished under the rules for what I’d call ‘unsportsmanlike conduct’, and they should take it on the chin and move on.

    In typical F1 style, they pushed the boundaries and got caught. They deserve their punishment.

    I’m a McLaren fan, and I’m slightly ashamed.

    • Clare msj said on 2nd April 2009, 21:48

      Oooh ‘unsportsmanlike conduct’ – thats a good way to describe it. I agree with what you said there, and I really do hope it all moves on soon – each race should be done and dusted by the next one at the very latest! I dotn want to go into the Malaysian race wondering if Hamilton will recieve any firther punihsment – he could end up racing and getting disqualified anyways – would be a waste. Not that I think he should get owt else, but it seems like theres a good chance a race ban or so may occur – but they cant justify giving anything worse than BAR/Honda fuel tank issues the other year!

    • Clare msj said on 2nd April 2009, 21:49

      Goodness me, I do apologise for my typing there it was horrendous!

  8. Sherman Tank said on 2nd April 2009, 20:58

    Feel sorry for Hamilton but the evidence is their, just seen the vt from Trulli’s car on BBC and it leaves no question.

    Begining to doubt every result on F1 races as it seems all to often the result is changed off the track.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 2nd April 2009, 21:01

      just seen the vt from Trulli’s car on BBC and it leaves no question.

      Hamilton has been punished because he and the team allegedly lied to the stewards. Unless the video from Trulli’s camera also caught a glimpse inside the stewards’ room after the race, it doesn’t tell us what we need to know.

    • Sherman Tank said on 2nd April 2009, 21:12

      Fair comment Keith,

      I wish this sport wasn’t so flustrating.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 2nd April 2009, 21:21

      You and me both! :-)

    • Patrickl said on 3rd April 2009, 0:04

      Actually that camera footage from Trulli would shed some light on this.

      Hamilton claims he didn’t slow down. Just that he was reading something on his steering wheel and slowed down slightly. Trulli claims Hamilton almost stopped. The FIA now accepts Trulli’s claim says that Hamilton was lying. The radio communication doesn’t clear up wether Hamilton really slowed down. Whitmarsh claims to have presented evidence that Hamilton did not slow down (a lot).

      Camera footage of Trulli overtaking Hamilton would sure put an end to this.

    • John H said on 3rd April 2009, 0:27

      The footage is on the bbc website. Hamilton did not slow to a stop… in fact I’m suprised that Trulli took the place like he did…. arrrrghhhh!!!!

    • Patrickl said on 3rd April 2009, 2:27

      Wish I could see the on board footage of Trulli passing somewhere, but I guess the BBC is blocking it for people outside the UK. All I get (on the page that iBlaze mentions) is two audio clips.

      Does it show for you brits here:

      If Hamilton didn’t “stop” then Trulli is lying and I don’t see anything where Hamilton actually could be shown to have been lying.

      At least I feel that a question like “Did you follow team orders to let Trulli pass?” could be answered both yes and no.

    • Patrickl said on 3rd April 2009, 2:37

      Holy cow, I found a clip on YouTube which probably shows the overtake. Is it at the end of the straight where Trulli almost takes Hamiltons front off?


      If so, are FIA kidding me? The stewards didn’t watch this footage? They don’t accept Whitmarsh’s telemetry proof that Hamilton didn’t slow to a crawl?


  9. Just listened to the audio from Trulli’s rig during the final SC period…obviously HE didnt know if Hamilton’s overtake was legal either as he wanted to know if he was ok to take back the position. This is completely messed up.

    • pSynrg said on 2nd April 2009, 21:03

      Could you hear in that if Trulli told his team he went off the track?

    • pSynrg said on 2nd April 2009, 21:08

      Ah I’ve heard now that Trulli said Hamilton went past “…when I was coming back onto the track.”.
      Trulli’s pit seems to completely ignore this fact and asks if it was under yellow when Hamilton when past.
      After all this I think the Toyota penalty should be maintained as well as the McLaren DQ.

    • John H said on 3rd April 2009, 0:29

      I’m sorry pSynrg, but have you watched the footage? Trulli was miles off track. Was hamilton supposed to just stop on the track?

  10. Lewis said on 2nd April 2009, 21:11

    One thing I don’t understand, which maybe someone can clarify, why is what any team or driver say relevent to decisions made by the stewards, shouldn’t they be making decisions independently?

    • John H said on 3rd April 2009, 0:32

      they have all the team audio at their disposal, so yes why not. I guess you’ll have to direct that question to the race stewards.

  11. everybody knew lewis slowed down to let trulli back past,even i did…

  12. Jordan said on 2nd April 2009, 21:14

    This is so wrong this is

    just stupid. those stinging stewards are just try to blow his carear again!Someone is out to get Lewis Hamilton I don’t if its the FIA,the Stewards or Ferrari.I am not saying that i don’t like Ferrari.I love how they drive and they are very good.

  13. Colin Riddy said on 2nd April 2009, 21:14

    Ham overtakes Trul cos Trul fell off behind the safety car cos he is a spanner, then, Ham moves over to give Trul space, but does not slow down. Ham loses third to Trul but accepts 4th is a good result considering where he started, so does not retake (remember spa 08). Trul takes the glory of the podium, then the stewards decide 25 sec penalty to Trul, for which an appeal is inadmissible (according to spa 08). Ham takes third. Trul penalty is very harsh but Toyota drop appeal. Fia change the results cos they remembered they put some bets on down the bookies (approx £50m) that Ham would not finish. Trul rightfully reinstated. Great Brawn win overshadowed by controversy.

    I should be surprised or even shocked that fia could cock* up the results so badly, but the sad truth is that this is the current state of the sport, where, unlike other sports, the results are predetermined and sometimes differ from what was viewed.

    Sorry, but this debate got out of hand, firstly, where does it say in the rules that the driver must tell the truth? secondly, where does it say you will be disqualified for not telling the truth? Surely, the cars should do the talking on the track (apologies for the corny phrase). I do not condone misleading the stewards, but the penalty is disproportional to the crime.

    Don’t forget Toyota misled the stewards cos they said they had a legal rear wing but when checked it was flexing too much, they had a harsh punishment but were not disqualified. Does this mean we can reopen previous years championships and appeal that drivers be disqualified if they didn’t tell the truth. Maybe shumacher would not have won anything.

    *(ooops, sorry max, did i say ‘cock’? wasn’t supposed to turn you on).

    • Clare msj said on 2nd April 2009, 21:38

      Toyota were disqualified – its why they had to start from the pitlane – plus they didnt mislead the stewards – the rear wing was there for all to see (although why it took til after qualifying to noticed is beyond me!) – and it was changed in time for the race so they were indeed perfectly legal.

      And the problem with not telling the truth in this instance was than another driver got unfairly penalised and lost his position for not doing anything wrong, and i am by no means a fan of Trulli. Whether it was Hamilton, the team or whoever, there was a problem with the information given to the stewards originally – which led to an unfair penalty on another driver. Surely at a stewards enquiry you are required to give all information possible (and i am by no means an expert – surprisngly i havent been in one of these enquiries!) – telling the truth is very imporatant in these things – not giving accurate information which leads to a rival being handed a penalty when you have information that proves otherwise is definitely punishable! The penalty is deserved – although i dont beleive any more penalty should be handed out – certainly not a championship ban or owt – far worse ‘cheating’ has happened in the past (BAR/Honda and thier fuel tank springs to mind!) This incident was spur of the moment, that fuel tank one was done in complete awareness!

    • Macademianut said on 3rd April 2009, 1:08


      There’s no proof that HAM lied. FIA still has to post the audio or transcript of their first meeting with HAM and TRU. Until then, they just assert that HAM lied. It’s just their word.

      Radio communication is also open record, just like rear wing. So, the stewards should have just gone with it. If you had asked TRU if his rear wing is according to spec during the qualifying session, he would have said YES (or any of his team members). But, then the stewards did not ask that question. Instead, they chose to directly check it themselves.

    • Clare msj said on 3rd April 2009, 9:01

      I dont know whether he did or not – but there was a problem with the information given somewhere, else nothing would have happened about it. Whether it was Hamilton, the team or whatever, someone failed to fully outline the radio conversation. Pleading ignorance is no excuse. It should have been clearly stated that Hamilton was told to let Trulli past – one can assume given the penalty handed to Hamilton, that this was not clearly expressed.

      I too cannot fathom why the radio conversation was not proof enough in the first place not to have given Trulli a penalty – you can clearly hear the team telling Hamilton to move over for Trulli – which is why i wonder if a ‘lie’ did occur, or some bending of the truth – not necessarily from Hamilton, but by someone. I cant prove this, but surely they wouldnt dish out a disqualification over absolutely nothing.

  14. Steve_P said on 2nd April 2009, 21:15

    The FIA got something right! There are a lot of people claiming that this is rubbush, but the evidence is all solid. I know Keith will say that we don’t have a transcript from the first stewards meeting, but do we really need that? I think McLaren would have a pretty strong reaction if nothing of the such was said in the meeting. The only reaction came from Martin Whitmarsh who said that Hamilton was not at fault, but the team is to blame. I think if McLaren were very confident that neither Lewis or someone from the team did not make any misleading comments, then an appeal would be issued and we would be hearing a lot more from the team.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 2nd April 2009, 21:49

      I think if McLaren were very confident that neither Lewis or someone from the team did not make any misleading comments, then an appeal would be issued and we would be hearing a lot more from the team.

      That’s a good point – up until now my reasoning had been “the FIA could put this beyond all doubt by publishing the details of the stewards’ meeting, so why aren’t they?”.

      But I think the most important thing here isn’t that McLaren got their story wrong or the FIA aren’t being straight with us – whichever it is.

      It’s that this whole sorry mess could and should have been avoided from the start. As long as everyone’s up in arms about what McLaren might have done the FIA aren’t under pressure to fix their stewarding rules and processes which are obviously inadequate.

    • John H said on 3rd April 2009, 0:37

      I think almost that McLaren couldn’t be bothered to appeal. They know they would lose. It’s almost resignation. Quite why the team have to declare their own radio communciations I still do not understand…. can somebody explain this?

      The stewards have at their disposal all the radio communications throughout the race. I’ve listened to all the radio communications, and Hamilton as far as I’m concerened tried is damned hardest to do the right thing. Seems like even that wasn’t good enough for Donnelly $ : )

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