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. Bernard said on 2nd April 2009, 21:24

    I’m approaching the conclusion that the stewards DID NOT review the radio comms at all during the hearing.

    “From the video recordings available to the Stewards during the hearing it appeared…”


    This is shocking, the stewards appear to have dished out punishments without even considering all the data available to them.

    I am hugely disappointed by this. They have a responsibility to reach an appropriate and most importantly justified conclusion when dealing with incidents yet in this case they clearly didn’t do their job.

    I fear this is a direct consequence of the “faster stewards descisions” promise from last year.


    They are incompetant at the best of times, now they are just rash.

    • Macademianut said on 3rd April 2009, 1:03

      Yes. The stewards “selectively chose” what data to use to give out the punishment.

      They did not want to look bad, so now they are saying that Hamilton lied to them. They had the radio conversation at their disposal all the time. Instead of taking the time to look into it, they gave out their 25s penalty in a hurry.

      Now, you cannot go back and take that punishment back. As that would simply mean that FIA was wrong. Instead, they have come up with a cover up plan.

      Until FIA releases the audio of their questioning of HAM and TRU, I cannot believe what FIA saying is the truth.

      They handed out a punishment to Trulli without providing a reason for how they came to that conclusion. Now, they are handing out a decision to HAM without giving us the proof that he lied.

  2. pSynrg said on 2nd April 2009, 21:25

    Ah bugger it! Take no prisoners Lewis, this one didn’t work out. But Champion drivers should use everything they can get away with under such circumstances.
    Many have done it before, non better than Schumacher.
    I enjoy clever use of such tactics, it’s part of the game that is the sport of F1.

    This one was not so clever…

    • pSynrg said on 2nd April 2009, 21:29

      Lol, this is the biggest comments section ever and of course it involves Lewis Hamilton.
      The media must adore this kid, he is a walking tornado of stories…

    • Sherman Tank said on 2nd April 2009, 21:31


      Yea come on Lewis, its water under the bridge now. Seasons starts when the FIA let you back on the track. At least till then you can try and get that dog of a car working properly.

  3. BNK Racing said on 2nd April 2009, 21:28

    if anything shouldn’t trulli have stayed in 12th and hamilton DQ’d? trulli still passed under the yellow didnt he? didnt he still committed an offence? really i think they should have put trulli 3rd n hami 4th n called it a day. im sure hami hasnt been the first driver to lie to the FIA…its only that he has been prob the first to be caught.

    • Clare msj said on 2nd April 2009, 21:43

      If Hamilton did slow – which it appears he did, then Trulli committed no more of an offence than Hamilton did by passing him when Trulli went off. You are, i beleive, allowed to pass a car under saftey cars if they are off the track/slowing/hit a problem – which is what it would have seemed like if Lewis was slowing.

    • Trulli passed under yellow flags but only after Hamilton slowed down to let him pass. Apparently he even tried to give back the position when he realized that maybe he was wrong (at least according to him). So Trulli, in some sense, had no choice but to pass Lewis and stay in front.

  4. Tim said on 2nd April 2009, 21:34

    A couple of points:

    How on earth can the stewards make a decision on what a driver says?

    Why did the stewards not analyze all the data they are allowed full access to? i.e video and audio of the incident and radio traffic

    Hamilton has not been accused of lying but of with holding information vital to the decision. How can someone with hold something you already have?

    Why would Hamilton try to lie or withhold info? Surely he knows he would never get away with it as everything is recorded, especially interviews.

    Why did the stewards not deal with the situation during the race, if you listen to the MMB radio convo, they could not get an answer from Charlie.

    Seems to me that the stewards made a very rash and incorrect decision regarding Trulli and are now trying to blame Lewis et al. for their crazy mistake. Maclaren clearly wanted to do the right thing, you should listen to their radio chat. It is clear that they are so worried nowadays about getting penalized. It doesn’t sit with me that they would try to lie about the Trulli situation. Not for the sake of 1 point in the opening race of the season.

    Its another sad day for the sport, such a shame!

  5. macca said on 2nd April 2009, 21:36

    michel S. has got it right. the logic of applying rules just as they are in the rule book has some merit – it saves the sport from randomly applied penalties (or does it?) and such reckless governing as that.

    however, there should be some room for allowing equivalent penalties ie. 25 second penalty for a driver who cannot take a stop/go or drive-thru AND the race finishes under safety car (admittedly, an unlikely occurence) is not a representative penalty.

    sensible logic dictates that we merely reverse the on-the-road finishing positions of hamilton and trulli. hamilton deserved his 4th place, it would have been an awesome result. trulli, even more so, given where he started.

    the misleading of the stewards issue seems bizarre given they have access to all radio transmissions. mclaren have been dumped on once again, though they are not entirely blameless in this instance

  6. Ash 1991 said on 2nd April 2009, 21:38

    Is someone out to get Hamilton? because it sure seems like it, i understand that he got his penalization for lying to the FIA, which if true he deserved, but there is also a rumor going around that he may get penalized even more and DSQ from the rest of the season, that is ridiculous, can anyone remember Schumacher taking out Hill in Adelaide 1994, did he get a penalty? Back to this though from the sounds of it, McLaren only told Hamilton to give Truilli his place back so they didn’t get into trouble, like Belgium. Its all misleading and I think if the FIA make their mind up about 1 thing then they should stick to it, and not bring it to another race weekend which in turn could spoil another race. But at the end of the day i think the big talking point should have been Kubica and Vettel, taking each other out, not an over taking procedure.

    The FIA arnt just out to spoil Hamilton but are out to spoil the sport.

    FIA – F***ing Idiots Association

  7. iBlaze said on 2nd April 2009, 21:50

    Ok, I think I’ve found the exact “misleading evidence” that the FIA are talking about.

    Here is a Q&A with Martin Whitmarsh from autosport.com

    Here is the key point:

    Q. Lewis after the race only spoke about getting past Trulli, but never mentioned stopping and giving the place back…

    MW: He didn’t stop, and the telemetry data which was shown to the stewards today showed that the lap on which he was overtaken was no different from the succeeding lap that was under the safety car. It was difficult conditions but there was no evidence from the data that Lewis did anything that induced Trulli to go past.

    Presumably this is exactly what both McLaren and Lewis Hamilton also told the stewards. However, from the “new evidence” of the McLaren radio conversation, Lewis Hamilton clearly says “I let him past already.”

    Of course, without a transcript of who said what to the FIA stewards it is impossible to know for sure, but this is the best evidence available that McLaren and Hamilton DID mislead the FIA. Therefore, any punishment is fully justifiable in my opinion.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 2nd April 2009, 22:57

      If Whitmarsh said the same to the FIA then McLaren deserved the penalty.

    • Franton said on 3rd April 2009, 0:21

      “I let him past already” could mean anything! That phrase by itself doesn’t give intent: it’s perfectly acceptable if slightly colloquial speech spoken by a guy driving a very fast car! In this case it could also mean that Lewis didn’t put up any kind of fight when Trulli moved to pass him … born out by the Toyota onboard video.

      I’d love to be able to speak that coherently at 70 Mph let alone the speeds those guys do!

      We need the stewards meeting transcripts. Until then everything is conjecture. That’s unless it’s proved that Max Mosely’s no.2 Alan Donnelly was the one handing out the punishments. I’ve seen no evidence of this so far though.

  8. Dane said on 2nd April 2009, 21:50

    Mclaren cheating again. When will it end?

  9. Tom said on 2nd April 2009, 21:57

    Whatever the Hamilton situation, Trulli did re-pass under the safety car – so how come his penalty for that didn’t stand. It has nothing whatsoever to do with what Hamilton and McLaren did or didn’t do?

    Perhaps the FIA should give McLaren, and Hamilton a penalty – a sort of handicap as it were of, say a minute or more at the beginning of the season for anything they may or not do wrong. It seems to me that whatever happens the FIA are going to get them one way or the other. Then, if they do ‘win’ the Championship, that time can be deducted from random races to make sure that win is cancelled out and they cannot be Champions. By then Ferrari will probably be in second place – so for the FIA everything will be just how they like to see it! Of course over time all the fans and spectators will give up watching F1 so none of this will matter at all.

    I am beginning to lose interest – perhaps soon F1 will be of more interest to lawyers than racing car fans!!

    • Clare msj said on 2nd April 2009, 22:06

      He repassed because Hamilton slowed – thats no different from the way Hamilton passed Trulli in the first place when he went off – technically – as far as Trulli was concerend Hamilton could have been slowing from a problem or summat – he didnt have much choice but to re-pass, just like Lewis didnt when Trulli went off the road.

  10. JackB said on 2nd April 2009, 22:02

    I think the simple way of putting this is – right decision, but poorly executed.

  11. BowtNetterToDo said on 2nd April 2009, 22:13

    I would like to see a transcript of the meeting with the stewards to see what was asked and said by whom. We have access to the rest of the pertinent evidence like oncar footage, fans trackside footage and team radio conversations. The stewards meeting transcript is the only missing piece of the jigsaw that i need to make my own mind up.

    • Tom said on 2nd April 2009, 22:26

      Exactly, that’s all the FIA need to do to prove Hamilton lied and shift any suspicion that may have fallen on them and yet they still haven’t released a transcript.

  12. Senor Paz said on 2nd April 2009, 22:29

    Why is everyone here so childish? He’s black, FIA helps Ferrari, blah blah blah…

    Hamilton and McLaren were caught cheating. They deliberately misled the panel after the race so that they’d inherit 3rd place with Trulli’s penalty. He got disqualified.

    What’s the big deal? Cheating is cheating. One thing’s for sure, I’m glad Trulli got a just hearing, because he was honest throughout the process and was always consistent with his statements.

    Let the Sepang race begin!

    • John H said on 3rd April 2009, 0:46

      “They deliberately misled the panel after the race so that they’d inherit 3rd place with Trulli’s penalty. He got disqualified.”

      Errr. Because you have no evidence of this. Why don’t the FIA issue the transcripts if it’s so obvious?

    • Senor Paz said on 3rd April 2009, 2:39

      They don’t have to. McLaren already apologised, so they obviously know they’ve done SOMETHING wrong.

    • kate said on 3rd April 2009, 16:23

      Throughly agree with your comment, Senor Paz. Reading through all these comments, one thought struck me, what if Hamilton did end up at Ferrari as one of their drivers. What would all of the FIA is anti-Hamilton but pro-Ferrari conspirators have to say. I mean the FIA would be so torn between its two supposed objectives. The FIA make a decision that in no way assists Ferrari as both their cars failed in the race and yet people are still saying the decision was made to assist Ferrari. The only thing I will criticise is the time in which the decision was made. If you look at other sports like horse racing which involve stewards, the decision occurs within a short time after the race. In F1, there seems to be too much of a rush to get to the podium and the spraying of the champagne. I guess it is due to the ratings for the podium and the post race interviews. Good ratings but bad press later for not delaying result. I think Trulli was honest throughout and I can’t believe that McLaren didn’t just admit to be confused and just accept the lost of 1 point in 4th position!

  13. Senor Paz said on 2nd April 2009, 22:34

    It’s also extremely revealing McLaren promply accepted the harsh penalty and claimed they won’t even appeal.

    Good on them for pleading guilty.

  14. Tom said on 2nd April 2009, 22:34

    It boils down to this for me; unless the FIA shows me cold hard proof, I will continue to doubt that Hamilton and McLaren would be supid enough to “deliberately mislead” the stewards.

    • Tom said on 2nd April 2009, 22:37

      Yes you heard me – supid. ;)

    • Senor Paz said on 2nd April 2009, 22:43

      Completely agree with the description of McLaren’s posture as ‘stupid’. Now you just have to believe it. :)

    • All the proof you should need is that McLaren instantly said they would not appeal the decision. The only reason they would do that is if they knew it was just.

      You don’t need to know what happened. McLaren, the FIA, and the stewards know what conspired, and McLaren have accepted the FIA, and the stewards take on the event.

  15. Sean said on 2nd April 2009, 22:55

    another “classic” move by the FIA. i think its great for the sport when it takes 5 days to make a decision….. whatever the penalty is then thats fine, but make that judgment within a reasonable amount of time…..

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