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. teamorders said on 2nd April 2009, 23:02

    Out and out lying to the Stewards to get a competitor penalised deserves to be punished. A DQ from the race seems reasonable to me.

  2. SLKManiac said on 2nd April 2009, 23:07

    Hamilton got off lightly – he should have been hit harder.

  3. matt said on 2nd April 2009, 23:10

    So was Hamilton honest throughout, or told to change his story by McLaren? Sounds as though McLaren lied and Hamilton was taken down as a result, in which case it would’ve been fairer to remove the constructors points but keep the drivers.

    • Senor Paz said on 3rd April 2009, 2:47

      It seems to me he was simply told by the team to deny that he was asked to let Trulli pass. It’s so silly because quite possibly Lewis never intended to deceive, but the team saw a chance to inherit the podium finish by saying the right thing when asked by the stewards after the race.

      However, he did lie to the stewards WHEN ASKED ABOUT IT. I think he’ll have to pay the price for a stupid decision by McLaren.

  4. SLKManiac said on 2nd April 2009, 23:13

    If Hamilton said the words then he’s guilty of the crime. He’s his own person and doesn’t have to say whatever the team may have suggested he says.

  5. Jamie said on 2nd April 2009, 23:30

    Surely I can’t be the only one perplexed as to why the stewards are interrogating drivers when they have completely accurate telemetry and radio data at their finger tips to make fair decisions?

    • Daniel said on 2nd April 2009, 23:50

      That’s a good point Jamie, but, since Hamilton was heard and told a lie, he deserves to be punished. I don’t think he should have been disqualified, but only dropped back to fourth… perhaps heavy fines for him and the team, and a loud warning, establishing he will be excluded from the championship if he does it again, or something like this, would be appropriate, IMO, since his lies didn’t give him an advantage on track in Melbourne…

      They should not forget that, were they in a court, it would be perjury, a crime (almost every western Penal Code say so…)

    • Jamie said on 3rd April 2009, 0:33

      Lets face it, every minor racing incident McLaren and Hamilton were involved in last season ended in them somehow being punished. Perhaps given this they felt compelled to omit information, I certainly wouldn’t blame them for feeling that way. How could it make things worse right?

      I feel a transcript or minutes of the stewards meeting would go a long way towards backing up the punishment Hamilton has been given. It seems highly unprofessional they can make such a decision without at least providing proof to the public of who supposedly omitted what. Instead we get audio clips that don’t prove anything.

      Is it any wonder there are so many conspiracy theories floating around when the stewards seem unable to conduct themselves properly. They have all this technology to help them make decisions with little or no driver input, yet they prefer the good cop, bad cop interrogation routine with the drivers behind the scenes. It’s not good enough really.

  6. Rosdeaq said on 2nd April 2009, 23:39

    @ Al
    It seems that Keith had it spot on about yellow golf 5 and black foxtrott 2.

    As you can see in the picture the yellow dial on the mp4-24 steering wheel has a letter G under it, and conveniently the button is placed on 5. The black dail has a F above it so it confirms this theory.


  7. manatcna said on 2nd April 2009, 23:42

    Stupid boy

  8. Ozboy said on 2nd April 2009, 23:54

    Its clear by the video and radio evidence that Mac / HAM mislead the stewards… Get over it blinkered HAM lovers! Congrats to Trulli. Alonso will be declared winner if Defuses are ruled out. Poor old Ron will unleash the fury!

  9. David said on 3rd April 2009, 0:13

    FIA: ‘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.’

    1) The radio transcript proves the instruction had been given, though it was rescinded. So Hamilton and Ryan did, effectively, lie to FIA.

    2) Hamilton indicates on the radio transcript that he let Trulli pass and verifies Trulli’s claim that he (Trulli) slowed by or in front of him to let Hamilton re-take the position if he wanted (Hamilton radio: ‘he’s slowed right down in front of me’). This almost overwhelmingly suggests Hamilton did let Trulli pass consciously. So probably a second lie.

    Unless there’s a further twist, always possible, it seems very damning indeed of Hamilton and McLaren. A real let down to those who’ve supported him so far.

    • John H said on 3rd April 2009, 0:50

      I still don’t understand… why wasn’t this radio conversation reviewed by the FIA before giving Trulli a 25 sec penalty and awarding Hamilton 3rd. WHY WHY WHY!!!!!!!???????? PLEASE tell me!

    • David said on 3rd April 2009, 2:56

      Because they thought Hamilton and McLaren would tell the truth?

      Odd but it really seems to have been the case.

  10. Well we are currently shocked, couldn’t this be somehow avoided?

  11. muckymuck said on 3rd April 2009, 0:37

    As a neutral, I’m not sure why people are so sure of McLaren and Hamilton lying/cheating. There is not enough evidence out there to make such a statement (unless FIA releases transcripts of the hearing). To make a quick-fire statement like that would be just like the FIA – making a decision without all the facts.

    If McLaren really wanted to take third, they would have instructed Hamilton to not let Trulli re-pass but they settled for 4th willingly (from the sound of the radio comm.) How could they plan to lie at a hearing for Trulli’s re-pass? There’s no way they would’ve known that would happen.

    I wonder if what people would say if it were Williams in the same situation.

    • Senor Paz said on 3rd April 2009, 2:54

      No evidence? Rubbish, McLaren has formally apologised and claimed no appeal. You’d think THEY would want the transcripts if they were being unfairly penalised.

    • muckymuck said on 3rd April 2009, 14:54

      Good on you for finally making an opinion based on some facts rather than conjecture. I’m not saying FIA doesn’t have evidence, I’m saying as of yesterday, all we could do was speculate, not condemn anyone.

  12. F1Yankee said on 3rd April 2009, 0:40

    the fia has done a pretty good job with the entire situation, but it shouldn’t have gone this far. as keith said, teams should be able to get the race director on the phone for confirmation. race control should have the entire track on camera as well.

    2 things i don’t get:

    how on earth does mclaren think they would get away with such a weak deception? did they intend to get away with it, or were they out to prove a point (no pun intended)?

    how does any rational person see this as incompetence or corruption on the part of the governing body? perhaps i’ve answered my own question there :)

    it’s a shame, really. they had in hand much more than they expected, and now they’re convicted thieves and liars. what’s next, murder?

  13. Oliver said on 3rd April 2009, 0:47

    Hamilton was told to let Trulli past and then told not to let Trulli past. Which one take more weight?

    Hamilton said, I let him past already, it doesn’t mean he slowed down, it just means Trulli had already gone past.

    Those who say there is a video that shows this happening..where is it?
    Driver’s statement can not change a result, Check the telemetry, don’t use a loophole to save face. The FIA messed things up, they are trying to correct a mistake by making an even bigger one. The Telemetry will show if a driver slowed down, not if he was asked to slow down.

  14. Honestly, I didn’t think it was hunting season already so soon. This year the season started early. The FIA must have re-organised their forecasts and forwarded their targets for this year. Normally they’d **** up the sport for the fans around midway through the season, that way most of us would have invested half a year on and would have no choice but to continue. This year they want to get rid of us as soon as possible.

    Again, we are presented with an FIA specialty where results are decided off the track and all the excitement of the race has been taken away from us. The incident involving Lewis and Trulli looked pretty simple and could be solved via telemetry and radio transmissions. But I guess the proof was clear and not damaging enough. I mean, telemetry and radio transmissions don’t lie.

    It seems that recorded information was not to the stewards liking so they used a grey area subject – “felt misled”. They used “feelings” to alter the results even though the data is available to show how they should feel.

    My “feeling” about all this is that almost everybody, the FIA utmost, has a grudge on Lewis and are racist in nature. They somehow do not want Lewis to succeed. Why? Because he is black. There, plain and simple. The fact that he drives for McLaren doesn’t help.

    As much as I love F1 and can’t resist watching every race and lapping up everty little detail I could find about the sport, my interest and enthusiasm is actually dying now. I feel really sick and tired of the rubbish that is going on in the sport now. Most of the rubbish created and distributed by the FIA. I really have no mood to watch the race this weekend.

  15. Stuart Hotman said on 3rd April 2009, 1:08

    Ok, so many of you have successfully demonstrated that you know very little about the hidden agenda behind formula 1. It is not actually a sport, it is a power war fueled by money.

    With FOTA, the teams associated have become a threat to the FIA and FOM, because they may start to get along so well that they might just break away and start their own championship. It is in the interest of the FIA, to strike a wedge between all the teams to ensure they dont get too friendly.

    This recent saga involving mclaren is just one example of how they play the teams off each other when everyone was playing nicely by themselves. The other current issue regarding illegal floors is another case where some teams submitted proposals which were rejected, yet other teams were allowed them. Also, KERS, some are now being considered illegal. The whole thing is a mess, but thats how they want it.

    It has to be noted that since FOTA has been formed, the FIA/stewards decisions have become gradually more insane and confusing. Have you noticed how the teams just seem to grin and bare it now, in the interest of FOTA.

    I say the sooner the teams get their act together and break away, the better. Free up the technical regs but where there is a rule, make it black and white. For goodness sake we cant keep changing the results after the race.

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