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. Snoopy said on 3rd April 2009, 1:59

    Hmm…why everytime when Hamilton have penalty there will be sooooo much article and comment about it, but when Trulli had penalty it was more or less right thing?

    Other question is that why people think that Lewis or Mclaren did not lie and that FIA have to give proof that they did lie? Why people think that FIA lied and not Lewis???? Did we forget that McLaren has lied before….” We do not have any papers from Ferrari.”

    However it would be good to people understand that Lewis is not saint and he do mistakes. And this case he obviouslu lied and hopefully did learn his lesson.

    • Steve_P said on 3rd April 2009, 3:01

      Snoopy, the reason there are so many comments on Lewis Hamilton may have something to do with the fact that this website is based in the U.K. and a very large percentage of the readership are from the U.K. It’s only natural that folks from the U.K. are fans of McLaren and Hamilton since he is the world champion and McLaren is British. (Disclaimer: Don’t take that the wrong way guys because it’s not a hit on British fans, Hamilton or anything like that!)

  2. halifaxf1fan said on 3rd April 2009, 1:59

    nothing the stewards did or did not do is a reason for Lewis to choose to lie. in my view it is nothing more that pure greed that pushed Lewis and his team to lie. they wanted that point and lied to get it (ruining trulli’s great race in the process).

    a cold and calculated plan by the McLairen team. I expect the Lewis will be taking a couple of races off at the FIA’s request for this.

  3. I don’t understand why some people can’t accept the fact that the reason why Lewis was DQed was because he lied, and not because he do not know what to do under the safety car when trulli went off. Lewis LIED, MClaren LIED, thats the reason for them being DQed. “Liars go to hell” as we say it here in our country.

  4. GREED, that always comes after a championship (well, but not for all people). It will eat you sooner or later.

  5. scunnyman said on 3rd April 2009, 2:59

    Well my brother back in England watched the race in Melbourne for the first time since he quit watching F1 in disgust back in 2002. He was sick of the fia interferring with it’s Ferrari favouritism.

    He said he had enjoyed the race and thought Hamilton had done a good job, but then i told him about the exclusion today and he is livid. To quote my brother “nothing has changed then has it”.

    And i am beginning to feel like what is the point in following this ridiculous sport governed by asses.

    The sooner the teams stand up for themselves and their drivers the better and do away with the clowns in the fia and bernie.

    Maybe they could get people who runthe other motorsports in the likes of usa to help them run it properly and set it up the right way seeing as the fia have no idea how to do it right.

    I’m sure the likes of mosley and ecclestone would soon make things right if the teams quit.

    But FOTA need to push through with a breakaway championship not just threaten it, cos bernie knows they will back down if it is just a threat.

    They all need to use balls and do something positive

    regarding hamilton’s penalty we need to see what misleading comments were made during he hearing to make a informed comment about it.

    obviously he should be punished for lying to the stewards, but maybe they got it wrong.

    The stewards and the fia need to get their act together and be consistent.

    \yes it would be bad if the stewards came down badly on everyone, but if they did the same all the time then at least they would be consistent.

    end of rant.

  6. Dane said on 3rd April 2009, 3:20

    None of this would have happened if Lewis had just accepted the fact his team made a mistake & let Trulli go back past. The stewards asked him twice, he lied twice, he gets the penalty under the rules.
    Its that simple people!
    If you dont like the game, you dont have to play

    • Please show me the “rule” where speaking to the stewards after the race alters the race result if you have been found to be economical with your version of events?

      And I ask you again, was Hamilton under oath?

      Racing starts and ends on track as far as I’m concerned.

  7. dmw said on 3rd April 2009, 3:48

    Looking at the published opinion over at the official mouthpiece website, Hamilton is being penalized for telling the media and the FIA that he was not told to let Trulli past. The transcripts themselves however show that Trulli had already gone past on his own accord when the team told Hamilton to let Trulli by. Therefore the issue of what McLaren did or didnt tell Hamilton to do as the cause of Trulli going past is entirely moot. I

    Hamilton did not “let” Trulli by nor was he instructed to do so. Trulli broke the clearest rule in the sport. Nonetheless, Trulli profits—because McLaren must be punished for violating a discovery rule related to FIA proceedings, or something. And not only does Trulli get away with breaking the rule, he gains what he lost by spinning off the track in the heat of a safety car period. He should be ashamed.

    Welcome to FIA jurisprudence. They create a record that defeats their own description of facts, and then craft an opinion that analyzes questions not at issue, resulting in a conclusion at odds with all reason and justice. Amateurs.

    • David said on 3rd April 2009, 5:29


      That’s not right. The radio transcripts show the team told Hamilton ‘let the Toyota pass Lewis’ before telling him to wait, which is when Hamilton stated ‘I’ve already let him past.’

      So why did LH and Ryan tell FIA that no such team order was given and that Hamilton didn’t ‘consciously’ let him pass? The onus is on Lewis and McLaren to explain themselves, not FIA. The team’s decision to accept the judgement and FIA’s statement seems to indicate that they can’t justify the answers given to FIA. Up until the point Lewis spoke to FIA, he’d had an excellent race and had done nothing wrong. One FIA inquiry later, his reputation is badly damaged. I think it’s really sad.

  8. Sei said on 3rd April 2009, 5:36

    If I were Hamilton, I’d be wishing I could leave Mclaren. Not only was he correct on radio when he said he didn’t have to give the place back he’s been royally screwed again by his team. I doubt he meant to give conflicting statements to the media and FIA (told to shut up and play along anyone?). Way to back your driver up Mclaren.

  9. as Mclaren accepted the verdict/accepted their fault, Only the fans are over reactiing? have a break…

  10. Gautam said on 3rd April 2009, 6:27

    Forget it folks, lets just move on.

    Everybody makes mistakes. Everybody has biases and errors in judegement. Its Toyota’s version V/s McLaren’s version v/s FIA’s intrepretation V/s F1 fans intrepretation.

    I dont think any of these bodies is trying to purposely mess up F1. Its just that there are grey areas and you have to make judgement.

    In the long run it will all even out. True champions overcome a lot of unfairness to live another day.

  11. Rob L said on 3rd April 2009, 6:55

    What a mess. I just don’t understand what McLaren were hiding from?? They were playing strictly by the book during the race and then promptly shafted themselves immediately afterwards. Just don’t understand. And of course now, LH is made too look unsportsmanlike. Really don’t understand McLaren on this one. End.

  12. Erico said on 3rd April 2009, 8:40

    Looks like F1 is living thanks to Hamilton, whether winning of losing he is at the middle of everything.

  13. Never mind. I wager old Lewis was laughing all the way to the bank on Monday morning.

  14. PJA said on 3rd April 2009, 11:14

    You could take the view that McLaren aren’t appealing because they may think there is not much chance of them winning the appeal and also there is a high probability of the punishment increasing. Given McLaren’s history with appeals and the FIA and their apparent resulting paranoia that they will get punished for anything, it is not a totally outrageous theory.

    I think it is probably safe to say that people have lied to the stewards in past whether it is more obvious ones like when Schumacher parked at Monaco in qualifying in 2006 or when a driver gives his version of events for a crash to make it look like he was blameless. The difference here is that there is actual evidence of what Hamilton and the team said on the radio and in press interviews, so if this contradicts with what he said to the stewards they can prove they were lying.

    The trouble is of course we have not seen the crucial piece of evidence, the transcripts of the stewards meeting. If these are not released then the decision will look very dodgy indeed considering virtually everything else has been released so far.

    As others have pointed out it is quite easy for misunderstandings to arise even when talking face to face, and if English is not the first language for some of the stewards (I don’t know who the stewards were or their backgrounds so if someone wants to post details) then this could make it more likely.

  15. Clare msj said on 3rd April 2009, 11:37

    Lewis Hamilton went in front of the international F1 media in Malaysia and said that he had been misled when he went to see the Stewards in Melbourne and he did what he was told to do by sporting director Davey Ryan.

    “I’d like to say sorry to all my fans who have believed in me and supported me for years. I am not a liar. I am not a dishonest person. I am a team player. Every time I have had to do something I have done it. This time it was a huge mistake. I am learning from it. It has had a huge toll for me. It was a lot to deal with. I was in the wrong and I feel I owe it to my fans to let them know that. Like I said I was misled.

    “We went straight there and while we were waiting I was instructed what to do. I did not have time to think about what I was going to do. I felt awkward and very uncomfortable and I think the stewards could see that. I am not a liar.”

    Hamilton said that no-one else in the team was involved.

    “Dave is a great guy and has worked for the team for many years and he is feeling it just as much as the whole team.

    “The situation is the worst thing I have experineced in my life. That is why I am here. It is right for me as a human being and a man to tell you exactly what was going on. I am sorry for the embarrassment I have caused to may family and to the team.”

    That looks like an admission to me….

    Still feel a little sorry for him though – it was a spur of the moment thing, it wasnt really premeditated. Just a moment of madness. Deserves the dsq for it for sure, but dont really reckon he deserves owt more though. It seems he kinda played sheep and went along with it. The team on the other hand…..

    • Clare msj said on 3rd April 2009, 11:43

      Not for a minute condoning it though – but I think he has possibly recieved punishment enough. Trulli has his points back, Hamilton’s repuation has taken a huge knock, i dont think any more needs doing.

      People cant tell me they havent told a quick lie in the heat of the moment to pin blame elswehere when they have done something they think is wrong, especially if encouraged into it by someone else – even if everyone has a mind of thier own. Its a mistake i dont think they will be making again in a hurry!

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