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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  1. Ricardo said on 3rd April 2009, 11:37

    Good for Jarno.
    I do not understand great and talent drivers like Hamilton and also Schumi, do not go for fair play !! I like very much the way Lewis drive, specially when he was on GP2 but now just I respect him.

  2. PJA said on 3rd April 2009, 11:41

    I have some questions about the stewards and the procedure for investigations, if this is answered in another article could someone please provide a link.

    How do you get to be a steward, what qualifications and experience do you need, and who chooses the stewards for each race?

    Is it still completely different stewards at each race or did they bring back a permanent steward?

    Are there any limits on how many times you can be a steward or where at? For example can you only be a steward once a season or not for two races in succession.

    How many stewards are there in total and are they all equal?

    It appears they have access to all TV footage and team radio but do they have all information such as car telemetry or do they need to request this from the teams for a specific case.

    Can stewards investigate anything they want or does there have to be an appeal by a team in some circumstances?

    When interviewing people is it done one at a time to get people’s own interpretation or all together or even one then the other?

    Do the stewards have to be in complete agreement on a decision and any punishment, or is it a majority vote, if one steward disagrees does this ever get officially published.

    What recording of the steward’s meetings takes place, is it video, voice only or just the minutes?

    Specifically relating to this case, why did they not know they had access to the radio from the cars?

    I can appreciate they may not of heard what Hamilton had said to the press after the race as they would be busy, which was the other piece of ‘new evidence’ which came to light. But even if McLaren and Hamilton lied, given the rest of the information available I can’t see why they punished Trulli the way they did. Some have said they were following the letter of the law and had no option but if that was the case how come Trulli has got his 3rd back now.

  3. Why do i have the feeling that this post is now the most commented post on F1 fanatic?

    this issue is very serious in My opinion, and if Lewis is found to have corroborated with Ryan in making up a story, both should be kicked out of McLaren and Banned from F1. a footballer faking an injury is an old part of the Sport, Lying and getting drivers bumped down to the end of the classification should not belong in F1.

    i am anxiously waiting to see if the hearings were recorded or transcribed, because if it is true OMG.

    i think F1 post race hearing should be broadcast because it isn’t until they are concluded that the race is truly over.

    • Clare msj said on 3rd April 2009, 12:20

      Hamilton has admitted that he witheld information from the stewards. Not sure we need to hear the hearings now if Hamilton himself has admitted it.

      I dont think he should be banned from F1 at all – thats a little extreme – at most a couple of races ban – but even then I’m not sure he deserves owt else. It wasnt a pre-meditated cheat – it was heat of the moment. And he has admitted his part in it now – pretty brave, if not required move given the backlash he will get from it.

    • Clare msj said on 3rd April 2009, 12:24

      Actually i have just re-thought that, maybe a two race ban or summat wouldnt be THAT harsh – after all when BAR/Honda were found to have an illegal fuel tank the other year – that is what they got. Still, if he got nothing I wouldnt have THAT much of a problem with it – i think the lesson has most definitely been learnt. Anything longer than a couple of race ban though i feel would be very harsh.

  4. Antifia said on 3rd April 2009, 12:24

    And now they confessed….LH went on to say that he was mislead into not telling the truth by his race manager Ryan Dave (looks like if they tell Lewis to lie, lie he does). But the funny part is that in the same breath that he threw his race manager to the sharks, he goes on to say that he is team player. Vintage!

  5. Matt said on 3rd April 2009, 12:26

    I am not a McLaren or Lewis fan – but this time, Hamilton made a mistake, he admitted it and Whitmarsh admitted it. So thats it, lets move on. These things happen. He paid for it.

    And please stop it with the stewards – our comments are going to have a minuscule effect on how F1 is being run.

    I dont think with the kind of complicated rules, anyone will be able to take a call on whats right and wrong while the race is going on – so we are stuck with post-race controversies.

    • ChiefDee said on 3rd April 2009, 16:48

      I think we are all missing the point. How many times was Lewis punished unfairly last season. F1 are saying to MacLaren ‘we don’t want Lewis to race, find somebody else’ MacLaren is being punished for it… it is a sport and like all sport… there is a boss and if the boss doesn’t like you …tough…. It is going to be another ****** tough year for Lewieeeeeeee lol

  6. Blender said on 3rd April 2009, 21:14

    Why Brits always causing problems ?

  7. Why do people think that Mclaren will learn from this mistake? In fact they will not learn from it and will do it again and again and again. trust me, why? because they didn’t learn from the spygate scandal at all.

  8. Rehti said on 20th April 2009, 9:13

    “Lie hard” Hamilton.

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