Hamilton excluded from Australian Grand Prix, Trulli third

2009 Australian Grand PrixPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

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.

586 comments on “Hamilton excluded from Australian Grand Prix, Trulli third”

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  1. I cant believe people are blaming the FIA for this. For once, FIA did the right thing. It would have been better if they had settled the issue on Sunday itself but we can blame Lewis and McLaren for that.

    Seriously what were they thinking giving conflicting versions of the story.

  2. If you strip all the surrounding arguments and thoughts (FIA bias, incompetence, Hamilton witchhunt, McLaren witchhunt, whatever) it boils down to this:

    Hamilton lied.

    Lying = punishment. If he hadn’t lied none of this probably would’ve happened. He might be down 1 point at most, but not DQ’ed.

    What are the FIA supposed to do when someone lies? Let them off? OK so the sport takes a few hits on the reputable side through constant decisions like this, but can you imagine the consequences for letting a driver off lying, especially when the evidence is (apparently) solid? Every driver would just do it!

    It’s not only that, so many people look to Hamilton as a hero, and source of inspiration – if it were my kid who saw Hamilton in that light, I wouldn’t want him to think lying was OK as long as it got you further – which is what happened here.

    1. Loki, look at all the facts please. Lewis didn’t lie, he followed team instructions which is exactly what he told everyone else.
      The team didn’t tell the full story which is the reason for the DQ. Which is fair enough.
      Whoever at McLaren decided this would be the best course of action should stand up please…

  3. @Lee: HAM and Whitmarsh made conflicting statements to the media as well, I believe. Quoting Keith from this very blog post:

    “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.”

    So you tell me which way the benefit of the doubt should swing given that the stewards aren’t transparent enough (which we all would like to change).

    1. @Kurtosis,

      They are not conflicting accounts at all. The team had not seen the incident and told hamilton to let trulli pass to make sure they were on the correct side of the rules. However there was no communication between hamilton and trulli or mclaren and toyota so trulli made the decision to pass hamilton by himself. This can then be seen by toyota telling trulli to slow and let hamilton re-pass but hamilton decides not to as they are under yellow flag conditions.

      However F1 will continue to be a perpetual farce until the FIA make their decisions more transparent.

  4. What a joke FIA is? A lot of you are saying mclaren should had talk to the race director.. but.. is it of any use? what happen at SPA 08? FIA says they want more fans and more people to watch F1.. did they miss out some words? forgot to add “DOES NOT want”? Crap..

  5. Mclaren at it already….tut tut tut, what else will happen this season!

  6. “Seriously what were they thinking giving conflicting versions of the story.”

    I really wonder the same thing…. really … stupid call.

  7. Ok, for all you Hamilton haters, why would Lewis deliberately let Truli back through to try to get him a penalty? Lewis had passed him, why would he give the place back if he thought he didn’t have to? Surely he’d just stay in 3rd place until the end of the race? Why would McLaren then lie about what they did? McLaren had third place, they only gave the place back because they thought they would be penalised. Its all pretty simple and obvious, all the conspiracies over McLaren’s motives are ridiculous.

  8. bad_whippet
    2nd April 2009, 11:45

    To everyone calling Lewis a ‘cheat’, you clearly haven’t read all the facts.

    No-one, not even the FIA are saying Lewis (or McLaren) lied, simply that they omitted some information which could have helped at the time. There’s a world of difference between the two.

    Besides, it was McLaren that were ‘blamed’, not Lewis… get over the hatred people.

    Another thing that I’m not sure everyone has considered, is why would any team on the grid (let alone one that has had trouble with the stewards and FIA in the past), purposely mislead them when they would know they were likely to get caught out – it just doesn’t make sense to me.

    Interestingly, Martin Whitmarsh had this to say:

    “I believe it was a harsh decision. Lewis made a legitimate pass and then was repassed – at the time the team asked race control several times about the repass but they were too busy to answer that question so we felt the decision in the immediate aftermath was fair”

    1. No-one, not even the FIA are saying Lewis (or McLaren) lied, simply that they omitted some information which could have helped at the time.

      Even my children have tryed to justify themselves that way, and they don’t succeed!!!!

      I guess you did!

    2. Haha, my lil boy is 4 and he tries this on as well :)

      Agreed, while not intentionally lying, not giving all the facts (or representing them in way that is more favourable to yourselves) is tantamount to lying. while the penalty is harsh it has set a prescedent that lying to the stewards is not acceptable and rightly so.

    3. it’s a lie of ommisions and i am extremely disappointed to see such brilliance of maclaren and hamilton stooping to this level.

  9. For a second I thought that this season will be more interesting because of events on the track rather than off it. I guess I was wrong. Let the FIA show begin…

  10. look not saying Maclaren shouldn’t be punished for lying but to call Hamilton a liar when he told the truth, is disgraceful.

    too many Hamilton haters on here today believing what they want to beleive rather than the facts.

    1. Hang on, he said he was distracted by a message on his steering wheel. The FIA found there was no message on his steering wheel at the time. That is a lie. He also said this was the reason he pulled over and slowed down, not that his team had told him to. That is a lie.

  11. Why should they have talked with the race director ? It seems like a simple rule, they should know this rule, they afford hiring several guys which should … only know the rules, it can’t be that difficult, they are professional.
    Anyhow their confusion is not the issue, their lie is. They have almost made Trulli lose all his points because of them trying to look like professional when they were worse than amateurs.

  12. Having read through all the comments (including the patently emotional/biased ones) it appears that the f1fanatic needs to set up a “Shadow Referee committee” during live blog under Keith’s Chairmanship with perhaps 2 experienced members. The committee then calls the race and penalties as it sees fit and has to give their verdict of the race within 3 hours of the finish (in order to pick up unseen footage from youtube etc. We can then have a “real championship table” and not be at the mercy of Max, Bernie and their willing sycophants. This final table is ones we all can have fun with. At least we can then give FOTA some ideas on how to run a proper rules and common sense based show.

  13. Bigbadderboom
    2nd April 2009, 11:50

    One thing is clear from all these posts, there are some very bitter F1 fans out there, Most hamilton fans I know actually support the stewards in correcting their mistake in awarding Hamilton 3rd.

    It’s the manner which it is done that is the issue, a full investigation should have been made with ALL evidence required. It is the incompetence that is the embarrasment to F1. Hamilton has rightly been punished, but clarity is needed

    So all you anti-Hamiltons out there stop twisting the issue you just sound bitter and twisted, personally I support all f1 drivers and certainly do not HATE anybody, stop spewing this immature hatred (whatever your reasons) and comment constuctivley.

  14. Dun believe FIA is against Mclaren OR the main team that is fighting Ferrari? look at wad happen to alonso in 05 or 06? What did alonso said? “F1 is no longer a sports”
    could not agree more?

  15. @gazzap

    What do you call saying “I had to look at something on the screen and this is why I slowed down, no one told me to slow down” and then you see that nothing was on the screen and the radio recording saying him to slow down ?

    I’m a huge fan of Hamilton’s but McLaren screwed up bigtime this time. I suspect it was not Hamilton decision to lie(as he told the truth in an interview), but probably the team told him to to so.

  16. First race of the season and they already up to speed in deciding the grid, the race result, and of course the grid of the next race. Great, just what F1 needed in times like these…

  17. Now that Hamilton has been “punished” for trickery and deception, will the Brown racing team, Toyotas and all those with double diffuser be punished for using illegal tools(double diffusers).

  18. Do we think McLaren allowed Trulli to repass to induce penalty on Toyota?

  19. bad_whippet
    2nd April 2009, 11:56

    This is an extract from James Allen’s blog (link posted above by Mr Soap):

    “The suggestion being voiced here is that the FIA considers this matter so serously that it is considering taking this matter to the World Motor Sport Council where further sanctions might be applied.”

    You have got to be kidding…

    Regardless of which team/driver you support, you’ve got to admit this is ridiculous and a step waaaaay too far.

    1. yeah this is blowing out of proportion.

    2. They just don’t want Lewis in F1. Period!

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