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. Mr Soap said on 2nd April 2009, 11:08

    So wait, the stewards penalise Trulli after not really bothering to investigate. They penalise Vettel without bothering to investigate. And we’re supposed to be getting better stewarding this yesr?

    You also can’t help feel that had they not had to embarrass themselves by reversing the trulli penalty, the results would have stood as originally.

  2. Cameron said on 2nd April 2009, 11:08

    If they lied to the stewards, whatever… Deal with it Hamilton and McLaren and don’t let it happen again.

    Bet regardless, the Stewards shouldn’t be making such decisions by one guys word, over another guys word, like this. They should look at ALL the evidence BEFORE making a call. Even better though, stop all this protest dribble. I’m sick of race results not being final until weeks after a Grand Prix. Hell, we STILL don’t know if Brawn GP’s 1,2 and Trulli’s 3rd are final standings… their cars could all be called illegal yet. What a load of Garbage. I’m really begining to hate this sports governing bodies. There is NO reason this should have taken half a week to conclude.

    • todd said on 2nd April 2009, 11:13

      they did look at the evidence – but the evidence mclaren presented mislead them into penalizing toyota.

    • Mr Soap said on 2nd April 2009, 11:16

      “they did look at the evidence”

      What, so they looked at the onboard cameras, or listened to the radio conversations? Either one of which would’ve been sufficient?

      No, they didn’t.

  3. John Spencer said on 2nd April 2009, 11:10

    Can we leave the results and disqualify the stewards?

    Seriously, I don’t mind if Hamilton or Trulli is third. I’m not overly concerned if either or both of them gets zero points because of an arbitrary stewards’ decision.

    But I would quite like it if perhaps the stewards could make up their mind instead of changing it every five minutes. It detracts from F1’s credibility just a little bit.

    I also don’t understand the situation where Toyota don’t appeal because (a) they’re not allowed to and (b) any appeal would fail yet the FIA stewards can flip flop on a whim.

    I still don’t really understand what actually happened between Hamilton and Trulli behind the safety car, and maybe it’s because the stewards don’t either that the little box on the FIA website for the post-event report remains completely empty

    • todd said on 2nd April 2009, 11:16

      toyota did appeal, but they withdrew the appeal.

      under the SC and waved yellows trulli slipped off the track, trulli then followed hamilton but hamilton slowed down, trulli tried to say behind but had no option but to go past since he was going so low.

  4. Cameron said on 2nd April 2009, 11:12

    F1 is stuffed… honestly, it’s finished. Max, Bernie, Idiot Stewards, Team bosses that like court rooms, it’s all adding up to kill off the pinicle of motor racing.

    Sorry people, but F1 isn’t going to make it past 2020, without some SERIOUS changes. That I am sure of.

    Hmm, So i guess all the Predictions results change now?

  5. Aknike said on 2nd April 2009, 11:13

    nice la FIA.. everything they do is just so right.. Ultra Communist-alike… woot woot~

  6. Owen said on 2nd April 2009, 11:14

    Team Radio:
    McLaren to FIA: “Trulli went off, LH had to pass. Is this ok?”
    FIA to McL: “Fine”

    Problem solved, days of arguments/protests/penalties given/rescinded aren’t necessary.

    What i’d like to read is an official F1 release with charges and evidence so we can see exactly what happened, what who said, when they said it and what they did wrong. At the moment there’s a lot of 2nd hand information floating around interspersed with comments along the line of ‘ban hamboy 4 lyf cuz he iz evil, innit’

    Exactly what were the ‘new elements’ and why weren’t they available/looked into during the first steward decision?

  7. will said on 2nd April 2009, 11:15

    This is ridiculous, what Lewis said or didn’t say is irrelevant. Lewis passed Truli after he went off, Lewis gave the place back becaus eit was impossible for him to know whether he’d be penalised if he didn’t give the place back. The FIA had all the video evidence they needed to make a decision, what the drivers opinion of it all is irrelevant. Are we now going to see drivers refusing to give press interviews and taking lawyers in when interviewed by the FIA. This is just getting farcical, I doubt Lewis would have pulled over if the events of the last 2 years hadn’t happened, now he gets penalised for being cautious. Truli’s penalty was a mistake, this penalty is a mistake, Vettel’s penalty is a mistake.

    The FIA are slowly, season by season, ruining this sport. What is the point of making rule changes to encourage overtaking if when someone does, they get a 10 place grid penalty at the next race.

    The FIA need to fix this and quick, in no other sport are the rules so complicated and decisions made days after the even. Why bother watching? Just check F1 fanatic after 7 days to see what the final result was?

    FOTA need to stand up and demand that things change or they’re off to form a new formula.

    • todd said on 2nd April 2009, 11:19

      your missing the point, it’s not about that, it’s about the fact that mclaren then lied about what they did in order to get the 3rd place back.

      they stuffed up by letting toyota pass in the first place and then lied to cover it up.

  8. Tom said on 2nd April 2009, 11:15

    I just don’t understand how McLaren thought they could get away with lying to the stewards. I mean, I know the stewards are pretty incompetent but surely McLaren must have known that the stewards could check their story. Hamilton even mentioned the radio transmissions to Lee McKenzie after the race and he gave that interview saying he was told to let Trulli past. If Hamilton/McLaren lied, which certainly appears to be the case, although I still can’t fathom it, then yes they should be punished. Although as Keith and several others have pointed out this whole debaucle could have been avoided if the teams could check with the race director, during the race, what position the cars should be in. And again as others have said, the safety car rules could certainly do with some clearing up too.

  9. francois said on 2nd April 2009, 11:16

    What now happens to Yarno? Does he get his P3 back?

    That’s what I really don’t understand.I’m afraid I get the impression the FIA seem to be taking every opportunity to punish McLaren/Hamilton as far as they can.There seems to be no leeway in their decisions – as I said yesterday I’d have thought the sensible thing to do would be reverse the penalty and fine Hamilton/McLaren , it clearly was more recklessly not telling the whole story as opposed to willfully decieving the stewards (in which case I agree).

  10. Pete_Firestarter said on 2nd April 2009, 11:16

    What a Joke – FIA!

  11. A Singh said on 2nd April 2009, 11:17

    Knowing the way McLaren operate, it was clear that McLaren would have told Hamilton to slow down to let Trulli through, so that he would get a penalty.

    Hamilton lied about what he said – he did what he did with ill content and he paid the price.

  12. kurtosis said on 2nd April 2009, 11:17

    As far as I can see, the only mistake on the part of the FIA was not doing their due diligence well enough on their first meeting and not looking at all the evidence that was or would have been available. They could even have pushed the hearing out until they got all the evidence in before making a decision. Instead they pushed out a decision in a hurry (poor Trulli).

    I do think McLaren’s intentions were honorable to begin with, but they lost the plot somewhere along the way. They did themselves no favors with this; the stewards are only human and will henceforth be far more skeptical of what HAM or McLaren have to say (and rightly so).

    • todd said on 2nd April 2009, 11:27

      agreed, mclaren tried – and did do the right thing, they let the toyota past, either because they misunderstood the rules, or they were being kind and sportsman like.

      either way they yielded the position back to toyota, hats off to them.

      but fia can only rule with the info presented to them and mclaren mislead with the information they presented. the fia only have so much info at hand, they saw on the video that ham overtook trulli and trulli overtook hamilton and they wanted to sort it out so all was fair.

      mclaren then mislead the fia into understanding that their overtake was acceptable (which i think it was, trulli went off) and that then subsequent overtake by trulli was not acceptable (making trulli look like a cheater and forcing the fia to give trulli a penalty he did not deserve).

      whatever mclaren did in the first meeting was obviously different to the reality of what happened and the fia is penalising them for cheating their way back into 3rd and unfairly letting toyota accept a 25 second and a 10 spot penalty.

      if mclaren presented all the facts in the first meeting the fia could have made a standard fair ruling.

  13. Lee said on 2nd April 2009, 11:24

    I love the fact that so many people on here are so confident that Hamilton lied to the stewards even though the transcripts have never (and probably never will be) released. If Mclaren did indeed purposefully lie and decieve the stewards then they deserve to be disqualified but I would like to see the proof before I pass judgement. The simple fact is that this should never have been an issue. The rules should be black and white so that the drivers and teams know exaclty what they are doing. The race director should be able to tell teams what they need to do in a particular situation so that the problems can be corrected before the race ends. Also the race director should not be allowed to give advice then go back on it afterwards (like in spa). Also I would like to know what this “new” evidence is. It appears that it is the radio transmission which is not new at all as it would have been available in melbourne at the time of the stewards enquiry. Mclaren can not be blamed for handing the place back to trulli initially as they have been stung unfairly so many time that they must be paranoid. However Trulli still passed hamilton, hamilton did not re-pass trulli when they slowed down as he knew they were under a yellow flag. The only fair results would have been to give trulli his 4th place back and let hamilton keep 3rd or the other way around.

    The FIA are a farcical corrupt organisation and they are destroying F1.

  14. Dragos said on 2nd April 2009, 11:24

    As much as I wanted Hamilton to get the points (6 or 5 didn’t really matter), I’m shocked to see the issue. I can’t believe they have lied. They should know that the truth will come out or at least to be good sport people. Because of their lie, Trulli almost lost all his points, this is not fair ….. I can’t believe Hamilton lied the stewards telling them he was looking at something else, that was stupid. Maybe the team told him to do this … but still, they should know better than this. I’m very disappointed by their action… even though I’m a huge fan, but this is not how I want to see them perform… and this is not how I want to see Hamilton perform… I’m very sorry but I think it is very good they’ve received the penalty for their lie, you can’t let that just go by, this would not be a sport if it did.

  15. Moolander said on 2nd April 2009, 11:25

    Good work! That is what we want from f1! Fast and consistent ruling
    I hear that the stewarts are about to reach to a decision regarding the Australia 1994 Schumacher – Hill Incident.

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