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. Richard said on 2nd April 2009, 11:27

    Stupid FIA!

    Hamilton and Mclaren made a big mistake by not telling the truth. Lack of communication with race director is major problem.

    The FIA have set a precedent that they probably won’t keep in penalising Hamilton for not telling the whole truth.

    Trulli deserved a place but he was lieing if he said he thought Hamilton would stop.

    It was as it first appeared, Trulli went off, Hamilton/ Mclaren were over cautious and let him past. Should have been left at that.

    FIA have made farce of the sport and if I can I will watch Indycar this weekend instead.

  2. curedcat said on 2nd April 2009, 11:27

    FIA -Ferrari Intelligent aliens

  3. Eriksen said on 2nd April 2009, 11:29

    YES! :D

  4. todd said on 2nd April 2009, 11:30

    maybe f1 should be SMS based, when something happens throw it out to an SMS public vote, would be a great money maker for them.

  5. Well – is it a surprise no – it vwas more of a surprise that they had awarded hamilton 3rd place – so the inevitable then happenened – they had a rethink decided that Hamilton and mclaren had misled them?? – cant they listen to the teams – seemed enough freeloaders in that camera shot of the stewards or were they all to busy drinking cola and belching – no slimmies there – if I ran mclaren Iwould save my time and trouble and walk away and leave the lot to stew

  6. Feline-Fan said on 2nd April 2009, 11:30

    What a sad, and very messy start to the season :(
    Let’s hope all have learnt a valuable lesson here

  7. Chris said on 2nd April 2009, 11:31

    Hey Hamilton’s fans! What is wrong with you?­ Hamilton was claiming he did not deliberetly allow­ Trulli to pass him. But as the radio records shows, he­ received team order to let Trulli go. So Trulli­ overtook him in a fairly way. Hamilton was cheating and­ lying because he wanted to stay on a third place. That­ is way he got punished. So what is so strange in­ stewards’ decision? Very fair I have to say. You­ need to accept that your idol is simply a cheater, a­ liar and a fair play means nothing to him.
    And please, stop your ridiculous declarations that Lewis is a victim of FIA. It is really pathetic.

  8. Aardvark said on 2nd April 2009, 11:31

    Trulli will be back in the points once they’ve thrown the Brawns and Rosberg out as well…

    Surely there’s enough dead time while the safety car’s out for the stewards and race control to decide which order the cars should be, and issue orders to the drivers over the radio.

  9. prateekf1 said on 2nd April 2009, 11:33

    In the midst of all this madness, has anyone realized?

    Sutil has scored Force India’s maiden point.

  10. gazzap said on 2nd April 2009, 11:33

    How many people have accused Hamilton of lying on here today??!! If you read the report you will see that Hamilton told the truth. It was Whitmarsh who lied.

    your powers of observation should make you good candicates for race stewards or FIA employees.

    Read again:

    “McLaren’s radio communications proved McLaren instructed Hamilton to slow down.

    Hamilton claimed he had been told to let Trulli past (truth), but Whitmarsh said Trulli passed Hamilton of his own accord (lie).”

  11. 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.

  12. Loki said on 2nd April 2009, 11:42

    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.

    • pSynrg said on 2nd April 2009, 12:57

      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…

  13. kurtosis said on 2nd April 2009, 11:43

    @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).

    • Lee said on 2nd April 2009, 11:51

      @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.

  14. MetaFus said on 2nd April 2009, 11:44

    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..

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

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