Two sides to the Hamilton-Trulli controversy: Hamilton apologises

2009 Australian Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton has admitted not telling the truth to the stewards

Lewis Hamilton has admitted not telling the truth to the stewards

Lewis Hamilton has apologised for his role in the Australian Grand Prix controversy after being vilified in the British and international press this morning.

What will be the consequences for Hamilton’s reputation and the team’s? Will it have any repercussions for Hamilton’s career? And how has it affected the fans’ view of him?

McLaren admits guilt

McLaren’s decision not to appeal Hamilton’s exclusion from the Australian Grand Prix was the first sign that McLaren were backing down over the matter.

That was followed this morning by the suspension of sporting director Dave Ryan and Martin Whitmarsh stating quite frankly that the team had lied to the stewards including Hamilton, under instruction from Ryan:

It has become clear from discussions with Dave last night and through into this morning that during the stewards meeting after the Australian Grand Prix, he was not entirely full and truthful in the answers he gave the stewards.

Asked if Hamilton had told the truth Whitmarsh added:

No. I think that Lewis was not entirely truthful, but we have spoken to Davey. He was the senior member of the team and they went into the situation together.

Hamilton later gave a press conference in which he issued a startlingly direct mea culpa while, according to James Allen “his voice [was] cracking at times, his body language full of anguish and regret”:

For me, the situation is definitely the worst thing I’ve experienced in my life. That is why I am here. It is right for me as a human being and as a man to stand in front of you all and tell you exactly what went on and put up my hands. I cannot tell you how sorry I am. I’m sorry to my team and my family for the embarrassment. It is a very, very embarrassing situation.

He has, at least, avoided the mistake of not saying sorry.

‘Say it ain’t so, Joe’

Had the apology come 24 hours earlier Hamilton might have been spared the full heat of the British press’s reaction:

In a damning judgment of the conduct of Hamilton and his team, who were fined $100 million (now about ??68 million) by the FIA for cheating in 2007 over the ??spy-gate?? affair, the Melbourne stewards, who reconvened here in Kuala Lumpur, made it clear that they believe Hamilton and McLaren had not told the truth.
Ed Gorman, The Times

Lewis Hamilton was last night branded a liar in the Aussie GP storm.
Michael Spearman, The Sun

Lewis Hamilton’s reputation for sporting fairness is in tatters this morning after he was sensationally found guilty of lying and cheating his way to third place in last Sunday?s Australian Grand Prix.
Jonathan McEvoy, Daily Mail

It’s no surprise that the revelation of Hamilton being caught red-handed is the lead story. But what do his fans make of it? I’ll leave it up to you to tell me that in the comments.

Hamilton and McLaren

There are other aspects to this story beyond the simple fact of Hamilton and McLaren getting caught not telling the truth.

To begin with, the radio transcripts published by the FIA show it was McLaren, not Hamilton, who decided (incorrectly) to let Trulli past. Had Hamilton not bothered to consult the team, and stayed ahead of Trulli, the problem could have been avoided.

Hamilton may well consider his interests would have been better served by not bringing it up with the team, and take similar decisions without consulting them in future.

Hamilton has already hinted once this year that he may not stay with McLaren for the rest of his career, which he first indicated he would do after his world championship success last year. Despite the swift removal of the individual McLaren claims bore principal responsibility the episode may have fatally weakened the bonds between team and driver.

McLaren will hope their submissions today will mean the end of the matter for the time being. But it shouldn’t be forgotten that over at Renault is a driver who might one day tell us some more interesting stories about McLaren’s radio communications.

Read the second part of this post: Two sides to the Hamilton-Trulli controversy: Another avoidable crisis

More of the press reaction

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141 comments on Two sides to the Hamilton-Trulli controversy: Hamilton apologises

  1. Jess said on 3rd April 2009, 18:54

    Case Closed. I am a Hamilton fan but he screwed up and is paying for it. No one likes it when here guy is penalized but when they get caught in something they should not have done well then time to pay the piper. I will still rout for him. Now can we move on and go back to racing and put this behind us. Hamilton lied and got caught and got penalized and was right to be. Time to go back to the racing.

  2. Mig.Golf said on 3rd April 2009, 18:56

    I really hope this soap is over and let’s see ONLY on the track, who are the fastest and the more reliable.

  3. Achilles said on 3rd April 2009, 19:00

    He won’t be the first or the last person to toe the company line, trust the british media to hang him before the trial…

  4. Lynn said on 3rd April 2009, 19:02

    Having watched the press conference from Lewis. It’s clear to me that this was an heartfelt felt apology. You could tell that he was in torment and meant what he said. It’s now reported that the FIA has accepted his apology, but his team could still face sanctions. Let this be a lesson for Lewis, because it wasn’t worth it.

  5. ANTS said on 3rd April 2009, 19:11

    It’s about time formula 1 got their act together as far as sorting things out,this is the only sport that there is always controversy.You watch the race see the drivers on the podium then all change the winner is not the winner the driver in third ends up being second,if formula 1 does not sort things out people will stop watching it,problems should be sorted out when the race is running so the results stand and everybody including the drivers know were they are.Mr Moseley pull your finger out of your A*** and sort things out once and for all.

  6. bobmarshall said on 3rd April 2009, 19:16

    footballers dive,
    cricketers nick it and don’t walk,
    tennis players argue over every close line decision,
    Cyclists take drugs & only apologise if they’re caught,

    How much could that 1 point be worth at the end of the year? (cash & championship wise)

    Is everyone really saying they thought Formula 1 was above this? (prost 1989, senna 1990, schumacher 1994, 1997, 2006)

    The main problem is that there are too many rules that are written badly & the sport is being run by 2 power & money hungry old men with no idea of what their fans want.

    None of this would of happened if they had just reversed the results from 3rd to 4th or vice-versa with a touch of common sense & class, as would of happened in any other form of motorsport.

    anyway, why didn’t they red flag the thing when Vettal & kubica crashed – another thing that would have happened anywhere else.

    (oh yeah I reckon Hamilton & his team are really stupid for doing this & the DSQ was fully deserved)

  7. SmAShY said on 3rd April 2009, 19:26

    I am a big Lewis fan but really feel let down by all of this, how did it all come to this over just 1 point? I am truly gutted and do feel a bit let down by Lewis and McClaren.

    I will give him the benefit of the doubt this time but he really has to keep his head down and just race race race! I hope that media and public forgive him over time and he contonues to be successful.

    Just a thought about being in the stewards office. If Dave had been asked 1st about letting Trulli past and he said no, how awkward would it have been for Lewis to go against him? Doesn’t mean he can lie I know but an awkward situation non-the-less.

  8. Oliver said on 3rd April 2009, 19:27

    I have never seen a team with such a massive potential to score and own goal. I like the fairy tale story of Dennis discovering Hamilton and nurturing his rise through the ranks and into F1 and on to the world championship. However it thus seem more and more obvious that Mclaren has also found a way to damage his integrity. I think one way or the other, it may be best if he leaves that team sad as the case may be.
    Mclaren just have a way of doing the right thing the wrong way.

  9. ChiefDee said on 3rd April 2009, 19:28

    Polak … where on earth do you leave, the man has apologised and so give him the credit. He did not fight anyone or accuse. F1 and the stewards are out to get him… Trulli was on the podium.. Lewis didn’t complain after the race… they(F1 Mafia working for Massa/Kimi) are the ones who started this saga. If it was left as it was this would not have happened… conspiracy against a young black british driver… nosense to this b****s**** about Lewis trying to cheap. His interview after the race was simple and straight forward… he didn’t mention being robbed… to him 4th place was good enough… but alas the F1 Mafia are at it again. trying to unsettle him at the early stages of the season…

    Be Strong Lewis! Please Continue to support this talented man!

  10. Oliver said on 3rd April 2009, 19:31

    Ah!!!! what happened to the option to edit an earlier post?

  11. Mr. Serious said on 3rd April 2009, 19:35

    I hope all the drama-nuts don’t read too much into this as I don’t wuite believe this will happen and certainly not in a hating way, but this could potentially add momentum to Hamilton starting to see greener grass elsewhere; i.e not at McLaren. As I say it’s not something I expect to see but this is the kind of situation that can begin such events

    • SYM said on 3rd April 2009, 20:07

      What was Lewis expected to do, go to the stewards by himself and say:

      ‘listen guys, dont tell my team i told you this, but i was told to slow down and let Trulli by’!

      That would’ve got him in trouble with everybody, for something that was not his fault.

      His team said ‘let Trulli pass’, and then his superior told him to stick with the story in front of the stewards. The plan did not work. Its wasn’t Lewis’s idea, he just did as he was told by Dave Ryan.

      Ryan made a bad decision. But McLaren have been at the receiving end of so many dubious judgments from Ecclestone’s FIA for the last 2 years with goal posts shifting so many times that the team is in a constant state of confused fear when it comes to on track protocols.

      Neither Lewis nor Ryan set out to deceive anyone. When they thought Lewis passed illegally, they surrenderd 3rd position back to Trulli.

      A ruthless cheating team/driver would never have done that, certainly don’t see Schumacher/Ferrari doing it.

      The FIA decided that they should have that 3rd place back, they decided to keep it this time, and put a lid on the whole thing, after all they drove a clean race and did not initiate this incident.

      However when the details came out, i believe Dave Ryan should have put his hands up and say, as we heard on the radio, ‘I told Lewis to slow down’. He didn’t and that is where the fault lies, not with Lewis.

      I would have been more disappointed in Lewis had he ratted his boss and team. Instead he went along with the decision, because as a team you sink and swim together. He was loyal to Dave and McLaren. It is they that let him down, again!

  12. Antiriad said on 3rd April 2009, 19:37

    Hamilton lying typifies the arrogance he has like Schumacher before him.

  13. BNK Racing said on 3rd April 2009, 19:40

    i dont really care. his human, ppl lie. thats life. get over it. hamilton is still the 1 to beat so stop cryin over it!

  14. Macademianut said on 3rd April 2009, 19:45

    What I don’t agree with the entire process is that the stewards were not penalized in any form.

    1. When they have the radio conversation, why do they have to question HAM and the team manager?

    2. If you had asked TRU or GLO if their wing was according to spec during the qualification of Australian GP, they would have said YES. But, upon inspection FIA finds the wings illegal. So, they would have misled FIA. So, should they be punished?

    It is a shame that HAM lied just to get one more point. I am hoping that he will not be McLaren’s momma-boy and will stand up to what the truth is.

    Why are the stewards not punished for not looking into all the data before they gave out the verdict? There is no apology from the stewards for overlooking the data that they had.

    • SYM said on 3rd April 2009, 20:21

      I am sorry but Hamilton did not lie. He won that 3rd place fair and square in a car that did not deserve to be there. He did not fall off the track and cause this incident and when he was told to give up the place he did.

      We dont know who did the talking at the Stewards inquest, and i would say it was Rayn who did that, being the superior.

      Hamilton got caught up in Dave Ryan’s bad call/lie and was torn between team loyalty and creating stink over something that was NOT HIS FAULT!

    • napalmblower said on 3rd April 2009, 21:44

      steward`s respected lewis and ryans words as they represented mclaren , but they lied …. and got there ass raped …thats it

  15. Ron said on 3rd April 2009, 19:54

    Hey there everyone,

    I’ve posted my opinion a few times already today, and the more I think about this, the more upset at Hamilton i am. His Apology doesn’t register on my scale. he sells out his sporting director? where does he get off? I’m a team player, but the captain did it…..(pointing a finger).

    his apology is entirely stupid and leaks worse than a fishing net. the points follow. one major point actually,

    Hami says that his Superior misled him and told him what to say just before the went to talk to the stewards.
    how daft is Hamilton?

    he had already talked to the press… what did he think? people wouldn’t notice? Didn’t he have the brain to inform his superior that he had already talked to the press and his superior’s genius plan wouldn’t survive the night?

    and since he himself knew that he told the press, how does he accept to be pulled into such a stupid lie. regardless of who told him what to do.

    Hamilton is a part of the McLaren mechanism it seems, a mechanism that sometimes commits intentional errors. If he truly considers himself a Champion, and understood the seriousness of his role,he would have realized what he had to do, and that is not go along, but set the pace.
    i thought being W.C would buy you some leadership in an F1 team, it seems Hami is not fit for even that. so instead of leading by example, he was led to do wrong, which amounts to the same as intentionally doing wrong, and my verdict is that he is found guilty of being an idiot.

    seriously… this is the first time i get worked up that much about something stupid in F1, for some reason, the way Hami and McLaren tried to weasel their way out of this one despite the obvious truth insults me, and insults every person.

    in older cases, like Schumi in Monaco, or Adelaide, you can relate that it was what he said that only counts, because there was no recording of what what went through his head, so we could be skeptical and say, yeah right, but ultimately only he knew what actually happened, and there was a chance that it might of been true.

    but lying bluntly….

    I think McLaren should pull Hamilton out of this race if they want to win moral points. if the FIA doesn’t come down on him quick, McLaren should do their bid and ban him for at least 2 races, or what kind of example would they be setting. that is if they are not in on it, and the poor sporting director was a scapegoat, which isn’t too far a probability.

    imagine, reason for getting fired? didn’t lie good enough… Lack of imagination

    • SYM said on 3rd April 2009, 20:14

      your essay reeks of contempt for Lewis (Hami, i believe you call him) and i dont think this has anything to do with the incident under discussion btw. I refer you to my post above, and i think it is sad how ppl are jumping so quickly on the Lewis Hamilton hate bandwagon…. :(

    • Mig.Golf said on 3rd April 2009, 20:38

      hey man, don’t you get it?

      The stupid thing was done by McLaren itself. You can say Lewis shouldn’t follow orders and should have told the truth to the stewards, I’m OK with that, but all he did in the radio and all was asking is it was ok to do so (stay ahead of Trulli) – the joke is on the team that should just sais YES – Trulli went out of track, you are P3. Keep position.

      If that would have happened, nothing else would have been talked about. End of story…

      So, again, the Team is to blame, and as must as a McLaren fan that I am, shame on them for being stupid to themselves… If anybody should be angry is Lewis for have a boss who can’t give him on the race the info he needed and after that tells him to lie about it, our omit it from the stewards. Those guys who had the radio transmission already, simply didn’t look at it – all radio transitions between teams and drivers are recorded by FIA.

      There are no intensions of misleading anything until that gut told Hamilton to lie. Can you imagine a team spending lots of money to develop a car, improve it, pay the drivers all that machine at Woking working around the clock and suddenly they deliberately lie the FIA to get an extra ONE point, risking it all… as it happened… They got them.

      Just put yourself in Lewis shoes for sec and think in a few seconds he had the decide what to do, what would YOU do?… Tell the truth and create an impossible working environment for the rest of the year or years…? I think got.

      Hamilton is a victim here as he were other times when Alonso create lots of trouble to the team because he thought, as world champions we would have special treatment and the other driver was only there to make number as it happens now with Piquet… Alonso is like Schumacher was… Always get a ‘tiny’ team mate and if he starts to get too close, dump him and get another rookie.
      You think that Massa would be in Ferrari today if at his side was Schumacher? Don’t. No way – they would already kick him like they did Rubens and replace be ‘truck driver’.

      Now that’s a book I’m going to buy – the one Barrichello told we was going to write about what has going on at Ferrari during his stay there… That will be a best seller and then you’ll see that think done my McLaren in comparison are little tiny bites…

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