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

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  1. theRoswellite said on 3rd April 2009, 22:01

    sorry Matt…..

    I hope we all remember…

    All organizations (McLaren, FIA) are composed of individuals, and individuals can, do and will make mistakes. It is unrealistic to wish this were otherwise, and we should not condemn the entire organization for the missteps of a few.

    It is always best to tell the truth, irregardless of any and all other exigencies.

    Mr. Hamilton, irregardless of this or any other actions by the FIA, will always have this incident within him and as part of his legacy. Self-regret is often the darkest and longest lasting punishment.

    There is certainly a difference between authentic and heartfelt remorse, as I believe we are seeing with Lewis, and the cynical silence often offered up by some former world champions.

    Plus, I long for the days when a driver would refuse any advantage…..not fairly won. Sometimes that seems very long ago.

  2. Patrickl said on 3rd April 2009, 22:40

    I think this is a very stupid of Hamilton. It does show the guy is way to honest to be in F1.

    Trulli clearly lied about the incident too. He pretended like he was illegally overtaken by Hamilton during the radio conversation and he claimed he had no option other than in re-passing Hamilton while in reality he could have stayed behind Hamilton.

    Both drivers simply presented their situation most favourably to themselves. The difference is that Trulli knows how to lie and he keeps his lie straight to the press. Hamilton is too honest and tells people the true story right away.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if this admission of guilt is going to lead to more exclusions.

    • David said on 4th April 2009, 4:19

      There’s a lot of truth in this. There are layers to this episode that are much more murky, including Trulli’s role, but I don’t see that Hamilton has much option than be himself – even if that means being too honest (even about his lying).

      I’ve also got a sick feeling in my stomach that FIA are going to pursue this further. Maybe just paranoia. Maybe.

  3. Even the stewarding is all f*cK%d up as you may say, still it doesn’t justified by lying. I wonder what the the queen’s thought about this, especially now that LH was given MBE. Poor guy… well i guess he deserves it. he might still deserve DQ for this year.

    As for Schumi, he may be proven guilty several times but the reason he still being regarded is because of the feat he achieved (7 times WDC). If lewis have only 1 WDC, I don’t thinl he’ll be remembered as the schumi.

  4. John H said on 4th April 2009, 1:02

    Not good by Lewis. But, I’d like to have seen Schumacher owning up to this after the Monaco disgrace.

    Hope Lewis can bounce back.

  5. rfs said on 4th April 2009, 2:55

    His reputation has certainly taken a knock from this, but I think he’ll recover sooner rather than later.

  6. The Limit said on 4th April 2009, 4:56

    This reminds me of 1991, and that now legendary interview with Aryton Senna inwhich he admitted to delibrately crashing into Alain Prost’s Ferrari to secure the 1990 World Championship.
    At the time, as the dust swirled around the two stricken cars, everybody knew that Senna had hit Prost on purpose.
    It was all put down to a ‘racing incident’, and Aryton kept his title, much to the disgust and dismay of many.
    Then came the admission of guilt a year later from Senna.
    Knowing that his previous title was safe, he launched a full frontal assault against Prost, FIA president
    Balestre, and near enough anybody else he thought or suspected of conspiring against him. Had that happened today, Senna would probably have only had his hands on two world titles at best.
    As others have mentioned, Michael Schumacher was not beyond committing to odd professional foul in order to gain an advantage, all of which are well documented.
    This, however, does not excuse Lewis Hamilton and McLaren for what has happened. After the events of two years ago, you would have thought that the Woking team would have learned their lesson? Obviously they did not.
    To then mislead the officials, fans, and the other teams by witholding valuable information is just plain wrong, and naive.
    Surely McLaren must have known that this mess would come to light, that the radio transmission instructing Hamilton to allow Trulli past existed, and that it could be used as evidence against them.
    This to me shows that McLaren are desperate. They could not believe their luck in Australia, with both
    Ferrari’s out and Hamilton in fourth. They wanted to bag as many points as possible, knowing that their car would show its true colours in later grands prix. They gambled, and they lost.
    As for Hamilton’s reputation as a sportsman, then that has taken a massive hit! He isn’t exactly the most
    popular driver in the paddock amongst his rivals, and I seriously doubt that many will shed a tear.

  7. aja said on 4th April 2009, 9:57

    Wow, what a spotless bunch, with a tone and a half of stones being pelted about! This is racing, dirty, greasy, hot and fabulous. Nasty politics and dirty tricks, just the way we like it, Oh and young skinny women in short skirts! Why do we seem to think our self appointed heros are any less bad or better than we are, it’s a modern fable propagated by the media. If the will to win at any cost were only seen in sports we would not have a Global ‘downturn’ and the bankers would not be seen as a pariah they really are. C’mon some of you guy’s would have done just what Hamilton, Senna, Schumacher, Prost have all done, bent the rules as well as their ethics to win!
    i am just surprised Mclaren were so dumb about it, ‘ no one can see us, we’re invisible’. Some mouths in this comments section should be washed out with borax!
    aja

  8. Brembo said on 4th April 2009, 11:24

    I think that this incident goes in line with the lie of Hamilton last year in Spa….that he slowed down and did not accelerate in the Kimi Raikkonen incident.So it is not quite the first time that he lied….I think that there are more lies to come.The new British star is Button.Period.

    • Mr Soap said on 4th April 2009, 20:20

      He didn’t say he didn’t accelerate, he said he lifted off, which is considerably different. The videos match up, the telemetry, by all accounts, matches up with that as well.

  9. Cameron said on 4th April 2009, 15:43

    Doesn’t change my opinion of him. He’s still a very talented and capable driver. A couple of little fibs here and there will never change that fact.

    And come on, lets be real, it’s not like any of us have never told a lie to cover up a mistake or error, or the better a situation we are in.

    If you claim that you have never told a lie in your life, you are probably just lying to yourself, and that’s even worse!

  10. Paul D said on 4th April 2009, 15:59

    Obviously what Hamilton did was wrong, although in the circumstances and with the preasure of his superior Dave Ryan it´s understandable if not acceptable why he did what he did.

    What is commendable however is the way he has stood infront of the worlds media to apologise for it, something certain other people have failed to do in the past. One of whom I see today making more acusations about others as if he is whiter than white.

    Alonso to this day still claims that what happened in the pits in Hungary a couple of years ago was 100% innocent and the norn in those cercumstances! anyone who has any knowledge of F1 knows it was a blatent and successful attempt to prevent Hamilton from completing a last quick lap. He lied to the stewards about that and has been doing the same ever since.

    I guess it´s hard to defend Hamlton this time round but please dont think that he is the villain in a group of Saints like some would have you believe, coz it´s far from the truth.

  11. HallDoor said on 4th April 2009, 21:11

    lol does my address bar read hamiltonfanatic.co.uk ? xD

  12. Stuart said on 7th April 2009, 6:39

    All this talk of McLaren cheating just shows how biased the FIA and press can be. Yes McLaren stuffed up, Yes Lewis may have told a porky (the Stewards have no transcript of the hearing..how convenient) but correct me if i’m wrong weren’t Toyota sent to the back of the grid for attempting to cheat, attempting to get one by the stewards with their flexing rear wing in qualifying, a blatant breach of the rules….but no ruckus was raised, they were allowed to compete, keep their points..not called up before the WMSC….what a crock this “sport” is turning into, No wonder Mclaren are walking on eggshells all the time when dealing with the Stewards so it’s no surprise the guys on the pit wall hesitate when interpreting the rules..they know the FIA are gunna get em one way or another!!

  13. Ferrari 4 ever said on 9th April 2009, 21:17

    “Hamilton has already hinted once this year that he may not stay with McLaren for the rest of his career”
    If McLaren doesn’t get somebody to fix the car for the “champion”, he is out to parasite some other real champion. Alonso has been used already, maybe Kubica or Vettel are next?
    At Ferrari? No, thanks.

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