Drivers as stewards make presence felt as Hamilton gets black-and-white flag

CommentPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

The stewards said Hamilton's defence from Petrov was too aggressive
The stewards said Hamilton's defence from Petrov was too aggressive

Lewis Hamilton was shown the black-and-white flag during the Malaysian Grand Prix for weaving in front of Vitaly Petrov. He didn’t receive a penalty, but was warned not to repeat his actions.

It’s been a long time since anyone was shown the “unsportsmanlike driving” flag – and its appearance in today’s race is a sign the addition of experienced racing drivers to the stewards’ office is having an effect.

There is no written rule on what a driver who is defending his position is allowed to do. But it’s generally accepted they are allowed to make “one move” off the racing line and a subsequent move back towards the racing line as they approach the next corner.

Hamilton obeyed this principle when he first passed Petrov at the end of lap five. Then Petrov re-passed him.

But when Hamilton got past the Renault driver again at the end of lap seven, his defensive tactics clearly went beyond what is normally accepted.

As they crossed the line to start lap eight Hamilton crossed from the right-hand side of the track over to the extreme left, pausing briefly on his way, then came back across to the right, back over to the left again, and then to the middle of the track.

This clearly went beyond what the “one move” rule allows. Here’s how Hamilton explained his reason for moving around on the straight on the radio during the race:

I wasn’t weaving for him, I was weaving to break the tow.
Lewis Hamilton

I think what we’ve seen today is the benefit of having experienced drivers assisting the stewards. Driver-stewards have been introduced for the first time in F1 this year. Today it was Johnny Herbert’s turn, and with 160 F1 starts and three wins to his name he knows the sport as well as anyone.

Drivers like Herbert are far better placed to make a call about whether a driver is attempting to run their rival off the track or simply trying to stop them getting the benefit of the slipstream.

Rapping Hamilton’s knuckles without ruining his race with a penalty was the smart thing to do – particularly at a time when so much attention is being paid to overtaking in Formula 1.

When it comes to overtaking, rules and technology stack the odds heavily in favour of the defending driver. The defending driver can have a car that’s two seconds per lap slower and aerodynamics will help keep the chasing car behind.

On top of that the “one move” rule – with its liberal interpretation which allows drivers to return towards the racing line after making their defence – makes it even harder for a car to overtake. Consider that in some series, such as IndyCar racing, drivers aren’t allowed to make defensive moves and are ordered to give up their position if they do.

But I do wonder if the stewards’ decision leaves us with one problem: drivers may now think they can expect to get away with one act of weaving per race with just a warning.

What’s your take on the penalty? Also, can anyone remember the last time the black-and-white flag was used in F1? Have your say in the comments.

2010 Malaysian Grand Prix

Image (C) Renault/LAT

333 comments on “Drivers as stewards make presence felt as Hamilton gets black-and-white flag”

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  1. TMNTR – You are blinkered! how can Petrov be impeded if he FOLLOWS exactly in the car in fronts wheeltracks!! He CHOSE to follow hamilton and never once tried to take a different line nor did he try to go the opposite direction. Had he done so and Hamilton moved back I would have been the first to agree this was impeding!

  2. NO cpeterip your blinkered. I’m going to walk the cat backwards for ya just this last time and I’m outta here! Why did hammy do what he did 4 times – to keep petrov from lineing him up because he (hammy) obviously believed petrov stood a chance of passing him!!! Hammy had a defensive move and then eschewed the racing line for the cheap tourist route all over the track. It was past a joke.
    Again, you may not agree with the rule but it is the rule and definitely, if applied will stop juvenile behavior on track and help overtaking.

    1. But more overtaking is only going to add excitement if the front driver is making some attempt to defend!

      Again the solution isn’t over-regulating. You need cleaner air behind, bigger braking zones and *particularly* more driver error – e.g. manual gear changing. I also think strategy should be left as far as possible to the driver – less radio communication and advice. That’s why I’m all for drivers driving in whatever way they want on track IF (a) it doesn’t pose a significant risk to anyone else, and (b) it’s not conditioned by inter-team orders or favours (which relates to the passing back marker issue: teams blocking the drivers of some teams but not others). Saying a driver has to be allowed to hitch a tow just seems lame to me.

      1. over-regulating? make one move folks. that’s a toughy huh. This thread began, and I’ve remained focused, on hammy’s sad display and how if it was dealt with decisively, instead of giving him a mulligan, then it would put the rest of the field on notice and help overtaking. Which is what everyone “says” they want
        full stop

        1. TMTR: ‘it would put the rest of the field on notice’

          In slow-mo for you:

          t h a t ‘ s
          w h a t
          h a p p e n e d !

          It’s called a

          w a r n i n g!

          1. Yeah and in simple language for you –

            hammy stuck it to petrov –

            and a slap on the wrist.

            worked well for the guy who cheated.

            Real Nice

          2. Am sorry but this is stupid, he did not cheat! He was swerving out of the way to prevent Petrov from getting in his tow. Ask your self if Petrov did some how get by how long would he have stayed in front?

            If another driver did this you probably would not be fussed! I think this is just because you didn’t get the chance to see a good driver get over taken by a rookie. And also the fact for some reason you hate Hamilton.

  3. A few too many and a little too sharp in the weaves because it stopped or baulked Petrov from his chance to decisively get out of the slipstream. Formula Ford would even cast it that way. Right to limit the penalty though but next time its a stop go because the field is on notice.

  4. Roberto Fratelli
    5th April 2010, 2:01

    Hamilton should have be punished (returning the position to petrov). Apart from “not acceptable” as keith stated, it was unfair, imho.

    1. Wasn’t about returning a position. Hamilton was ahead because Petrov ran wide on the last corner.

      Petrov got the tow all the way up the straight as followed Ham every step until Ham stuck it in the middle for the braking zone.

      What do you want to give back?

  5. What load of nonsense! Any driver can take any racing line they want as long as they don’t cut up anyone trying to overtake. No driver’s obliged to give anyone else a tow – aerodynamic or otherwise – and if Hamilton moves out of Petrov’s way and Petrov prefers to follow him instead of driving pasts then that’s his own fault. If Hamilton drove off the track and Petrov followed him you muppets would blame him for that too.

  6. My goodness, I can’t believe how many people can’t accept that the right decision was made by the stewards and continue to insist he should have got a stop-go/ drive-through penalty! He was only trying to break Petrov’s tow, so while he weaved across the track in doing so, he wasn’t doing it in a braking zone where it could have been more dangerous. A warning was the correct decision!

  7. I bet that if that was Petrov’s move he would get a drive through penalty, at least. Hamilton was only flagged because he is a champion and Petrov is an unknown driver from Russia.

    I think if FIA wants to put former driver as stewards, they should put good drivers who will punish anyone who breaks the regulation, instead of just waving flags. For that, they do not need former drivers; just put any F1 enthusiastic and that is going to be enough.

  8. I have no problem with his move. He is one of the few drivers who is constantly thinking how can he get in front of the this guy in front.

    Watch his lines in the the corners when he is following, he is always changing his line and taking a different line to the car in front to find what ever extra speed he can find to help make a pass.

    If weaving is such a danger perhaps we need to ban the celebratory weaving guys do when they win the race. Ban the tire warming weaving they do behind the pace car, and ban the weaving to find wet parts of the track when they are on wet tires and the track is drying.

    Twice Hamilton has been squeezed toward the barriers by other drivers trying to block him from passing. Barrachello and Massa have both done it to him. and both have had no warnings or anything. This practice has is far more dangerous.

    Ok new rule. Once on the straight one must follow a nice painted line all the way down the straight until they are in the breaking zone. This should include any cars trying to pass as we would not want them to weave either. Ok i know this may pretty much end all passing for the rest of eternity but it in the name of safety.

    1. I seriously don’t understand how can you defend what Hamilton did with the phrase “we need more passing so don’t make it harder”.

      It was HAMILTON who was in danger of getting passed. One-move rule makes passing EASIER. Punishing such weaving makes passing EASIER.

      As much as i love the way Hamilton fights for positions, he was obviously doing everything possible to not let Petrov past him (which, mind that, has happened for a brief moment). So as i see things, yes, we need to encourage drivers to pass. And we should discourage them to defend illegally, even if its a driver who is usually the one passing.

  9. Plink Plonk Plunk
    5th April 2010, 5:08

    here’s a thought….on what could be considered a minor infraction of the rules…what if the FIA penalized a driver say .500 a second to his next Q1 session.

    this has nothing to do with hamiltons race today. just a thought as to how the FIA could potentialy handle future infractions that arent serious enough to warrant points deductions, or drive thru’s, yet warrant some sort of penalty to get a driver/teams attention.

    i know it’s kinda odd…….any thoughts?

    1. I like the idea, but penalize for Q1 would be a bit of discrimination ;-)
      Ferrari, Red Bull, McLaren would not be (normally) affected by that, but it’ll give a huge impact to teams like toro rosso and Sauber.
      I’d say like a .225 second for the actual time that’s set (in Q3 if you made it through there, in Q2 or Q1 if that’s the best you could manage)

    2. what if the FIA penalized a driver say .500 a second to his next Q1 session.

      this has nothing to do with hamiltons race today. just a thought as to how the FIA could potentialy handle future infractions that arent serious enough to warrant points deductions, or drive thru’s, yet warrant some sort of penalty to get a driver/teams attention.

      It already happens – Vettel got a ten-place grid penalty at Malaysia last year for his collision with Kubica in Australia.

  10. It should have been a penalty instead of warning, it’s just dangerous and unfair, it’s as simple as that. The black and white flag is just ridiculous, nobody cares about a warning! The only good thing is that it won’t happen again now.

    What if Hamilton sweeps to the right when Petrov is still following to the left, yes indeed, kaboem! crash, and a nasty one

  11. Incidentally, what should a driver do if, in the middle of a race, the guy in front (with the fastest car on the straight) starts weaving from one side to the other on a long straight? (I’m not talking about installation laps or following a safety car.) Some have said you can ignore the weaving and choose to go straight but how safe is that unless you slow down considerably? Sounds to me like the equivalent of blocking, or maybe playing around, which is getting away from the racing.

    And what’s the desperation about breaking the tow? Is it just because the driver behind gains some speed? Or does the tow slow down the front car in open-wheel driving? Arriving at the corner will break the tow anyway.

    Sounds to me using the front car’s slipstream on the straight is a natural way to match the speed that has been gained by what the f-duct does.

    Somebody mentioned a possible difference in turbulence behind an f-duct car on the straight making it is easier to follow. Has anyone seen any articles about that?

    1. I would imagine a stalled wing would give a lower rooster tail turbelance, therefore the turbulent air would settle closer/quicker to the ground for the car following, You can see the sense in all those pitot`s runs!

  12. A warning was fair. But don’t do it again Lewis. Other drivers are allowed to overtake you as well! :)

    The very fact that Lewis said that he was “breaking the tow”, implied that the following car would probably have overtaken Lewis or would have attempted to overtake Lewis had he only moved once. He was lucky Herbert was the FIAs ‘special guest’ in Malaysia.

  13. Dave the rave
    5th April 2010, 12:22

    Say what you like about Hamiltons weaving. I was sitting at the last corner from that straight and it was spectacular to watch it from behind as they sped away. And congrats to the Russian ‘rookie’ he performed well.

  14. Petrov was FOLLOWING hamilton, he was not blocked nor impeded in any way other than having to re-gain a tow.

    A great battle, unsportsmanlike? Maybe but still perfectly legit moves on each drivers part nontheless.

    1. He was FOLLOWING Hamilton because Hamilton was weaving. Should he not, Petrov would probably do what he did @ lap 6.

      Anyway, we can easily drop all the “what-ifs”. What Hamilton did, for whatever reason he did it, was illegal. Wasn’t race breaking though, hence no penalty.

      1. Mark Hitchcock
        5th April 2010, 18:34

        And if he hadn’t followed Hamilton then Hamilton would not have been allowed to move across the track more than once.
        The fact that Petrov followed Ham instead of staying where he was and making a move is what makes all discussion of weaving ridiculous.

        1. The way i see it, Hamilton did his dancing part to not get overtaken back, see lap 6.
          So, clearly, weaving was played to intentionally stop Petrov from overtaking. That obviously counts as more-then-one move while defending.

          1. Mark Hitchcock
            5th April 2010, 21:22

            The weaving was to brake the tow that Petrov was getting.
            Of course he was trying to avoid being overtaken. But he was doing it fairly.
            When a driver defends the inside line he’s trying to stop being overtaken. And as long as he doesn’t cut in front of the attacker’s line he’s not doing anything wrong either.

            If Hamilton had cut in front of Petrov I would be arguing with you guys that it was dangerous and against the rules.
            The reason I think it was fine is because Hamilton was moving into clear track and Petrov was following.

            I’m getting a bit tired of repeating the same simple points over and over again and I’m sure everyone else is also getting tired of me banging on about it so I’ll shut up now!

  15. The partisanship displayed here is extraordinary. Half of all comments in here would fit quite in a “Lewis Hamilton rules” forum.

    Hamilton has shown a complete disregard for the safety of his fellow competitors. Not punishing him for his inappropriate behaviour will only encourage it.

    1. Mark Hitchcock
      5th April 2010, 21:14

      And the other half could be part of the “Lewis Hamilton sucks” forum…

      Anyone who looks at this incident without any bias can see how it differs from blocking. If any other driver did this the fuss would be minimal and people would be more sensible instead of trying to find someone to find something wrong with it.

      Massa’s much more dangerous blocking in Australia being completely ignored proves that.

      1. Agreed, after trying to discuss this with a few friends that are hardly a fan of Hamilton all seemed to be able to see the difference between braking a tow and dangerously swerving in attempt to stop someone overtake.

        Having said that, it was worth a warning, and I totally agreed with that dicision.

        1. That should read “unable to see the difference”

  16. I think the FIA don’t really want to give penalties out this year….

    For me..its a clear drive through. Petrov did have a chance to overtake, and maybe he should have stayed on his line, but thats not against the rules…he was only following Lewis who was moving way way too much. It really really surprised me when he did it. I dont remember seeing it before.

    I dont think it was a black flag thing (point came up somewhere else), a warning and a drive through would be fine..but he got away with it really and he got past Petrov earlier than he might have done.

    Quite a few people have been saying.” Ask yourself..if Shumi did it, would that change your opinion?” Wouldent change mine.

    and..”Would Lewis have defended like that on someone like Alonso or Shumi or Massa?” I say no he wouldn’t have.

  17. Ways to improve overtaking:
    Stop messing with the cars and tracks.. and simply remove Lewis Hamiltons mirrors.
    That was some of the worst sportsmanship I’ve seen in a long time.

    1. Worst sportsmanship? Am sorry but racing is all about winning, so why on earth is Hamilton going to give Petrov or any other driver the chance to pass him?

      At the end of the day he wasn’t blocking Petrov from overtaking he was preventing him from getting in his tow!

      If Schumacher, Vettel or any other of the popular drivers did this no one would be complaining, you would all probably be hailing them saying how well they blocked the driver from overtaking!

      1. If he blocked Petrov from overtaking like that it would be deemed dangerous because he obviously has the speed to overtake and could cause an accident if he keeps on doing it, thus breaking the rule.

        Not the same as preventing a driver from getting in his tow!

      2. If Schumacher had done it, there’d be at least as much complaining, with people coming out of nowhere to scream “CHEAT!”, striking that point out of the ballpark. Vettel on the other hand, wouldn’t attract so much whinging.

        1. I’d be surprised on this forum because there are a lot of people on here who seem to lick Schumi’s back side!

          1. Remember, I said coming out of nowhere! ;)

  18. I’m not a Hamilton fan nor a hater, however I thought the move was clever, trying break the tow. It was fun to watch. Hamilton wasn’t blocking he was trying to get Petrov out of the slip stream. It was a fun game of cat and mouse. It would be nice to see more drivers engaging in battles like that, rather the standard get passed, then follow 2 seconds behind move.

  19. Ok lets try this again.. obviously my last statement did’nt make it past the moderator of this topic.. (must be a hamilton fan)

    Lets set aside the fact that all of you think you are professors in racing cars, and you sit here and argue amongst yourself with your computer keyboard’s about what you think is right and wrong about this swerving issue..

    lets take it from a spectators point of view..

    I saw someone blocking another driver from having a chance at outbraking into turn 1 (because of the additional swerve)..

    Therefore I was denied a chance to see an overtake on the track.. (which is what this motor racing is supposed to be right?)

    Isn’t this why they designed the cars to be able to be drivable within the tow? we can see some outbraking into a turn?

    And again, I’ll say that was the least amount of sportsmanship I’ve seen in F1 since Fernando Alonso sat in the box while Lewis Hamilton waited to get in..

    1. It’s racing, it is nothing like Alonso blocking Hamilton in the pits, ask your self why on earth is a driver going to let another driver by so easily, would that be fun to watch cars be let by so easy? It’s not going to be racing if a faster car lets a slower car by just to overtake it again, for the audience, when he could be going on to catch the next driver and try to overtake him, I think that would be better.

      I have no idea why people are taking this so seriously, oh yeah sorry I forgot the topics about Hamilton!

  20. I happy there was no penalties in these times f1 is becoming bland the last things we want to see is drivers getting punished for racing

    if they start doing this like a few years ago when penalties where giving for overtaking a driver. webber would have probably got some sort of grid drop for the little racing incident in austrailia

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