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


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

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

  1. Ben said on 4th April 2010, 19:57

    F1 needs more overtaking and Hamilton was stopping this by trying to stop Petrov from getting a slip stream. I think this is against the spirit of the rules and the stewards made the right call.

    Hamilton has done this before to Kimi Raikkonen at spa in 2008 after eau rouge.

    • David BR said on 4th April 2010, 22:13

      After Raikkonen had nudged into him deliberately at La Source? And before Raikonnen had used the run-off to get better grip and catch and overtake him at Pouhon under yellow flags?

      Talk about selective memory.

      • Ben said on 4th April 2010, 22:35

        I do not have selective memory I remember it very well.

        What Raikkonen did is not relevant, the issue I was commenting on was Lewis Hamilton weaving to break a slip stream.

        “After Raikkonen had nudged into him deliberately at La Source?”

        When did Raikkonen tell you this?

        I think Lewis was slower on the apex and this caught Kimi out, can’t see him wanting to lose his front wing on purpose, can you?

        But I agree that leaving the track to gain an advantage is wrong.

        • David BR said on 4th April 2010, 23:11

          Actually, yes – I mean, not that he told me, but I do think Raikkonen was so rattled by Hamilton’s pass he wasn’t really that bothered about the end result – hence the manic driving by him afterwards! There wasn’t any real room for him at La Rouge (and KR also weaved fairly manically at some point after btw). I’m not criticizing at all. I’m just saying that both drivers pulled stuff out of the bag, so to speak, not all of it legit. But Hamilton’s weaving to shake off the tow at Eau Rouge seems okay to me and probably the least offensive of a whole string of rule bends. Still you do make a fair point in pointing out he’s done it before.

  2. Calum said on 4th April 2010, 20:13

    When I first saw it, I thought Lewis was trying to snap Petrov out of the slipstream he was getting.

  3. David B said on 4th April 2010, 20:26

    I’ve heard for a long time that you can’t change a line more than once. Don’t know if it is a proper rule or a best to have. But that’s exactly what Hamilton did today.
    I’ve heard so many times people complaining about Schumacher bad habits…well, that’s something similar to what Hamilton did today.
    So: if you think that there are some kind of rules that drivers need to comply with while fighting for a position, well you can’t say anything different that Hamilton was to be blamed and penalized. No doubt on that.

    Having said that I’m happy with a certain freedom to fight. Formula 1 is not a ladies game, you have to struggle for position. I’ve had enough of penalization for unfair overtaking moves or similar. That is racing. Hope the marshalls are coherent with this for the whole season.

  4. NetSticks said on 4th April 2010, 20:33

    I was wondering when they would start the ‘Hamilton chase’… I had hopes that, with the end of Mosley reign, it will go away, but this new little guy (Todt) is as bad as the old one, with a vengeance… He was (and always will be) a Ferrari supporter… so… Hamilton is target number one…

    All this is stupid. The rules are stupid, they are killing Formula One and now a drivers can’t defend his position… and we’re not talking about a car 2 secs. slower… in that case give it the blue flag and force him to allow the other to pass… We’re talking about a normal battle with similar cars in the middle of a race… If he overtakes the Renault and after that he can’t defend the position… we go back to the same – why risk overtaking at all… We see the qualifying and already know the final race places… No bother to run… save fuel… save the rain forest… Bah!

    This is so stupid… I’m wasting time even writing about it…

    • Hotbottoms said on 4th April 2010, 21:16

      “I was wondering when they would start the ‘Hamilton chase’”

      Look mate, Hamilton clearly broke the rules and got a warning. You call that a chase? Surely you must understand that rules are rules and they must be obeyed even though it’s your favourite driv… Oh, wait

      “The rules are stupid”

      Never mind.

    • mvi said on 4th April 2010, 21:46

      My goodness, NetSticks, you must be having a bad day! What you’ve written appears rather incoherent. One driver successfully overtakes another and you are lamenting that now that he is ahead it is so difficult for him to defend that position, that it was too risky to have overtaken at all? Well, boo-hoo?

      And I do think the stewards got it right today.

    • Sandman said on 4th April 2010, 22:38

      “I was wondering when they would start the ‘Hamilton chase’”

      Right at the point he starts breaking the rules again.

  5. Spud said on 4th April 2010, 20:41

    In the GP Update section about Renault are complaining about Hamilton weaving they say “Very frankly, it is very clear in the regulations that you can have one change of direction,…”.

    But is it written in the regulations?? I thought this was an unwritten rule, an agreement between all the drivers of sorts. I can’t find it in the regulations.

  6. Shreyas Srivastava said on 4th April 2010, 21:09

    I think what hamilton did today was outrageous….i think he got away with it..after all warning is just as useless..he should have been given a stop go penalty…
    You cant weave like tht..once or twice is maybe ok but 4 times is just too much. I think he survived a penalty as herbert is a fellow brit….

    • Mike said on 6th April 2010, 11:33

      “You cant weave like tht..once or twice is maybe ok but 4 times is just too much”


      “after all warning is just as useless..he should have been given a stop go penalty…”

      Nope, Warnings work because of the threat of a penalty, after this, did anyone see Hamilton do anything suspicious?

      “I think he survived a penalty as herbert is a fellow brit….”

      Yes it’s all a big conspiracy, actually, shouldn’t this balance things out?
      I mean, some suggest Todt will favour Ferrari and Schumacher, now everyone can enjoy some favouritism ^^


  7. Mark Hitchcock said on 4th April 2010, 21:35

    I really don’t understand why some people can’t see the difference between blocking and what Hamilton was doing.

    The way I see it, blocking is reacting to an overtaking attempt by swerving in front of the other driver. Hamilton wasn’t doing that at all. Petrov was the one reacting to Hamilton’s movements.
    If Petrov was close enough to attempt an overtake he could have kept his line when Hamilton moved across the track. Then Hamilton would have had no right to make a second move because he would have been cutting in front of Petrov’s line. What happened was that Hamilton moved, Petrov followed to try and slipstream Hamilton. Rinse, repeat.
    No-one was cutting in front of anyone, no-one was blocking anyone. No-one was doing anything wrong!
    It was good, clean, intelligent driving from both drivers.

    For the record, if Hamilton (or anyone) HAD blocked Petrov, moved in the braking zone etc (like he did in Monza a couple of years ago) I would be outraged because it’s dangerous and just ruins good battles.

    • Mark Hitchcock said on 4th April 2010, 22:13

      One more thing.
      Many people are clamouring for more overtaking in F1, but whenever we actually get any there are always calls for one of the drivers to be penalised in some way.
      Can’t have it both ways.
      If there is always a punishment for every mistake, or marginal piece of defensive driving, or over-optimistic lunge, then the drivers will learn not to bother trying.

      Hamilton showed today that overtaking IS possible on a dry track, yet many times we don’t see much. Perhaps the drivers are already so worried about being harshly punished for a mistake that they are reluctant to even try any moves.

      • Kirk said on 6th April 2010, 4:32

        There should have been a penalty for Hamilton’s action which were taken to avoid being overtaken. Hamilton’s swerving did not assist overtaking – its purpose was to stop overtaking.

  8. If this is “thinking out of the box”, then why was Hamilton given a warning? If there is a warning, then it means there’s something wrong or unfair attempt. Give it a go, guys and imagine from now on that all drivers will feel that it’s right to wave for the sake of “avoiding slipstream effect.”

    I think this is what we call sportically correct explanation of what was a terrible thing to do.

  9. TMTR said on 4th April 2010, 22:06

    Re: “The Hamilton Weave”
    For what it’s worth:
    Appendix L To The International Sporting Code

    Code Of Driving Conduct On Circuits
    Chapter IV Article 2 b)

    “Overtaking, according to the circumstances, may be carried out on either the right or left.
    However, manoeuvres liable to hinder other drivers, such
    more than one change of direction to defend a position,
    deliberate crowding of a car beyond the edge of the track or any other abnormal change of direction, are strictly prohibited. Any driver who appears guilty of any of the above offences will be reported to the stewards of the meeting.
    Did this muddy the waters anymore? lol

    • Patrickl said on 4th April 2010, 23:03

      Well he was reported and he was warned. Case closed.

      • TMTR said on 4th April 2010, 23:40

        shoulda been a stop & go penalty! If and that’s a big if – many of the people who claim to want more overtaking truly mean it! Seems to me that 1 move is allowed but twice? Thrice and then a fourth? Petrov would haved been allowed to set him up and attempt a pass! Isn’t that what we want? Overtaking? Except when it’s our favorite Roary the racing car.

        • Patrickl said on 5th April 2010, 17:57

          “will be reported to the stewards of the meeting”

          Again, he WAS reported to the stewards, they looked at it and gave him a warning.

          The rules obviously are talking about blocking a driver. The stewards looked at the situation and decided that Hamilton didn’t block Petrov.

          You quote the rules, the rules were applied correctly, so … case closed.

  10. JUGNU said on 4th April 2010, 22:15

    I don’t understand overtaking is already so tough and with all these rules FIA is only making it tougher.
    FIA should do everything to improve overtaking and first and most easy step is to reconsider/modify the ‘unsporting’ rules especially overtaking related ones.


    • mvi said on 4th April 2010, 23:02

      JUGNU, could you clarify which ‘unsporting’ rules need modifying in order to improve overtaking? Are you suggesting that defending not be allowed at all?

  11. manatcna said on 4th April 2010, 22:53

    Sometimes I wonder if half of these comments are coming from people who watched the same race as me.

    Doesn’t even warrant a warning.

    • Kirk said on 6th April 2010, 4:34

      Educate yourself on racing rules and code of conduct before you make this sort of statement. It is very clearly an unsporting move. That’s why the stewards investigated, and he was given the unsporting black/white flag.

  12. Renzo said on 4th April 2010, 22:58

    I don’t know if the decision of the stewards was right, in any case I was quite surprised to see Petrov being able to slipstream Hamilton’s McLaren twice and in one occasion even being able to overtake him.
    One of the slowest cars against the fastest, one of the toughest drivers to overtake against a rookie.
    This makes me think two things: or that Petrov is not that bad as expected or that there was a big difference between option and prime

    • Patrickl said on 4th April 2010, 23:05

      Maybe the stalled rear wing somehow makes it easier to follow the car too? Or maybe Petrov simply got out of the corner better than Hamilton.

      The latter was obviously the case the first time. With his wide line he lost time and position on Hamilton, but he came out of that with a higher speed.

    • mvi said on 4th April 2010, 23:11

      I’ll bet all the drivers will be reviewing the Petrov overtake – hats off to him!

    • TMTR said on 4th April 2010, 23:49

      Petrov aint that bad. And the Renault is superior to the Mclaren on high speed corners. Not on the straights nor the slow speed corners though. That Reault engine has some grunt & yeah less rear wing seemed to be noticeable on the Renault.

  13. xabregas said on 4th April 2010, 23:23

    Imagine everybody doing the same at all times. No one could ever even try to overtake. That isn´t racing. But what bodors me more was that was Hamilton, he is,at least for me, the most enjoyable F1 driver to watch and i´m not his fan at all. It was a rokie in front of him, sooner or later Petrov would have made a mistake. Next race, maybe, we´re going to see in that big straight in china everybody dancing. So if you wont more overtaking this is´t the best way to go.
    Remember that this rule came because there was a lot of dancing some years ago.
    Finally, to bring back great overtaking manouvers, you will need:
    1. great drivers (no need of dancing)
    2. two real simple wings for the car (less aerodynamic)
    3. more than one tyre suplier (make the diference)
    4. bring back steel brakes ( the distance of braking to the corner will increase so it will give more space to try to overtake). This maybe controversial because of the safety, but at the same time, circuits and F1 cars are much safer now than it was before.

    • Stuart Hotman said on 4th April 2010, 23:54

      I agree bringing back steel brake discs would improve the show and reduce costs.

      • Rohan said on 5th April 2010, 11:26

        No it wouldn’t – Williams experimented with steel brakes with Zanardi in 1999 and founf that they didn’t increase braking distances at all.

  14. xabregas said on 4th April 2010, 23:27

    Forgot one thing, with all that things KERS will not be needed and F1 will be cheaper too.

  15. Big Pete said on 4th April 2010, 23:48

    “We just raised our point of view,” Renault F1 Team Principal Eric Boullier told Autosport after the race. “Very frankly, it is very clear in the regulations that you can have one change of direction, so when you do three in a row something is wrong.

    So all you experts saying its not written in the books, does this mean this guy does nto know the rules. Johnny Herbert is English, hmmmmm. I dont care who it is or was, but it was definately unsportsmanlike, and if hadnt have done it Petrov would have certaily passed him again.
    If its ok to do then, then the guy in the lead can do it all race then huh, to not let the guy behind get a free tow!!! Tell me im wrong with that statement!!!!!

    • TMTR said on 4th April 2010, 23:55

      I totally agree with you and my post a few posts before yours quoted the exact regulation:

      Appendix L To The International Sporting Code
      Code Of Driving Conduct On Circuits
      Chapter IV Article 2 b)
      Petrov had him dead to rights and Hamilton knew it! He freaked and drove like a drunk.
      If we all really want to see racing/overtaking, then take of the blinders when it comes to our favorite driver. Otherwise don’t whine about processional racing!

      • Salty said on 5th April 2010, 0:26

        Quite right. Get the men in the office to tell the chaps in the overalls how to drive properly.

        Bound to make the racing much better.

        Well done.

        • TMTR said on 5th April 2010, 0:32

          You wanna let the inmates run the asylum?

          • Salty said on 5th April 2010, 0:48

            No, I would like to see the guys who have actually driven a race car police the sport.

            Ever bother to check out who sits in the FiA making these rules? Same guys as end up as race stewards. 90% of these guys have zero race or sports credentials. I’d make a humourous point here, but actually. It isn’t funny.

            The 4th steward, each a previous F1 driver, is there to redress the imbalance that has obviously happened between the reality on the race track, and the reality of lots of FiA commissioners, from all over the world, having lunch in Paris and then deciding on the right way to race a car, that despite many of them not having driven themselves for years.

          • TMTR said on 5th April 2010, 1:05

            Chill out about the people in the rooms for a minute and read the rule and look at the video of what hammy did and then tell everybody that he didn’t intend to prevent petrov from trying to overtake him 4 Freakin’ times!!! Do you want overtaking? End of story.

        • Kirk said on 6th April 2010, 4:37

          You’re kidding right? You think they just pick stewards up from the street? You think they are the politicians from the FIA? They work for the relevant motorsport body, they are both experienced in motorsports (I doubt there are any stewards that have not raced a car) but thoroughly know and understand the rules, and they have vast experience of racing.

          By your incredible logic we should just let the football players sort out who gets penalties or free kicks – the referee is not a player so how can he possibly make the right decision?

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