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. Stuart Hotman said on 4th April 2010, 23:52

    I want to see drivers battling it out, especially if it is dangerous (i dont think it was today), thats why we love f1. They should do whatever it takes to defend their position. No point castrating them. If you want them to be safe, tell them not to bother getting in the car again and watch them all playing poker instead.

    • TMTR said on 4th April 2010, 23:58

      That’s against the rule! Firstly, and secondly, we would have seen drivers battling it out – Petrov & Hamilton! What is the sense of a waltz – sashaying back and forth?

    • Mike said on 6th April 2010, 11:46

      “especially if it is dangerous”

      It’s not why I love F1…..

  2. Dr Jones said on 4th April 2010, 23:59

    Well, I think we all agreed that it’s good to have ex-F1 racers as stewards compared from the previous years. They now know what the driver’s attempt in doing. :)

  3. I cannot see the argument!! HAMILTON DID not WEAVE TO BLOCK !simple answer & finished!! Petrov did not make one move to go alongside or anything to make a move to pass!! He followed exactly in Hamiltons tracks. do we want racing or not — all these people on about no overtaking bla bla – but when it comes to Hamilton they talk with forked tongue!!

    • TMTR said on 5th April 2010, 0:17

      I don’t think you understand the rule. Please read it slowly and carefully. A defensive manoeuvre can be something other than a block! Get it?! Hammy weaved so that Petrov wouldn’t be able to line him up for the kill! that’s defensive. And it’s ok once! But not 4 times!!!! Do you want racing and passing (forwards and backwords) or do you want sideways dancing? Seems to me passing and re-passing is a heck-of-a-lot more exciting than swaying side to side aroung a racetrack for 2 hrs!

      • Salty said on 5th April 2010, 0:34

        Max? Is that you?

        Seriously, you can’t seriously believe that F1 needs to enforce a rule that restricts overtaking in a period where overtaking is SO difficult already?

        Tell us how YOU would make next weekends race better. Am really intrigued now – honest – not being funny.

        • TMTR said on 5th April 2010, 0:37

          Hey Ace, read the rule. C’mon I know ya can do it. It promotes overtaking! And don’t worry about being funny – your not.

          • Salty said on 5th April 2010, 0:54

            I read the rule and responded in an earlier thread on this site, good argument he made too, but you didn’t respond to my question.

            How would you free up the drivers to race? That is what I think we all want to see.

          • TMTR said on 5th April 2010, 0:59

            Salty, Bud, listen up real carefully – the rule allows 1 (One) imi 1 (One) move!!! If you allow a guy in front (given the limitations currently in F1) to go drive all over the track like a child then you won’t have ANY overtaking! The reason Hammy did what he did was Precisley because he was going to be overtaken!!! Get it? We don’t need to reinvent the wheel here, just apply the rules that presently exist!

          • Salty said on 5th April 2010, 1:18

            Have already pulled apart the rule, earlier in this thread actually, and responded to each part.

            For the third time. How would you improve the racing?

          • TMTR said on 5th April 2010, 1:28

            No ya haven’t! Hammy believed Petrov had a chance to overtake him. Hammy’s silly/grotesque actions say this loudly to the world – just as loud as he spoke over the team radio and threw his teammates under the bus in Oz! His actions speak volumes of what HE believed re: Petrov’s ab ility to overtake him. Applying this rule will help to improve racing/overtaking/passing/diceing etc. Your defense of hammy doesn’t jive with your words re: wanting more overtaking. I aint got a dog in this fight. No fav team nor driver – BUT – I want the rules applied fairly. If hammy hadn’t thrown his temper tantrum and allowed petrov his due we could have seen quite a dice between the two.

          • Salty said on 5th April 2010, 1:54

            Perhaps you missed it sir. Pulled apart the rule in response to an entry by Lawrence Southern way up the page and really didn’t feel like going there again (long diatribe).

            I guess we are not going to agree on this one buddy, but my problem is this. These guys have been racing since before you or I knew what a car was. Not driving, racing.

            They all know how to drive around a 4 mile circuit within 1 second of each other. They react and think faster than us, and will do so under 4G of lateral pressure.

            These are the best drivers in the world. They want to drive the fastest cars in the world around amazing circuits like Spa and Monza. But that’s not enough. Thank God they still want to beat each other. To be the fastest. Win the F1 WDC crown. Same as Ferrari want the WCC, just as much as McLaren, Force India or HRT.

            To do that, you have to let the drivers race each other. It’s crazy right now, you get within 300m of the car ahead and the air is turbulent, the car doesn’t stick or turn in. But still they try.

            FiA thinks they can make these amazing drivers follow their rules of racing, forget their instincts, neuter them, and improve the show for everyone at the track or at home. How does slowing down a racer make things better?

            Less hampering of the drivers will make for better racing – no brainer.

            ps. Lied in paragraph 2 – older than Schumi – I win!

        • TMTR said on 5th April 2010, 2:01

          older than ya both!

          You just don’t get. Hammy slowed down Petrov! Got it?
          But I’m done. I’m just a race fan – don’t know how impedeing someone time and again and again and etc is exciting versus a dice back and forth. Saw plenty in the 60’s and 70’s.
          Happy Trails

          • Salty said on 5th April 2010, 2:05

            Ah well, twas fun ranting with you though sir.

            Until we cross tyre irons again ;)

            Take care bud

          • Kirk said on 6th April 2010, 4:46

            The rules that we are talking about – one move, unsportsmanlike, blocking etc – are attempts to formalise racing etiquette between gentlemen.

            Racing is not about blocking, defending, etc. It is about being the fastest. There is a very limited amount of defensive action tolerated, and it is quite regulated. In a sanctioned car race, if another vehicle is faster and behind, you can take reasonable measures to ensure you keep track position, but you are not supposed to actively attempt to block that competitor.

            Just try racing a car and you will soon learn. These rules are in the interest of the sport. And all the fools who claim that the rules are ‘stopping overtaking’ should consider that this rule is trying to limit the actions of a driver who is blantantly trying to stop another driving from getting tow. It is extremely unsportsmanlike.

            I’m not disappointed (or surprised) that Hamilton was not penalised, but it is clearly unsportsmanlike. If he was faster at that point, he wouldn’t need to resort to this sort of tactic.

  4. MondoL said on 5th April 2010, 0:25

    How many good oportunities does a driver have to advance someone? I think a “defensive warning” is useless. Petrov didn’t have any more goes to pass lewis. Unacceptable driving should be mildly punished. A drive through is too much. Let the driver you were defending from pass you should be OK.


    • TMTR said on 5th April 2010, 0:30

      Everbody’s been screaming to high heaven abut overtaking (or the lack thereof) since the start of the year. This was a perfect and obscenely obvious case of impeding a driver with an irregular move 4 times off the racing line- going down a straight. Plain as day. The stewards/fia missed a golden chance to send a clear and stern message. For the fans, I might add (at least those of us who want some serious racing)!

      • xabregas said on 5th April 2010, 0:52

        Agreed. Took a look at the highlihts of the race and that Hamilton / Petrov blocking manouver is just a joke to promote overtaking.
        This history hasn´t finished yet.

      • David BR said on 5th April 2010, 1:22

        TMTR @ The stewards/fia missed a golden chance to send a clear and stern message.

        A message something like a – wait for it – *warning* you mean? Unless you think they won’t penalize a repeat occurrence, a warning is a clear message.

        MondoL’s point is more valid in the sense that, if Hamilton was indeed cheeky/wrong/utterly-despicable (take your pick) then Petrov lost out. Maybe.

        • TMTR said on 5th April 2010, 1:38

          The kinda crap hammy pulled needs to be dealt with fairly. Petrov got the screwed! And we the fans lost out on an exciting moment of which there are far too few in F1.

          • David BR said on 5th April 2010, 1:56

            So why are you getting so over-excited about this incident then?!

      • I think you made your points more than a few times – give it a rest. think we all know the issues by now.

  5. xabregas said on 5th April 2010, 1:03

    When that happened, stewards should have given a penalty to Hamilton. Give the place back to Petrov in the next 2 or 3 corners ahed. Like in basketball, when the ball is coming down to the basket and someone take the ball away, then gets a penalty and the other team gets the points anyaway.

  6. 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!

  7. TMTR said on 5th April 2010, 1:35

    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.

    • David BR said on 5th April 2010, 1:47

      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.

      • TMTR said on 5th April 2010, 1:55

        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

        • David BR said on 5th April 2010, 1:59

          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!

          • TMTR said on 5th April 2010, 2:06

            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

          • ashes1991 said on 6th April 2010, 11:08

            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.

  8. m0tion said on 5th April 2010, 1:47

    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.

  9. Roberto Fratelli said on 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.

    • Salty said on 5th April 2010, 2:38

      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?

  10. superslug said on 5th April 2010, 2:01

    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.

  11. David A said on 5th April 2010, 2:40

    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!

  12. Henry said on 5th April 2010, 4:05

    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.

  13. Theoddkiwi said on 5th April 2010, 4:51

    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.

    • Sandman said on 5th April 2010, 13:44

      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.

  14. Plink Plonk Plunk said on 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?

    • Mats said on 5th April 2010, 6:40

      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)

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 5th April 2010, 9:53

      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.

  15. Mats said on 5th April 2010, 6:35

    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

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