Did Hamilton try to stop Alonso getting in front of the safety car? (Video)

Fernando Alonso’s race was ruined when he got stuck behind the safety car during yesterday’s European Grand Prix.

Meanwhile Lewis Hamilton finished second despite getting a penalty for overtaking the safety car.

Video footage suggests Hamilton may have done his bit to make sure Alonso got stuck behind the safety car.

In the video above it’s clear that Hamilton is behind the safety car when he crosses the second safety car line, then overtakes the safety car. That explains why he got a penalty under article 40.7 of the sporting regulations which says:

With the following exceptions, no car may overtake until it has passed the first safety car line for the first time when the safety car is returning to the pits. […] Any car leaving the pits may be overtaken by another car on the track before it crosses the second safety car line.

However it looks as though Hamilton could have reached the second safety car line before the safety car, but slowed down before he got there. Why was that?

In the press conference after the race Hamilton was asked twice about the incident:

Q: Lewis, you had your drive through penalty. Talk us through what happened when you saw the safety car coming out and you were side-by-side on the track.
LH: I don?t remember too much about it to be honest. I was coming round turn one and literally as I got to the safety car line I saw that the safety car was pretty much alongside me. I thought I had passed it, so I continued and that was it.

Q: Can you comment a little bit on this penalty with the safety car? Did you see the car coming out of the pits? Did you hesitate to overtake it?
LH: No, when I came down the straight, I was accelerating, I didn?t see the safety car coming out and then as I came round turn one, we know that obviously the safety car was out but I was able to push until the safety car two line, I think, and at that point I saw the safety car alongside me and I thought I was passed, so when I noticed it, he was already behind and so I continued.

Looking at the video replay it doesn’t seem to me that he was ‘pushing until the safety car two line’.

Two interpretations seem likely. Perhaps Hamilton hesitated because he wasn’t sure whether he was allowed to pass the safety car as it was in the pit lane. But given his words in the press conference, it seems he was aware of the rule concerning the safety car line.

Alternatively, perhaps he was fully aware of his obligations under the rules and chose to slow down to hold up the Ferraris, hoping he could get ahead of the safety car but they could not. If that was his plan, it backfired, because he failed to get over the safety car line before the safety car did.

As it happened, the ensuing penalty was not as damaging for Hamilton’s race as it could have been – but he would have had no way of knowing at the time that would be the case.

Beyond the few facts we know we can only guess at what actually happened here. But I suspect Fernando Alonso believes Hamilton was trying to hold him up, and that would go a long way to explaining the fury in Ferrari’s reaction to yesterday’s race.

Do you think Hamilton was trying to get the Ferraris stuck behind the safety car? Cast your vote and leave a comment below.

Did Hamilton try to stop Alonso getting in front of the safety car?

  • Yes (56%)
  • No (34%)
  • Not sure (10%)

Total Voters: 3,784

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321 comments on Did Hamilton try to stop Alonso getting in front of the safety car? (Video)

  1. Robbie said on 28th June 2010, 10:58

    No, I think he simply hesitated. That is all.

  2. If Hamilton did it on purpose it was a clever move from him, to put the SC between him and Fernando, brilliant. But he failed and surpassed the SC. Then he should had been punished harder, and definitely earlier.

  3. Oliver said on 28th June 2010, 11:01

    I think he was just looking for the safety car line. He probably stalled initially because he thought the safety car was already deployed and they were already past the safety car line. But when he realised the so called line was still ahead of them, he then accelerated.

    Perhaps if he knew it was going to be an issue he would have kept the state of his mind at that time in long term storage, but I can understand why he can’t exactly remember what transpired at that point.

  4. BBT said on 28th June 2010, 11:02

    Having looked at it again I agree. Simply hesitated.

    It would of taken amazing ability to weigh up the options, and do it on purpose.

  5. bpacman said on 28th June 2010, 11:05

    I would actually be mightily impressed if, in those few seconds between the safety car being deployed and Hamilton passing it at turn one, Hamilton calculated that he could slow down sufficiently to split his McLaren and the two Ferraris with the safety car – leaving Alonso and Massa to follow the safety car whilst he got ahead to make a pit stop without dropping down the field. Wouldn’t that be a brilliant example of calculated, cunning racing – of seeking every advantage against your rivals? The sort of manoeuvre, like Alonso’s on Massa in the pit lane entrance, that shows that ruthless desire to beat your competitors using any means?

    Unfortunately, however, I’m afraid I can’t credit Hamilton with that sort of devious genius. Surely, if he’d planned to carry out such a plan, his first priority would have been to make sure he got past the safety car before the line? Unless you’re telling me that he factored in the likely punishment of passing the safety car after the line against the potential benefits of pitting early in those few seconds too (in which case, we’re talking about whole new levels of genius)? I think it’s clear that, in light of Hamilton’s multiple safety car mishaps (Japan in 2007, Canada 2008, Australia 2009), he was simply being overly-cautious.

    On another note, isn’t it funny how when Alonso was a Renault, the whole of F1 was a conspiracy designed to benefit Ferrari yet, now he’s at the prancing horse, the whole world’s out to favour McLaren?

    • Obbo said on 28th June 2010, 11:59

      Splendidly put bpacman! Saw your post and abandoned one in a very similar vein (not nearly as cogently written!).
      Strange isn’t it that the those who decry him at other times are now so willing to belive him capable of this level of smarts?

    • Jonathan said on 28th June 2010, 12:26

      I think you overestimate the “genius” required to pull this off.

      Hamilton knew where the Safety Car line was, he knew where the Safety Car itself was, and he knew where Alonso was.

      Being aware of these three facts, he could hardly fail to notice that he had time to pass the Safety Car before the line, and that he could prevent Alonso from doing so by slowing down a bit.

      In fact, he messed it up by slowing down too much, landing himself a penalty.

    • Owen G said on 28th June 2010, 15:15

      Totally agree.

      I wonder how many of the ‘Yes’ voters are Ferrari/Alonso fans. Who probably littered the internet with Timo Glock conspiracy theories in 2008.

      I disagree with comparing Hamilton’s comments after he just got out of the car with the video. Do drivers really remember correctly every application of the throttle for the whole race?

      What happened with Hamilton didn’t affect Alonso’s race in the slightest. He should focus on his own performance rather than throwing his toys out of the pram. Again.

      • Red Andy (@red-andy) said on 28th June 2010, 15:35

        And I wonder how many of the “No” voters are Hamilton/McLaren fans.

        In fact, I wonder how many people (on both sides) voted or commented without bothering to read the article or watch the video.

        • I think the only real answer in this case is not sure, because how can we know? Both yes and no can only be pure speculation or loyalty, as you say.

          • Kyle said on 28th June 2010, 18:10

            I completely agree. The possibility that it could have been a deliberate act, with the intention of getting Alonso off his back and buying the time to change his front wing, must be accepted. But in all honesty, who knows? We can’t know. Hence why I voted “not sure”.

  6. NO he did not. If he did he made a bad job of it as he went to late and got a penalty. Alonso is slightly obsessed with Hamilton dont you think.

    • I agree with you 100%. I bet he is blaming Hamilton for being passed by Kobayashi as well.

    • If Alonso is obssesed with Hamilton it’s because Hamilton, probably without realising it spoiled Alonso’s dream of driving for McLaren. Ferrari became the thing, an Alonso himself said this, only after he left McLaren.

      Alonso’s was apparently, an this is straight from JA’s mouth, I’m not being cute here, dreamed of driving for Senna’s team. Ron Dennis wasn’t the man he thought he was an this damn English rookie must be getting favourable treatment.

      I’ve only read this on JA’s blog, so I won’t swear by it but it does explain a few things.

  7. disjunto said on 28th June 2010, 11:06

    it actually looks like he backed off about the same time the safety car decided to cross the white line, maybe ham thought it was going to pull infront of him there. and when it stayed in the pit exit he put his foot down

  8. Ady said on 28th June 2010, 11:10

    My comments on this are here: http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/forum/topic.php?id=106

    In summary I’m willing to give hamiltion the benefit of the doubt.

    Also it’s worth remembering that all this took place within five or six seconds of Webber’s incident. There was hardly any time to plan for a deliberate move like that suggested.

    • pitbul said on 30th June 2010, 23:19

      “I don’t remember too much about it to be honest.”
      Liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar

  9. Fabian N said on 28th June 2010, 11:11

    Why did the safety car split up the leaders???

    I thought its supposed to come out in front of the leader.

    Being past the pits when the safety car came out should have held up all the leaders but instead it only held up ferraris. This has to be rong. Did the fia screw this up?

    • Ady said on 28th June 2010, 11:14

      There was not enough time, the safety car was deployed as webber hit the barrier and came to a stop. About a second later the lap count whent to 10, indicating Vettel had crossed start / finish line.

      To do what you suggest would mean the safty car would have been deployed before the accident.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 28th June 2010, 12:19

      I thought its supposed to come out in front of the leader.

      No, the rules say it will come out on track immediately, irrespective of where the leader is.

      • US_Peter (@us_peter) said on 28th June 2010, 19:00

        So then wouldn’t Vettel and Hamilton have been a lap up on everyone else by the time they came back around and were behind the safety car? I must be missing something…

  10. Ady said on 28th June 2010, 11:12

    Wow, video removed within 30 mins of the post going up. lol

  11. When I saw what happened first, I would have been of the opinion that Hamilton just did not know what to do when seeing the safety car coming out of the pit lane. I would have put it down to confusion, perhaps ignorance, of the rules on his part.

    However, his reaction in the press conference afterwords tells a different story. Clearly Hamilton is trying to avoid the matter by saying “I don’t remember too much about it to be honest”; an admission of culpability? I totally agree with Keith, Lewis was not “pushing” after crossing the start-finish line to the SC line.

    I think the SC rules need to be changed. With no refuelling, the pit-lane could closed when the SC is deployed as there will be no requirement for cars to pit, except for damage. Another option is to reset the field to whatever positions they held as the SC was deployed, though this wouldn’t make for great TV for race control to reset the field. But it could be done, without giving anyone an advantage/disadvantage.

    • DaveW said on 28th June 2010, 15:27

      The trouble with quotes:
      “I don’t remember too much about it to be honest. I was coming round turn one and literally as I got to the safety car line I saw that the safety car was pretty much alongside me. I thought I had passed it, so I continued and that was it.”

      I’m sure this is how you saw his comments reported, as it is the way I’ve seen them. Journalists like to snip snip snip away until they get the most salacious version of events supported. They might as well start from scratch.

  12. Tango said on 28th June 2010, 11:17

    If Hamilton did do it on purpose (which I highly doubt), I have to say: hats off, brillant mind you’ve got here!

  13. Rolo said on 28th June 2010, 11:25

    The drivers field of vision is very poor so I think Hamilton wasn’t completely aware of where exactly the safety car was when it pulled up beside him

  14. Splint3r said on 28th June 2010, 11:32

    I couldnt watch the video. However, judging by the responses its pretty clear the majority here agree that it was a hesitation by LH on crossing the SC and not a tactic to slow down the ferrari’s.

    But the press conference gives another story. Why would LH lie that he wasn’t hesitant when infact he was? There is no harm in admitting since he was already penalised right?

    • Havergal said on 28th June 2010, 13:20

      I think Hamilton is not someone who analyses his own performance in the way that, say, Mark Webber seems able to. He has said before that he doesn’t often watch the races afterwards and my impression is that he doesn’t really remember every fine detail of the race. He gave a similar response to this after the Chinese GP when questioned (also by Radio 5’s Crofty, I believe) about his pit lane duel with Sebastian Vettel. He seemed in that instance almost not to be sure what Croft was talking about and his answer seemed to refer to a different pit stop. I also once heard him say that he didn’t really remember some of the GPs that he’d raced in. So I don’t think he’s lying about it. It’s probably a combination of not really recalling and being a little careful what he says before he’s seen all of the facts, especially since it was his talking to a journalist after last year’s Australian GP that let the ‘lie gate’ scandal out of the bag.

  15. Jean said on 28th June 2010, 11:40

    It’s again a case of too many rules , creating more confusion. The race order at the time a safety car is deployed , should be maintained (ie. pit lane kept closed) , and race control switch to green light only when satisfied of correct order. Already a big advantage is gained by the pack being closed up during a safety car period. It would also encourage teams to develop cars that can genuinely overtake instead of developing tricks to gain an advantage under safety car conditions , as seems is becoming more and more popular in recent times.

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