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

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

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)”

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  1. 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.

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

    2. 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.

  2. 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

    1. yup, I agree with my initial thought. He definitely backed off when the SC cut the white line, then put his foot down when he realised the SC wasn’t joining yet

      1. havent checked it, but good spot if it is :)

  3. 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.

    1. “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

  4. 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?

    1. 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.

      1. Or a whole lap after the incident.

        1. This simply makes no sense. If this all happened a lap after Webber’s incident then eveyone would be in the pit already.

    2. 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.

      1. 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…

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

  6. 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.

    1. 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.

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

  8. 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

  9. 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?

    1. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. Its great isnt it, Lewis with the “what i do wrong” expression and the seething pantomine Dick Dastardly that is Alonso (reverse if you are Spanish/italian). The only real shame is that the drive thru penalty deprived us of Lewis taking on Vettel where id back the racer over the quick but limited vettel

  12. i found it strange how this incident triggered cries of bias in the sport (ahem, Ferrari Int’l Assistance, et cetera) when it clearly demonstrates the opposite being true. this hypocrisy, like crying about crying, is pretty sad as was level of respect shown towards other fans and the person/people that make this site possible.

    guess what: once it becomes more trouble than it’s worth, it’s gone. this isn’t a soccer stadium with separate prisons for each team’s fans.

  13. No way you could make that kind of strategic call in the middle of a race, the drivers are pumped up on adrenaline and it happens in a few seconds. They simply don’t have the time to consider and perform such a purposeful manoeuvre.

    Lewis inst strong on strategy and leaves it to the team, if there was a call on the radio then fair enough.

    P.s. Hilarious how this reminds me of Alonso sitting in the put lane to stop Hamilton getting in another lap back when they were team mates!

    1. mmmmm…… that’s what I thought when Schumi “parked” his Ferrari back in ’06 , but few agreed then , least of all the Stewards.

  14. Looks like it was not done on purpose. Lewis would have seen the SC and backed off, but then either got told or remembered to race to the safety car line. From the drivers point of view there wasn’t much in it, from the top you can tell. It is odd that Lewis cannot recall the events clearly, that tells me he probably knew it was marginal but pushed ahead. I’m a fan of both McLaren and Ferrari, I feel really sorry for Ferrari, Alonso and Massa here. It would have been more ideal if the stewards had made the decision earlier – Ferrari would have given them notice immediately. So I can totally understand why Alonso called the situation a scandal.

    1. Theres that word “scandal” again….. If you really want a safety car scandal then Singapore 2008, Piquet and Alonso spring to mind

  15. I was so angry with the Hamilton incident of not having slotted behind the SC and showing that he cares a hoot for the rules – later in the race I thought, maybe even Kobayashi should not pit for a mandatory running on the other tyre compound, that would have allowed him his first podium in F1 ..

    To hell with the rules, what would have been the max penalty for Kobayashi anyway !! :)

    1. probably dsq ;)

  16. Honestly, I don’t know.

    I remember Massa saying that, heading from the last turn to the grid, they didn’t know that the SC was coming out, because there were no yellow flags yet.

    I think that’s the same scenario from Lewis, and when Lewis saw the SC on his right he thought “OMG I need to stay behind”, only to have second thoughts while being alongside the SC and thinking “well, the SC is exiting and not yet out”.

    You can read anything in it.

    Italians commentators kept saying over and over that that was an INTENTIONAL move from the Federation to favor Lewis, “beacuse in the FIA they’re all english”.

    They kept that argument even after the race, when someone pointed out that Button’s english too, and that he lost positions due to the SC.

    Anyway, I’d rather stop asking who favored who, wether it was deliberate or accidental.

    I’d rather focus on why this enormous, gigantic sport keep shooting his foot.

    We have 2 major problems on hour hands. RULES and SPECTACLE.

    F1 is unable to do anything to solve them.

    Do the race direction really need to hear Alonso yelling from his car to examine what happened? What were they doing when it happened?

    Fota blames the FIA for unclair and complex, often contracdictive rules, then proposes the Mario Kart rear wings concept.

    The most reasearch in F1 is aerodynamic. Engines are frozen, tyre developement is idling, Fuel efficiency isn’t even mentioned. They’ve allowed F-ducts and banned active suspensions. They’ve proposed adjustable wings while introducing toy-sized KERS systems.


    Everybody lost their mind here.

    Everybody recognises that the F1 spectacularity issue is caused by the over-sensibility of the car to the turbulence from the car ahead.

    Yet they do everything to make those cars more and more sensible to aerodynamics.

    Not to mention the macchiavellian rules problem from which the argument started.

    I don’t get it.

    It’s like a quadruple bypass man eating fried meat at breakfast, launch and dinner everyday.

    Who control F1 (FOM, FIA, FOTA) doesn’t know where F1 is now, is going nowhere, doesn’t even have a clue of where it need to go and how to get there.

    Hence the one step forward – two step backwards behavior of this sport.

    1. The SC signs and yellow flags were pretty clear when they went onto the straight.

  17. who’s comment keith? and id add so what, since when did the majority necessarily know best? not to mention that this is a blog and about different opinions!!!

    back to the incident, it does seem Lewis manages to find himself in more situations than most, bar maybe MS that are contentious, the overtake at Spa, the Trulli overtake,er others i cant remember, now this.

    Basically if you have very clever guys with very specific rules and where the whole culture of the sport and ethos of the team is too look for gaps in the rules, then dont be suprised when an especially smart driver does something like this. i believe Alonso is fuming because someone was smart not because someone “cheated”.

    All power to a sport that keeps us guessing.

  18. I am very dissapointed with your article here Keith. In the absense of any clear evidence true reporting should be unbiased, but you have presented a biased opinion and insinuate that Hamilton deliberately held up Alonso. You put together a lot of conjecture. Really dissapointed with your article.

    1. Completely agree

    2. In the absense of any clear evidence

      But he did slow down.

      you have presented a biased opinion and insinuate that Hamilton deliberately held up Alonso.

      No, I put forward two explanations and highlighted problems with both views.

    3. I disagree.

      There is definitely something to discuss about the video and Keith made some good points. Plus this article is titled ‘Did Hamilton try to…’ which encourages a discussion, and not his finalised opinion. I dont see anything wrong with that.

  19. Absolutely ridiculous accusation .. it was simply hesitation from hamilton… Hamilton would not risk ruining his own race to affect another driver … alonso was a fair way off hamilton

  20. This is what I hate about Lewis. He clearly hesitated and lifted whether or not he braked and yet he lies and says “when I came down the straight, I was accelerating”.

    If he told the truth and said he hesitated then I’d believe his version of events, but when he clearly isnt telling the truth I’m more inclined to believe he’s lying for a reason – ie he was trying to hold up alonso.

    1. He WAS accelerating on the straight. He DIDN’T see the safety car (since it wasn’t out yet). He then WAS all of a sudden alongside the safety car. He then DID push for safety car line two and got AHEAD.

      How was he lying on any of that?

    2. Freddy mate.

      The last time he spoke to the press about a race incident someone got fired, now he’s very cautious.

      In the vid, as soon as he slow’s down his finger is on the radio button, until, he takes the corner in front of the SC.

      I would like for the FIA to release the audio of his conversation with the pitwall. conversation

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