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.

[poll id="145"]

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

  1. antonyob said on 28th June 2010, 11:43

    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

  2. F1Yankee said on 28th June 2010, 11:48

    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.

  3. Ruckers said on 28th June 2010, 11:50

    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!

    • Jean said on 28th June 2010, 14:15

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

  4. RKU said on 28th June 2010, 11:54

    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.

    • Spencer said on 28th June 2010, 23:33

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

  5. 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 !! :)

  6. Omegaz3ro said on 28th June 2010, 12:02

    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.

    C’mon!

    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.

  7. antonyob said on 28th June 2010, 12:14

    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.

  8. Vishy said on 28th June 2010, 12:16

    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.

    • MikiG14 said on 28th June 2010, 12:20

      Completely agree

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 28th June 2010, 12:21

      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.

    • Splint3r said on 28th June 2010, 12:36

      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.

  9. MikiG14 said on 28th June 2010, 12:19

    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

  10. Freddy said on 28th June 2010, 12:26

    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.

    • Patrickl said on 28th June 2010, 12:37

      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?

    • Slowflow said on 28th June 2010, 14:57

      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

  11. Daffid said on 28th June 2010, 12:27

    Come off it. As I said under a previous post, I have £100 on Alonso at 9-1 for him to win the title, so I want him to win! But there’s no way on earth Hamilton backed him up. His hesitation is a moment’s uncertainty, end of story. If he hadn’t hesitated he’d have not got a penalty, and Alonso still wouldn’t have cleared the safety car, no way.

  12. ErikR said on 28th June 2010, 12:29

    What a complete load of conspiracy-theory nonsense! It’s hillarious to think that some people actually believe this. I guess some people prefer conspiracies to common sense…

    LOL!!!

    • Patrickl said on 28th June 2010, 12:41

      Indeed. Polls like this simply show the (im)popularity of certain teams. It has nothing to do with reality or the rules.

  13. DGR-F1 said on 28th June 2010, 12:30

    Would it be possible to have a little more explanation about the Safety Car rules and the Pit Lane Exit rules? As far as I could tell from the race footage, the Safety Car was still in the Pit Lane, and so was not officially on the track, but does the mere fact that the Safety Car boards are out mean that it is officially there, even if the drivers cannot see it?
    Why did the Safety Car have to stay behind the Pit Lane marker line? Surely it has the right to drive straight into the centre of the track? If the Safety Car was obeying the Pit Lane rules, then any car coming past on the track would have to be allowed through before the Safety Car had accelerated up to full speed, otherwise the cars coming up behind it would have to suddenly decelerate and maybe have another incident – as nearly happened in WTCC or BTCC a few months ago.

  14. Bernard said on 28th June 2010, 12:32

    When did this blog become the tabloid of f1 blogs?

    This article is pure bait and no substance Keith.

  15. Icthyes (@icthyes) said on 28th June 2010, 12:32

    Keith, video is blocked already, but I can remember the replay on TV. It seems that Hamilton hesitated, then went for it. Then circumstances played out which meant his penalty was supposedly “meaningless” (because losing any chance to win is meaningless, right?).

    Sucks for Alonso, but it’s suited Ferrari in the past for the rules to be rigid. Besides, may I remind Ferrari and its fans that this is F1, a sport where “stuff” (you know which word I really mean) happens. Was it fair for Hamilton’s wheel to fail in Spain? Was it fair that Webber was taken out by his own team-mate? Out of the three, I think we can all see which is the least likely to impact on the championship based on the current form of the cars.

    But I suspect bias rather than reasoning will have its way on this pole. Of course it will – it has Hamilton in the question.

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