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)

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  1. martin bastow said on 28th June 2010, 14:59

    It has been interesting to watch the unfolding rivalry between Alonso and Hamilton since 2007,infact it is possible to watch F1 for that reason alone I suppose, but the most recent public outburst from Alonso display a man obsessed and a bit unhinged, obsessed not with cars and winning like all other top racers, but instead with Hamilton. His bitterness towards mclaren adds considerable focus and gloss to his fascination and for sure the endless polemics must be keeping him awake at night… but is that all that is keeping him awake .. could Alonso have developed a schoolyard crush on the beautiful youngster??

  2. andyc said on 28th June 2010, 15:04

    The problem with Hamilton is that he is never aware of what he is doing.

  3. Ruckers said on 28th June 2010, 15:11

    In 20 years time we shall look at this battle between Hamilton and Alonso and remember it as a great spectacle.

    Let’s just enjoy the racing and bicker less :)

  4. DaveW said on 28th June 2010, 15:12

    This is totally over the top. This is Lewis Hamilton as some kind of supervillian with superpowers. If this happened in a movie as Keith suggests, people would be laughing at the screen.

    Here is what happened: Hamilton saw the SC. He thought he could get past easily, the SC mashed the gas (when Bernd realized that Vettel was past) and Hamilton reacted but not enough.

    At the end of the day, there was a violation, a penalty appropriately within the Stewards’ discrection, and the race went on. Hamilton was quick, Kobayashi was slow, a meteor failed to fall from the sky on Buemi’s car. So it goes.

    This shameful bleating from Ferrari is making the sport look silly. Let’s see what happens in Silverstone so Ferrari can make it three races in a row when they throw a tantrum over the outcome to mask their lousy strategy and Alonso’s lousy driving, and Massa’s invisible driving.

    Alonso is obviously drowing out the criticism of his driving. I don’t care if Kobayashi had nitrous in his car, a man making a mint and driving a Ferrari should not let a Sauber just drive by him on the left side like he was chained to a post. When Trulli let a superior Ferrari do that to him on the last lap, Trulli got his walking papers shortly thereafter. Alonso, here and in Canada is not looking like himself.

  5. soulmonkey said on 28th June 2010, 15:19

    Using another incident with the sole intention of stirring the pot…. I am not in support of this kind of purposeful manipulation.

  6. sergio said on 28th June 2010, 15:40

    Hamilton did say always “to be honest…” Why?It´s there some doubt Hami? ah…..

    • PJA said on 28th June 2010, 18:09

      “To be honest” is just a phrase that people tend to use like “at the end of the day” or the classic F1 phrase “for sure”

  7. See argument already in progress:

    ME: Maybe he (HAM) checked up for another reason.. <>

    DUMB BRO: Do you think he (HAM) is that smart? I am not saying that this may not have been the reason, but if this is right, then I would say that he is potentially one of quick thinkers out on the track. :)

    ME: Either he’s (HAM) innocent, or he’s brilliant? Sounds like a win-win for him, then.

    I don’t think it takes a smart person to try and put the safety car between him and his #1 rival, only to botch it up by passing the safety car after the line. He was guilty, and dumb. :)

    He got away with it because he’s fast, and because the stewards gave him all the time in the world he needed to nullify his penalty. And also like I said last night, it’s nothing to do with LH, but infringements on the Safety Car should have the most severe penalties — Not Mass Dampers… …but that’s another story…

    It was a BS outcome for an otherwise exciting race, and now Alonso and Ferrari are getting flamed for saying so. Just because Ferrari have done their fair share of “bending the rules” in the past doesn’t make it OK for anyone else to do it now (it’s not like any of the same people even work for Ferrari now… Schumi, Brawn, Todt and Stepney are *all* gone). And Ferrari’s past is why a lot of people have it in their heads that this was OK, but this wasn’t OK.

    It’s never OK to cheat in sport — I know *everyone* does it in F1, but we ALL got cheated out of a good race between F1’s two best drivers – and it wasn’t because someone was innocent or brilliant. It was because someone was scared…

  8. Kankunen said on 28th June 2010, 15:50

    Lewis always broke the rules to benefit and the other drivers don´t do it after Lewis benefict… It´s easy to understand.

    After the race Lewis never remembers nothing, he doesn´t see anything rare or he doesn´t pass anything bad. If it does already another driver we will see that it happens.

    In Silverstone go behind Lewis and come to break the rules together. If you broken the rules you win the race, if you repect the rules finisher ten or…This is a crazy! What dificult it´s penalty to Lewis after two or four laps? and no penalty after 20 laps and he has a enough gap to the other drivers. Charlie Whiting it´s a clown of the kingdom.

    At the end of the race Lewis said don´t see the saftey car…¿Doesn´t look the car? HO-HO-HO, he is a expert liar and the FIA allowed this…

    http://i47.tinypic.com/2hebuox.jpg

  9. MEF said on 28th June 2010, 15:56

    What is beyond question is that Alonso understood the rules clearly – and had he purposefully disobeyed them, he would have ended up 3rd or 2nd.

    A rather sorry reflection I think.

    • Jonathan said on 28th June 2010, 17:38

      This is a good point. The penalty imposed on Hamilton was obviously too lenient for this reason.

      • tvm said on 28th June 2010, 20:53

        You do realize that Alonso by that standard should be banned from F1 together with Briatore right?

      • Chalky (@chalky) said on 28th June 2010, 21:22

        It wasn’t lenient, it was just late.

        The lateness made it lenient. We just need quicker decisions from race control. This should be easy to rectify with todays GPS technology \ 2 way radio communication and especially under a controlled condition of a safety car.

    • Patrickl said on 28th June 2010, 20:54

      I’m pretty sure that if Alonso had muscled his way past the safety car he would have been disqualified.

      That’s not even close to the confusion that Hamilton had with the safety car coming out of the pitline right NEXT to him.

  10. Pete said on 28th June 2010, 16:30

    Looks to me like he did try to hold-up the guys behind him on purpose and still be the SC to the line, but failed to beat it.

    Question: If he had held them up and actually beaten the SC to the line would people be praising him for the brilliant strategic maneuver or condemning him for unsportsmanlike conduct?

    What I dislike is the disparity between his story and the video. I quite don’t like that.

  11. Jacaru said on 28th June 2010, 16:45

    In my opinion, he did so. But hey, we will never know. Just as we dont know if Alonso was involved in Singapur_gate. Oh well, some of you do, somehow. Precisely, you, the same people that now think Hamilton is as innocent as a little girl.

    Reality, we dont know.

    Facts, Hamilton version hardly matches its post race argumentation. He got soft punishment, late and only when Ferrari claimed. And this not the first time, nor the second, Hamilton is somehow taking profit of his own actions just before they are deemed illegal.

    Again, discussing this is cat & dog useless fight. For me, as F1 fan, I would like clear and sensible rules, the same for everyone.

  12. Hallard said on 28th June 2010, 16:57

    Hamilton is a good racer, no doubt, but I dont think he is clever enough to have done this deliberately…

    • Hallard said on 28th June 2010, 18:15

      Upon further consideration, and after watching the video several times now, Im not totally certain one way or the other.

      It does seem from the video that hamilton slowed down under the yellow flags (as did alonso) long before he could actually see the safety car coming out, and then maintained a more or less constant speed while driving past the safety car, which itself continued to accelerate. Alonso, on the other hand, slowed down as soon as he saw the yellows (just like lewis), but then accelerated up to hamilton once he saw the safety car.

      No one is doubting that Alonso’s race was ruined, but Im not sure he can blame anyone but the lottery-like safety car rules.

      I’d like to say “no”, and that Lewis is innocent, but then I ask myself what I would say if Schumacher or even Alonso were the driver in question, in which case I would say “yes” in a heartbeat. I’d certainly like to hear more elaboration from Lewis and his team on this.

  13. Ed Morris said on 28th June 2010, 17:01

    I think it’s likely that Hamilton was just unsure about what to do, and didn’t have time to ask the team. It is really the teams fault as they would known where Lewis was on the track, and that the safety car was coming out of the pits. So they should have been able to advise Lewis that he was likely to catch the safety car just as he rounded turn one and tell what to do accordingly.

    I am pretty certain that the race officials have access to the pit communications between the cars and the pit wall (in fact in real time I believe, because I have definitely heard drivers references to Charlie Whiting, the race director, to give him information directly). With that in mind, it is highly unlikely that the team would have given Hamilton any instructions to purposely slow down and overtake the safety car, just to disadvantage the Ferrari’s.

    So it only leaves the fact that Lewis either did it with the intent of disadvantaging the Ferrari’s or he hesitated because he wasn’t sure what to do, as he realised that if he got caught behind the safety car then he his race was going downhill quickly. So, he decided to risk it and go past the safety car. And he got caught and had the according penalty.

    As usual it is Alonso, and Ferrari, moaning that the world isn’t fair. It is about time that the FIA stood up to Ferrari and not placate them every time something remotely goes against them. And finally, if the shoe was on the foot, I am pretty sure that Fernando would have done the same as Lewis, 10 times out of 10, but he would have complained bitterly about the drive through penalty afterwards.

    • mvi said on 28th June 2010, 18:16

      It is about time that the FIA stood up and made fair rules about the Safety Cars and used effective penalties when these are transgressed.

      Ferrari was quite correct in pointing out an illegal move which gave an advantage to Hamilton. Because of the non-penalty penalty, this is an advantage he and McLaren carry into the championship standings.

  14. Grosjean's rubble said on 28th June 2010, 17:05

    is it true HAM pressed the 1, 9, 11, 14, and finally 23 floor buttons in the lift, just to slow Alonso on the way to his penthouse?

  15. Martin said on 28th June 2010, 17:20

    The ire generated on all sides by all these ridiculous penalties (‘ridiculous’ because half-measures and ill-considered attempts to be clear about and to deal sensibly with the incidents, ultimately utterly ineffective) is quite understandable – ok, I yelled a lot during the ‘race’. Nonetheless I can’t see why a generally well-reasoned and cautious blog author should be vilified for posing a question. For that matter, mightn’t he be permitted to offer opinions? If you enjoy ‘forums’ which are mere rant/insult venues, I’d like to request (purely on behalf of myself) that you either cut it out or go elsewhere.

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