Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Sepang, 2011

Hamilton says Sepang driving “didn’t put anyone in danger”

2011 Malaysian Grand PrixPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Sepang, 2011
Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Sepang, 2011

Lewis Hamilton has defended his driving in the Malaysian Grand Prix after he was penalised for weaving.

Hamilton fell from seventh to eighth in the final classification after being handed a 20-second time penalty. The stewards said he had “made more than one change of direction to defend a position.”

Hamilton said he hadn’t weaved as much as he did last year, when he was warned for weaving in front of Vitaly Petrov at the same circuit.

Speaking in today’s press conference in Shanghai he said: “Well, the previous year, obviously I had some big weaves on the straight which everyone disagreed with, which was fine.

“They said that they would be stricter on that this year. Looking back at it, I didn?t weave even half as much as I did in the previous time, and I didn?t put anyone in danger ?ǣ but the rules state that you can only move once, to the better position.

“I think the confusing part was really whether I was defending a place or trying to lose the tow. But at the end of the day I got 20s.

“It was one place so I feel fortunate that it wasn?t any more than that and I will just try to avoid doing that in the future, so no one can complain.”

He added the penalty made little difference as he finished so far down the order: “It didn?t really make much difference. I was seventh; so seventh or eighth, it?s pretty crap either way. That?s racing. I think it was fair.”

Fernando Alonso, who received a penalty after his collision with Hamilton later in the race, said: “I think the stewards always work with safety in mind, in F1 and on the road and I think we are reaching a level of consistency in their decisions.

“This is a line they will follow all season so we need to keep it in mind.”

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144 comments on “Hamilton says Sepang driving “didn’t put anyone in danger””

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  1. Hamilton wasn’t given a penalty for dangerous driving:

    The stewards said he had “made more than one change of direction to defend a position.”

    He was given a penalty for unsportsmanlike behaviour. Nowhere did the stewards say it was for dangerous driving.

    1. I think he’s the one you need to point that out to. Although I don’t agree with your assumption that weaving is never a safety issue.

      1. I wasn’t pointing it out to you. I was just using that to highlight my point.

        I’m not assuming it’s never dangerous – just saying that a penalty for weaving is for unsportsmanlike conduct first and dangerous driving second.

        1. Moving into the direction of a car trying to pass more than once – I agree could constitute “unsportsmanlike conduct”. But moving away from a car getting ready to pass to break the tow – how is that “unsportsmanlike conduct”? He actually opened the door for a pass, if the car attempting the overtake were “car-enough”. And if it is an infraction, why is the car mirroring the moves not guilty of the infraction as well if in fact he doesn’t pass?

          1. I think you’ve hit the nail on the head, for a move away from the following car to be perceived as dangerous is nonsense.

            Dangerous is moving towards the following car a-la Schumacher.

          2. To all the drivers that complain it is hard to overtake, bla bla bla…


        2. LH has a lot to learn to behave like a sportsman, and i am very much impressed with Kobayshi, as he tried to defend but never weaved in fornt of webber or any other driver at the race..

          1. You are quite funny! Keep up the great posting!

    2. Yes, they stated exaclty that as its the rule he broke. Not talking about the possible consequences of that infringement.

      I can understand why Lewis feels it was a bit unnessiccary to punish him, a lot of us weren’t too sure it was excessive.

      But the reason it was put in the rules, is that changing direction several times can cause accidents and already did in the past.

    3. The crucial point he made was that he when he supposedly made his first move, Alonso was about 15 meters behind him and had not yet completely negotiated the corner. As such, I am of the opinion that there must be a minimum distance in which a driver can be considered to be weaving. I remember seeing Button weaving some time last year to generate heat in his tyres, but the car behind him was sufficiently far behind to no be considered a punishable offense.

      Regards the 2 move rule. The originated when drivers were complaining about other cars they are trying to overtake, moving in the braking zone. How this has suddenly been extended to the beginning of the straight is beyond me, especially when there was no blocking at the beginning of the straight.

      There was no mention either of breaking the tow, except I am wrong about rules.

      1. it does look a lot like he was trying to break the tow. I mean if he was defending, shouldn’t alonso move first and then lewis move to block him? it looked like lewis moved and then alonso moved back into the slipstream.
        Or am I seeing it wrong?

      2. I meant to say regarding the 2 move rule that origininated.

        1. I think the most crucial part of Hamiltons comment was “That’s racing. I think it was fair”

    4. Surely it’s the other way round. He was given a penalty for breaking a rule that aims to prevent unsportsmanlike behaviour.

      Although I’d argue his driving was neither dangerous or unsportsmanlike which would mean there’s a problem with the rule.

      1. Exactly Ragerod hits where the problem is. The thing is the stewards are there and they seem to have the ability to ignore the strict letter of the rule according to their belief. So why did they penalized him. Are they ignorant of racing?
        If they think they should just follow the letter completely then why did they ignore Vettel’s weaving? It seems to me they did it because it was the start and all that. Yet they where unable to see the circumstances in Hamilton’s occasion?

  2. Hmm, but Lewis, you are not allowed to try and break the tow. You can pick a line and stick with it, altho that even got Mr Schu a penalty last year…

    1. Unless you are Felipe Massa or Sebastian Vettel.

      1. Petrov as well was guilty a few times in Malaysia, against Massa and Schumacher.

        Schumacher even had to lock his brakes into Turn 1 to avoid Petrov who moved in the braking zone.

        At least Schumacher didn’t have the nerve to go to the stewards and complain about Petrov’s dirty driving.

        1. no one complained about anyone.

          only difference is stewards treat the likes of alonso and lewis different

          they are used as an example..

          they dont care for 10th place battles. somehow they can do what they like lol

    2. Breaking the tow is not defending as the attack as such is yet to begin.

      As Hamilton said, it’s all about interpretation and the FIA are just about the wosrt at doing so with any consistency.

      1. It’s still weaving…

        1. Well if any kind of weaving is punishable simply because is weaving and not because you block the line of a car trying to pass you twice then drivers should get a penalty when they try to put temperature into their tyres.

    3. the barichello incident? he tried to kill barichello in that one!

      1. HAHAA, its funny because its true. I don’t mean to laugh since it could have been a very serious incident but damn Schumacher was crazy on that one!

  3. Well, it can make a big difference if you lose the championship for 1 or 2 points. :-)

  4. Is he still going on about this?

    The rules are clear. Only one change in direction to defend your position is allowed. We, and he, may not like the rule, but it is what it is.

    1. It was a press conference and he was asked a question about it.

      1. Someone else is still going on about it?

      2. Did anyone even mention Vettel’s weaving into turn 1 in this press conference?? I count 3 changes of direction from him. Off the line, thats not SAFE!

        1. Off the line is considered acceptable though, especially as some cars are faster than others, and they would need to weave in and out of the slower cars

        2. Yep, Vettel was weaving. But no penalty.

    2. I presume he was asked about it. He could have just said ‘no comment’ to a question… would you prefer that?

        1. McLarenFanJamm
          14th April 2011, 13:45


          Lewis is constantly berated on here for towing the PR line ALL the time, for once he actually spoke his mind and now you’re berating him for that too.

          Give the guy a break

          1. well sais! haters will just be haters no matter what lewis does it will be wrong! I personally feels he was hard done by with that penalty but well done to him for taking it on the chin!
            I just do get why it took the stewards untill after the race to award the penalties!

          2. He’s complaining that the penalty wasn’t deserved. In what sense is that “taking it on the chin”?

        2. Huh. No comment.

          1. Sorry, wrong post. Apologies.


          2. No comment.

      1. “No comment” = I don’t want to say something that’ll tick my team/sponsors off.

    3. Problem is, he wasn’t defending. Alonso was 15m behind him and didnt make a move on the straight. He was breaking the tow.

      1. Breaking the tow can still be considered “defending” as the tow allows someone to get closer to the person in front.

        Also, I still think what Hamilton did wasn’t overly much, or at least more than what most other people did trying to defend during the gp (i.e. wasn’t worth the penalty). I also think Alonso’s crash was more a racing incident and not a deliberate or negligent bump. Of course it’s all water under the bridge at this point (as the penalties aren’t being appealed), or at least it should be…

    4. What about Vettel? I know everyone seems to bring this up now but it’s true. Vettel made more changes of direction at the start than Lewis did to Alonso in the incident he got penalized for.

      1. Not only that, but they we’re much closer to each other and the chasing pack into the first corner. Vettel’s move was much worse than Hamiltons. Why did the stewards not even investigate it? Wheres the consistancy in applying the rules?

        1. But it was the start… You should realise by now drivers get away with most things at the start. And that’s how it should be.

    5. True. He got a warning the first time.. and got penalised the 2nd time. I dont think he should complain too much.. he just lost a couple of points.

      1. You think that counts as “complaining”? He seems pretty fair about it to me. He as asked a question about it in the drivers press conference so answered it. I’m sure he’d rather forget all about Malaysia to be honest.

      2. He even finishes with “That’s racing. I think it was fair”, so I find it rather hard to see him complaining there while answering the question of a journalist who clearly wasn’t ready to let it rest.

    6. What like vettels move in turn 1???

      1. Seriously, why wasn’t Vettel penalised?

        In a sport as rich and prestigious as Formula One, how can such blatant double standards be ignored and permitted?
        Have any teams complained about it?

    7. Maybe vettel should follow the rules too!!!

      1. I think you will find the answer to that if you look back to the MS/Ferrari era…back in the mid to late 90’s teams complained about MS swerving across the track at the start, right from his grid position, to cut people off and ensure he gained the first corner…by the FIA’s own inaction to do anything about it, in spite of the complaints, they made it OK to do the swerve and chop going into turn 1…

        I believe that is why it was ‘alright’ for SV to do this at the start, but not for LH to do it during the race…

      2. Off the start line, it isn’t against the rules.

        1. It will be once there’s an accident.

          1. Once there’s an accident into turn one?
            Seriously, there’s one almost every race.

        2. Thank You David A, I’m glad someone said it.

          As much as I’d like to see Vettel penalised (because I’m hate that damn finger), he didn’t break any rules, and so is not comparable with Hamilton’s penalty.

          Sure, be upset at the penalty – it was marginal – but please stop with the ‘what about Vettel?’ comments. There’s no injustice here.

          1. Does the rulebook says that the start line is excluded? If it wrights that, then i will accept it. If not then it is against the rules period and the stewards just don’t know their own rulebook.

  5. I didn’t even notice him weaving at all….

    1. It was slight, but a slight change of direction can block a drivers path to overtake.

      But I still believe Hamilton deserved no penalty for it since Alonso was never going to make a pass stick due to his DRS being out of use.

      1. Alonso was never going to make a pass stick due to his DRS being out of use.

        That’s not a good enough reason not to hand down a penalty.

        Plus I don’t agree, Alonso was all over him and was shaping up for a good crack down the inside of turn four when he clipped him.

        We saw plenty of passes without DRS in Sepang, let’s not pretend we can’t do without it already.

        1. But in that situation he got a penalty for I don’t feel Alonso was really in a position to pass, except on the outside of turn 1, where Hamilton positioned his car initially plus how far Alonso was back made it tough to make a pass there.

          I didn’t say anything about not being able to do without DRS, I was just saying it was a factor in that incident.

          I guess it’s all opinions, I just try and see it from a fair point of view.

          1. McLarenFanJamm
            14th April 2011, 13:58

            He was, he’d got a brilliant slipstream through turn 3 and would have made a pass on the inside of 4 pretty easily.

          2. I’m not talking about the run up to turn 4. I’m on about Hamilton’s movements into Turn 1.

          3. I don’t think it matters what Alonso “could” have done. It’s what Lewis “did”. Which was weave.

        2. Whether or not Alonso would have overtaken isn’t really the point, you should not change line 4 times on a straight when defending your position.

          1. It’s a very important point. Is a driver defending a position when the following driver is unable to overtake? The simple answer is no. I say that because ‘yes’ would make a very complicated rule.

            I haven’t seen a definition of what constitutes ‘defending a position’ and without one the rule remains subjective when it shouldn’t be.

          2. 4 times? Wow you really gave him an upgrade there. His move was so slight we barely saw it and some didn’t notice at all and you saw him going back and forth 4 times?

        3. You dont believe Alonso was all over him, in F1, when a car is meters away from another, consistently, means that you are soon to overtake that car. Alonso was faster than Petrov last year and still he wasnt as near as he was with Hamilton this last race.

  6. Is there footage anywhere of this? Maybe a time-code for the BBC iPlayer stream?

      1. I never even noticed it during the race, but on looking back that’s actually quite a bit worse than I thought from the descriptions I’d been reading and definitely falls foul of the “more than 1 move” rule. By about 3 or 4 moves I would say.

      2. What Lewis did last year at this same circuit with Petrov could be considered to be weaving, this example that you give of Hamilton’s so-called weaving is absurd.

      3. Only thing I can see there is Lewis possibly brake-testing Fernando.

  7. I think there’s some relevance in talking about safety since that’s the reason the rule is there in the first place. And Alonso wasn’t that close to him until his final move back onto the racing line.

    It’s also interesting to not that both broke and met the rule: he moved three times, but only off the racing line once. It was grey area and he got caught out because we now know what direction the stewards are taking this year.

    Good to see he’s being pragmatic and moving on though. I think we would all be a little less annoyed (those who are) had there been any kind of consistency – even within the race – over the matter, though.

  8. I was seventh; so seventh or eighth, it’s pretty crap either way.

    I’m sure he does not completely agree with it. Alonso aknowledged a single point can be a great difference.
    Surely though dropping from 1st to 2nd would be a lot worse.

    1. That I think is the point he was making, I think he was saying, “i’m so far down the grid anyway the penalty doesn’t matter, if I was in a better position before then it would be a different matter”

  9. Fair statement from Lewis. Glad to see he is ‘over’ it.

  10. I dont think that either of them deserved a penalty. That was pretty good racing in my book and Hamilton should be allowed to defend, to an extent. I think his weaving on Petrov last year was worth a penalty, but in this case against Alonso, it wasnt as bad. Alonso was closing on him and clearly faster, but made his move too soon. What I was hoping to see was Alonso hounding him for a few laps before pulling off a brilliant pass.

    1. Their fight lightened up the action, and now they penalize drivers for “improving the show”.

    2. You have it right…..Leroy.

    3. The fact that Alonso hasn’t complained about Lewis’ weaving makes it pretty clear it was not bad at all :)

  11. nothing wrong with racing

  12. He should have turned up with photos proving everything like Trulli did :P

    1. LOL, yes that would have done him a world of good, probably should have gone to Ferrari and try to get Alonso confirm it wasn’t nearly as bad as some others did too. It would be entertaining, in a sad sort of way. Glad he isn’t stupid :-p

    2. Could somebody explain the Trulli thing?

      1. Trulli collided with Sutil in Brazil, yet proceeded to build a case against him.

        The stewards ruled it a “racing incident”.

  13. McLarenFanJamm
    14th April 2011, 13:57

    I genuinely believe that this rule needs to be looked at.

    Examples such as last year against Petrov at the same circuit should be punishable, yes. That WAS exccesive. However, defending your position is NOT and should never be considered unsportsmanlike behaviour. If it was you out there, you would want to do everything possible to prevent the guy behind you getting past. Why shouldn’t drivers be allowed to move to cover another driver trying to overtake them? It’s not supposed to be too easy.

    We all want to see more overtaking but it should be on the teams to reduce aerodynamics and the “dirty air effect” than for the FIA to bring in rules and technology to make it easier.

    I had a quick look through this weeks Autosport and it says in there that the FIA are wanting to take zero tolerance approach to weaving, so why wasn’t Vettel punished for his weaving at the start of the race? The excuse that “everyone does it at the start” is flawed, you can’t interpret the rule differently dependant on the circumstances, it’s either illegal or it’s not.

    *awaits the inevitable backlash about me being a McLaren fan and only speaking up because it has affected a McLaren driver*

    1. I too think the rule needs clarification. At the very least, in the consistency in which they apply it.

      Same stewards for China this weekend. I will be watching for weaving, and their response to it if it happens.

    2. Agreed. I’d really like a clear answer from the FIA as to why weaving is allowed (presumably) at the start of the race. The start of the race is when things can get a bit hairy, so you would have thought this rule would be most strictly observed at the start.

    3. I genuinely believe that this rule needs to be looked at.

      They did, which is why he got a penalty. ;)

      Do you know why the rule is there in the first place?

    4. I’ve said it elsewhere and I’ll say it again here…’everyone does it at the start’ because the FIA wanted to allow MS to do it when they wanted to go to all lengths for him to end the Ferrari WDC drought…see teams like Williams and McLaren in the mid to late 90’s complaining about MS’s swerve and chop at the start of every race…see their complaints asking for clarification on the ‘more than one move’ rule and you will find that the FIA ignored any penalties for MS doing it, so by default showed the other teams that the swerve and chop was fine off the line going into turn 1…most drivers though weren’t as willing to do it and risk contact and ending their day, but that was MS’s trademark…

      I’m not saying MS invented it, but he sure perfected it, and was never penalized for it, and obviously to this day FIA is not willing to do anything about it…they deem the swerve and chop ok off the line, but not ok throughout the race…

    5. Jeffrey Powell
      15th April 2011, 14:41

      And why is breaking the tow once O.K., safe and jolly hockysticks sporting and ‘twice’ dangerous and unsporting.F1 becoming endurance racing for cub scouts.

  14. lose the tow

    Can someone help me with its meaning?

    1. Tow = slipstream.

      i.e. he was trying to deprive Alonso of the advantage of following in his wake down the straight. He said the same regarding Petrov last year.

      1. Thanks master :D

        1. No prob :-)

  15. Added a short quote from Alonso on his penalty to the end of the article.

    1. Great the FIA informed all of us at the start of the season of consistently cracking down on weaving! And a wonderfull job of punishing all such instances as well.

      Hm, I guess it falls under the dangerous moves discussion following Schu pushing Rube in the wall last year. That is the one they warned about, maybe in the drives meeting as well. Still not much consistency and clarity up front.

      1. And then there’s the “it’s okay to go wide at Turn 4” in Melbourne they failed to tell us.

        1. Yeah, that was a pretty big cock up for communication as well.

      2. From what Joe S. (I know, but he does good work to dig into things) writes after having a talk with teams and insiders about the background of the penalties it seems this is indeed a direct follow up of teams and drivers wanting clearer and more consistant rules for dangerous driving.

        But I hate how no one bothered to tell the viewing public nor the TV crews.

  16. Now that’s why I don’t fancy Hamilton – and that was a very polite way of saying.

    Right after the penalty he said that he knew he was going to be penalised for it yet he has still done it.

    I don’t like these ‘attitudes’ (again) when one knows he was beyond the rules and what’s more, he’s kind of proud of it.

    1. Didn’t he say that after the stewards called him in? A penalty’s a dead cert at that point.

      I think you’re reading a lot into off-the-cuff statements made just after a race.

      LH really polarises opinion, doesn’t he?

      1. Yeah maybe you’re right I read a lot into it. These words are in the heat of the moment. Alonso did it in Imola 2005 when he said he was perfectly aware of how bad it sounded that he deliberately breaked too much at the apexes to play stop-and-go with Michael. From 2007 onwards I changed my opinion about him. Maybe these things are not so important.

        As for polarising… I’m Hungarian, English is not my native language and it tends to show off every now and then, and one of the biggest musician in Hungary once said that people with strong character, people with opinions and with a stick-to-it attitude when it comes to principles are always polarising. Because you either agree with them, or not.

        I think it’s a very intersting idea.

  17. Is Hamilton ONLY stupid?!

    Doesn’t he realize that the main DANGER involved with his odd interpretation about direction changes is the HIGH possibility to ruin the race of thirds without really racing work?!

  18. Perhaps Alonso means that when he consistently makes formal complaints against only one driver in F1, his complaints are consistently upheld?

  19. I guess Lewis is missing the point. As much as weaving seems to be safe from his point of view, it is forbidden, he knows it, he admits he did it, he was warned last year, he needed to be penalized. The only thing he can argue about is why rules are being applied selectively. It’s not about why he was punished, it’s about why others were not.

  20. two very insightful things I read/heard on this:
    1: joesaward’s blog suggesting it was a complaint by ferrari that prompted the investigation and that it initially did not attract the steward’s attention.
    2: yesterday’s theflyinglap: Peter Windsor made a list of a bunch of drivers who in his opinion did exactly the same thing as Lewis and got away with it, he mentioned the likes of Vettel, Massa, Heidfeld and Webber, and gave the laps on which they did it.

    When stewards start poking into grey areas like this this season could not be dominated by talk of driving skill/DRS/KERS/Pirelli but by subjective steward’s decisions, and that would ruin F1 for me.

    1. Bigbadderboom
      14th April 2011, 15:36

      Agree completly, if stewards are acting against a complaint by Ferrari then surely we will end up in a situation where teams are citing drivers actions and submitting complaints. This will then require defence from the accussed and obvious counter accusation/complaints. If an incident is seen by the stewards and deemed to be of a level worthy of action then so be it, but this shouldn’t be retrospectivly insticated by anothers complaint. TheVillainF1 you are right, this may set a precidense, and the results would be very negative for F1. Would we end up waiting 3 hours after the race has finished for the final result.

      1. If the stewards punnish every questionable minor incident of weaving or otherwise dodgy driving standards brought to their attention after the race, then post race we’ll see a line of 12 teams and 24 drivers waiting to complain or defend themselves and not know the result till monday morning.

        1. It doesn’t matter how many people break the rules, they still need to be punished. Otherwise what’s the point of them?

          Maybe if they knew there would be zero tolerance they wouldn’t try and get away with it all the time.

          1. Then why wasn’t Vettel punished at the start of the race, for as you say….breaking the rules?

          2. I’m not suggesting that drivers that break the rules shouldn’t be punnished. In fact the opposite, they should, but not just when one of the other drivers complains after the race. If we can see somethings not right from home then the stewards should be able to see it too, and be able to act without being asked by one of teams. Prehaps thats why Vettel hasn’t been given a penalty yet?

            With plenty of seemingly grey areas around what you can get away with overtaking and defending, zero tollerence within clearly defined rules would be a good thing.

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