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

2011 Malaysian Grand Prix

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”

  1. Atticus (@atticus-2) said on 14th April 2011, 14:05

    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.

    • 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?

      • Atticus (@atticus-2) said on 14th April 2011, 16:39

        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.

  2. 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?!

  3. F1antics (@f1antics) said on 14th April 2011, 14:17

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

  4. Cyclops_PL (@cyclops_pl) said on 14th April 2011, 14:40

    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.

  5. TheVillainF1 (@thevillainf1) said on 14th April 2011, 14:54

    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.

    • Bigbadderboom said on 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.

      • wigster (@wigster) said on 14th April 2011, 15:52

        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.

        • Icthyes (@icthyes) said on 14th April 2011, 19:02

          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.

          • lewymp4 (@lewymp4) said on 14th April 2011, 20:16

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

          • wigster (@wigster) said on 14th April 2011, 20:31

            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.

  6. glue (@glue) said on 14th April 2011, 14:59

    despite the subjectivity surrounding the amount of punishable weaving, I think the stewards should have payed close attention to the actual contact between him and Alonso..from what I could make out, Alonso wouldn’t have damaged his front wing if Hamilton hadn’t darted to the right just before the contact (as a reasonably preventive move for defending into turn 4) and if you watch the onboard, Alonso never straightened his steering wheel

    I don’t think either of them should have been penalised anyway, but it was not all Alonso’s fault

    • Bigbadderboom said on 14th April 2011, 15:49

      It’s all getting too involved though, how involved do you want the stewards to get? At this rate there will be so much going on in stewards offices behind closed doors that the racing will become irrelavent. We have to accept that racing drivers will act as close to the rules as they can, and that blatant disregard for others safety and the rules should always result in action from the stewards but you can’t micro manage an F1 race, it’s in danger of becoming ludicrous, I really believe that, the penalties against both Hamilton and Alonso were avoidable, the action raises too many questions about others driving and conduct, sometimes “if it’s not broke don’t try to fix it” is the best approach.

    • Oliver said on 14th April 2011, 16:33

      Glue, you didn’t have your eyes glued to the screen during incident. Alonso was the only one who moved. Lewis held a steady outside line through the curve as the on board camera on Alonso’s car confirms.
      Alonso never straightened his steering wheel!!!! how could he do that and not run off track?

      But I do agree with you though that Alonso didn’t deserve a punishment for that.

      • glue (@glue) said on 14th April 2011, 18:56

        what I meant was that Alonso did not move his steering wheel towards the left when the turn was over, meaning he might have cleared Hamilton if he had not veered to the right..and he did veer to the right, watch the incident again from the outside shots from the camera at turn 4

        • Skett (@skett) said on 14th April 2011, 20:06

          He hardly veered. He started to move over to make a defensive move, which is allowed (contrary to the opinion of many people on this thread). Much like on the road, if you crash into the back of someone, its your fault!

          I am of the opinion that neither driver should have been penalised though, it was simply racing.

  7. alonsodz said on 14th April 2011, 15:22

    yeah u’re right lewis and u’ve been told
    Alonso is faster than u weaving is enabled :D

  8. Himmat S. said on 14th April 2011, 15:59

    Hi Keith. Could you shed light as to why wasn’t Vettel investigated by the stewards for a far more deplorable act of weaving into the first corner? Hamilton was right on the tail of him, and due to Vettel’s negligent weaving, Hamilton lost second place to Heidfield. Would be great Keith if you could have an answer.

    • Robbie (@robbie) said on 14th April 2011, 19:18

      I know you aren’t asking me, but I’ll give my opinion again on this thread and would also be interested to know Keith’s opinion…

      I go back to the mid to late 90’s when Mac and Williams complained about MS’s swerve and chop off the grid going into turn 1 of any given race…

      The teams complained, ie. wanted clarification on the one move rule, and by the FIA’s response being there is nothing wrong with what MS is doing the action was deemed ok at the start of the race but not during the race…

  9. wigster (@wigster) said on 14th April 2011, 16:08

    Alonso has’t been watching the same races I have if he thinks the stewards are being consistent. In both races so far we’ve seen incidents that have affected the outcome of the race far more then Hamiltons ‘weaving’ that havent been punnished. For example round the outside of turn 4 passes in AUS and unpunnished weaving in MAL.

    Unless he means the stewards have reached a good level of connsistency in their inconnsistency. Or that any penalty is good as long as its for a mclaren and the ones for ferrari are fine if they dont cost them points, but they can use them later in the season to point out that the stewards aren’t biased and they do get penalties.

  10. The Limit said on 14th April 2011, 16:20

    You often hear drivers complaining about excessive weaving in the braking zones, something Jenson accused Massa of doing in Australia. Interesting to note that Felipe was not punished for it, but I don’t want to go there.
    When I first looked at the Hamilton incident it was difficult to see him ‘weaving’, until I had the luxary of looking at it from another camera angle. Its a very fine line, and a hard call to make if your an official.
    The danger for the drivers is that its so easy to run into the back of the car infront at such speeds, especially if the car infront changes direction suddenly or brakes earlier than usual. Remember the Webber-Kovalainen crash last year at Valencia. Another good example was Ralf Schumacher and Jacques Villeneuve in 2001 at Melbourne, both incidents whilst under braking and whilst in the tow of the lead car.
    I can understand why drivers get frustrated, and Hamilton’s race by his own admission was down the toilet by the time Alonso swiped him. Its just, as I said, a very very fine line between being legally in the right and being overly aggressive.

  11. Oliver said on 14th April 2011, 16:49

    What if Lewis was trying to move out of the way for Alonso to get past and each time Alonso goes back behind him, can that be considered as breaking the tow? :-)

  12. judo chop said on 14th April 2011, 19:12

    The idea that a driver who moves away from a following driver is assumed to be dangerous because the following driver decides to follow him all over the track is plain nonsense. In 2010 Schumacher cutting across Barrichello was universally acknowledged as bad driving but when Hamilton does the opposite when being followed by Petrov it’s also considered as bad simply because of Petrov’s preference – unlike Barrichello – for wallowing in dirty air. Before the Hamilton/Petrov incident last year there no mention of “breaking the tow” let alone of it being an issue. In fact all the talk was of the negative effects of turbulent. Now tailgating is considered as beneficial as though F1 is NASCAR and any driver who doesn’t feel obliged to give a competitor a “tow” is deemed unsporting. When Alonso had 39 laps of Petrov’s “dirty air” at Abu Dhabi it didn’t do him much good did it?

    • The Last Pope said on 14th April 2011, 19:45

      Only in the corners where the driver wants downforce is the “dirty air” bad. On the straight its the oposite, less air and less downforce means less drag and more speed.

      • judo chop said on 14th April 2011, 20:21

        Old school style slipstreaming as done in NASCAR doesn’t happen in F1 no more. It’s about good traction going on to a straight, utilising any straight line speed advantage and daring braking as witnessed by Barrichello on Schumacher and even more so by Hamilton’s repass of Button in Turkey. I don’t even believe Petrov was trying to slipstream Hamilton but simply to set up a close position from which to pounce. No one mentioned “breaking the tow” – using that or any other wording or description – during that race or previously before Hamilton said anything.

        • The Last Pope said on 14th April 2011, 23:18

          You are joking right?

          Why would Hamilton move away from Alonso/Petrov and his normal line if he didn’t think they were getting an advantage from being right behind his car. Likewise why did Alonso/Petrov follow hamilton rather than drive straight and have to cover less distance to the corner.

          The fact is even with KERS and DRS, slipstreaming is key to overtaking on a straight, And is far more important to a F1 car than a NASCAR because an F1 car is a far more draggy car.
          The f1 drivers know if they can get in this zone right behind another car they can accelerate faster and easily max on their 7th gear.

          • judo chop said on 15th April 2011, 2:32

            Don’t be silly.

            How can slipstreaming be more important to F1 than NASCAR when they drive bunched up nose to tail on superspeedways? F1 cars are designed for clean air on straights and the bends.

            Drivers close to another car are always reacting to that cars movements, stalking for position. Hamilton changed his line so as not be a predictable target for passing. His “breaking the tow” comment was simply waffle (do you believe everything he says?). Alonso never attempted to pass when Hamilton “weaved” and neither did Petrov. If slipstreaming is such an advantage why didn’t Petrov just blow pass at some point when Hamilton moved away from him? Because it isn’t and he wasn’t. I gave two examples of actual overtakes. Hamilton passing by outbreaking an identical car and Barichello utilising fresh tyres for a simple speed advantage are moves typical of F1. Good traction going on to a straight, full use of the car’s inherent speed advantage to blow pass or to sneak up before a quick move onto your preferred line going into the corner and then holding it all together under braking is the basic recipe for passing. I doubt you could provide two examples, for all of last season, of overtakes where supposed slipstreaming was the decisive factor. As I said, Alonso had plenty of Petrov’s aero wake to slipstream in in Abu Dhabi to no avail.

          • The Last Pope said on 15th April 2011, 3:56

            Judo Chop, You do realise that the F ducts the cars had last year worked because they created a disruption in the air flow over the rear wing and thus lowering the drag when the driver needed more speed on the straights, it was slipstreaming for the rear wing. Or did Mclaren develop this and the whole grid copy them for nothing?
            So you could say most overtakes in 2010 done by a F duct equiped car was helped by slipstreaming.

            If a team could now suddenly have a f duct that effected not just the rear wing but the whole car, you think they wouldn’t fall head over heals to get it? This is what you get from being in another cars wake, all the aero devices are stalled = big boost in speed.

            This is one reason alonso crashed into hamilton, he misjudged the speed increase that he was looking for(and underestimated the loss of front downforce)

            OK so slipsteaming in NASCAR is important too but thats because thats all they have to use, its all very close so maybe only 2-3 mph difference will get you an overtake. Actual increase in speed from a slipstream is not great though like in F1 because a Nascar has very little aero to stall, its designed to be slipery though the air.

          • The Last Pope said on 15th April 2011, 4:05

            I’ll add that if I remember right in Abu Dhabi Alonso was never close enough to Petrov coming out of the final corner. Alonso was all over him for most of the lap but Petrov had good traction out of last corner and very good speed down the straight (Renaults wing stalling device was second best only to the Mclaren). Alonso never got into the slipstream zone of Petrovs car.

  13. The Last Pope said on 14th April 2011, 19:37

    The entire field of drivers should have been given 20 seconds penalties for weaving on the warmup lap and yet another 20 seconds onto Vettel’s time for weaving over the finishing line. ;)

  14. I appreciate that when another driver is behaving dangerously there is need for some ruling but I think the whole one move thing is ridiculous. Why only one move? Are they playing chess?

    The FIA should just put slots onto the tracks and a peg on the bottom of each car and be done with it.

  15. lewymp4 (@lewymp4) said on 14th April 2011, 20:22

    Whoever were the stewards for the race at Malaysia, should not, IMO be allowed to officiate again in any other F1 race.

    • Adrian Morse said on 14th April 2011, 20:51

      lol! you did hear the news that they are officiating again this weekend in China?

      One thing about weaving at the start: when there are so many cars around, a driver may have to change his line multiple times just in order to avoid contact. Also, when you move to overtake, you can simultaneously block a driver behind you. In other words, a simple “one-move-rule” cannot be applied at the start (not that this exonerates Vettel, because he was leading the field).

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