Herbert explains Massa’s penalty: “He knew where Hamilton was”

2011 Indian Grand Prix

Felipe Massa, Ferrari, Buddh International Circuit, 2011

Massa was blamed for his latest collision with Hamilton

Johnny Herbert, the drivers’ advisor to the stewards at the Indian Grand Prix, has explained why Felipe Massa was penalised for his collision with Lewis Hamilton.

Writing in his column for The National, Herbert said: “After looking at it from different camera angles and studying all the data available to us, it was clear that Massa knew where Hamilton was before he chose to turn across him.”

Herbert said Massa’s decision to ‘open the door’ for Hamilton, before taking his normal racing line for the corner, also influenced their decision:

“Massa knew where Hamilton was, he opened the door for him by moving wide, and after doing that he still swept across and did not give Hamilton room.

“That’s why the decision was made to punish him with a drive-through penalty.”

Massa disputed his penalty, saying: “I simply stayed on the ideal line, braking on the limit and staying on the part of the track that was rubbered-in. What else could I do?”

Hertbert, who made the decision with FIA stewards Gert Ennser and Vincenzo Spanno, said: “I know Massa was upset by our decision, but I believe we made the right call.”

He added Hamilton had not disputed his grid penalty for going too quickly under yellow flags during Friday’s first practice session: “He held his hands up and admitted that he had made a mistake.”

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158 comments on Herbert explains Massa’s penalty: “He knew where Hamilton was”

  1. Icthyes (@icthyes) said on 1st November 2011, 23:55

    I think the lessons we can take from last weekend are this:

    1) Stewards explaining their decisions is a good thing
    2) Not every incident is blamed on the attacking driver, which is also good

    When we play Forza online, we have the benefit in the replays of so much more information than meets the eye, including telemetry. For example, in one race I was able to determine whether a driver had deliberately swung across the pit-lane exit as I was coming out or if the difference in speed exaggerated the severity of the move. The stewards at F1 races have access to stuff like that that we don’t and never will. We can go Trulli on the situation and bring all the pictures we want to the table, but there’s always stuff we won’t know.

    I think the punishments have been far too ready in coming. Often I agree with their assessment of whom was at 55% fault, it’s just the resultant penalty that usually ticks me off and incidents are too readily labelled as penalty-worthy. But when it comes to challenging who they think was more to blame in the first place, we can only make educated guesses and will often be missing something that sadly is not shared with us later.

  2. Wooolfy said on 2nd November 2011, 5:12

    I have to agree with Herbert’s explanination based on this was an avoidable accident.

    Firstly, knowing that both drivers were aware of the other, what did Lewis do to avoid the collision? He backed out of it. We can argue that maybe he should have backed out enough.

    Secondly, what did Massa do to avoid the situation? NOTHING. He acted as if his was the only car at the corner and it was up to Lewis to totally back out of it or face the ‘consequences’. In my mind this was a very deliberate attempt to cause an accident, maybe to better Alonso’s finish.

  3. W-K (@w-k) said on 2nd November 2011, 8:34

    Reviewing this and all the other Massa incidents with three of the top five drivers this season, that excludes his team mate and SV, it could be argued that he has performed the rear gunners role, with his aggresive defences, quite well.

  4. If we allow drivers to get away with what Massa did on Sunday all the time, then we will no longer see overtakes in the braking zone. Do we only want to see DRS overtakes ? If that happened I would stop watching F1 and go back to bikes.
    What worries me more than anything is Massa and Ferrari’s attitude after the race, the fact is they still don’t see what Massa did wrong which means he will keep doing it.
    Massa has been doing this type of move all year and unless the stewards do what they did on Sunday, he will just keep on doing it.
    Well done Herbert.

  5. Jack Holt (@jack-holt) said on 2nd November 2011, 9:29

    Glad to hear Herbert making the reasons for his decision public. If anyone has not listened to the Chequered Flag race review podcast yet it’s well worth it, Ant Davidson does not sit on the fence regarding this incident.

    I think that Massa has been on the receiving end of some poor driving from Hamilton this season, as a result he’s got it into his head that as the “aggrieved party” he no longer has to make any concessions to the McLaren driver; so when Hamilton challenges him for position he’s no longer thinking about defending his line or leaving some room, he’s just thinking: “I’m ahead, it’s my racing line and **** you!”. That’s not the kind of approach which allows drivers to race against one another, I suspect that there will be fireworks if they race one another in Brazil.

    Given that this is the same Massa who is not shy of squeezing drivers off track – or bumping them off by bashing tyre against tyre (most famously Kubica, but didn’t he do the same thing to Alonso during a wet Hungaroring?), it’s pretty pathetic to see him nursing a grudge against Hamilton this year. Perhaps it’s down in part to his very poor performance in comparison to his teammate, of the top 4 teams Ferrari is the only one without a balanced line-up: Massa isn’t pulling his weight.

  6. SkinBintin (@skinbintin) said on 2nd November 2011, 10:39

    Why would Herbert say they had access to much more data, and camera angles than us then, if that wasn’t the case?

  7. Nigelb said on 2nd November 2011, 10:54

    Anthony Davidson has a pretty decent analysis of the incident on the BBC podcast:

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 2nd November 2011, 11:24

      Thanks for the link – I think his explanation is bang on, that’s pretty much exactly how I see it.

    • Thanks nigelb,

      I’ve just listened to Anthony Davidson’s analisis and have to say it’s spot on. Perhaps Massa should be made to listen to it !


      • Nail on the head, and whats with massas rant after? he seems like he has some issues or something, for an f1 driver that was in the car and driven many races he has a weird view on the crash “i braked later and he wasnt there” where did he think he had gone? ” when will massa relise that no matter what corner in the world if someone is one your inside you both have to brake sufficiantly to make the corned knowing you may well be side by side, the only reason he got a bit ahead at the end of the braking zone was due to the fact he was braking and turning as if noone was there, if he thinks he can do this thene thats the end of overtaking in corners because the guy on the outside can allways barke later if he is just going to take a normal line regardless of smashing the car on the inside>

  8. Riffa said on 2nd November 2011, 12:23

    I just seen the replay again. People can say Massa did not see him all they want, but these guys know when another very loud engine is right next to them. In fact Lewis was so beside him when he ‘turned’, I’m sure he could even see Lewis’s front wheels. And I call it a ‘turned’ because is wasn’t. It was a lunge, and a huge one. He moved over 2 car widths knowing full well Lewis was there.

  9. Everybody knows I usually criticize Hamilton and mock on Massa, but this time I feel serious about how childish Massa was closing the corner and provoking an unnecessary crash. If he has personal problems with Lewis I think the best he can do is to talk to him .. or to punch him if he feels desperate… but we are talking about 300kph cars and that actions was totally wrong and silly. Incredible but this time Massa was guilty and Hamilton the good guy

    • Hamilton may have been wrong some of the time but I have never seen him do something out of spite just because he has a problem with another driver. If he makes a mistake it tends to be either impatience or just a silly misjudgment.
      Armed now with the knowledge of what Massa is capable of some here should review their past collisions in a different light.

  10. kenneth Ntulume said on 2nd November 2011, 13:33

    Massa is like a person who would shoot himself, just to frame a dude he dont like.

  11. Paulzx (@paulzx) said on 2nd November 2011, 15:22

    I think some of these explanations are crazy…for a start what a lot of people are choosing to forget is that that particular corner has to be taken one at a time, it is not the place to throw your car up the inside and hope the move sticks – for my money THAT is the avoidable part of the whole thing, that is why the commentators came to their conclusion.

    As for Massa clearly being aware, well maybe he was but who can say exactly what a driver sees in any given incident? Herbert may well have had all the info and angles etc but you can still see enough of what happened by the tv coverage.

    I think by saying it was Massa’s fault because he knew the other driver was there is a dangerous precident to set for other drivers to make doubtful moves. I expect Mclaren were fully expecting a penalty and were probably very surprised at the verdict.

  12. Rob8k said on 2nd November 2011, 18:56

    So another race and another incident. Once again i believe that no-one was in the right or the wrong. You could say Massa should have give Hamilton more room or that Hamilton should have backed out sooner. Either way what has happened to just calling these incidents just racing incidents. I don’t believe (albeit others might) Massa wanted to crash into Hamilton but once again I’m here ranting at why in-race penalties exist for these minor collisions.

    These incidents happen and I believe it should just be a racing incident and move on. Or if we have to have penalties can they not be in-race penalties, can the FIA not be more creative, like weight added to car for next race or just a minor 1 grid place penalty. I personally would love to see an end to in-race penalties as they take the enjoyment out the racing.

  13. Oliver said on 2nd November 2011, 19:01

    Anyone who doesn’t agree with Herbert should take a look again at Monaco incident.
    It is obvious self/ car preservation, is the least thing on Massa’s mind.
    He uses his car like a mobile barrier.
    It is the fact that an experienced racer like Herbert, could analyse the incident from the perspective of the driver, and seperating facts from fiction, which exposed Massa.

    The fact Hamilton didn’t make a last minute dive, but was actually running abreast with Massa, makes any argument of racing line a very stupid proposition indeed.
    Would Massa had maintained his racing line if a car had broken down there? Why then will he or anyone else justify his absurd illusion that he had the racing line when another car was already in his path.

    In all honesty, Hamilton was too kind on Massa, he could have forced him Wide. But that is the difference. hamilton wasn’t trying to have an accident.

    On another note, the DRS and it’s application, is giving lots of folks a wrong impression of wat overtaking is. Most people don’t know anymore that racing involves denying your opposition the optimum path. having a car power past on the straights is just not an art.
    Likewise, the overtaken driver should kno when to concede, an art Massa has refused to learn.

  14. AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 2nd November 2011, 21:31

    It’s good to see one of the stewards give us some justification.

    Pretty clear cut in my opinion too.

  15. I also politely disagree…is that when I put it so easy is that I can not avoid it,obviously if you get a impact from the rear of your car’s fault may be of another vehicle but this is a simplistic reductionism,in competition if you go ahead and prevents another participant can catch the slipstream doing a “brake test” it is evident that the fault is yours because competition is allowed to facilitate overtaking the rival who wants to advance can pounce on their part back, when using traps to avoid overtaking should has give an exemplary punishment for the driver to has clear that when be crosses the line of sportsmanship will be punished regardless of the team in that is working, by doing this will allow at drivers most talented that developed it on the track and treated to be athletes and gives a show.

    since that you put on the table the Traffic Regulations…

    -if you make an overtaking on a road must reserve a space with the car surpassed when you return back to your lane, if you return to the lane soon you provoke a collision, althought you receives the impact on the back of your car.

    -when you make an overtaking you should be looking first for the rear view mirrors because if another car has begun the maneuvering must give way to another vehicle which has a preference for pure common sense anyway if you start the maneuver provoke a collision and you will be the responsible,although you receive the product of the collision at the rear of your car.

    On the issue of why this move makes Massa…a judge does not asks questions about the meaning of life, simply collates evidence and makes a decision according to law.In a few words the opinion of Felipe Massa is unimportant, events are judged as so way cold and fair.

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