Lewis Hamilton, Mark Webber, Singapore, 2010

Five years, over 35 incidents: Has Hamilton been treated fairly?

DebatesPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Lewis Hamilton has been no stranger to controversy in his first five years in Formula 1.

This has led to claims and counter-claims over whether the FIA stewards treat the McLaren driver too harshly.

With that in mind I’ve compiled data on Hamilton’s many visits to the stewards on a range of minor and major charges, whether he was the innocent or aggrieved party. Do they reveal anything about Hamilton’s form before the stewards?


Race Incident Outcome Notes
Hungary Alonso blocks Hamilton in the pits during qualifying Five-place grid penalty for Alonso, team lose constructors’ points for race Hamilton, who inherited pole position, had ignored a team instruction to let Alonso start his lap first.
Japan Kubica collides with Hamilton Kubica given a drive-through penalty
Japan Collision between Vettel and Webber behind Hamilton during safety car period No action taken on Hamilton. Vettel initially given ten-place penalty, later reduced to a reprimand. Only investigated after evidence emerged in video shot by fan
Brazil Hamilton, Button and Sato use an extra set of wet tyres in practice All teams have to return extra set and pay €15,000 fines Occurred in practice for championship-deciding race
Lewis Hamilton, McLaren. Interlagos, 2007
Hamilton had few visits to the stewards in his first season

Hamilton’s first season saw some contentious decisions which gave a foretaste of what was to come.

There were no consequences for Hamilton at the Nurburgring when marshals used a crane to place his car back on the track – Hamilton still inside – after he spun off in a rain storm. The rules were later changed to prevent the same thing from happening again.

Hamilton was judged blameless when Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel collided behind him during a safety car period in Japan. But, following a second investigation after a new video of the incident, emerged a penalty initially given to Vettel was reduced.

At the season finale Ferrari alleged Hamilton had caused Kimi Raikkonen to lose time in qualifying, but they did not appeal and the stewards did not investigate the incident.

Hamilton lost the championship to Raikkonen in the race. Afterwards the cars of Williams and BMW faced a protest over using fuel of an incorrect temperature. Had they been thrown out and points redistributed, Hamilton might have won the championship, but no such action was taken.

Hamilton was not directly implicated in the ‘spygate’ affair which saw McLaren thrown out of the constructors’ championship and fined $100m.


Race Incident Outcome Notes
Malaysia Hamilton and Kovalainen impede Heidfeld and Alonso in qualifying Five-place grid drop for Hamilton and Kovalainen
Europe Hamilton arrives late for FIA press conference €5,000 fine
Canada Hamilton crashes into Raikkonen in the pit lane Ten-place grid drop for next race Rosberg received same penalty for same infringement
France Hamilton cuts a chicane while overtaking Vettel Drive-through penalty for Hamilton
Belgium Hamilton overtakes Raikkonen at the corner after he had gone off the track and allowed Raikkonen past Post-race time penalty, which cost him his victory McLaren’s appeal rejected as “inadmissible”
Japan Raikkonen goes off the track as Hamilton runs wide in turn one Drive-through penalty for Hamilton
Japan Hamilton hit by Massa Drive-through penalty for Massa
Kimi Raikkonen, Lewis Hamilton, Spa-Francorchamps, 2008
Raikkonen and Hamilton had several incidents in 2008

Many of the penalties Hamilton received in his second season were straightforward and uncontroversial: impeding in Malaysia, taking out Raikkonen in Canada, cutting a corner in France.

However the stewards’ decision to strip him of his victory in Belgium was an absolute travesty.

Hamilton was forced off the track by Raikkonen while battling the Ferrari driver for the lead. Hamilton returned to the track, gave the lead back to Raikkonen, then overtook him at the next corner.

In judging this an illegal move and handing Hamilton a 25-second penalty, the stewards contradicted recent precedent. They handed the win not to the driver Hamilton had allegedly transgressed against, but his team mate, who was never in the hunt for victory.

Hamilton had another penalty for a strange incident with Raikkonen in Japan, where the McLaren driver braked too late for the first corner and ran wide, along with several other cars.


Race Incident Outcome Notes
Australia Hamilton and McLaren give “deliberately misleading” evidence over circumstance in which Trulli passed him during safety car period Exclusion from the race results McLaren later fired sporting director Dave Ryan over the incident
Malaysia Hamilton exceeds the pit lane speed limit in practice €1,200 fine
Belgium Hamilton and Alguersuari collide on the first lap No action taken Both drivers retired
Hungary Raikkonen makes contact with Hamilton and Vettel on the first lap No action taken Neither Hamilton nor Vettel were impeded by the contact
Italy Hamilton exceeds the pit lane speed limit in practice €2,400 fine
Italy Buemi runs down an escape road to avoid Hamilton during Q1 No action taken Buemi was eliminated in Q1 but Hamilton probably made no difference to this
Lewis Hamilton, McLaren. Melbourne, 2009
McLaren were caught red-handed in Melbourne

Few edicts from the stewards’ office had much consequence for Hamilton in 2009 – with one significant exception.

During a safety car period in the first race of the season Hamilton moved ahead of Jarno Trulli when the Toyota driver went off the track. Under instruction from his team, Hamilton then allowed Trulli to re-pass him, still behind the safety car.

But McLaren gave a different version of events to the stewards, who initially punished Trulli. When the truth emerged Trulli was reinstated and Hamilton disqualified.


Race Incident Outcome Notes
Malaysia Hamilton changes line more than once defending from Petrov Hamilton shown the black-and-white flag for unsportsmanlike driving A seldom-seen form of reprimand
China Hamilton and Vettel found to have “driven in a dangerous manner” when exiting the pits alongside each other Hamilton and Vettel given reprimands
Canada Team tell Hamilton to stop on track after setting his fastest time at the end of Q3 $10,000 fine and reprimand
Europe Hamilton overtakes the safety car as it leaves the pits Hamilton given a drive-through penalty
Singapore Hamilton and Webber collide No action taken Hamilton retired due to damage
Abu Dhabi Hamilton crosses the white line at the pit lane entry during practice Hamilton given a reprimand
Lewis Hamilton, Mark Webber, Singapore, 2010
Webber and Hamilton collide in Singapore

Hamilton was perhaps fortunate to avoid a more severe penalty for overtaking the safety car in Valencia. He had been disqualified for doing the same thing in a GP2 race at Imola in 2006.

He collected a series of reprimands during the year for both driving and other infringements.

One of which was the team’s instruction for him to stop the car after qualifying in Canada as he was low on fuel. He kept his pole position, and it’s doubtful his low fuel level was what secured it for him.


Race Incident Outcome Notes
Malaysia Hamilton changes line more than once defending from Alonso Hamilton given post-race time penalty Similar to what he had been warned about the year before.
Malaysia Alonso hits Hamilton while racing for position Alonso given post-race time penalty
Spain Hamilton sets personal best time in sector two during the race while yellow flags are displayed Hamilton given reprimand
Monaco Hamilton cuts chicane in qualifying Hamilton loses best time from qualifying
Monaco Hamilton and Massa collide Hamilton given drive-through penalty
Monaco Hamilton and Maldonado collide Hamilton given post-race time penalty
Canada Hamilton and Button collide No action taken – stewards determine it a racing incident
Canada Hamilton’s decision to stop his car on the track is investigated No action taken – team mistakenly believed Hamilton had suspension damage
Hungary Hamilton spins his car around in front of di Resta, who goes off the circuit avoiding him Hamilton given drive-through penalty for forcing another car off the track
Belgium Hamilton and Maldonado make contact twice, before and after the end of Q2 Maldonado diven five-place grid drop, Hamilton given reprimand
Singapore Hamilton and Massa collide Hamilton given drive-through penalty
Japan Hamilton and Massa collide No action taken
India Hamilton and Perez ignore double waved yellow flags in practice Hamilton and Perez given three-place grid drops
India Hamilton and Massa collide Massa given drive-though penalty
Lewis Hamilton, McLaren. Monaco, 2011
Hamilton received two penalties in the Monaco Grand Prix

The previous year, Hamilton had been warned by the stewards for changing his line more than once while defending his position at Sepang. Unsurprisingly, they escalated his penalty to a drive-through when he repeated the move on Alonso 12 months later.

Hamilton’s penalty for spinning his car in front of Paul di Resta during the Hungarian Grand Prix attracted much comment. Adrian Sutil received a reprimand and $20,000 fine for spinning into the side of Nick Heidfeld in Singapore two years earlier in similar circumstances – a penalty that looks too lenient on Sutil in retrospect.

His collision with Pastor Maldonado in the Monaco Grand Prix might have been avoided had Maldonado shown the kind of awareness Michael Schumacher had when Hamilton made an identical move on the Mercedes driver earlier in the race.

Had Maldonado survived the incident I suspect Hamilton would not have been penalised, as it often seems the stewards place too much weight on the consequences of an incident, rather than whether a drivers’ move was acceptable or not in the first place.

But on the whole Hamilton’s penalties this year have been entirely typical of what would be expected.


You can make a lot of criticisms about the FIA stewards: They are not always consistent. They too rarely give explanations for their more contentious decision.

They use penalties which can vary enormously in effect with the circumstances and produce outcomes that are excessively severe (Spa 2008) or unduly lenient (Valencia 2010).

This goes for all drivers including Lewis Hamilton. Consistent application of the rules is a bugbear for fans of many sports and F1 is no exception.

But the evidence above does not support claims that the stewards pursue a line for or against Hamilton.

And, though he may imply otherwise in the heat of the moment, nor do I think Hamilton believes he gets unfair treatment from them.

In 2007, Hamilton voiced his displeasure at the handling of the Fuji safety car incident, saying: “I just think it’s a real shame for the sport.

“Formula 1’s supposed to be about hard, fair competition. That’s what I’ve tried to do this year, just be fair. There’s been some real strange situations this year where I’m made to look the bad person and, by the looks of it, this weekend be given a penalty. If this is the way it’s going to keep going it’s not somewhere I really want to be.”

Four years and some 30-odd incidents later, if Hamilton seriously thought the stewards had it in for him surely he’d be long gone already.

Do you think the stewards have treated Hamilton fairly or unfairly? Which decisions do you agree or disagree with? Have your say in the comments.

If you believe I have overlooked any significant incidents involving Hamilton please supply details in the comments, including a reference to the relevant stewards’ report if possible.

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277 comments on “Five years, over 35 incidents: Has Hamilton been treated fairly?”

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  1. Very controversial article here, Keith! But from what I can remember, most incidents seemed covered and fairly discussed from your point of view.

    Brave article, really enjoyed it. Very unique.

    1. It’d be more controversial if the articles argued a case for or against the penalties and decisions made against Hamilton. Not that I think he should though. I think most of the discussions we’ll see are nothing we’ve had before – some people will defend Hamilton to the death, some people will put him down at every given oppurtunity.

      1. Oh then it’d really be opening the can of worms!

        I didn’t mean it as a negative, by the way. I mean it’s a controversial subject, and a minority of fanatics may not react to it in a mature manner, to say the least :)

        1. Remember Senna and the FIA. I am not sure how often Senna was penalized, but we all know the FIA was after him, or at least the president (which I forget his name). I wouldn’t doubt that someone up there doesn’t like Hamilton.

          1. Jean-Marie Balestre.

          2. Got to be careful, as it wasn’t necessarily all Jean-Marie Balestre’s doing in the late 80s, Senna put himself in a position where he could be taken advantage of by people that were tough politically, and if you think about it Alain Prost has a lot to answer for, in this regard. I think Jean-Marie Balestre was as much a pawn in the Senna vs Prost battles as Senna was… Unfortunately JMB should have had the sense to hold Prost at bay.

      2. I think the better question would be why can’t he match Button who has about twice as many points as Hami does.

    2. Great article, as it seems to be F1F’s most popular topic of conversation I can see this article getting about 100000000000000000000000000000000000 comments

    3. In every sport some decisions by ‘referees’ will go ‘the wrong way’ but I think in F1 the standard and consistency of decisions is generally far better than in many sports – football for instance has far more cases of botched decisions.

      Over the course of a season or a career you would expect these to even out. So I think Hamilton has little to complain about. The vast majority of the decisions against him have been fair and he deserved what he’s got.

      If he keeps picking up penalities for incidents while other drivers don’t – and it ends up with HIS results being harmed – then really the onus is on him to examine what he is doing and what he can do to avoid the incidents.

      Or he can decide to ignore it and carry on, in which case he should expect that he will continue to pick up penalties and those penalties are likely to escalate. And consequently he can probably look forward to never being world champion again (how many drivers win the world championship while picking up significant numbers of penalties ?).


      1. I’m not sure that the situation is the same as other sports such as football. For example in football it would be quite common for two or three decisions to go against you but the result will be entirely unchanged since the award of a free kick wrongly seldom changes the outcome and even a penalty will make little difference in most games where you are the dominant team since scoring more than the other team is still very achievable. Also the points difference (3 to 1 points or 1 to 0 points) if a decision does turn a game is fairly small and there are far more games in a season for decisions to even out.

        In formula one a drive through penalty for a driver at the front can easily make a difference of multiple positions at the end of a race (and depending on timing/safety cars etc could make the difference between a race win and nil-points particularly when the penalty is often given after vehicle damage or positions lost in the incident itself). Because of the relatively small number of events the impact of a single decision given wrongly is less likely to be evened out over a single season (though in a career it ought to work out fairer if there truly is no bias).

        I think the big difference in F1 though is that being involved in a collision is not something that any driver wants because it could ruin your own race as much as a rival (the exception would be season finale type events such as Prost/Senna and Shumi/Villenueve). For that reason I think that many of the penalties given nowadays ought to be put down as racing incidents otherwise we risk discouraging the brave overtaking moves which when we re-watch classic F1 races is what makes some of those races so special. Obviously for truly dangerous maneuvers a penalty does need to be applied (in the past it was often a multiple race ban).

        Vettel is often criticised on this forum because he can only win from pole and doesn’t do a lot of overtaking (I personally don’t agree that Vettel is anything less than an absolutely top drawer driver), but the stewarding decisions being made surely encourage that in F1 now as one of the top overtakers in the sport has been frequently penalised.

        On the specifics of the article I agree with the point Keith made about Spa ’08 which is the only really true injustice in that long list of incidents. However I think that Maldonado’s antics in qualy at Spa this year merited a multi-race ban for him (albeit that it really made no difference to results and therefore I wouldn’t count it as a significant injustice).

        I wonder what Kobayashi’s (the other great overtaker) incident count is over the seasons he has been in F1?

    4. seems keith doesnt really no much after all. every driver was asked at the italian race after spa in 2008 about the race in spa and more or less every driver said it was the correct decision. if this guy is going to keep being biased over that i am not going to read his page no more. its that simple. what happened that day was the same as susuka 2005 with alonso and klien. get over it.

      1. what happened that day was the same as Suzuka 2005 with Alonso and Klien

        It certainly was similar, which is why I referred to that incident in the article.

        But you seem to have forgotten that race control ultimately decided Alonso should not have been told to let Klien pass, as described here.

        The Alonso-Klien incident at Suzuka shows Hamilton was hard done by at Spa in 2008. Check your facts next time you try to accuse someone of “bias”.

        1. from wikipedia big man who i trust more than u.

          1. You do realise there’s nothing to stop anyone from editing Wikipedia to say anything they like and then linking to it?

            Rewatch the UK broadcast of the race if you don’t believe me.

          2. I smell a Troll.

          3. hahaha legend :’) classic stuff. actually laughed out loud. thanks :)

        2. After the safety car, Alonso went around the outside of Christian Klien and cut the chicane. He gave the position back and then the FIA came on to the radio telling the Renault team to let Klien back past, so Alonso did. Then the FIA came to Renault again and said that he had to let Klien through again, so Alonso had to pass Klien for a third time. By this time he was four and a half seconds behind Michael Schumacher and Räikkönen had passed Klien.

      2. Hamilton’s penalty was harsh that day but I was the one robbed that day. One of the most exciting finishes to a race in a long-time snatched away by a decision made by a few suits. I wanted to be talking about how Hamilton and Raikkonen both fought to stay on a damp track as they battled with each other, instead we were discussing another stewards decision that seemed to become all to frequent in 2008. (The highlight being Bourdias’ penalty for Massa’s incompetence at Fuji).

        The rules give very little leeway when applying penalties but a grid penalty at the next race would’ve been far fairer then the post-race time penalty he got.

        1. I was at the race, at the chicane. It’s the only race I’ve ever seen. Travesty of a decision that was rumoured on the coach home and completely ruined what had up until then been a great weekend. Left a sour enough taste in my mouth that I considered abandoning F1 if Hamilton lost the title by those 6 points the FIA took from him.

          Generally though I agree with Keith that the FIA have been fair to Hamilton- although the Maldonado Monaco crash was also questionable to me too. I just assume that the had much better angles than we did to be able to put Hamilton at fault then, as it looked to me that Maldonado turned in when any sensible driver (Schumacher) wouldn’t.

          1. *only race I’ve ever been to I mean

        2. Ragerod, I agree with you that the stewards investigating this and handing a penalty really ruined a race that had been superb viewing up to then.

    5. I second that!

      Good job Keith. A new fan :)

        1. impressed in the article, fair play. thanks.

          i must admit i have been wondering if you had been getting a touch biased of late. example, michael schumacher in recent articles, nothing too controversial, just your angle.

          Ive started to back hamilton a bit more this year, as hes struggled a tad so i feel the need try to explain to the unaware that he is still one of the greatest talents within f1, hes just stuck in a bit of a rut.

          Though i am no hamilton fanboy, i can appreciate talent and rate hamilton highly, and in my opinion theres been no bias in this article.

          thanks again, interesting read.

    6. Fantastic and balanced article Keith thanks. Of course I am a Hammy fanboy (as they say) but on reflection of the objective facts as you show them above it all seems to balance out in the end.

      One thing’s for sure – F1 would lose big time if Lewis Hamilton decided to go elsewhere…

    7. I agree it’s controversial.. but only 35 incidents in 5 years, that’s probably below average isn’t it? why try to make it sound bad? Sure there’s interest in Hamilton bashing, folks love to bang the blame, but this is stretching things.. why not talk about the elephant in the room, Lewis is the only part African Caribbean/Black or part-black person in t he whole of formula 1 since forever and the real question is, is that what all the bashing really about?

  2. Much like any other driver, generally, the decisions have been fair. With one or two major blunders from each party. There’s been unfair decisions, such as Spa 2008, and there’s times where he’s been a pillock. The difference being Lewis has has more of these than other drivers in 5 years.

    1. Agreed, it’s been a mix of a lot of things. Sometimes Lewis deserves the penalty, which creates his bad reputation which sometimes leads to over zealous stewarding at other times when he perhaps doesn’t deserve a penalty.

    2. Are people seriously still saying that Spa 2008 was unfair???

      It was 100% clear that Hamilton deserved his penalty. The precedent was set. The EXACT same thing happened at Japan in 2005 where Alonso let past and overtook Klein in the same straight. He was ordered to give the position back. It bemuses me how anyone could have argued with the decision then, or now.

      1. I don’t recall that, but if so, perhaps precedent was wrong, the rule is weird, and I don’t think it should be interpreted that way.

        On the other hand, did Alonso give the pos. back then? Kimi crashed, making it impossible for HAM to give the position back; now I see the argument for giving time penalties when someone is out of the race, but in this case, only Kimi was harmed, he took himself out, so I think it is silly to give a time penalty for something that wasn’t then a big deal.

      2. The precedent was set. The EXACT same thing happened at Japan in 2005 where Alonso let past and overtook Klein in the same straight. He was ordered to give the position back.

        …and then race control admitted that was a mistake and he shouldn’t have been told to give the position back. As mentioned in the article, in this comment and as described here, also linked from the article.

        1. race control admitted that was a mistake

          And exactly how did that help Alonso? His race was already destroyed by then.

          Let’s suppose next year in Australia, after the customary scrap with Massa, Hamilton gets a 5-race ban. When he shows up back again at Montreal, he is told: sorry, it was a mistake, you should have been racing. By then Button, Vettel and Alonso are already about 100 points ahead. I do not know about you, but I would call that poetic justice. Spa 2008 was simple, ordinary justice, at its best.

          1. @Copersucar Of course that sucked for Alonso, do you see me pretending otherwise? But that’s not our interest here.

            What we want to know is what was the precedent for judging Hamilton’s driving at Spa in 2008. And the only reasonable conclusion you can draw from it is that Hamilton had every reason to believe he had followed the (unwritten) rules correctly.

            And this is without getting into the fact McLaren were in communication with race control trying to double-check Hamilton had done the right thing.

          2. Come on, you can’t seriously say that letting some one past for 2 seconds before you pass them again is fair. Alonso deserved his penalty in Japan ’05 also. Sorry to say it but the ‘opinion’ articles on this website are a real weakness – would be better sticking to press releases.

          3. Just because the opinion expressed doesn’t match yours it doesn’t necessarily make it ‘weak.’ I can’t remember if there was a poll at the time but I’m fairly sure you are in the minority thinking that was deserved.

          4. @laird18 I’m sorry, but there are hundreds of F1 websites you can go to if you want nothing but dull-as-dishwater press-releases from F1 teams, drivers, sponsors, suppliers and the governing body. Hell, you could always just pretend to be a journalist and have them send said press releases directly to your inbox. You wouldn’t have to waste time typing all those letters into the box at the top of the screen then.

            It is opinion pieces like this one that set the blog apart from other sources of F1 information and fannery. THis is the kind of article that drew me into the site in the first place (the ‘Changing Tracks’ series) and it is what has kept me here ever since. If anything I gloss over the articles stating “Team A signs driver B for 2012”, because I don’t care… there’s going to be nothing any more insightful in that article than the same article at Autosport or the F1 website.

            It’s the opinions pieces and quirky, different articles that provide the bulk of what makes this blog so good. And it is that, a blog. it’s written mostly by one person who often shares his point of view, but only ever at the end of a balanced and neutral article.

          5. Sorry to say it but the ‘opinion’ articles on this website are a real weakness

            If you can’t win the argument, dispute the other person’s right to have their say…

      3. the stewards should have made the decision during the race, as soon as possible after the incident. perhaps give him a drivethrough. or tell the team to tell hamilton to let Kimi past again like what happened with Alonso. that way the result of the race stands and hamilton at least has a chance to fight back through the field.

        My problem with the penalty is that it was handed after the race and to a race winner at that. THAT was a farce, no the actual decision of guilty or not guilty.

  3. I am going to out Keith here and now as being a Masochist. Lol.

  4. I don’t think any of those show that the stewards have it in for Lewis. Like you say, there are a couple that have appeared too harsh and a couple that have been too lenient. You could compile similar lists for pretty much any other driver and I suspect you would conclude the same.

    35 incidents does seem a lot, but Hamilton’s a racer. He gets stuck in and likes to seize the initiative. That style has won him many races and I’m sure will win him many more, but when you’re battling with other cars more often, statistically you’re going to get in more scrapes.

    Yes, 2011 has been a dreadful season for Lewis for all sorts of reasons – but everyone has bad seasons every now and then. The real test is what he learns from it and how he bounces back in the future.

    1. 35 incidents does seem a lot, but Hamilton’s a racer

      Kimi Raikkonen – racer, World Champion, 2-times runner-up, 18 wins yet I don’t remember him once being given a penalty other than for engine changes. So you can be a succesful driver without getting into all sorts of mess almost every race.

      1. So true. Racer is not the same as crash- driver. People sometimes forget. :)

        1. I didn’t word it particularly well, by ‘racer’ I meant a driver who takes every opportunity and half opportunity that presents itself. Kimi was fantastic for the refuelling era, knew how to manage his pace well over a stint to extract to the maximum from the car, but I wouldn’t have put overtaking as one of his main strengths.

          1. but I wouldn’t have put overtaking as one of his main strengths

            Are you kidding, didn’t you watch Suzuka 2005, Bahrain 2006 etc when he got on the podium from the back of the grid?

          2. Ezio Auditore
            6th November 2011, 16:26

            dude are you serious? — Raikkonen is the daddy of all other drivers when it comes to overtaking

    2. Stewards are not perfect and we all have our own opinions and “inner steward”. Plus, our support to specific drivers or teams tend to affect our judgement. Therefore, like in football, basketball, tennis or any other sport with refs controversy will always be there.

  5. Ohhhh this is gonna be a big one!

  6. Hi Keith,

    Excellent article, but you missed the Hungary incident with di Resta in your table, which would make it 36 incidents ;)

    Also, was colliding with Webber in Canada not also investigated?

    1. Ah yes! That was certainly some shoddy driving on Lewis’ part.

    2. Thanks Andy, have added the di Resta one.

      I couldn’t find a stewards report on the incident with Webber in Canada.

      1. Of course you couldn’t – I simply cannot understand how hard is to create a doc file, export it to PDF and then upload it.
        Even this little sign can show the level of negligence that FIA has about decisions.
        And that’s where the true problem lies – we will continue to have arguments whether this or that incident was treated fair or not, until their rules are refined or stewarding becomes a sustainable process.

        As for HAM in particular, most of the times his penalties have been fair, but some could have been less severe.
        Again, this is my view, as I “don’t have the telemetry data, the video footage and the photos that stewards have”. As such, my opinion is subjective.

        1. To be fair, and sorry to bring in a sport like football: there the rules are clear, and they are discussed, and then there’s a meeting to determine the final penalty if it is a red card. But that doesn’t stop people discussing.

          (PS: Here in NL, we had a player for PSV who got a red this weekend for something most people, including other referees, thought a yellow would have been harsh – the guy still got a 2 game exclusion at the appeal, bc. they stuck with the referee who doesn’t change opinion, against what camera’s show – bc. otherwise everyone will start appealing everything.)

      2. How about Massa and Hamilton collision at Monza 2010? No action taken, Hamilton retired with damage.

      3. Fantastic article indeed.

        Whilst I do feel that Hamilton gets to many penalties for simply trying to race, I believe that in 2007 the stewards/conditions were in his favour (being helped back on track at the European GP was a joke).

        In general I feel that stewards nowadays punish one for everything – if blame cannot (almost) entirely be appointed to one driver no punishment should be handed out. Most incidents this year were simply racing incidents that in my opinion did not merit a penalty.

        Regarding other incidents you seem to have forgotten Hamilton’s and Kubica’s clash in Fuji in 2007 – Kubica got a drive through for their collision. Here’s a video – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kbFlJd9UbFU

        1. @victor Thanks for the reminder on Fuji ’07 – have added that in.

  7. One question I had reading this, and I wonder @keithcollantine if your research for this article helps answer that: is my impression that stewards have been more eager to give penalties last year and this year too, correct?

    I don’t mean just Hamilton, but in general. I recall DC saying that the drivers asked the FIA/stewards to be stricter, so I wonder if there is anything to suggest they are, or just that we now have more media and internet to debate them all :)

    1. There doesn’t seem to be as many perceived ‘Racing incidents’ anymore. Which is a shame. I’d rather than air with caution than hand out a definitive penalty for almost every collision. It seems to have happened across alot of motorsport. Bit of a shame.

    2. @bosyber

      I would say there’s been a general increase in activity from the stewards over the last ten years or so. Which in itself might be worth a look in a future article with some hard data.

      1. Thanks @keithcollantine and @ecwdanselby, that matches my impression too.

        If it really is true, I think it can be partly attributed to a greater attention to safety in motorsports, with the sense that any contact can potentially still lead to big accidents. It is a bit sad when drivers can’t just race, but it is even worse if a bad accident happens after all.

        And they should be able to race without needing to touch just as Webber+Hamilton showed in Korea, for example.

      2. Keith , with the increased activity from the stewards, do you think there has been a corresponding decrease in the racing activity or raciness from the drivers?

        What does everyone else think? Has the racing been lessened by the stewards actions?

        1. decrease in the racing activity or raciness from the drivers?

          Not at all, I’m fairly certain it was the drivers themselves who were pushing for tougher penalties.

      3. It was noted during the BBC practice coverage at Valencia when they had Monisha Kaltenborn from Sauber in the box with them that the drivers had asked the stewards to investigate every incident in 2011 regardless of how small it was.

        I seem to recall Sam Michael also mentioning this when he was there guest.

        1. In that respect it was interesting that Webber, in his BBC F1 column, mentions that but adds that maybe the current level of penalties isn’t what’s needed. I hope the drivers can discuss being still allowed to race, then bring that to the stewards.

      4. @keithcollantine and @bosyber – yep a review of the changing approach to the whole business of stewarding would be a very interesting read.

        I’m sure most people on here will have watched some of the classic races though F1 history, and it really is worth asking the question if the rules the way they are being interpreted are giving us the same show.

        I wonder how many penalties some of the legends of the sport would have received using todays standards?

        1. Correct me if I am wrong, but if penalties for causing an avoidable collision had been applied to MSC when he turned into Damon Hill, one could allege deliberately. Hill could be a double WDC and MSC reduced to 6x WDC.

          1. The rules and standards, like the technical regulations change year on year.

            Comparing 94 to now in that sense is criticizing constructors taken with the aid of TC or Active suspension. Or attacking drivers of the 50’s etc who took their team mates cars.

            Not that I agree with it, but standards change.

  8. You win some you lose some. The fact of the matter is, if you don’t put yourself in those positions in the first place. Then you can’t be unfairly punished.

    I’ve not got anything against Hamilton, but to many times (especially this year). He’s just failed to follow basic rules and keeps on racking up these trivial penalties. Like in India for example, what do you honestly achieve by setting the fastest lap time in FP1?

    He just needs to think about the bigger picture sometimes, letting some of the smaller things that seem to annoy him mid race go and being more calculated in his decision making. It might be better just to follow Massa around for another half a lap, then take an all or nothing dive into a tight corner.

    Really good article though, good work :D

  9. I don’t think the stewards are generally biased against Hamilton. The problem is, he has been up so many times before them, that a couple of borderline decisions (and in my opinion perfectly consistent stewarding is impossible, so there will always be questionable calls) are going to fall out against his favour.

    I hope for next year, Lewis can iron out all those unncessary visits to the stewards. Sure, his opportunistic driving style might see him entangled with other drivers from time to time (in the way that Button typically isn’t), but that’s why people love him, and I don’t think that is what we should wish away. However, things like speeding under yellows, getting embroiled with other drivers during qualifying, and, most especially, making contact with other cars when no serious overtaking is on (previously: first corner of Canada 2011 with Webber, second corner Massa Italy 2010 (how could you forget that, one, Keith!), Kobayashi Spa 2011, Massa Singapore & Japan 2011) should be reduced to zero.

  10. I think an article like this comparing inconsistent decisions of the last 5 years would be excellent. For example Hamilton gets penalty for double defend, Schumacher doesn’t (Malaysia 2011/Italy 2011). Maldonado crashing into Hamilton at Spa and the GT1 incident between Westbrook and Mucke.

    Terrific consolidation of penalties though. I don’t usually have an issue with the decisions made againts Hamilton, it’s when other drivers seem to get away with it. Maldonado’s lenient 5 place grid drop in Spa was a joke in my opinion.

    1. That is really a situation where I’d like to hear the reasoning, especially with the reprimand for HAM too, which suggests he did indeed respond in what wasn’t the best way (Or maybe the fact they touched already shows that?).

    2. Hamilton wasn’t penalised for a double defend, He was penalised because he was weaving back & forth across the track.

      Schumacher’s defending at Monza was marginal but I thought it was just good, hard racing that didn’t really deserve a penalty.

      1. I’m talking about Malaysia 2011. Hamilton’s ‘weaving’ as you put it was minimal. Nothing like in 2010 on Petrov. To be honest, I bet most people missed it while watching. DC and brundle did until the replay was shown.

        1. I posted a video of the 2011 weaving here:

          I think the crucial point is that he was given a warning for doing a similar thing in 2010 & I seem to recall many other drivers critisising him for it in 2010.
          Since he’d been warned the year before & still did something similar I think the penalty he got was fair.

          I think Schumi at Monza was something different, It wasn’t really weaving, He was moving to defend & then drifting back towards the racing line. It was close to but I don’t think over the limit of what is allowed.
          I actually thought it was some good racing & really enjoyed that little racing battle, Is something I woudn’t mind seeing a bit more of if im honest.

  11. Most Intresting driver in F1

    1. I would agree with this. I can remember the film about Ayrton Senna, during the painful interview with Jackie Stewart, when the issue of accidents gets in the middle.
      But then again it would be interesting to put this list of accidents in a broader perspective. To be honest, I don’t feel that there is a particular thing against Hamilton. But I would say that, for example, Alonso or Webber or Button have been involved in less episodes like those in the last five years.

      Oh, and Keith: very, very good article. Thanks.

  12. I think every driver might have a lot of infringements against his name – may be not 35 in 5 years – but say around 20-25.

    He will be treated fairly or unfairly in a few. Similarly, Hamilton has been treated fairly and unfairly. In short, Stewards haven’t singled out Hamilton. He has more penalties than others because he has more incidents than others. The ratio of penalty:incidents is same for all drivers.

    Two things need changing:

    as it often seems the stewards place too much weight on the consequences of an incident, rather than whether a drivers’ move was acceptable or not in the first place.

    This! Stewards penalties shouldn’t be dependent on consequences.
    2. Hamilton needs to reduce his number of incidents.

    1. Sumedh, I think in most justice systems, the punishment is also more lenient if the action didn’t lead to serious consequences (in fact, in many cases there will only be a trial if the results were bad, otherwise there is nothing to investigate …), so I can sort of understand it from that view. Of course, one doesn’t get convicted of murdering someone if one is clearly in self-defence and had no choice, so actions and circumstance matter there too.

      But since the stewards seem to also want to use penalties as a sort of good/bad example, there is a conflict, as in such a situation, intent and the drivers actions are most important. The consequences in that instant are just the reason they look at an incident, the important other thing is the potential consequences it could have had: but that’s not always in the drivers’ hands.

    2. Disagree totally.

      Of course the punishment should be dependent on the consequences.

      If an incident causes consequences for other drivers, marshalls, spectators then it is much more serious than something which doesn’t.

      Take a hypothetical going off the track and rejoining during qualifying. In one case it delays another driver on their hot lap, in another case it wipes out another driver and puts them out of qualifying.

      The onus is on the driver going to rejoin in a safe way, so clearly they were more reckless in the second case than the first.

      The punishment in the second case should be much more severe to teach a lesson – drivers of course have to take risks but they also have to show respect and care to their fellow professionals just as they would expect those drivers to for them.

      1. So by the same logic, a drunk driver that kills someone is worse than a drunk driver that makes it home by luck?

        Just playing devils advocate but you know… :)

        1. to play devil’s advocate to your devil’s advocate :), a drunk driver pulled over by a policeman is given a different set of consequences than a drunk driver that kills someone.

        2. The outcome doesn’t alter how bad the act is… but it does influence the consequences for them. A drunk driver who kills someone should quite rightly get a stronger punishment than a drunk driver who crashes his car with nobody else involved.

      2. That’s nonsense.

        Taking the hypothetical rejoining the track situation. Two drivers go and rejoin in identical circumstances. In the first instance the following car spots the danger and swerves out the way and continues without an accident, in the second the following driver doesn’t react in time and crashes into the back of the rejoining car.

        Why should the first driver get treated more leniently than the second driver when both of their actions were equally dangerous and only the superb reactions of a following car prevented a serious accident?

        1. Because one of them- although both had dangerous actions- actually destroyed somebodies race.

          If two individuals (non-F1) have two separate car crashes, both of which are due to bad driving and involve no other cars, and one simply results in a totalled car but the other happens to kill a pedestrian who is unfortunate to be on that bit of path at that time, how do the punishments work out? They definitely won’t be equal.

    3. whether a drivers’ move was acceptable or not in the first place.

      Problem with that is that it’s really difficult to know what someones intentions are.

  13. To be honest, as you say Keith, some of the penalties really look out of place, as there’s always a completely different antecedent.

    But that’s no strange in sport. I bet football fans will agree… how many times we’ve seen a match where a team is practically “given” a penalty, and others where the referee is just oblivious of the whole thing.

    Whatever the penalty, anyway, Hamilton’s been involved in too many strange incidents. It can’t be always the other one, or the stewards, or whatever. 36 incidents it’s a lot, and Hamilton must know that… he must know he’s always there, right in the edge, with not much room for error.

    He loves to be agressive and when it works, it’s awesome. Because you see a great driver doing stuff the others don’t. But, as everything in life, risking too much too many times, sometimes brings you a headache. And that’s what Hamilton’s getting.

    After all, you can’t expect to hit the jackpot every single time…

  14. Hamilton seems to have unwittingly become the Princess Di of F1 (at least in the UK).

    This is a quote from an article about PD “The press hounded Princess Diana eager for any story or picture that would expose the crack in her life. She was subject to much scrutiny and the media tried to uncover her affairs. She was harassed, bullied and hunted in an unprecedented way in this modern high tech world”.

    Is this the case with LH too? He’s not being chased by papparazzi (as far as I know), but there is relentless media focus. Journalists know that they’ll get noticed if they write about him. Publicity-mad pundits know they’ll get their name mentioned if they come up with some controversial comment. TV commentators always have to talk about how he looks, how he must be feeling, etc. He’s clearly a cash cow, but I’m curious how that happened? Was it driven by the interest of the fans, or have the media created it themselves?

    I’m getting bored with it all. I’m also concerned about how it could be affecting someone who is, after all, just a normal human being. Do the media really not care?

    I can see why you wrote this, Keith. If it was about any other driver it would be OK. But I think anyone who writes about Hamilton these days is in danger of looking like a parasite, feeding off a man who’s looking increasingly vulnerable under the pressure. If someone wants to write an interesting article about him, how about investigating how the media are constantly stirring up controversy about him? Or better still, how about giving it a rest and not writing about him at all?

    1. I’m not going to ignore one driver just because some people don’t like the way he is covered in other sections of the media.

      1. Ok. But it’s not a case of ignoring one driver, is it? You’re deliberately picking out one driver.

        Or are you planning on doing this analysis for the other drivers too? Because if not, it just looks like you’re simply trying to get as many hits as possible for the least effort, by picking out the media’s cash-cow.

        A similar analysis of every driver would also provide us with a much better way of judging whether the drivers are treated equally, as well as fairly.

        It would have been nice if you’d waited until you’d done them all before publishing, rather than deliberately stirring up more controversy about the one driver who’s currently judged (by the media, admittedly) to be showing signs of stress.

        1. You’re deliberately picking out one driver

          does the fact he’s the most discussed driver tell you something?

          Analysis or not, what LH does on track and off the track is discussed everywhere, and it’s the people that brings the subject.

          Would you rather talk about Sutil? this is the best thing to do to discuss stuff… first put all the evidence together, and analyse it, then wait for the comments.

          For every single F1 fan, controversy and discussion is very valuable!

        2. FC, I would say that Keiths article is a great reaction to the fact that we have been discussing the rights and wrongs of incidents Hamilton was in, and the fact he keeps having them endlessly in the past years and this year even more so.

          By doing a great analyses, Keith now proved that, yes its a great lot of incidents he was in, but no there is no favourism or anti-hamilton in the total of those Stewards rulings involving Hamilton.
          Thereby putting facts back into that discussion and enabling us to move on.

          Thanks @keithcollantine for a great deal of work and the wonderfull analyses that makes this the top grade site it is.

        3. I wouldn’t rule out extending the analysis further as it’s clearly proved an interesting starting point for a generally constructive discussion – with the exception of the odd person quibbling with its wholly legitimate premise.

          1. Keith, how about starting with an analysis of total number of investigations/penalties per season. I suspect, as one or two on here have mentioned, that the stewards are getting much more involved lately and probably influencing more race outcomes as a result.

    2. If a respectable member of the new media doesn’t tackle the issue then all that will be left are the opinions of the hits-hungry sensationalisers.

      1. Well said @Ichthyes, I think this article by @keithcollantine is a nice way to put things in perspective. Yes, there were some inconsistent decisions, but not so much just against Hamilton, it’s more a general issue that it is hard to get every decision to be consistent, and then there were some politics involved in the middle too.

        I think we had discussions about Schumacher too – he had plenty of penalties, and his teams has had quite a few odd decisions for and against them – were FIA for or against him?

        In 1994/5, partly against him, bc. he and team were clearly skirting close to the limits of the rules; with Ferrari, they used their clout to argue against trouble, but they also just did a better job than the competition, and tried a lot of flex bits – some they got away with for a time.

        And that WDC points change was clearly to combat them and him – we wouldn’t want a similar change now to stop Vettel/RBR, I hope.

    3. I hope the irony of using Lady Diana (note she was no longer “Princess” after her and Charles divorced) in a comparison with motor car racing is not lost on you ;-)

  15. The as you rightly say rarely used ‘reprimand’ has been used quite often with lewis. So in some cases he has got off quite lightly. He has done this yellow flag thing too many times, especially in todays age of the flashing lights as well as flags.

    Though in over cases he has been harshly delt with.

  16. I largely agree with this. If you asked me who was at fault in these incidents, I’d go with the stewards 95% of the time. The problem is the fault = penalty mentality F1 seems to have and an inconsistent application of it and the scale of punishment.

  17. Yeah, very brave article. Congrats, Keith.

    From my view, I wouldn’t’ say that the stewards had a personal rant against Lewis, or that he has been treated unfairly. But they are more lenient with others drivers. It is clear.

    In the process, the stewards are leaving a track of inconsistences. Ok, the sport is very complex, but what a see is only incompetence from them.


    1. I don’t understand your point with the video.

      But they are more lenient with others drivers. It is clear.

      I would like to see an explanation, perhaps with examples? of how this is true.

  18. Stewards are way too harsh with all drivers now. I find ten-place grid penalties for having a crash in a previous race a ridiculous idea. Any slight touch or contact resulting in minor damage is jumped on by the stewards with drive through penalties. Handing out penalties willy-nilly takes away from the racing. Sooner or later drivers will be so frightened to stick their noses up the inside that we’ll revert to DRS and pit stop overtakingonly.

    1. Then again, with 5 place drops for a broken gearbox at the wrong moment, and a 10 place drop for a new engine (poor Maldonado – a bad car, poor reliablility and pace, and now he is almost guaranteed to start Abu Dhabi at the back of the grid unless someone else gets some good penalties during the weekend!), it makes sense that they also escalate other penalties that are to send a message about safety on track, which is much more vital.

      So maybe they should just ease those penalties now, since only unlucky teams that are in the dumps seem to need them. Well, and Hamilton :-p

      1. Gearbox and engine penalties are absolutely stupid and should be scrapped immediately. They serve no purpose in racing.

        1. I happen to agree, especially when they already have the RDD (or what’s it called) to help cap costs.

  19. Theres no point just pointing out Hamiltons innodents and asking wether they seem fair or not, you have to look at it in relation to what they give other drivers for similiar offenses.

    Aus 2010 for example, Hamilton and Alonso battling for position about 3 car lengths infront of Webber, Webber has a brain-fart moment and dosnt seem to realise that 2 cars side by side infront of him will be going a bit slower than normal, and as a result runs into the back of Hamilton, spinning him out. A complely avoidable accident, and as far as i remember, nothing happend to Webber.

    1. you have to look at it in relation to what they give other drivers for similar offences.

      Which I have done for some relevant examples.

      1. Maybe we could compare with a similar full list for another driver, perhaps Button or someone.

        It’s all relative.

        This list clearly shows that by the regulations, Hamilton has deserved most if not all these penalties – which is good. But have other drivers got off a little more lightly for similar infringements? I guess that is the question that needs more analysis perhaps.

  20. RE Canada 2011

    No action taken – team mistakenly believed Hamilton had suspension damage

    I thought his suspension was damaged. It looked very much broken to me. That’s a major fail from McLaren if he only had a puncture…

    1. @damonsmedley

      That’s a major fail from McLaren if he only had a puncture…

      According to the stewards that was the case:

      Having heard from the driver and the team representative, the stewards have concluded that the driver was convinced he only had a flat tyre. This was subsequently confirmed by the team representative to be correct.

      The driver therefore believed he could safely return to the pits and proceeded to attempt to do so.

      However at the time, his team believed the car had sustained suspension damage and radioed him to stop immediately.

      See: McLaren: Button makes amends for collision with stunning win

      1. @keithcollantine

        I vaguely remember reading that now, thanks.

        That’s a massive shame, but you can understand why the team would have told him to stop after what happened with Vettel in Melbourne 2009.

        Ifs and buts, but given the pace of McLaren that day and the amount of trouble Jenson ran into after that incident, it’s not out of the question that Lewis could have beaten him.

      2. One of the many not so smart decisions by McLaren that was the computer telling them something and they not engaging a brain to check it but rather deciding to fully trust it and act accordingly. I hope Sam Michael will pick up on that and at least use his brain there, sorting them out for next year, which would go a long way to keeping them more competitive with Red Bull.

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