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. My views ( i know noone will agree) are,

    Ham-massa monaco, massa tuned in early and to fast (hit the back of webber) on purpose to hit ham and then kept turning into him.

    Ham-mald maonaco my opinyon was that ham went for the move, mald new he was there but still just turned in. Cars there dont turn in.

    Ham-massa singapore hams fault misjudged his front wing

    Ham-massa japan was really massa putting his car on the outside he should have known were lewis would be looking but i would not say a penalty would have been due for either driver.

    Ham-massa india massa left the door open on the inside and closed the door at the apex knowing ham was there, very dangerous, harsher penalty than a drive through for massa.

    Missed one
    Ham-kobiyashi spa i was astonished at everyones view it was hams fault especially how most on this site will say ham was not far enough alongside massa in india when kobiyashi was half a wheel beside ham!!!

    Ham-button canada jenson just didnt see him full stop.

    Ham-di resta hungary Was somthing of nothing, hams car would have forced di rester further off the track if he didnt move

    Ham-maldon belgium was just silly by both but maldonado was alot worse

      3rd November 2011, 20:21


    2. Ham-massa monaco, massa tuned in early and to fast (hit the back of webber) on purpose to hit ham and then kept turning into him.

      No, Massa turned in early doing the same thing Ham was doing- trying to pass the car ahead (Webber). Silly driving by both Massa and Ham at that hairpin, with Massa making a further mistake in the tunnel.

      1. Total ** Massa spent the last 5 laps before that cruising behind Weber, he had no intention other that Destroy Hamiltons Race

        1. The only ** here is the paranoia about everyone trying to destroy Ham’s race.

          1. Guess you didnt hear the team radio…

          2. I guess you didn’t realise that we’re taking about Monaco…

          3. Which makes it even more relevant, both Alonso and Ham was fighting for the championship back then and we already know that Massa will stop at nothing to ensure Alonso max points.

            Massa was in no way what so ever trying to get pass Webber or he would have done it several laps before instead of merrily cruising in his slipstream.

          4. So what if he was stuck behind Webber for a few laps? This is Monaco, a track where getting stuck behind the leading driver is very common. Like the other Ferrari stuck behind the other Red Bull.

            Look at how wide Webber was at that hairpin, and how tight Massa took the turn. Not every action on the road is about stopping Lewis Hamilton.

          5. Go watch it again, Massa was tailing Webber on the high/wide in that hairpin for at least 5 laps prior.

            When have Massa ever showed the aggressiveness it would require to pull such a move on Webber anyway?

          6. This has nothing to do with Massa’s past record with aggression or overtakes, it’s about the situation at the hairpin on that lap. Massa’s car was a bit up the inside of Webber with Hamilton’s a bit further up the inside of Massa.

            And if you want to make it about “aggressiveness”, then you should ask yourself whether LH is being overaggressive, leading to all these needless collisions.

      2. Why did massa not straight away turn out of the collision? he just kept turning into hamilton

        1. He kept turning to get through the Gand Hotel hairpin. He contact was pretty brief, and certainly not intentional on FM’s part.

  2. @Keith, i dont know if anyone mentioned this in above comments or not, but HAM-WEB incident in Australia 2010 is not in article…neither of them were given penalties but it surely affected Hamilton-Alonso battle

  3. The very nature of this question, show’s that Lewis isn’t being treated fairly? Who else would a receive such a question?

    1. @lewymp4

      The very nature of this question, show’s that Lewis isn’t being treated fairly


      1. When was the last time that you questioned the incidents, of any other driver’s history, of their last 5 years.

    2. @lewymp4

      Who else would a receive such a question?

      Who else? That is easy, ill give you 3 examples :
      1) Anyone who implies that they are being treated unfairly as a result of their race or colour.
      2) Anyone who frequently gets penalized.
      3) Anyone who makes lot of mistakes and subsequently results in racing incidences.

      I believe anyone who covers any of the above will get this question. ;)

      1. In the last 2 years Vitaly Petrov has crashed 6 times into instant retirement.

        In the last 5 years Lewis Hamilton has crashed 4 times into instant retirement.

        When do you think Vitaly’s record will be questioned?

        1. When do you think Vitaly’s record will be questioned?

          When Vitaly or his fans start complaining that he is being treated unfairly.

          Besides this is not a question about how many times someone has crashed out, it is a question about penalties and incidences.

          1. I realize that Vitaly was a rookie in 2010, and understand the incidents which he had could be expected, and they were….alot.

  4. To me, if you look at the bigger picture, the stewarts are fair. The reason why LH gets so many penalties is that he does so many stupid little things (like that donught in Hungary, or not lifting under yellows and such…).

    Back to SPA 2008. I didn’t follow that GP at the time, and i’ve just seen the pictures right now, so with a fresh pair of eyes.
    To me, Ham could have braked hrder and let Rai through the chicane. He didn’t, cut it and kind of gave the position back. But the way he did it, just letting Rai in front while maintaining the closest of gaps was wrong. I mean that he managed to be right in his gearbox for most of the startline straight, which wouldn’t have been the case if he had tried to stay on the track and lined up behind Rai at the chicane.

    I seriously think he should have let Rai through in such a way that he doesn’t gain an advantage for the upcoming corner.

    I understand the need to penalise him.

    1. So you are one of the dudes that think that a McLaren anno 2008 could literally run in circles around a Ferrari anno 2008.

      I didn’t think they existed but there you are :)

      And yeah Hamilton did go behind Kimi on one side and reappeared on the other of the poor find who was to busy defending instead of racing.

      1. He’s right, plus “defending” is part of racing.

      2. @gwenouille is right, plus “defending” is part of racing.

      3. What are you talking about ? Can you make your point clear ?

        1. HAM Went all the way around the backside of kimi’s car at that incident, reappearing on the other side then out braked him in the next corner = running in circles. If that isn’t giving the place back, then its just ridiculous.

          But then, it were :(

    2. gwenouille, I imagine that Lewis has been the only driver in the entire F1 field that has not lifted under yellow flags or has done donuts during a race.

      Regarding Spa 2008….you said, ” that maintaining the closest of gaps is wrong. ” What was Lewis supposed to do………count to ten before he got back on the gas.

      Mclaren felt that Lewis gave back any advantage that he had received by cutting the chicane. Mclaren’s trace data showed that Hamilton gave back the lead, because he was 6km/h slower than Raikkonen, and when they crossed the start/finish line Kimi was doing 212km/h and compared to 206km/h for Hamilton.

      According to Ron Dennis, race Director Charlie Whiting gave assurances twice…..twice to the Mclaren pitwall that Lewis had driven within the rules……twice……yet he was penalized.

  5. Hamilton’s(Mclarens) decision to stop his car on the track is investigated No action taken – team mistakenly believed Hamilton had suspension damage lol yeah right just another get jenson past lewis to me.

    1. lol, Jenson was ahead of Lew before the incident, and with a damaged car wouldn’t have got ahead in any case.

  6. ` 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`, I think it was the shape of things to come.

  7. KOV drives RAI wide an HAM gets the penalty, way to go poeindexter.

  8. Do ya know what, I’m not going to even comment on this article, because whatever you say, someone is going to defend or attack Hamilton too enthusiastically!

    1. Isnt that known as Schrodingers Car ;-)

  9. Hey Keith, how many penalties have the other top 5 drivers accrued over the same period? No, I’m not having a go at you about balance (this is a blog afterall, not the BBC), just curious.

  10. Things started to fall apart for Lewis since his incident in Canada 2008.

    1. Not exactly, he had a nice race in Germany, he won. And Korea, I guess the problem is when he falls so far behind. Hamilton behaivoir right know remindsme of Vettel of the mittle fo last year… He is desperate and frustrated…

  11. And remember in India 2011 the flag was yellow and the light was green. A bit confusing I’d say, that is, if the yellow flag(s) was(were) actually seen. This represents a failure by the FIA but Lewis paid the price twice(penalty and as a consequence a tangle with Massa).

  12. sid_prasher (@)
    4th November 2011, 4:33

    Excellent article, it is pretty clear that the number of penalties being handed out in general have increased over the past couple of years and hence Lewis also has got more. As for correct or wrong it generally balances itself out for everyone.

  13. If the decisions at Monaco, where Lewis made his feelings clear, had been the other way.

    How do you think it would have affected this season?

  14. Very fair from the FIA but alot of reprimands are there when it should have been a small penalty.

  15. kenneth Ntulume
    4th November 2011, 8:29

    I must congratulate you on this article.
    Having read through thoroughly, I, find Carl Lewis Hamilton, a man more sinned against than sinning, over his so far short period in F1, he has been penalized more often than other drivers not penalized for similar incidents.
    On the basis of that fact.
    I have no choice but to conclude that Hamilton has in-fact NOT BEEN TREATED FAIRY!

    1. kenneth Ntulume
      4th November 2011, 8:31

      Sorry meant NOT TREATED FAIRLY

    2. has been penalized more often than other drivers not penalized for similar incidents.

      I don’t think the article comes anywhere close to supporting that view, as I said in the conclusion.

      Also his first name isn’t Carl.

      1. Carl Lewis Hamilton would have been good back in the day where drivers had to run back to their spare car

      2. Full name – Lewis Carl Davidson Hamilton

  16. Good article, Keith.

  17. Great article, is there any plans for similar ones for other drivers?

    1. I think similars, as like this much detail will be complicated. But it will be great to see a comparative table….

      1. @badger @celeste I think the very nature of the article doesn’t lend itself well to comparisons with other drivers. Lack of consistency is about the only consistency.

  18. One other incident that you missed, but maybe wasn’t investigated, was Monza 2008.

    That day, Hamilton was quite dangerous, sending Glock onto the grass at Curva Grande and moving into Webber in the braking area into the first chicane.

    He claimed that his mirrors were fogged, but that seems like a very poor excuse to me, as it was the same for everyone, and no-one else was pulling off dirty moves like that.

    Overall, I don’t think Hamilton has been unfairly penalised in his career. In fact, you could say he’s been quite lucky in many respects, such as Malaysia and Europe in 2010, and Belgium and Japan this year.

    1. Yes I remember some articles about some drivers being really mad at Hamilton…but since no penalty or steward investigation was made I guess it doesn´t count for this statics…

      Here, is from a blog, here is aother one , and another one and another one

    2. Lewis’s mirrors may or may not have been fogged at Monza during the 2008 race, but their was surely one hell of a spray being thrown up, which probably made it impossible to see Glock behind him.
      Schumacher surely couldn’t make that claim in the bright sunshine at Hungary in 2010, pushing Barrichello to the pitwall.

  19. jn my view the main problem is lack of clear rules for the stewards to work to

    to much opinion rather than applying regulations

    but I used to watch F1 back in the days when the drivers were allowed to race

  20. It would be interesting to see other drivers statistics with regards to on-track infringements, collisions and resulting penalties over a season.
    Taking a couple of drivers as an example would put this whole question into context with Lewis’s data, and highlight the stewards questionable consistency.
    As Rubens Barrichello stated recently there is just as much incidents that occur toward the back of the field that doesn’t even get noticed or appear not to get noticed.
    My question is what are all the stewards doing throughout the races, surely they should be covering the whole track and not just focussing on what happens up front.

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