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Making sense of McLaren's behaviour
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Making sense of McLaren's behaviour
Posted By:   |  02 Apr 2009   |  2:59 pm GMT  |  0 comments

I posted last night that Lewis Hamilton and his McLaren team faced a tough day in front of the stewards and it has proved to be worse than we ever imagined.

When I left the track this evening, in the dark, sitting outside the McLaren team office was a thoroughly dejected looking team principal, Martin Whitmarsh with his communications staff, picking through the wreckage of their day.

Whitmarsh faced the media this afternoon and said that the team did not lie to the FIA stewards The stewards have released material this evening that appears to prove that they did lie. It appears hugely damaging for the team, once again and you have to ask how they got themselves in such a pickle over something so simple.

The FIA has published the radio traffic from Melbourne, which proves that Lewis Hamilton was instructed by the team to let Jarno Trulli through, something which contradicts his and the team’s version of events at the original stewards hearing on Sunday night.

An accompanying FIA statement says, “During the hearing, held approximately one hour after the end of the race, the Stewards and the Race Director questioned Lewis Hamilton and his Team Manager David Ryan specifically about whether there had been an instruction given to Hamilton to allow Trulli to overtake,” the FIA said in a statement.

“Both the driver and the team manager stated that no such instruction had been given.

“The race director specifically asked Hamilton whether he had consciously allowed Trulli to overtake. Hamilton insisted that he had not done so.”

There are some very simple but fundamental questions here. Both Hamilton and the team know that the radio is monitored by the FIA and by the TV production people. The following exchange could easily have been broadcast, had it not occured so late in the race:

“Lewis: The Toyota went off in a line at the second corner, …, is this OK?

McLaren: Understood, Lewis. We’ll confirm and get back to you.

LH: He was off the track. He went wide.

McLaren: Lewis, you need to allow the Toyota through. Allow the Toyota through now.

LH: OK.

LH: He’s slowed right down in front of me.

McLaren: OK, Lewis. Stay ahead for the time being. Stay ahead. We will get back to you. We are talking to Charlie.

LH: I let him past already.”

So the team told him first to let Trulli through, then told him not to, a classic piece of indecision, by which time it was already too late, he had let him through. When I spoke to Jarno this afternoon he said that Hamilton slowed right down, to 80km/h which is virtually stationary in an F1 car and this must have been when this radio dialogue was going on. Clearly Hamilton was very distracted by it and then left confused by the team when they told him to stay ahead, after he’d already let Trulli through.

Knowing that this radio traffic was in the public domain and that Lewis had given an interview to a journalist in which he’d said the team told him to let Trulli through, it beggars belief that he and the team would then say anything different to the stewards. What were they trying to achieve by saying that the team had not told him to let Trulli through?

At its root, what happened on track is not serious. A misunderstanding over what position to take when a car has gone off the road behind a safety car is not a particularly big deal.

Hamilton would have been justified in holding position ahead of Trulli, while the team kept trying to get an answer out of Charlie Whiting, the race director. Charlie was busy monitoring the state of the track and so on, so did not have time to review tapes of the incident and give them an opinion with only a couple of laps to go in the race.

Afterwards the team could have demonstrated that Trulli went off and that they did their level best to do the right thing and check with race control. At worst Hamilton would have been put back to fourth.

Instead they have managed to create Watergate out of the smallest of issues and, just as in Watergate, it’s the cover up that gets you in trouble.

There is all sorts of nonsense being written about the FIA World Council excluding Hamilton from the championship or banning him for a few races. This will never happen, Hamilton is F1′s biggest box office draw and even if his reputation has taken a bit of a knock, the promoters, punters and TV companies want him at the races.

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  1. gazzap says:

    yeah pretty dumb to lie. Mclaren changed their mind on the radio. their second message to keep Trulli behind was too late.

    I dont know why FIA feel the need to ask Mclaren verbally what was said. they had access to the radio transmissions. they should have reviewed the facts without needing to speak to anyone and then made the right decision ie keep Trulli in 3rd and Hamilton 4th.

    I feel sure Hamilton was told what to say by Mclaren. they must have honestly thought trulli did wrong by overtaking and wanted 3rd spot.

    they should have left any investigations to the FIA instead of trying to get 3rd spot like that.

  2. Tommy Karamin says:

    I wonder if that would happen with Ron still on the pit wall….what a mess!

  3. Peter says:

    Hopefully we can focus on the practice and the quali from now on..

  4. russ mckennett says:

    Whoah,Im done.
    Since monza 1988 ive seen every race televised.
    I think the fia could mess up a wet dream.I will not be a party to this farce anymore.Racing deserves better than those scum.Why watch on tv when everything is changed around later??????? PERIOD
    Shame on f1

  5. Luke Robbins says:

    What a manic start to the season! This is box office! You just couldn’t write this script! Wonder what the next revelation is set to be?

    Im not sure whether it’s good or bad for F1, either way, it’s certainly interesting.

  6. Jack says:

    Vettel’s punishment just as harsh and it hasn’t been talked that much.

  7. Albo says:

    This is all rather pathetic. The FIA seem to want to punish McLaren all the time, at any given opportunity. There was nothing wrong with what happened on track, all that was needed was either Trulli in 3rd, or Hamilton in 3rd, or Trulli in 4th or Hamilton in 4th.

    Lewis statement of “no” when asked if McLaren asked him to let Trulli overtake is true.

    McLaren said: “Stay ahead for the time being. Stay ahead.”

    That is an absolute, that was the last thing they said, and no matter what was said before that, the conclusion in Hamilton’s mind is that in the end, they did not say let Trulli overtake. At that stage they were seeking clarification.

    CONCLUSION: THE WHOLE THING SUCKS.

  8. Rich says:

    Why watch on tv when everything is changed around later??????? PERIOD”

    Basically the original order was re-instated accept Macca/Lewis got penalised for lying to the stewards.

  9. marilyn says:

    James, as I see it the FIA can do what ever they want. So if they decide to boot Lewis out of F1, that’s what they will do. Big draw or not. Lewis should get out now, after all F1 isnt everything. Why not go over to the states, I’m sure he would be big over there and let F1 go back to hardly anyone watching again.

  10. Paul says:

    McLaren have really made a bad error worse by trying to cover it up. When will they learn that honesty wins out. If they’d not appealed over something which didn’t deserve appealing about and tried to con the stewards Lewis would have 5 points. The whole thing is mismanaged.

    I remember when BAR lied to the stewards, Jenson ended up sat in the commentary box.

    PS: James, Schumacher got a few bans in his time and he was by far the biggest lure in F1 at that time. In fact if he’d done that he would have a ban thinking about how nice to him they were!

  11. Ben G says:

    Oh dear, I fear Lewis’ reputation won’t fully recover from this. I hope he has some naive explanation.

    Great posts James, mille grazie. I’m not getting any work done this week.

  12. Andy says:

    Sadly, McLaren learned at Spa last year that checking things with Whitmarsh isn’t enough to get you off the hook. It seems stupid to lie, but the team must now have the psychology that whatever they do, they’re going to be punished. Once Hamilton had let Trulli through (again, panic by the team because of Spa?), they probably thought they’d get punished for deliberately letting him through. You can see that they would assume that they’re going to get an unduly heavy punishment (not only because they’re McLaren, but also because stewards seem to delight in handing out heavy punishments these days), so better to take a risk. It wasn’t a stupid risk, because arguably they didn’t tell Lewis to let him through. They said two things, and the last one was to hold station.

    The whole problem could be solved by having a referee-type system where things like this (and Spa) could just get sorted out on the spot.

  13. Bradley says:

    I don’t see any agenda being pursued against McLaren. The message is “don’t lie to the stewards” and there’s been nothing that contradicts the FIA’s assertions McLaren did that – indeed, the evidence backs it up. The fact that McLaren contradict themselves in their radio conversation doesn’t change that.

    If, in the school playground, you get hauled in front of the teachers, tell them a version of events they accept, then it transpires you didn’t give a truthful answer, you’d expect to get a detention. It’s the same here, isn’t it?

    The idea that there’s a problem changing results after the fact is one I agree with – but in that case, Trulli’s podium should have stood all along. It seems people are confusing the issue of changing the results after the fact, with changing the results after the fact with a detrimental effect on Lewis.

    I personally think the FIA’s tenacity in getting the decision right – including flying the stewards from Oz to Malaysia – is to be admired. But perhaps I’m in a minority there.

    The other thing that emerges from all this is just how confused the messages are from pitwall to car and vice versa. No wonder poor old Lewis was sounding a bit bamboozled by the whole thing last Sunday.

    I wonder if McLaren’s traditional fetish for secrecy has tripped them up here and they’ve been slow to adjust the new, more transparent F1. Could they have got away with this version of events in previous years without the same access to radio conversations?

    Finally: James, do you know why Lewis would be asked to use KERS behind the SC? (this was mentioned in the transcript) Is it for fuel-saving purposes or does it need to be discharged for another reason?

  14. Matthew says:

    Seems like McLaren were confused all the time. If they lied, they understood what they were saying was untruth at the time they spoke it..

    .. what I would rather believe, is that they didn’t think through thoroughly what the question was, or how to respond to it, and were just caught up in their own confusion.

    I think some more information about the stewards meeting will come out, and hopefully shine some light on it. But it does look like a classic McLaren cock up.

  15. john says:

    sadly i have to agree with russ, ive watched f1 since 1982, on and off, and constantly since abt 92 93, and i am fed up of being kicked in the teeth by those that govern f1, i can’t conceive of another sporting event being run in such a corrupt and whimsical manner, can you imagine Olympic medals routinely swapping shoulders? The World Cup trophy swapping hands long after the final whistle has blown? i know that every now and then there are controversies in sport but in F1 its become the norm literally!
    other motor sports seem to be able to manage and regulate their formulas without the constant arbitrary penalties punishments that do nothing but embarrass and anger fans .
    I’ve checked out the indycar 2009 schedule, and am now abt you find out what broadcasts are available here in japan,
    after 20 odd years i have had enough of Formula One, so i won’t be following this site any longer but i do wish James the best of luck in his career.

  16. MorrisOx says:

    There’s very little to be gained by the WMSC hauling McLaren up before the beak again in Paris.

    And what’s the point when a slick, big-buck team has, once again, managed to make itself look pedestrian and dim-witted. The humiliation is probably enough.

    Hamilton once again makes himself look like a silly little boy, Whitmarsh will be seething with rage and someone in the garage really ought to be shown the door.

    The penny needs to drop all over the pitlane that these kinds of low-rent shenanigans are just a wee bit last year.

  17. Varun says:

    “Hamilton is F1’s biggest box office draw” I am sorry to say this but sir F1 is much bigger than the UK.

    And to all those who keep saying decisions off track, so do you imply that everything or anything goes on track,and no punishment?

    There always isn’t time on track to make decisions, this happened in last few laps.

    As long as it had happened before the next race its fine.

  18. yos says:

    I recomend hammy to write off this year and stay at home, this is the only way to avenge this FIA people who scrutinize his every move like their wifes.

  19. nickynicknick says:

    I agree that they seem to have at least contradicted themselves, but I think the punishments meeted out for non-safety related mistakes are disproportionate.

    There was obviously confusion regarding the overtaking or not situation, but at no time was the safety of any driver compromised by Hamilton. In fact he went out of his way to try and get clarification.

    If McClaren were saying that they didnt give any indication to Toyota that they could retake the place, then why penalise them. Toyota should also be disqualified for not clarifying their move.

    Hamilton should have been put back in to 4th position, not stripped of all points.

    It looks like he is going to have to win it the hard way again.

  20. guy says:

    In fairness to lewis he may have thought he had misheard the initial instruction to let trulli past bearing in mind the second instruction was to stay in front – this may explain what he said post race to the stewards – but it doesn’t excuse the maclaren team manager for saying they didn’t give that instruction (although they were so confused they gave away a podium for nothing!!) nor what he told speed tv (that was the clincher for the stewards!).

    James – re your comment that Mclaren should have kept him out in front of trulli – I disagree. Mclaren had no access to the tv footage in respect of trulli’s ‘off’. Therefore, had this been deemed as a pass by lewis under the SC (clearly it wasn’t but maclaren didn’t know that at the time) he would have been given a stop go penatly but taken as 25 seconds added to his race time – ie p12 (same as trulli under his initial penalty). He wouldn’t have been demoted to 4th as you suggest (see trulli’s initial punishment).

    As such – they should have kept him in front, spoken to charlie, but if no decision during race cede the position, make it clear they were only doing it because of no response from Charlie and argue (not lie!) about it afterwards. Risking 3rd or bust was not worth it and they were right to do what they did in the race – only then to ironically get it all wrong and lose everything!! Their lie was a real sin and was told only to cover their own incompetence and to cheat trulli (and all this coming from a hamilton fan!!).

    Question – why on earth weren’t all these radio transmissions broadcast – surely this was just the type of thing they had in mind when they made macca open up the airways? Also, why didn’t the stewards do their job and hear all evidence before making their initial decision in Australia. Funny how the fia are allowed two attempts to get it right but not the teams…..

  21. Zw426p says:

    Regardless of the rights and wrongs of the decisions, it is the only major spectator sport in the world where the results are changed after the fact.

    When was the last time you saw the result of a football match changed after someone was found to have dived in the box? Never!

    I think if it cannot be dealt with in the the race (i.e. by the referee) the result should stand whatever the offence.

    There are other sanctions that can be applied after the race e.g. £fines, grid slot demotion, race bans etc. These penalties could fit the crime and would act as a deterrent.

    If this had been done , Jarno would be 3rd now and Lewis 4th – Lewis might have had a 10 slot demotion on the grid or even a race ban.

    If an incident occurs in the dying states of a race (last 3 laps), they could consider delaying the final result and ceremony/press conference while the ref works it out; but not retrospectively.

  22. MartinWR says:

    I am just a little puzzled why Hamilton should not receive exactly the same punishment, no more and no less, that any other driver would receive for lying in order to gain results, and WDC points. In the process he the McLaren crowd were also perfectly happy to keep their mouths shut while another driver, Jarno Trulli, was disgracefully punished and demoted for something he didn’t do. Perhaps the latter point is what disgusts the most about McLaren’s mendacious behaviour. To snatch third that way was bad enough, but to also to keep quiet while a rival lost out big time as a consequence – words fail me. They are a disgrace, pure and simple.
    I can only say that for once I salute the FIA for actually seeing justice done, even if it is a little late, as they didn’t have the full story at the time.
    When it comes to the question of the punishment under the International Sporting Code, which lying to officials contravenes, I am reminded of a certain well known tennis “star”. This character habitually gained advantage over his opponents by throwing tantrums on court, and he repeatedly got away with it because he was too “big” to be penalised.
    Will the same disreputable principle be applied in this case?
    I seem to remember some time back one Jenson Button having his championship hopes destroyed over a car design technicality into which he had no input whatsoever. This case is very different.

  23. falmouth says:

    Almost as extraordinary as Hamilton and McLaren’s stupidity and dishonesty is the number of completely misguided comments to the effect that they are victims of the stewards and the FIA.

    The case could not be more clear
    Q: Did you let Trulli by?
    A: No
    (truth: “Yes”, as is demonstrated by Lewis on the radio “I *let him past* already” and his similar comments to Speed TV)

    Q: Did the team instruct you to let Trulli by?
    A: No
    (truth: “Yes”; see radio: “Lewis, you need to allow the Toyota through. Allow the Toyota through now. LH: OK.)

    McLaren seem to have a culture of dishonesty. That’s unfortunate for Lewis, who understandably takes guidance from them, but when it comes down to brass tacks, Lewis too simply does not mind lying in order to gain an advantage – which is of course cheating. Fortunately he didn’t win Sports Personality of the Year, but it’s hardly conduct befitting an MBE.

  24. Andrew says:

    It is fairly obvious that asked the question, “did you tell lewis to let him through”, could be read in more than one way based on that radio call. Anyone claiming clarity either way, based on that, hasn’t thought it through.

    Given we don’t have a transcript here of the meeting itself it is hard to say what was claimed or not, but, if you had taken part in that radio conversation and thought the questioner had heard that, you could be forgiven for simply stating your interpretation of the conversation and not explaining in detail.

    If you are the questioner and had not heard it, and only got the interpretation, you could be forgiven for thinking you are being lied to.

    Mclaren are right to try and forget about it and move on. So should everyone else.

  25. Luciano says:

    Great summation of the situation James. What were McLaren thinking?

    Thankyou for the wonderful blog. Its one of the most interesting sources of F1 new on the web.

  26. Mick says:

    FIA should hire Nascar officials to run the races.
    Vettal was ripped off……!!!!!!!

  27. Jodum says:

    The basic lesson in all of this is: Don’t LIE to the FIA.

  28. JP says:

    Half the problem with F1 at the moment is that common sense has gone out of the window. Regulations regarding car design are picked over and over by designers looking for the next loophole, or different interpretation as they choose to call it. Now that is fine. But when pedantry is used for the racing regs, to the point where teams don’t know what to do in a race situation, then something is not right. The safety car rules exist to protect the safety of people, full stop. The rules now seem to have been become more important than the reason for the rules. For goodness sake what Hamilton and Trulli did was not dangerous. The only danger involved was the two of them being distracted by trying to decide what to do to resolve an imagined breaking of a rule. Common sense can and should work it out. There should not have to be a forensic examination of rules and regs after the event.
    Things went wrong in this case, it appears, when the team became involved. Hamiltons first reaction, Trulli is off on the grass therefore its fine to pass him, was correct and common sense says that. That should have been the end of the story.
    It’s is a great pity that McLaren’s and Hamilton’s post race reaction would appear to have been to be economical with the truth to gain an advantage, a reaction now built into everyone’s psyche.
    The fundamental issue and concern of everybody should have been “Was it safe or not”

  29. Ben says:

    They’ve painted this issue as black and white – Macca + Lewis knew what was going on (and by that implying that the Stewards didn’t have a clue) and chose to intentionally mislead. But all I can see is shades of gray in the mass of confusion. Was Lewis’ pass ok? Should he give it back? Should Truli repass or stay put?

    What is completely white and black is that both Macca, Toyota, Lewis and Truli were confused about the rules. That is the crux of this issue.

    One can’t say it any better than James did a few days ago:

    “They will behave themselves and fall into line as long as three key elements are clear to them

    1. Who’s in charge?
    2. What are the rules?
    3. Will those rules be fairly applied?”

  30. Rich says:

    Personally I think the Macca strategists saw a situation where Trulli lost it and went onto the grass and Hamilton gained a position. They instructed Lewis to give the position back to Trulli knowing full well this would cause a 25 second penalty to Trulli and being under the safety car he would end up at the back of the field. This was successfully done they then instructed Hamilton to hold position even though Trulli also slowed in attempting to give the position back to Lewis. Macca then instructed Lewis to hold position till the end of the race. Now here is true Macc genius Trulli initially finishes third, Martin in interviews rants at Trulli for overtaking under the safety car and this initiates an FIA enquiry. As there is no video footage the stewards meet with each driver and Lewis is instructed by Macca to deny any knowledge of slowing down to let Trulli through (bit unfortunate he had given an interview staing the contrary). Bingo Trulli and Toyota lose all points because of the 25 sec penalty given in lieu of a drive-through. Better still is that Toyota cannot contest this since this penalty is not allowed to be contested. Realistically Macca have gained hugely (6 points to 5 points) on one of their competitors since it has been obvious that Toyota this year are really competitive. If the results had remained as they finished over the line it would have been 10 points for Toyota and 5 points for Macca so a good deal of damage limitation was achieved in the full knowledge that Toyota could do nothing to fight back – actually stupendously brilliant. Finally we know Brawn GP is unlikely to have the resources to continue development whereas Toyota have so they are much more of a Macca competitor for the full length of the season. So Macca’s neat Machiavellian plan almost worked. Of course FIA official are not the brightest so they just got statements from Trulli and Hamilton and gave Hamilton the benefit of the doubt without securing all of the evidence. In all honesty FIA could expect some level of honesty from the reigning World Champion. Well FIA can now never give Macca the benefit of the doubted as they so nearly got duped with this brilliant scam. In all probability Lewis was under instruction from Macca.

  31. malcom says:

    Lewis had better learn, there are tolerences for white drivers and being the only black driver, special tolerences for him.

  32. glen d says:

    McLaren = Muppets!

    I wonder if Ron had anythig to do with the McLaren reaction?

    I’m saying no more!

  33. Alistair says:

    Why is there no TV footage of the incidents? Fortunately someone in the crowd filmed Hamilton overtaking Trulli so we know what happened there but what about Trulli going past Hamilton?

    What exactly were all TV cameras doing at this moment?
    Anyway I thought all the cars had on board cameras where is that footage?

    If it exists why has the footage not been shown to the public or the stewards? If it doesn’t exist why not?

    If Hamilton actually lied, the FIA really need to be much clearer to what was actually said by and to the stewards, or people start speculating without a full understanding of what actually happened!

  34. eezeebee says:

    I for one will henceforth stop watching Formula 1 races.

    After over 20 plus years, there is no longer any point in watching races that are decided off-track.

    I might as well wait for bloggers, amateur video, journalists interviews etc. to ‘help’ in determining the result.

    What happens on track doesn’t matter.

  35. Chris says:

    Mclaren and Hamilton only have themselves to blame really. It is annoying that this matter couldn’t have been dealt with on the evening of the race, but at least the truth is now out in the open.

    If Mclaren had just told the truth, they would have looked a bit silly for not fully understanding the safety car rules, but instead they look plain stupid. Had they said what happened, they would have lost nothing, and would have kept 5 points, which could be very handy come the end of the season. Instead, they have lost these 5 points and ended up with egg all over their faces, and will have to go some way to overcome the damage this will have done to their reputation.

  36. koord says:

    You guys still can’t get over it that Hamilton LIED, in other words CHEATED and got punished. You can’t justify that with any reason.

    “There is all sorts of nonsense being written about the FIA World Council excluding Hamilton from the championship or banning him for a few races. This will never happen, Hamilton is F1’s biggest box office draw and even if his reputation has taken a bit of a knock, the promoters, punters and TV companies want him at the races.”

    Again, this comment and many others here just highlight the thinking that one driver or one nation would be above others. With Schumacher it was the same thing. Bernie thought that Schumacher was the only reason people watched F1 and when he’d be gone, F1 would go downhill. Well, did it go? No. Was it because of Hamilton? Oh please.

    It would really do you good to think about things globally for once. 2005 was one of the best seasons for years for instance and there was no British driver and no Schumacher fighting for the title! All the top drivers have millions of fans all around the world. One driver is never too important for the fans.

    Of course you’re right that Hamilton won’t be excluded from the championship or banned or anything, Bernie will make sure of that. His interests always go before the fans’. Then again, with the new rules and McLaren’s disastrous car, nobody will even notice Hamilton this season. So much for the biggest box office draw, eh?

  37. jon clucas says:

    Its all b*llox really isn’t it, and all the whinging in the world on this forum and others ,and even people claiming they’ll never watch another F1 race as long as they live, is not going to amount to anything

    The FIA are intent on causing as much disruption between the FOTA teams as possible, as well as helping Ferrari keep in the title fight

    Hamilton is gonna be up against it all year, as always – shame on Mclaren for misleading the stewards, but for one thing – all publicity is good publicity

    Just think, once the diffusers are banned, Alonso will have won this race

    He wouldn’t have expected that gift!

  38. JamboUK says:

    With reference to the broadcast of the radio communication.

    In the interview carried by the BBC directly after the race Lewis actually said something along the lines of “Oh so I guess you guys heard the radio conversation.” When he was questioned on the Trulli incident.

    The pitlane reporter nodded as if to say she had. So Lewis must have taken from that it was broadcast at some point.

    So…..why the subsequent denial?

  39. David Keen says:

    It’s easy to pass judgement with the benefit of hindsight but what is clear from the radio transmissions is just how confusing the whole situation was for the teams and the drivers at the time.

    Why on earth didn’t the stewards listen to the radio transmissions before making their first decision?

  40. Pete Jackson says:

    How does ‘misleading the stewards’ (deliberate or otherwise (the stewards have mislead everyone else plenty of times)) lead to retrospectively disqualifying a driver? Give them a big fine, or a grid penalty for the next race, but don’t ruin the on track results. The results that millions around the world saw unfold with their own eyes!
    It’s like sending a player off after a match, or denying a goal was scored after the final whistle. But no matter, what do finishing positions matter when the FIA stewards are around?

  41. Markle says:

    How on earth am i going to explain all this to my friends who only have a passing interest in F1?

  42. Tyler Palmer says:

    I enjoy Mclaren being spotlighted for the stuffy, robotic, pretensious organization it is. There are some good hard working people there…and no disrespect to them…..but Ron Dennis’ Mclaren is everything that is wrong with F1 IMO.

  43. napalmblower says:

    Markle , why dont u just say …Don’t lie and you won’t have to remember any good

  44. Dave says:

    Lets just stand back a minute.. as the Stewards should have done.

    As many people have commented, with two laps to go, poor radio communications (just listen to Toyotas!), lots happening, confusing rules, interpretations between drivers and pits.. etc…

    How should the stewards really look at this… there has been discussion on the diffuser issue and the ‘spirit’ of the regulations…

    In reality, Truli made a mistake, hamilton passed… that should have been the end of it… but as McLaren tried and tried to contact Charlie W but got nowhere… the Stewards ( no mater how busy they were ) would have to accept they failed to help in a situation where a team ( if not 2) were trying to get the situation properly and officially resolved .. but they did not help ( ooh reminds me again of the diffuser issue) and so a mess ensued.

    If it was me ( and I really am trying to be unbiased) I would have said to them.
    ‘Truli – you made a mistake – take 4th’
    ‘ Hamilton – you get third’

    Both of you – I recognise listening to the team radios there was a lot of confusion over what was happening and what to do – as we were busy we could not help here. We will draw a line under the issue here.

    Now I think both sides would have accepted this, as both would have seen their part in it. Toyota, would not have had the indignity of being portrayed as ‘ overatking under yellow’ and being penailsed 25 secs that they could not apeal.

    In escence – the Stewards made a mess of the whole situation.

  45. Brian says:

    I am reserving judgement on this as it is impossible to make a qualified assertion on the outcome without the full transcripts of the first inquiry with the stewards in aus.

    Now unless the FIA is going to post those transcripts for all to see (I assume they must surely be either minuted or recorded), All we have as usual is the FIA`s word against the Team/Driver, and the only bit of real info we can glean is from the officially published statements.

    Now if the FIA (As it Claims) wants to be transparent with regards to stewarding decisions and the processes followed and how the penalties are arrived at they should PLEASE publish all the documentation for us real fans to read. This way, No one could cry Foul.

    The sooner All this becomes totally transparent the better as far as i am concerned, As it is at present its all subjective opinions on sound-bites from various sources that serve no purpose other than to ridicule our beloved sport.

  46. Motorsportfan says:

    So the witch hunt continues.

  47. Gary Davidson says:

    Great assessment of the situation there James, it’s actually the first time it makes 100% sense to me.

    What is the rule if a driver goes off under the safety car? Is there one? I’d assume there’s not as you’d think F1 drivers are competent enough to keep it on the road driving at that speed.

  48. moxlox says:

    Sounds like a diving footballer to me…cheating. BUT it also sounds like Hamilton was instructed by the team what to say in the stewards meeting. So the team have made his reputation look very bad. Should Hamilton have ignored his team instruction in the meeting? Easy to say yes, but hard for Hamilton to ignore the people who are there to help.

    DSQ was the right thing to do. But Mclaren have heaped more pressure onthemselves and trapped their driver in a corner.

  49. malcom says:

    Why would it be necessary to speak to your pits and ask permisson to pass the car in front of you who went wide on the grass and off the track?

  50. Hurricane says:

    Could Hamilton have gone against his team?

  51. MartinWR says:

    Noticed there is a horror film on Sky tonight. Not kidding but it’s called “The Hamiltons”………

  52. LT says:

    If the FIA and their band of morons made the rules on overtaking clear (or just accept that in racing overtaking is risky), the there would not be such confusion on what to do in the first place. Especially McLaren who have been on the receiving end of various FIA incompetencies. Given that Alan Donnelly is a self admitted Ferrari man, it doesn’t surprise me that McLaren were called in again. If it were any other team the result would’ve stood.

  53. Darkstomper says:

    Mmm so who in the media is still interested in the diffuser row now?? how things change!

  54. DanSloan says:

    I love the ‘keeping Ferrari in the hunt’ when decision does not help Ferrari at all. If anything it gives Hamilton the chance to use a fresh engine (perhaps James can correct me on this one).

    McLaren lied. Ferrari had nothing to do with this. On Autosport’s forums, people are complaining about Schumacher lying in Monaco 2006 and demanding transcripts of the Melbourne hearing to see if the stewards actually asked Lewis about whether he let JT through.

    It’s completely different though. Schumacher never told any journalists that he did it on purpose before Ferrari had a chance to greywash it, and he never changed his story. He was punished because the stewards didn’t believe him, it did not mean he lied. Which is a more serious infraction – doing something, maintaining your story, being told that it doesn’t add up and punished, or doing something, lying about it, changing your story and then being found out.

    There’s so much more to F1 than just driving fast. You have to be able to drive behind a safety car. Hamilton was involved in an incident in Fuji and another one now. He’s been in F1 for two and a bit season and has been involved in more SC incidents than some drivers have in their whole career. Nonetheless, this whole instance could have been much simpler if McLaren had told the truth. No conspiracy, no bias. They were the masters of their own demise. Sound familiar?

  55. Jonathan says:

    How sad that Lewis should feel the need to lie outrightly just for a few extra points.
    I have spent the last year defending his
    attitude and swagger, and putting it down to confidence, not arrogance.

    Much respect lost in this corner. I am sure many people will feel the same

    Shame on you Lewis, MBE my arse.

  56. Huw says:

    Once again the major cause of all the confusion started with the safety car, similar to last year the safety car rules have been the cause of huge debate and unfair decisions being metered out, surely they can do more to ensure that the deployment of a safety car does not have catastrophic consequences when it’s deployed.

  57. codology says:

    The only mistake Lewis made was letting Trulli back in front of him after Mr Trulli had screwed up and run wide.

    If anyone is at fault here, it’s the stewards.

    Can stewards be fined for bringing the sport into disrepute?

    The only thing that is unsure here is whether this 2 year witch-hunt is for Hamilton or McLaren.

    For the record, I’m a 20+ year Ferrari fan, but fair’s fair and this ain’t fair.

    I’d love to hear Schumachers take on it.

    p.s….Loved the Schu books James…and I miss your call.

  58. josefarr says:

    this is my tupence worth

    this was one freak incident!! i doubt it would ever occur again, but how was it possible for tv live (or not) coverage to loose out on both incidents? hamilton passing trulli and vice versa?? had both been screened the mclaren box would not have had doubts (i hope!!)

    now suppose you are in the directors shoes and whilst not knowing what was happening during the safety car period, you receive a message from your driver that he has passed the driver infront of him!! your first reaction would be give him back the position. when you are told that the driver went off track you will tell your driver to hold to his position, but he has already passed!!

    imho it was all a matter of timing and communiction should have been better from both sides!!

    and how easy it would have been for mclaren to tell the whole story and not just part of the truth, ….for just 1 point.

  59. Mike Ellison says:

    I agree with Rich. I think Hamilton got told what to say to the stewards and being the good boy he is, he did what he was told.

  60. F1 2009 says:

    i think if Lewis Hamilton proven guilty, he should be banned for one or two races. Fair play is very important in sports.

  61. Ben G says:

    Bet you watch the race on Sunday though, Russ.

  62. Matthew says:

    Yeah I bet you come back to F1 in no time at all.. It’s easy to react, not so easy to stay away when you’re bored on a sunday :)

  63. Jay says:

    Shame on the liar who got the result changed on Sunday. But you seem to have forgotten that part, haven’t you?

  64. Martin P says:

    Russ, I’m very concerned your mind has entertained the concept of an FIA wet dream. Given what we now know about the FIA President’s proclivities, it isn’t something I’d want to imagine. Take my advice folks – never visualise!!!

  65. F1 Scoop says:

    Are you crazy?
    They said “Lewis, you need to allow the Toyota through. Allow the Toyota through now.”

  66. Luciano says:

    The readers of this blog will naturally be mainly from the UK….

  67. falmouth says:

    Lewis Hamilton 10/3/09 after picking up his gong:

    “The Queen said she watched very closely the last few laps [sc. Brazilian GP 2008]. She was asking about the car,” he said.

    “The pressure’s on now. She’ll be watching as I go into the first race. [sc. Australian GP 2009]“

  68. Spike says:

    I for one, whole heartedly agree with you.

  69. Mightyv10 says:

    The problem here is that the student has been flunked out of a Math test because of something you did on the playground.

    Getting away from the analogy, it ok for the FIA to fine him or give him a grid penalty for the next race, but changing the result of a race where he would have finished 4th at worst to disqualifying him when during the race itself he followed every letter of the FIA rules. So how can you change the result of the race based on something he did afterwards.

    By all means fine him and team or even a grid penalty for the next race if you want to make a point. But why disqualify him from a race where did nothing wrong.

  70. Jason says:

    Finally: James, do you know why Lewis would be asked to use KERS behind the SC? (this was mentioned in the transcript) Is it for fuel-saving purposes or does it need to be discharged for another reason?

    I was wondering about this as well. The only thing I could think of was that each KERS discharge helped keep the tyre temperatures up.

  71. George says:

    Nice catch, it seems to especially correlate to McLaren’s actions:

    1. Obviously not Charlie Whiting, there really needs to be someone available to the teams at all times for rule clarification, and their decision needs to be taken into account should a hearing occur. In this case if Charlie had been available this whole mess may have been avoided.

    2. Obviously some confusion here too, or #1 wouldn’t have mattered. To be fair to McLaren, they probably weren’t sure if Trulli had gone off track, or by how far, but they should have just taken Hamilton’s word for fact. This is obviously a throwback to Spa last year which brings us to #3

    3. McLaren have reason to believe the stewards are biased against them after last year (whether they are or not doesn’t matter), and this lead to firstly the confusion on the radio, and secondly to them witholding evidence from the governing body. They were obviously so worried about a minor track incident that they thought they needed to withold evidence to protect their position, basically they were in a lose-lose situation.

    In the end what JP says above is important: “The fundamental issue and concern of everybody should have been “Was it safe or not”” The original penalty meted to Trulli was overly harsh considering the circumstances, and it’s possible that had McLaren told the truth to the stewards they would have been in the same situation as they are now – stripped of points.

  72. maico says:

    Yes, one understands the Queen was “bricking it” on the last lap.
    BTW. chaps, Hamilton IS the biggest draw in F1. He won last years ING Worldwide driver popularity poll by some margin.

  73. Stephen Kellett says:

    I wonder if McLaren’s traditional fetish for secrecy has tripped them up here and

    I think its more a fetish for “spin” than telling the truth. You don’t need a communications team to tell the truth. You do for spin.

  74. Pete Jackson says:

    Don’t bother. Tell them to forget about it, put it behind them, and watch the Malaysian GP this weekend…..

    ….then await the stewards race classifications to see who came where.

  75. pSynrg says:

    Why bother if they don’t take the responsibility to understand themselves!?

  76. pSynrg says:

    But the FINAL instructions was: “Stay ahead for the time being. Stay ahead.”

  77. F1 fan says:

    Then Lewis let Trulli past, the FIA asked if Lewis let him past, he said “no”.

  78. Peter Freeman says:

    I think until the exact conversation from the post race stewards inquiry is published verbatim, we don’t actually know if Hamilton lied or not.

    Certainly the FIA lie all the time and until this interview is published verbatim it would be safer to assume the FIA are lying again, rather than point the finger at Hamilton.

    What is really missing though is the direction of the stewards inquiry. Why were they looking to punish either driver? Trulli had gone off, Hamilton, in the absence of input from race control, had given the place back, neither team knew what to do as race control had not been available at the time.

    All the stewards were required to do was sort out who came 3rd and who came 4th.

    That Trulli was penalised was utter stupidity from the stewards and the FIA. That they could not come to the decision during the race was pathetic incompetence.

  79. rl says:

    If they had told the truth then Hamilton would have been placed back in fourth place and he would have gotten a good amount of points.

    Instead, they come out with zero and they look like fools.

    It was not a lose-lose situation.

  80. blech says:

    I was a bit surprised about Vettel’s penalty, too.

    It was a Boneheaded Move(TM), but if that was a 10 grid spots penalty David Coulthard (and not just him; it’s just that his manoeuvres are the most vivid in my memory =) should’ve gotten a lot of those.

    I thought the rule was that as long as the passed car’s nose wasn’t behind the sidepods it could more or less drive you off the road. (Which Vettel did, great idea boy, who cares about a spot on the podium anyway? Oh well, he’s young)

  81. George says:

    I guess he just wanted to make sure it was allowed (people dont go off that often behind the safety car), if he’d stayed in front and gotten a penalty for it then at least he would have covered his own ass.

  82. H ROBINSON says:

    We can take it as fact now then.! You’re not an Hammyfannie.

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