The FIA Stewards have penalised Pastor Maldonado for the incident in qualifying with Lewis Hamilton.
The Venezuelan will drop five grid positions from 16th to 21st on the grid after the stewards decided that he was the one most at fault.
Hamilton gets off with a reprimand, but it’s important to recognise that in the stewards’ eyes he too is guilty of “a breach of the regulations” by causing an incident under article 16.1 – in this case the relevant definition from the menu of definitions in that Article must be “caused a collision”.
Close inspection of the replays show that as Maldonado drives past him after their contact in the final corner of their Q2 laps, Hamilton moved to the right on two occasions, but on the second occasion Maldonado drove into him. It is for this deliberate action that Maldonado has been punished.
One rival team boss said that Hamilton was equally at fault in the incident and his body language afterwards indicated that he felt he might be in for a penalty. He even talked about the possible scenario that he could be starting the race near his team mate, Jenson Button, who is 13th on the grid.
One of the stewards this weekend is Nigel Mansell, 1992 world champion with Williams. I spoke to him on Thursday and he said that he enjoys the work and that he feels that in calls over an incident – such as this one – the other stewards really listen to his point of view. The influence of ex drivers, especially champions, in the stewarding process has generally made the decisions less controversial over the past two years and has certainly given it more credibility than with certain decisions in the past.
Maldonado’s take on it was, “He slowed down a lot at the end of the session, so I tried to go past him. I then felt contact at the back of my car. I don’t really know what happened. It was a difficult moment.”
Hamilton said, “It wasn’t a racing incident. Through the last corner I had to get past and we perhaps touched. I don’t know if he was upset about that and perhaps wanted to make a point of it. I don’t know, I haven’t spoken to him.
“It’s clear from the footage, we are going down a straight which curves to the right and I can’t go any more to the left and somehow his car ends up hitting me. I didn’t drive into anyone.
“I went a little bit right and I saw he’d moved out so I went back and then he was in a blind spot. I though he was coming past and then he ended up coming into me.
“They (the stewards) played back the footage and my in-car footage. But they don’t seem to have his in car footage for some reason. They can only record nine cars and the camera was on Barrichello’s car.”