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Damon Hill reveals he’s had hate mail over Schumacher decision
Damon Hill reveals he’s had hate mail over Schumacher decision
Posted By: James Allen  |  18 May 2010   |  1:14 pm GMT  |  180 comments

Damon Hill has spoken to the Times today, questioning the validity of former drivers acting as a fourth steward and sitting in judgement on fellow professionals.

He also revealed that he has received hate mail from Schumacher fans for his part in the decision to punish the German for his overtaking move on Fernando Alonso on the final lap. Hill insists that he acted impartially.

This issue has aroused huge interest. My Sunday night post on the subject here has attracted 532 comments in 36 hours and a majority of fans seem to agree with Schumacher and his Mercedes team that the track was green and therefore the pass was valid.

I have to say that my impression at the time was that the debris from the crash between Trulli and Chandhok was not fully cleared and that if it had not been the last lap of the race, the safety car would have stayed out.

After plenty of criticism of the way stewarding was handled under the Max Mosley regime at the FIA, one of new president Jean Todt’s first acts was to add in a driver to advise the panel on 50-50 calls.

Already this season we have seen them put to the test, with some controversial moves in China involving Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel and the question of Hamilton “weaving” in Malaysia. So far they have been quite lenient.

But Sunday’s decision was all about interpretation not only of the rule regarding the safety car, but also the end of a race. In other words, rules which need to be taken in conjunction with each other.

“I imagined I would be there as a consultant providing driver insight to the stewards, who would then make the decisions, ” said Hill. “My expertise is as a driver rather than a lawmaker or interpreter of regulations.

“It was a fascinating experience but I wonder whether it is right that drivers are put in the position of interpreting the regulations,”

This is a fair point. Stewards have tended to be lawyers or people with some legal background, because rule interpretation is very much what it is about. And once an appeal is made, that is absolutely a legal process, so the basis for the decision needs to be right. F1 is a complex sport.

These people are often derided for having no knowledge of what it is like to race an F1 car. So the temptation is to ask an ex driver for his opinion. F1 drivers understand what is going on, but they don’t have the legal understanding to judge the rules and in the case of most drivers I’ve known, they couldn’t be bothered with the minutiae of it all.

On paper, a mixture of both should be a winning solution and this was what Todt intended. But Damon’s history with Schumacher has overshadowed this decision.

Hill is an intelligent man and a deep thinker. He also loves the sport. There was always a risk that he would be put in a situation where he would have to sit in judgement on his old rival and he has clearly found the experience uncomfortable.

“Partly, of course, my discomfort was because I was called to make a ruling on an incident involving Michael. I acted entirely properly but I have already received some stinging e-mails accusing me of prejudice.”

This does not surprise me. We get some stinging comments here on JA on F1 when fans feel that there is some prejudice in a post or a comment. F1 fans are passionate people.

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The Hate Mail is ridiculous.

Damon Hill is a very respectable man, and he would have acted appropriately at all times during the decision making process.

He does raise a valuable point. I was always under the impression that the driver merely gave advice on issues on track. Instead it would seem that they have to act as judge, jury and executioner.

I wonder if the fall out from this will put other ex-drivers off doing it?


Hill was a very good (perhaps not quite great) driver who always struck me as a man of integrity and ethics. He is WAY above some kind of petty retribution 15 years after some of his incidents with Schumacher.

Whatever the sport, there is no shortage or small minded idiots who will fire off opinions that assume the worst and with no factual basis.


I agree about the rule interpretation, but in this case it seems that there was either a lack of proper communication or an oversight of this rule. The track was green this to me, eliminates interpretation, whether it was supposed to be green or not that is the fault of race control and therefore the punishment was unjustified. The flags are the rules while on track so they have to accept their own faults. The rule revolves around the SC being deployed at the end of the race, this as Ross Brawn pointed out, was not the case.


My understanding is that the problem boils down to which level of rule has precedence, the level of the flags or the level of 40.13. There was clearly a lack of communication between Race control, the marshals, the safety etc, so ultimately the rule with precedence was applied. Yes, the track was green, but it shouldn't have been, apparently, and so the confusion reigns...


The Marshalls were bound by Article 40.11 as well - when the Safety Car enters the pits, the green flags will be waved at the line. As of this year, that is the safety car line, and not the Start / Finish line.

I believe this is why the race did not continue under yellow - because the rules state when the safety car comes in, green flags must be show.

An amendment to 40.13 that stated yellow flags would continue to be shown would be one solution.


I don't think there is any validity in the claims Hill was overly harsh because it was Schumacher, or the FIA were bending over backwards to chum it up with Ferrari, but questions do need to be answered about the trackside antics of the marshals and the FIAs over complicated regulations.

A lot of people seemed to be under the impression that racing started again once the cars crossed the safety car line and the first hint many of us got that everything wasn't cricket was when SD was interviewed post-race. Also, why were the marshals waving green flags when in previous situations such as Button's win in Australia last year, yellow flags have remained out until the very death?

Something needs to be done about the punishments available to the stewards too. 20 seconds is far too harsh in this instance.


Have you seen Joe Saward's site?

He has had hate posts just for reading the rules correctly. He has closed comments because of it, hope you all can ignore the blinded loyalty's. Joe needs some recognition for his years of experience, you might be able to pass peoples support to him. Thank you for the articles.


I don't think it's as clear cut as whether the stewards made the right call or not. The rule is there, and was probably interpreted correctly, but it's the effect that it's had that has disappointed me so much.

It's so hard to overtake at Monaco, and we saw a glimpse of pure Schumacher magic in the final few seconds of a race. It was a brave and spectacular move, but one which a muddy and unclear rule has punished.

I think the arguments about the green flags and whether or not the safety car was still "deployed" could go on for a long time. In light of the murky rules, the fairest punishment would have been to demote Schumacher back to where he was. Instead we see yet another example of arbitrary and draconian F1 punishments seemingly handed out on a whim; I would argue that Barrichello's throwing of the steering wheel was dangerous and more worthy of punishment.

But this is how F1 is, and always will be. For Hill to receive hate mail is simply wrong and F1 'fans' should be ashamed.


I think the real problem is that the green flags were waving - in my view incorrectly. The rules state that if the race finishes behind the safety car it will go in the pitlane on the last lap.

Thus, the question is do you uphold the marshals that wrongly waved green flags, or do you admit they made a mistake and uphold Schumacher's penalty?


Essentially if rule 40.13 was

"if the safety car is deployed at the start of the final lap it will enter the pit lane at the end of that lap and the cars will take the chequered flag as normal without overtaking"

then everything would be hunky dory, I think.

The problem appears, to me, to be the phrase "If the race ends while the safety car is deployed". In Sunday's race the SC went into the pitlane, and thus one could argue no longer deployed, before the race officially ended - as noone had crossed the line - and hence one could argue that rule 40.13 does not make sense in that situation. Indeed if it is given that the SC has to go into the pitlane before the race ends, one could argue Rule 40.13 could never be in effect.

The spirit of the rule seems clear enough, but the wording is weak.


I don't believe Damon acted anything other than properly as part of this, the rule was clear and the punishment was also clear.

The issue with the flags being green after the SC line needs sorted. It is a pity , as I said on the other thread, we want to see overtaking, let them race to the line, it's no more dangerous than the start of the race !


My reading of the situation is that it boils down to: how do you differentiate between the safety car coming in on the last lap for "normal" reasons (ie track is clear) and cosmetic reasons (so that finish occurs without the safety car in the shot).

I suspect this is what Mercedes's appeal will turn on, and that Charlie Whiting's communications to the teams will be critical.

This never mattered before because overtaking wasn't allowed until the start line until this year. So, as far as I'm aware there's no precedents.

With regards to Hill, in such a scenario I'm not sure he could provide much input - it's not about "dangerous driving" or the like after all. Unfortunately, he seems to be the fall guy in a dry technical matter... when the real problem is the FIA's woolly rules.


I'm not a Schumacher fan but I believe that what he did was in line with how the rules are written. When I was watching the race and it was announced the safety car was coming in I hoped to see someone try a pass after the safety car line, which we got.


Its not Damon`s fault obviously. Its down to the overly coplicated rules which make people confused even at a level of Ross Brawn and Stefano Domenicali after a move like that for long hours after the race. How can we expect drivers to be able to recall the shortest paragraphs of rules in a half-second whilst driving aroung e.g. Monaco and consider whether they are entitled to overtake or not. Rules shouls be simple and clear.


IMO 1) Damon Hill probably hates Schumacher and would love to take revenge for running him off in Adelaide 94 and various other times. 2) It seems unclear whether the SC came in because race finished under green or because it was the final lap and race was still under SC conditions. If former then penalty for Schumi is wrong call, if latter then the marshals operating the flags/boards/lights messed up. 3) If Damon supported call for penalty then it is probably because of point 2 and not 1. Now can we get Max on the panel as the outside legal expert.


Never was a Schumacher fan,but the teams need to understand the rules better.Both teams had different views on them.
It was a bold move but green flags were waving so I don't agree with 20sec penalty.They should have left Alonso 6th with Schu 7th.

Peter Hermann

Passion is no excuse for acting like hooligans. I remember Glock complaining about receiving threat letters after Hamilton passing him in the last curve and becoming WDC.

My apologies to Mr. Hill. Sonmetimes, such things makes me feel ashamed of being a F1 fan.


"Schumacher punished by Hill and stewards for illegal overtake"

James, I think you owe an apology to Hill. Your title was a little misleading. It wasn't Hill's decision to punish Mercedes GP. Perhaps you should invite him over for tea. I really like having an ex driver as a consultant. The system should stay put.

As for the poll. I voted "no" because it is THE MARSHALS that messed up a straightforward rule by waving green flags and not showing a Safety Car (SC) sign. THEIR misleading actions caused a lot of confusion among the drivers. One of them paid heavily for THEIR mistake.

On a positive note: it is good to see Schumi back. He is still very on it, even at the end of a race!

David Jerromes

Wow, you wrote exactly what I was about to Olivier, so thanks for saving me the time!

Let's leave sensationalist headlines to the gutter press, not on sites that should be above such provocation...


The problem is that the rules were broken as seen in the regulations, but since the marshals were showing green then schumacher can defend his move. They should have been yellow. So really its race control or the marshal's fault.


In fact if you read the actual FIA F1 sporting regulations (i.e. http://www.fia.com/sport/Regulations/f1regs.html ) it's pretty clear from the rules that overtaking was allowed, just as Mercedes team interpreted it. Specifically rule 40.4 states that "all marshal's posts will display waved yellow flags and "SC" boards for the duration of the intervention [of the Safety Car]". I.e. the race did not end under Safety Car conditions and hence 40.13 did not apply. It's very clear.

Apparently that's not what the race organizers intended, but they should have interpreted the "letter of the law", not the "spirit" in their judgment of Schumacher's incident. This makes one think how qualified the stewards are to make such decisions.

Sad story.

Ron Colverson

The marshals acted correctly.

The basic problem here is that rule 40.13 no longer makes much sense since the introduction for this year of the safety car line. The rule states: “If the race ends while the safety car is deployed, it will enter the pit lane at the end of the last lap and the cars will take the chequered flag as normal without overtaking.” The safety car is effectively deployed up to the safety car line. Last year that was the same place as the finish line. So the safety car was "deployed" right up to the end of the race.

This year there's a new area between the safety car line and the finish line. The argument is all about what happens in that area. According to the rules, beyond that line the safety car is no longer deployed. The marshals should show green flags and lights indicating that the safety car period had ended which is what they did. Completely in accordance with the safety car rules.

This view essentially means that rule 40.13 can now never be in effect as it describes a situation which can never happen. This rule should have been amended to include a stipulation that SC boards and waved yellows were to be used in the area between the safety car line and the finish line.

If you think that rule 40.13 still applied, then there is a conflict between what the flags indicated and what the rule mandated. In this situation, I believe that the flags have to take precedence. Drivers spend their entire racing lives learning to abide by the flag signals - it's the whole basis of safety in motor racing and mustn't be compromised at all. You can't have a situation where there's an exception or an override to a flag rule. Flags have to be the last word and the drivers' reaction to them has to be instinctive.

So green means go racing and that's what many (most?) of them did.


totally agree, they shuld have keep waving yellow flags not green ones and woudl be no problem. so looks like borh ferrari and mercedes are right. i think michael should be just relegated back to7th. and race control shuld admit mostake on their side


How can anyone know race controls intentions if they wave green flags all over the circuit.

Shouldn't they judge the situation at hand and not what Whiting may be thinking during the race?

Hill seems delusional.


To my mind, this was an error by Race Control, compounded by the Stewards. The penalty - if any - should have been to "unwind" the overtake.

On the other hand, I find it incredible that neither Barichello (throwing steering wheel onto racing line) nor Massa (crossing yellow pit exit lane line) have been penalised or even investigated.

Until Sunday, the stewarding process this year had appeared to be much better... shame it had to fall apart on Damon's watch.


Yeah, I cant believe nothings happened with Barrichello, and we've seen penalties for going even 2mm over the line before - Massa qas quite far over.

barrichello's actions were plain stupid, and very dangerous. Very unlike him!


Disagree, he's always had a petulant streak.


Very interesting comment...


... and I hear Alonso passed one of the slower cars during yellow flags and SC period on lap 2, was this not the case or if it really did happen, why wasn't he punished?


Here's a snapshot of Alonso behind Chandruk in the tunnel during yellow flags.


From there, he proceeded to pass him before the end of the tunnel. In my opinion, this is a clearer case of passing-when-not-allowed than the Schumi on Alonso case.


As you can see the smoke from the engine of the Williams in that picture, the accident had just happened, and the yellow light had just come on. At that point, the HRT had already moved over and Alonso was already going through. Alonso ceeded the place at the chicane


fernando must have given the place back as he was behind karun at the restart untill he passed him just prior to the starting line.



You are wrong. Photos can be misleading and tihs is such case. You should see video repeat. Yellow light turned on just when Alosno was passing it.


i'd be amazed if anyone seriously thinks Damon called it that way to spite Michael.... fools if they do. I think the idea of having an experienced driver in on the panel makes a lot of sense.

But I have to say I think its strange to hear that Damon was the one to call this ruling as its pretty much a black and white case of rule definitions rather than driver point of view.

The fact that the experienced guest driver is now the one calling the shots seems a little strange anyway, i thought they were there for input not overriding ruling - that I thought was still for the stewards??


If one has to read the rules and interpret them what value does an experienced driver bring to the panel? Anyone should be able to do that with some training. Ex drivers should be involved in writing rules, not interpreting them.


I agree, Luca. There will always be conspiracy theorists.

I'm also surprised that it's the driver's call. I always thought drivers were there to give an F1 driver's point of view, not be the ultimate decider. These guys are not lawyer types.


I do not believe that we, who are against the ruling, blame Damon for making the call. It is my opinion, that the purpose of the driver, in this case Damon, must clarify uncertainties for the other stewards, who are not F1 drivers and do not think like F1 drivers.

Michael did not had minutes to think what to do, but most properly reacted on instinct (split seconds)when he saw green and the gap, and any racer know that green means racing. Like in the other decisions taken in previous races, I am sure that the driver insets made a huge difference in the call of the stewards, because they got proper inside from professionals - ex-drivers.

I can't help it to wonder what the outcome would have been were it a British driver and not Michael, or an other ex-driver and not Damon.

I believe that Damon failed in the purpose of the ex-driver role and can only blame himself for the reaction of the F1 world (refer to commends made on James' post regarding the subject), and not only Michael supporters.


MS was instructed long before the end of the lap by pit radio that he should try to overtake. As was Rosberg and, if rumours are to believed, Kubica. Ferrari and McLaren instructed not to overtake. FA asked several times, and LH was surprised and asked again when he saw MS overtake.


Well, according to interviews Schumacher gave in German, he had plenty of time to think. He said that during the last lap he was preparing himself to take advantage of any opportunity once the safety car turned off, by keeping his tires warm by zig-zagging, etc. This sounds like expectation and preparation rather than just instinctual reaction.


i think michael shouldn't have been punished - i am actually a huge michael fan, but i think in this case, its a simple case of the rules not being clear enough and there is not much Damon could have added in this instance as the pure drivers actions are not really the fundamental issue here.

And wrong of people to blame him if its a joint decision or wrong of the policy for him to be the one making the ruling (which ever case is true).


I understood that he was one of four stewards not the only one "calling the shots".

Richard Trinder

Wrong decision in my opinion - but i dont believe they didnt follow the rules. I think the stewards interprited the rules correctly. my problem is with the race direction (charlie?) Green lights mean Race, in anyones mind. Safety car in this lap, means Race, in anyones mind.

The race was badly directed at this point and there needs to be some clarification in the rules and driver notifications by the team responsible for the race direction.


I don`t think Damon made something on purpose, Their decision was "by the book" and this says No overtaking after SC in on last lap, the problem is that Race Control didn`t order to wave yellow flags or notify properly the teams that Overtaking after the SC won`t be allowed.

I think more than the stewards, the public opinion should be against Race Control which didn`t handle it properly.

Schumacher was unproperly penalised, he took his moment under green flags, therefore results should have kept hat way and take measures about the rules for the next race.


My personal view on it is that going by the rules as they are written, MSC was in the wrong and should have been penalised. However, I think the penalty was far too harsh and the fact that they are tied to a select few penalties even when there is a much more sensible option available is absolutely stupid.

For me the perfect result would have been re-swapping ALO and MSC back to their positions as they were before the incident. It's a new fairly obscure rule and the flags made things even more confusing. Giving a pseudo-drive through when the race is finishing under safety and thus the field is very bunched is enormously harsh.


The only problem with simply swapping drivers positions back is that it creates precedent. This means should it happen again in more blatant circumstances, a team can appeal on the basis that a 20-second penalty was not applied in this instance. Then you will have it that during a race, if a drive through is ordered, teams will argue that they should just give the position back, rather than have their race harmed.

It's a tough one...


Hill's not to blame, or the stewards for that matter in this instance. If you look at the wording of that specific rule they had no choice but to punish Schumacher, but the rule doesn't cover all the details regarding green flags etc. I blame the FIA for once again coming up with such poorly written rules which are so open to different interpretations. Ross Brawn has a point and Mercedes are right to appeal, if anything to finally get a definitive reading of that rule.


Did anyone else feel a little cheated that in my opinion Schumacher was punished for what was so far the highlight of his come back season?


I do! I blame the nut who thought bringing in the safety car for cosmetic reasons was desirable.


Having voted "yes" in the poll, I was amazed to see that a majority think the decision on Schumacher was wrong. The rule seems pretty clear:

U40.13U If the race ends whilst the safety car is deployed it will enter the pit lane at the end of the last lap and the cars will take the chequered flag as normal without overtaking.

Or is the objection to the penalty? Even so, "unwinding" the overtake is not a penalty.


I'm amazed too.... that you can exactly copy the rule and still not read it properly.. because as you say, it seems very clear.

"If the race ends whilst the safety car is deployed......"

When did the race end? When Webber crossed the line.

When Webber crossed the line, was the safety car deployed?

Take note.... the safety car can be deployed but not on the track... this happens at the beginning of every safety car period. How do the team know its deployed then? By yellow flags. by SC boards. by messages on the timing screen.

This is how we know the safety car is deployed, regardless of where the car actually is.

When Webber crossed the finish line, were any of these signals available for the teams to know that the safety car was still deployed? NO.

The safety car was not deployed at the end of the race, ergo the rest of what's written after that does not apply.


Read it again: (the safety car)"will enter the pit lane at the end of the last lap and the cars will take the chequered flag as normal without overtaking." If they meant the safety car would stay out until after the race ended, they would not have specified that the cars would take the flag without overtaking, because they would already have done so. I think I am reading it properly, or should I say objectively?


First, let me state, I'm a McLaren fan first and a Webber fan second, and I no love for Schumacher.... I'm not emotionally invested in the outcome... but I do care for the rules to be followed.

Obviously, your reading of it is what was intended.... but they didnt write it properly (or more likely, they didnt re-write it after the other changes to 2010 safety-car rules).

They either need to change their flagging/signalling for the last lap, or re-word it to say something like "If the saftey car is deployed during the last lap" because as it stands, its a rule that will never actually apply.

rule 40:13 starts with IF.... thats a conditional statement... if the condition isnt fulfilled, it doesnt matter what is described afterward...

If you go look at the finish of Melbourne 2009, you can see Button take the checkered flag with no safety car in front of him, but yellow flags and SC boards shown..... the safety car was "deployed" at the end of the race (despite having taken to the pit lane).

By advising "track clear" + "saftey car in".... Race control were setting themselves up to confuse... but it was the removal of the SC boards and yellow flags, and waving of green that confirmed the safety car was no longer deployed.... and thus the rest of what is written was not in effect.

This is obviously a literal reading of what is written, and not what was intended..... but we know which way the double-diffuser row went dont we? Intent took second place to literal interpretation of whats written on the paper....

Quite frankly I think that the FIA sporting body have put it on their agenda for review suggests they know the rule is incompatible with the new for 2010 practice of green flags from the SC line instead of from the start-line as in 2009 and earlier.


Maaybe we should make this 'the people's F1' this year!!!!!

Then, the peoples 'jury' can decide that; Jenson is 'lucky' when he wins (but crap really) where Webber's wins are 'skilled' in a car that's a second quicker than the other teams, and Shumi get's a licence to do what he likes...oh, and everyone else should slow down and let him be great again?

Are we looking for any excitement in otherwise processional races dictated by the cars?


Incredibly, on monday the online mag GPWeek published an interview with Hill, meaning the interview was carried out sometime last week before this whole thing occurred.

GPWeek question:

"I have no doubt you'll be completely impartial, but it must be tempting to sock it to Schumacher"

Hill response:

"Well I think that if you're concerned about how the decisions are made, there's a good opportunity now for drivers to play a part in how those decisions come about.

It really is important to be unbiased, and think of the sport first and how it appears to the world.

Obviously its something people will be thinking about, whether or not its possible to completely neutral with drivers you've raced against. But I think you've got to be a bit more grown up about it than that."

Somewhat prophetic.....


Thanks for that - very helpful


Nothing surprises me about F1 fans anymore. Especially when they get to hide behind forums and emails.


It was absolutely the right decision according to the rules. It was rather unfortunate that they decided to wave green flags and give Mercedes, who were the only team who had already forgotten the rules, a technicality to try and save themselves by.

Remember that Brawn had told his drivers early in the lap that the the SC would be coming in and that they should race. From this it's clear he had no idea about the relevant sections of the rules book.


Having the experience of a former F1 driver at the race meeting is an excellent idea but like you say James, they do not lawyers.

Where the infringement is a question of a rule being broken or not they should step aside and defer to the stewards. However where it is a question a interpreting a drivers actions on behaviour on the track either alone or in a racing incident then it should be his opinion that holds sway.


The poll question is a bit implicating James.

Do i think the Stewards made the right decision in penalizing Michael?

Answer: NO

Do i think Damon or other stewards in their capacity acted with prejudice?

Answer: NO

I question the decision, but not the integrity with which it was made.


Don't get the second question. How does that fit in?


It is awful that Hill should be subjected to such hate mail particularly when we do not even know what his view of the incident was. However, I am not at all surprised. I remember thinking when the verdict was announced that Hill would take a lot of stick and I suspect it will continue for some time.


Voted Yes, because by the letter of the regulations it's the right call.

But I think the regulations are iffy, I could argue that it'd be better either way.

In the interests of safety and a good-looking finish, the regs should stay as is.

In the interests of interesting moves like Schumi's, it should go.

But based on the current regulations as written, it's an illegal move, and if the only penalties available are 20s/drive-through, then that's what they've got.

And while everyone might have been surprised about the regs on the day, everyone knows them now.


FIA must reconsider as the green flags were waved. Millions witnessed the scenario. Fairly, return Schmi's 7th position and no 20 seconds penalty.

As a racer 'green' triggers off an instinct 'goooooo'. Even Nico was trying to pass Alonso.


Nico was instructed by the team to try and overtake, as was MS. He confirmed it on German TV after the race.


It is hard to understand. Stewards are sending two contradicting messages:

1. The rule where you should not overtake under the safety car

2. Message that the safety car is in and green flags waving.

How to understand this?



I am really interested to know what you are thinking today about Sunday's incident. Can you enlighten us?

Did the SC come in only because it was the last lap, or did it come in because the danger was cleared.

That is what it all hinges on, isn't it?


It's a shame to have Hill under fire for this. He did not write these awkward and confusing regulations. You don't need to be a lawyer to understand the safety car pulled but the racing was not to resume in the last metres.

The heat should be entirely upon race controle and the letter of the rules.


The letter of the rules is actually quite clear in my opinion.

The whole confusion is due to race control, so I agree that the blame is on charlie or whoever made the call over in race control to have the track go green when in fact it was still SC/yellow because it was the last lap.

Andrew Halliday

I voted no in the poll as I don't believe that Schumacher should have been penalised. I think it would be a good idea to have a poll alongside this one gauging whether people actually believe this decision was down to Damon Hill. I believe he has done nothing wrong.


There's the adage "Not only must Justice be done; it must also be seen to be done." You wouldn't expect a person you'd had an altercation with sitting as judge/jury. What's next, Montoya as a steward next? lol


So you want drivers who raced up until 1990, who at no point had any overlapping career with Schumacher...

So we're looking for drivers who's main experience was in the 1980's when the sport was a different place...


no. let's revisit Mr Hill's statement, that drivers should not be there to interpret the rules in the first place...


Fully agree. I did actually think the drivers were advisors to the stewards, rather than full officials.


So no ex-driver can sit on the panel while MS races? :p


i know he's old, but not old enough to have raced for 60 years lol




I think that both FERRARI and MERCEDES acted sincerely but interpreted the rules differently and the fault is the FIA's.

Here's the point :

- MERCEDES informed their drivers on radio that they could race and so they should attack and protect their positions

- FERRARI did the opposite by informing their drivers that they shouldn't race or overtake

The rule says that you can overtake once the safety car leaves the track beginning on a line drawed by the FIA on the circuit for that purpose. As James pointed out there's an exception to that rule and it is the last lap by "Article 40.13". So clearly here MERCEDES made a mistake by giving a wrong go ahead to their drivers. The law is clearly with FERRARI but the FIA made things unnecessarily difficult in many ways :

- if at the last lap you can't overtake why then let the safety car out of track. The best thing to make things clear is to let the safety car on track until the end of the race (even though it is not good for the finish photos & staff like that & this is why the rule has been modified for the last lap I guess ).

- if the FIA still plans to let the safety car in but ban overtaking on the last lap why are they declaring the track status "green". By doing so they are giving the drivers and the teams contradictory instructions. They clearly should have let the yellow flags and yellow lights on.

This is kind of weired because it looks as if the FIA isn't aware of its own rules or isn't making the necessary to make them clear.

It is already difficult to drive, let alone drive in MONACO, let alone drive in MONACO with unclear rules.

What if a driver has lost his radio which happened in the past (to Schumi and others). How on earth could he have known that he wasn't allowed to race with the "green flags" on. He can't know all the rules and their exceptions !

- Last point, we are watching to see racing and every rule should bear in mind safety 1st and racing 2nd and this rule is worthless. We are seeing Schumi doing a superb move on cold tyres and brakes in the last corner of the last lap of the worst race for overtaking and he is to be demoted for no mistake from him. This is why most people were against the penalty because most of us crave for racing and that was penalizing racing, not penalizing Schumi, Mercedes or whoever it is ! Coulthard's point of view is telling in that regard as he says either let them race or let the safety car on and that's how it should be.



- Mercedes clearly made a mistake by not applying the rules and should be penalized by being stripped of Michael's point's in the constructor's championship.

- Alonso should keep his 6th position because he was informed no overtaking was going on and he would may be have defended better if he was informed it was usual buisness.

- Schumi should keep his 7th because it wasn't his mistake. I know it won't happen this way because that's know the FIA acts but that looks to me like the best solution in terms of ethics.



Last time I pointed out how wrong it is for TODT's son to be awarded next year's spot on the grid while his dad his the head of the FIA. No matter what, it is unhealthy

I thought the same when Damon HILL was pointed out as a Steward because of his relationship with Schumi.

I do really think he was fair, but he should never have accepted because of his history with Schumi. Whenever an incident has schumi implicated, he was going to taste and he tasted and RIGHTLY SO I WOULD ADD ! The "stinging emails" are what he deserves because he should have thought of that long before. Even before the race when he was interviewed by the BBC they were teasing him about Schumi. As James pointed out in this post "But Damon’s history with Schumacher has overshadowed this decision."

Now people are talking more about who made the decision rather than why it was made ! And that's another mistake to add to the credit of the FIA, they should never appoint drivers who have a long history with some of the ones on the grid either good or bad. HOW DO YOU APPOINT A FRIEND OR AN ENEMY AS A JUDGE !!!!! It defies every logic and what adds salt to the wounds is that nobody has been penalized for more straightforward and dangerous infringements, notably HAMILTON and the 1st to be penalized is SCHUMI and guess by who !


Schumacher was not penalised by Damon Hill, he was penalised by the FOUR stewards.

The fact that Damon accepted shows that he has little interest in his history with Schumacher being brought up. I even remember when Damon interviewed Schumacher for F1 Racing, so they can get on.

Yes Damon knew there would be jokes, but I don't think he realised how seriously people would take them. He has a sense of humour, he joked about it.

If you don't want to appoint a friend or enemy as a judge, then who do you appoint? Does this mean Mika Hakkinen, or Jaques Villeneuve cannot sit on the Stewards panel? Alain Prost was sacked by Ferrari, shouldn't he have had an axe to grind?

Damon Hill retired 11 years ago. Things have moved on since then. I'm sure Schumacher does not believe this was an act of revenge by Damon, and I'm sure Damon never once thought this was just because it was Schumacher. I have no doubt that if it had been any other driver, the same situation would have stood.


Pfffft... The rule in question is clear and this has been blown out of proportion.

I see what various pundits and Ross Brawn say when they assumed the race was on but the rule regarding the safety car on the last lap is pretty clear. If it had been any other lap and the green flags were out when the safety car came in then yeah overtake to your hearts content Michael but on the last lap the rule is clear in these circumstances.

People are only bothered because it's Schumacher and the fact that Hill was part of the team of stewards has just added fuel to the fire.


You make a good point Liam. If the incident had been Buemi overtaking Liuzzi for the last point, would we burning up as much bandwidth?

Martin Collyer

"...People are only bothered because it’s Schumacher..."

Almost certainly true Liam. Would there have been so much discussion if it had been Sutil passing Rosberg or maybe Buemi passing Liuzzi?

Nevertheless, there was a problem with how this panned out.


I do not agree. I am a Ferrari fan and I am interested in Alonso finishing 6th. But it was clear to me that I saw green flags and a message - safety car in this lap. So I though...bad luck for Alonso, he slipped it.


they did the best they could, under the stupid rules, they had in hand.

They must re-write some of these rules, if they want f1 to have some credibility.

Howard Hughes

Every justification for applying and upholding this penalty can be overridden - for example if one says that the safety car wouldn't have come in had it not been the last lap, how does one then explain the race last year that finished UNDER the safety car, with the field trundling across the line behind the SC...

A shocking decision, truly.


what race are you thinking of?

The first race to finish under the Safety Car was Canada 1999, and it came in at the end of the final lap. Since then, no race has finished with the safety car taking the chequered flag.


Yes - surely the best way to avoid this in future is simply to keep the SC out until the actual end of the race? This would keep it simple: SC out = yellow flags = no overtaking before the SC line.

Still. I suppose now it is unlikely a similar mistake will be made again for some time...


the safety car has never crossed the finish line it has always entered the pits at the end of the last lap.

race your thinking of from last year was melbourne & like at monaco the safety car in this lap message came up during the last lap & the safety car then pitted at the end of the last lap, cars crossed the finish line with the safety car in the pits and also like at monaco they all accelerated to the line.


I dont understand the confusion and conspiracy here. Here in the U.S. on Speed Steve Matchett read the rule on air minutes after, its not like its written vaguely. Its not about interpretation, and regardless if it was Damon Hill or any other steweard...driver or non..its quite clear...Schumi broke a rule..period.

David Hamilton

"Schumi broke a rule... period"

What rule? The rule that you race under green flags? The rule that you can overtake once you've passed the safety car line.

Just for once(!), Schumacher is an innocent victim in this: He had been told by his team to race, and he almost provided the race with its only real overtake for position. Even Alonso looked like he was racing (unless he was showboating getting sideways out of that corner).

The race directors messed up, sent the wrong messages that racing was to resume to the marshals and the teams.

I imagine that it was only when Ferrari pointed out the relevant rule did the stewards realise that there had been a massive error in handling the race.

Shame they can't give penalties to the race director! Also I wonder if Ferrari only started looking through the rulebook once Alonso had lost the place?


..and on BBC the commentators and David Coulthard immediately said that it was a legitimate pass. If you actually read the F1 sporting regulations ( http://argent.fia.com/web/fia-public.nsf/65EE8F15945D0941C12576C7005308AE/$FILE/1-2010%20SPORTING%20REGULATIONS%2010-02-2010.pdf ) you'll find that based on the rule 40.4 it's crystal clear that the race did not end under Safety Car conditions and therefore 40.13 did not apply.

P.S. Rule 40.4: "When the order is given to deploy the safety car the message "SAFETY CAR DEPLOYED" will be displayed on the timing monitors and all marshal's posts will display waved yellow flags and "SC" boards for the duration of the intervention"


Have you seen green flags? Have you heard the message that the safety car is in this lap? Do you know what does it mean to finish behind the safety car? Yellow flags are on, not GREEEEN:-)

michael grievson

I'm on the fence. The wording of the rules are poor and need more clarification

David Hamilton

I see that Mercedes have withdrawn their appeal.

So - a green flag is no longer a green flag? 'Racing' to the line is actually a con - everything is still under safety car conditions, but the safety car is withdrawn and the green flags waved to fool the public.

There is a word for this: Fraud.

I actually find this more annoying than all the team orders of Ferrari, mainly because I thought the flags were supposed to be sacrosanct. At least it was only the Ferraris that were pretending to race, not the entire grid!

(Just in case anyone thinks I am a Schumacher fan, I am not. I am just in favour of clear, honest racing.)


Ok, so the point of including ex-racing drivers in the Stewards panel is to help give a drivers perspective on 50:50 situations.

So Damon, what do you think a driver would think if he is told that 1) the safety car is coming in 2) the track is clear and 3)he sees green flags waving?

Ross showed from the race control transcripts and the photos clearly showed the green flags. Accordingly, the above 3 things definitely happened and are facts that cannot be disputed.

If Damon's role is to provide a 'drivers perspective' I would be very interested to hear how he would have reacted if he was given the same bits of information as Michael Schumacher. Would he have gone racing like Michael did or would he have thought of rule and just held station???

The fact that many drivers (including Alonso) were radioing in to see if they could pass is clear evidence they had no clue about rule 40.13.

And to give a direct example of a driver's perspective, below is how Sebastian Buemi responded when asked about the confusing end to the race

"I was surprised when the team told me not to attack Liuzzi, because there were green lights flashing everywhere!"


What is clear is that drivers know that Green = Go, and most if not all were completely ignorant of rule 40.13 at the time.

How then does a steward who is meant to give a drivers perspective rule against Michael in this case???

Interested to hear your thoughts on this James. Do you think most drivers would interpret Safety Car In, Track Clear, Green Lights as 1) Go Racing or 2) Hold back because rule 40.13.12 overrides all of the above?

I can understand how a lawyer can arrive at the application of 40.13 but have no clue how a man who is meant to give a drivers perspective would reach the same conclusion.


I have a question for James once again, replying to you because of your first sentence. I wonder: how can there be 50:50 situations that the driver need to help on when there are three non-driver stewards?


Can't really blame the Stewards for this one. The rule is just plain stupid. The should just have one Safety car rule irrespective of the laps remaining.

Also Race Control should have informed / reminded all teams of the Rule before the safety car came in.


Olivier (Comment No. 1) makes a good point in his first paragraph - Hill did not make or control the decision of the Stewards Panel, and has shed further light on the process with his comments.


My view is the governing body and rule makers should be under the spot light, not the teams and drivers. Without clarity within the rule book you can't punish a driver for racing under greens or being confused by two rules that condradict each other. If the governing body did not want the green flag racing to start before the chequered flag they would have left the SC out. Simple. I am not a fan of schumi but he has been unfairly punished on this one.


Too bad this incident came when Hill was the Driver Consultant. I think the penalty was too hard. Should have just moved Schumi back a place. That part could have been Hills, saying that Schu should be given a 20s penalty. 😉 Why didn't the marshals just hold out the SC signs for the last bit of the lap? A green flag in a drivers visor is like a red cape in front of a bull if you ask me. I still like the idea of having former drivers as consultants. BUT only as consultants. The stewards of the race should have the final say. The guest driver should also be asked how they came to decisions after the race. That would be a interesting aside for any F1 websites...... Nah James....


It's unfortunate that Michael got punished for being racy and for providing entertainment. Moreover why did the race control show 'safety car in this lap' and 'track clear' and 'green flags'. Now can anyone translate the meaning of 'green flags' to us fans. So yes the stewards, Damon or whoever was incharge of it, goofed up big time.

It's really upsetting to see so much evidence that was provided by Ross Brawn and still they give him 20s penalty. When the race didn't end under SC conditions, then why on earth was Michael punished????


Whilst I agree with the stewards' decision, I thought 20 second was a harsh penalty.

If there's an error from race control and both Ferrari and Mercedes instruct their drivers in good faith, there should be a rule that allows for race officials to get it wrong without penalising third parties as a result.

An example of that would be reverting to the classification prior to the inicdence.

I feel that once again, punishment does not fit the crime in F1.


The involvement of drivers with the stewards is a good thing. If Damon felt uncomfortable about this particular circumstance, it would have been sensible for him to have refused to take part in the decision. This was in any case all about a technicality as to what was the race status at the point when the overtake happened. You don't need a driver insight for that sort of thing, so it would have been fine for him to leave it to the regular stewards.


Passion is all well and good, but not to the point where it clouds your judgement to the point of sending hate mail. I think Damon seems like a pretty stand up guy. I can't see he would willingly risk his credibility by going against what he saw as the correct decision, so he could take a 6th place off schumacher. I just don't think the hate runs that deeply.

I think the drivers on the panel is a great idea and I hope it stays. They got the decision correct - whether you like it or not is another matter - the circumstances were unfortunate.

Barrichello not getting any kind of warning for the toy coming out of the pram was a head scratcher. Especially in light of Massa's incident last year, which ironically came off rubens' car iirc.


Article 40.13 of the Sporting Regulations was pretty clear; it does trump any sort of ingenious interpretation(s) as it does state what will/should happen should the Safety Car still be touring the circuit at the start of the last lap. Rightly so, the safety car came in at the end of the final lap, 77/78 (or 78/78 as stated in the revised method of counting, if you will) - just as the rules have stated - and there should have been no overtaking done. The marshals perhaps acted prematurely, in the same way they can sometimes make the mistake of waving a blue flag on a slower car who is ahead of a faster one even when both are in the same lap. What the green flags/lights most likely meant was, "prepare to get back up to racing speed."

However, Damon Hill shouldn't get any stick for his part in this decision. Let's remember that he and Michael have put the rivalry of the 90's behind them and moved on (refer to that recorded heart-to-heart conversation of theirs in F1 Racing back in '99 prior to Hill's last race). It's just a case of Ross Brawn - and to some extent Schumacher - taking a gamble and it not paying off; in the same manner Ross' gamble in derailing Michelin's development through the interpretation of the rules back in late '03 paid off. But kudos to them for trying. In the end though, that's all part of racing.


They shouldn't penalise racing.

I think Damon was in a tough spot and had to call it as the rules state. However the situation was not clear.

The stewards should have dicussed with the teams and then made a call.

There should have been no penalty. If there was to be one then they should have just given the place back to Alonso.


I thought the drivers were on the steward panel in an advisory capacity rather than being jointly responsible for decision making.

From what I read and saw on Sunday and yesdterday, I think all the media are pretty much guilty of putting Damon's name in the headline regarding the decision. Makes for a good story and a great headline, but Damon was just one quarter of the steward group.

Given the history between Damon and Michael it is a shame that the incident happened on Damon's watch.

If the decision went in Schuey's favour Damon would have probably been accused of "bottling" it. Either way, the decision was bound to be called into question but there can be no doubt Damon acted honourably.

Few seem to be making much of the fact that both Ferrari and McLaren advised their drivers to hold station.


No-one said Damon made the decision, he was part of the team that made the decision. Damon said he thought it strange that he was asked (with the others) to interpret the rules, he thought the drivers role was to give a drivers perspective, and I think he's right.

Now Damon has revealed that he is receiving some negative comments, the FIA etc. should make a statement supporting him and making it clear that his role was what they asked for.

Jean Todt has done really well so far, adding an ex-driver to the stewards etc. His profile being so different to Max's has improved the respect for the FIA and officials enormously. Lets face it Max's way of communicating was always devisive (I'm tempted to put it more strongly) and ultimately to the detriment of the sport's standing.

It would be a shame if this little controversy allowed feelings of FIA bias to resurface.


Quote "On paper, a mixture of both should be a winning solution and this was what Todt intended. But Damon’s history with Schumacher has overshadowed this decision."

Oh bloody hell here you go again with your blinkered love of everything Schumacher. How on earth can you make such a comment? Do you live in Hill's brain and know what he's thinking? What right have you got to question his integrity?

You're living in a minority of Schumacher fan boys and it's time you moved above it. Even Ross Brawn has accepted that it was a wrong move and withdrawn his appeal.

You've been doing so well on this blog so far but recently your previous Schumacher fixation has been showing itself again very much to your detriment as a "journalist".

Come on James shape up and get a grip!!


I really do think that a lot of the nutjob "fanboys" always looking for an agenda are just taking the piss. It's terribly tempting sometimes just to stir up the pot, but then I remember many of these folks are serious and I change my mind.


I'm sorry but I take exception to this. I'm not questioning Damon's integrity, show me one sentence which does that..

What love affair with Schumacher? Have you read my biography of him???

If you read everything through anti-Schumacher glasses that's your problem. I write balanced articles, critical or full of praise where I feel it is deserved.

If you don't like it, I suggest you go and spend time reading the many other equally insightful blogs out there.


It is unbelievable, and deeply sad at the same time, how a driver and team interpretation of rules can lead to such hatefull reactions on people who just try to do their work in the love of their sport... Please continue the great work James!


Couldn't agree more James.


To say that you're in love with schumi is just too rediculous to be believed, so I'll give Chris the benefit of the doubt, and say that maybe he didn't understand what you meant by "overshadowed". Chris, what James was saying is that the history between the two drivers was what OTHER people focused on, putting the actual facts of the case in the background in their minds. He was not saying that their history influenced the decision.


I think Damon was damned if they did punish Schumacher and damned if they didn't.

If there was no penalty, people would say he held back in order to appear not to have a grudge, and now there is penalty, people suggest its because of a grudge.

It was always a loose, loose situation for Damon.


I really struggle to see the issue with any of this. The rules exist and cannot be circumvented, and the stewards (Hill included) did exactly the right thing.

The rule might not be crystal clear, if it may need making more explicit. But the rule exists, and the Stewards did their job. Job Done.

As for the hate mail, many "fans" amaze me. Just because they can express their annoyance, doesn't mean they should. Anybody who heard anything that comes out of Hill's mouth, let alone seen his racing ethics, would see he is an ideal steward and would not do anything to Schumacher out of spite.

Aussie Cameron

I don't doubt Hill's impartiality for a moment and I sympathise with his situation. The behaviour of these so called “F1 fans” sending him hate mail is truly deplorable. That said, I am of the opinion that Schumi was hard done by on Sunday.

As many people have pointed out before me, past races ending under safety car conditions (e.g. Melbourne 09) involved full course yellows, thus eliminating confusion for driver and team alike. For some reason, Race Control elected to green flag the race and muddy the waters surrounding Article 40.13.

This grey area of the regulations needs to be clarified ASAP and if the rumours I’ve read about Schumi having raised a similar issue during FP3 for the Spanish GP are true, then Mercedes GP have every right to feel hard done by in Monaco.

As a side comment, I was interested to see the official MGP statement indicating that their rule interpretation “…appears to have been shared by the majority of the teams with cars in the top ten positions who also gave their drivers instructions to race to the finish line.” I somehow doubt Christian Horner would have wanted Vettel to jeopardise a Red Bull 1-2. Would Renault have put a Monaco podium at risk and would Force India have risked both cars being in the points? Ferrari maintains that they advised their drivers that passing was not permitted. Other than Rosberg in the other Mercedes, that just leaves Hamilton in his McLaren. I therefore wonder to which of those teams MGP are referring?


McLaren clearly told Hamilton no overtaking, see their website for the online race commentary.


To those who say no to the poll, look at the rules, they had no choice did they?. It's not the stewards job to make them up, just to apply them. The party at fault here isn't Damon Hill or the other stewards, it's those who put that rule in place and allowed green flags to be waved. As Luca mentions (#3) it's not an ex-driver who should be deciding this one, to ask him to do so was very unfair IMO.

It's a shame common sense isn't allowed in F1, if it was Schumi would have 7th and Alonso 6th and clarification on a rather grey area would be made to prevent this happening again.

I would suggest it's needed as no other driver seemed to know of this rule given the way they all accelerated at full tilt towards the line. I'm sure they'd have not bothered if they thought they're weren't racing and save some extra fuel and put less stress on transmissions and so on.

I still believe having an ex-driver on the panel is a good thing for those areas the rules do not cover, or cannot provide clairty on, this wasn't one of those situations though.


The stewarding this year has been terrible, and continues to be so. We've had drivers allowed to ignore the rules without punishment at pretty much every race this year, even when one particular driver has broken the rules at multiple races in a row. Now we finally get a penalty, and it's been handed out for a team and driver that didn't break the rules, and were merely the victims of extremely poor communication from Charlie Whiting and his team.

It doesn't help that Todt's plan wasn't thought through, and we have a selection of drivers who all have close ties to current F1 teams (and in some cases, personal issues with certain current F1 drivers) being given input into deciding whether those teams and drivers are punished. (Not to mention that these driver-stewards are predominantly of one single nationality, opening the possibility of bias towards that nationality in stewards' decisions).

If Todt had really wanted a system that were beyond reproach, he'd have gone out of his way to select drivers from other formulae, and with no ties to any current F1 team. By not doing so, he's shown the entire thing is more about PR than fairness.

All this said, if anybody deserved to be unjustly penalized, it's a driver who is a habitual cheat -- and there's no question that describes Schumacher. The irony of him being unjustly penalized at the very location of his last major cheating attempt is delicious.

I'd still rather see the rules fairly applied, though. So far this year, that hasn't been remotely the case.



Off topic but following the story at http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/83716, what's your opinion on the following format? This is what I'd like to see next year:

Friday - x2 practice sessions for test/young drivers only

Saturday - x2 practice sessions for race drivers

Sunday - AM qualifying, PM race


If the rules concerning this particular ending/last lap were so debatable..Why wasn't there just a ruling without punishment?

I think 99% of drivers,teams and fans would have been satisfied with any verdict, as long as there wouldn't have been sanctions against people -MSC/Brawn- who had to decide on the spot. In a split-second, while the stewards had days to reach a verdict.

regards, Martin

Utrecht, the Netherlands.


They should have fined him not given him a 20 second penilty. Much like what they did to Seb and Lewis. Which was a lot more dangerous than this incident. Speaking of Lewis i reckon he wants out of the Mac.


I think that the fact that green flags were shown gave a confusing picture to the drivers and good on Schu for the smash and grab. I think he should have been put back to his original position as race control messed up the flags.

David Jerromes

My thoughts exactly Andrew!

I had wondered if Ross's decision to now NOT challenge the Stewards ruling was to in some way try to gain a lesser verdict on Schumi....

We'll see, but I have my doubts..


That Mercedes have withdrawn their appeal is amazing.

There is more than enough ambiguity for the stewards to be pragmatic in their approach and, as a previous poster suggest, 'unwind' the overtake, and simply switch Schumie and Alonso.

That would seem a fair compromise that few could complain about. Demoting Schumacher out of the points for a (great) overtake is contrary to the aims of the sport.


Would never have happened. Drive through penalties, whether taken in the race or included as time penalties afterward, cannot be appealed. We know this from Lewis Hamilton's appeal after Belguim 2008.

The Stewards only had the option of a drive through, or a stop and go, for the offence of 'passing while under safety car conditions'

Mercedes appeal would simply have highlighted the rule and allowed for changes, such as what happened after Belgium 2008, when drivers were told to wait 2 corners after giving a position back before attacking again.


I accept that they did give the appropriate punishment if Schu was guilty of the stated offence, but I would tend to agree more with Mercedes interpretation than the stewards.

My point was stewards should have more disgression as to the extent of a penalty.

I don't think anyone, bar perhaps Ferrari and Alonso, think this is a fair result. It was a matter of debatable interpretation.

As such the FIA should allow for infringements contridicted within the rules to be at steward disgression. Giving the place back would have been a reasonable outcome. No points is not.


As James new posts suggest, there was scope for the stewards to award any time penalty they liked - i.e. one that would in effect swap the positions of the cars.


The problem I see though is that it then sets a precident. If a team did it again, or committed another infringement on the last lap, or last few laps, it can be argued that - they got the places swapped, why can't we?

While the rules are open to interpretation, and there was a grey area, the rule is still there. The stewards had to act according to that rule. It could also be argued during the race (well that yellow flag was obscured, our driver didn't see it, so rather than have a drive through, can't we just swap the places? That's what happened at Monaco 2010...)

The punishment fits the crime that was judged to have been committed. If the safety car had been coming in on lap 73, and Schumacher had passed Alonso before the safety car line, he'd have had five laps to build a cushion to 10th place. It's just unfortunate that was a last lap thing (then if it hadn't been, we wouldn't be debating it!).

In Belgium 2008 (sorry this is a long post!), There were arguments as to why Hamilton was punished when the driver he passed crashed out anyway. Why was victory given to Massa, who never really featured in the race? While I personally feel the stewards got that decision wrong, they ruled that Hamilton gained an advantage. The punishment fitted the crime they adjudged him to commit.

If the FIA start offering all different manner of penalties, there will be chaos when one is applied. In that respect, the three they have to choose from are fair.

Just my thoughts though!


What bothers me in this whole business was the speed in which the stewards made their decision.

They had not seen the footage from Michael's on board video purported to show green flags waving and green lights a flashing.

They also had not seen the video showing that both cars had crossed the all important 'Line' after the safety car had left the track.

In all another mess that leaves a bad taste and does nothing to help a sport that is loosing more of its audience daily.


That puzzles me - you seem to imply that the decision was made straight away - when it was taken 3 hours after the race ended...


How do you know the stewards did not watch the video footage you mentioned? I would have thought that 3 hours gave them plenty of time.


I'm an Alonso supporter and have disliked Schumacher in the past but I have to say from what I understand is that Ross and the team got the instructions to go racing as the lights was green.

I was very pleased to see Schumacher on the ball and I think the results should stand and at the very worse taking into consideration the facts 'or lack of' Alonso should of been promoted back to 6 place and Schumacher demoted to 7th 20 second stop/go AFTER the race was very unfair in this case also I think Stop/Go penalties after the race is one of the daftest rules since no refueling was reintroduced into a modern F1 with most of the overtaking done while refueling .

F1 really is a love/hate relationship for me.


I can't answer your survey James. My opinion is that the stewards probably followed the rules, but that the rules aren't that well thought out. The stewards should have had more leeway to give a lesser punishment. The problem with the current rules is that when the cars are behind a safety car they are bunched up. Any time penalty in that circumstance puts the offending driver way down the order and that potentially isn't fair. I'd like to see the stewards have more discretion with their punishments.


I think there was only once decision to be made by the stewards, which is the one they made to penalise Schumacher. Whilst it was a great move from Schumacher, and can understand Mercedes intepretation of the rules (which I agreed with at the time), the rule that has been shared subsequently is pretty clear, and therefore the penalty had to be handed out.

I feel very sorry for Damon Hill in all this. Whilst the irony of Schumacher having to face Damon Hill in the stewards office was amusing, it is not good for the sport that he now gets abusive mail after being a steward for the day which was meant to be in the best interests of fairness. I thought the idea of having a driver as a 4th steward was purely to give advice to the other 3 stewards when making a judgement call on racing incidents, rather than also having to interpret written regulations. As you say James, that's surely a job for someone from a legal background, not an ex-racing driver.


It was a tough call and typically ambiguous enough for the verdict to go either way. I agree with other postings here, I cannot understand why there was no punishment for Barrichello. It seems bizarre that something so blatantly dangerous has hardly even been mentioned.


All these years Shumi was my hero,but what he

did last Sunday he's just ordinary opportunist

No ifs or buts,this born again super-driver

had opportunity for seventy seven (77) laps to

pass Alonso,he did not have a back bone to do it,when everyone accept the norm he passes

Alonso and vaves the flag I an the greatest

how low can you go.


A bit of a loaded poll there James, The stewards are snookered.

It's the rule that is in question, not the the stewards decision. The stewards have no choice but to uphold the rules.

The rule is wrong, you can't have a no pass rule on a track under green flags, surely racing conditions are either green, yellow or red.


“I imagined I would be there as a consultant providing driver insight to the stewards, who would then make the decisions,” said Hill. “My expertise is as a driver rather than a lawmaker or interpreter of regulations.

“It was a fascinating experience but I wonder whether it is right that drivers are put in the position of interpreting the regulations.”

Perfectly said.

In any case (correct call or not), I would like to express my strongest condemn to those who sent hate mail to Hill because of this episode.


Does anyone know whether Damon even had to advise on this one?

I would have thought that since it was a clear-cut breach of the rules (taking the flags out of the equation) then it wouldn't have required his input...

It might not have helped that Damon joked with the BBC presenters on the Qualifying show that he was ready to dish out a £12,000 fine to Schumacher...

Just to be clear though, I have every faith that Damon acted without prejudice and if anything may have been less likely to punish Schumacher for fear of how it may look given their history.


He was centrally involved in this hearing and the decision


I agree with Olivier on his second point. It is completely asinine for anyone to claim this a cut-and-dried issue when there was clearly a green light flashing right next to Alonso as he got sideways out of Rascasse trying to fend off Michael. That also negates Freddie's claim that he let Michael by (although, I guess he could have pulled a JP by closing the door at Anthony Noghes and taken both of them out). It would have been nice for the FIA to admit at least that their actions led to confusion, and maybe even to go so far as to take that into consideration in their deliberations, but I don't recall the FIA to be a body which easily (read: EVER) does so.

Secondly, the moment I heard Damon was going to be a steward, I wondered about his ability to be completely impartial were something to come up with Michael, regardless of his desire to do so. I believe there should be some sort of recusal procedure if there is an obvious history between the driver steward and a driver being investigated.

Finally, James, I love you, and you are almost always completely fair. I was a little disappointed that you didn't at least acknowledge that Mercedes may have had a point regarding the messages from Race Control and the green lights, and completely annoyed that you equated this event with 2006. Beyond the fact that this was not a deliberate attempt to breach the rules, the actual pass didn't occur at Rascasse, but Anthony Noghes. I wonder if I will ever read another article about Michael and Monaco without a mention of Rascasse in 2006...


Read the latest post


Well put.

Upon further reading, I'd like to also clarify that that last paragraph was meant to be taken with much more good humor than it may have been. Apologies for that.

Thank you for what you do.


I don't think Mr. Hill (or the other stewards) acted maliciously towards MS.. however, the error was not with Merc so they should not have been penalized.

If you go by the last time a race ended under SC conditions (Australia 09), the SC car came in the last lap for the photo-op, however, the Yellow SC board and flags remained to indicate no-passing.

This time, SC came in but the question is: was this for the photo-op or because it was clear to race?

If the former, then RC made a mistake to clear the Yellow SC conditions, announce track clear, and wave the Green flags. A team should not be penalized for RC mistakes, should they?

Unless I misunderstand the meaning of track clear, SC coming in, no SC Yellow, Green flags waving, there should have not been a penalty... and suggest change of RC procedure to make sure the Yellow flags SC signs are active until passing is allowed.


No doubt the hate mail would have arrived instead from Alonso fans,l had the opposite decision been made.

I really cannot see the argument, the rules are very clear as written, there was no need of interpretation, just comprehension.

However I give full marks to Ross for trying it on. 🙂


James, I must say I think you contributed to that with your past article title.

As far as I can understand, ex drivers are there for arbitrary decisions when they need to figure out of the move was too aggressive or not and similar stuff. But regular stewards are there for the kind of decision that we had in Monaco. They need to figure out was it illegal by the book or not and similar technicalities.

Hill was there to give his opinion on regular tussles between drivers and to advise stewards if some driver is too aggressive or not.

Of all the stewards there, Hill probably had the least amount of input in reaching decision to punish Schumacher.

I agree it would be really nice of you to apologize to Damon.


Aplogise? Are you serious!


I don't think so. The article was very well balanced and did not suggest for a second that Hill was settling old scores or acting with any kind of bias.


Sorry james your pollis too simple and means nothing.

Do you mean that they made the right choice in terms of the sport or that they nade the right choice in terms of upholding the regulation (be it right or wrong)?

I understand he was punished because he broke the rules.

I think its a stupid rule so dont think he should be punished and the rule should be amended.

If this was about deciding if the rules were adhered to why was Damon Hill asked for his opinion. It was not a matter of a drivers opinion if it was right or not, for instance like Hamilton swerving in front of petrov.

The rules as stated said no racing, therefor a 20 second penalty should apply.

This should be changed or the pace car should lead them over the finish line under yellow flags not under green but actuaslly no racing. Big mess up by FIA!

Could this be beacouse the rule as stipulated was from before the new safety car Racing line was introduced and not updated?


Well obviously we are talking about the right decision given all the evidence. That is what hearings are all about. The concept of sport is more abstract.


I don't for one second believe retribution of any kind played a part in Damon's thinking.

But I would be interested to know if he limited his input to the purported "driver's view" or whether it went further into the actual interpretation of the rule.

I find it hard to believe that "the driver's view" of a clear track ahead, green lights, green flags, the removal of the SC boards and the removal of the safety car means anything other than "go racing". I wonder if that's the contribution he made?


Damon Hill should not have been part of the decision making process for that specific circumstance nor any other ex-driver steward. Generally, in any controversy there are two types, either it is a question of fact or a question of law. In questions of FACT, i believe that the opinion and judgement of an ex-driver is important and relevant and therefore should be taken into consideration. In Questions of LAW, the ex-driver's opinion is totally irrelevant as the ex-driver has zero experties in construeing rules and regulations, unless the ex-driver also has a law background.

An example of a question of fact would be "whether or not Driver x overtook under the yellow flags?"

A question of law would be "Whether or not the safety car is still deemed deployed on the last lap despite it being brought in and green flags were being waived?".

From the above examples i cannot see how an ex-f1 driver, or any person for that matter without any legal training on statutory construction be competent enough to answer questions of law. The FIA should make sure that one of the stewards should be a lawyer.


Surely the point of having ex-drivers is to give an opinion on driving related matters - which this incident isn't ...


Shame on these people.

Damon is one of the finest person in this sport (in all aspects).

Pretty much everyone who's been following the sport for a number of years know this.

I can imagine that it is not an easy task to ignore hate mail from people that have been brought up without any manners thought to them...

James, please forward our support to Damon. We know he is a rightful person. In any case, governing people wouldn't have given him this difficult task if he wasn't.


Hate mail? wow.


I think the decision by the stewards is correct, according to the rules they had only one option to rule the resolution they did. They were unable to just reverse the place positions, the only resolution available was to rule a drive thru penalty, therefore as the race was finished a 20 sec penalty was issued as the race was finished. However, what should be looked at and clarified is what race control relayed to the teams and stewards. Big questions need to be answered. Who gave the order for the greens to be waived if the end of the race was supposed to be finished under caution conditions? What was the message displayed or given to the teams before the safety car came in from race control that made merc think that they were allowed to overtake when it seems all other teams thought different?

James do you know exactly what race control broadcast to the teams about the safety car coming in before the finish?


Although the rule was clear; I must say that I was puzzled because the race finished with green flags... It made no sense because there were no real chance to change the positions or just race for less than 1/4 of the lap.

During the race it seems that Alonso lost the car and Schumi took advantage during "green" flags!!! I couldn't believe it. Green Flags?

If they are going to finish a race under "no passing" there should be yellow flags. If they want to finish the race in an excitign way for the fans, take a look at the CART/IRL book: The last lap should be a racing lap and that way everybody happy.

For me it was nonsense to finish the race under green flags. The SC should have crossed the finish line before all the cars.

So, just as the rule of the spare cars (that didn't let Alonso run during qualifying) is dumb, so is this one.

Unfortunately for Hill he was just called to make a very difficult decission...


It's amusing that c. 60% of those who took the poll

believe Schumacher was treated unfairly. The rule

is quite clear, and the driver IS responsible for knowing the rules and driving according to those rules. If anything,

failure to enforce the rule would have meant that

all drivers who finished behind Schumacher were treated

unfairly, and that would have been a greater wrong by far.

Mercedes have certainly acted in an intelligent manner by withdrawing the appeal. The rules were clear enough that McLaren instructed Hamilton over the radio that NO PASSING was permitted. So how should Schumacher be

forgiven when other teams acted correctly and his team

did not ?

Schumacher himself ( having been in the thick of the race ) is not as much to blame as Brawn himself, who should have known the rule and sent appropriate instructions via radio to Schumacher, as McLaren did with Hamilton. The responsibility for this mistake therefore rests on the shoulders of Ross Brawn himself. You can be sure he won't make this mistake again.


Hill should publish the emails he received AND the addresses they came from to expose the cowards who hide behind technology to air their views...


Although these maggots would deserve it, Damon is far too much of a gentleman to ever think about doing such a thing, and that is all fine in my book.


I'm surprised this is such an issue, because the rule is pretty clear. I'm American, so I watched on Speed, and all their commentators knew exactly what was happening (i.e. that the safety car would pull off at the last corner and Webber would lead everyone to the line) and mentioned a couple times that overtaking wasn't allowed. If you look at McLaren's live race updates, you see them tell Lewis that overtaking isn't allowed. It's pretty obvious that Mercedes simply didn't know the rule.


I don't think the opinion of fans has any relevance to whether "...Monaco stewards made the right call on Schumacher?"

The rules were sloppy, hadn't been thought through and the resultant mess is fair to neither Alonso or Schumacher. Some official needs to hold up his hands and say, "we screwed up". They should then offer Alonso and Scumacher equal points for the race, together with an apology.

Of course no one will be happy with this but, hey, that's life.

Frankie Allen

Damon Hill makes a lot of sense here. It's the equivalent of having an ex criminal on judges panel for insight and ask them to judge a legal precedent from a previous case. His skills are not necessarily strong in this aspect, possibly non existent.

Alonso could never be denied his original position, because he was told not to race under interpretation of the safety car rules, something totally correct. Something went wrong with the FIA, green lights should never have been shown, only yellows. I don't know if this is because the track had been cleared and the coincidence of the last lap, being triggered automatically by the safety car as it turned in? Or that this is something that had not been thought through properly when they added the safety car line before the start / finish line, creating this confusion. I can see absolutely no reason why a yellow flag condition should not be maintained. The absence of which being the sole factor as to why teams were attempting to overtake between the safety car line and the start finish line. It would never of happened without the green flags being waved.


I think it was the right decision but a harsh penalty. And I think FIA needs to re evauluate it's goals and rules.

Hamilton weaves and if everyone did that, we would never see a single overtake.. and yet isn't penalised.

Schumacher overtakes (something that should be REWARDED) and he's punished harshly.

It's like the DD where because of one loophole, all the aims and goals of the rule changes were wasted. Banning it two years later doesn't undo the damage already done.

To the letter of the law, FIA made the right decision. But more often then not, that also means shooting themselves and F1 as a whole in the foot.

The drivers and teams are held accountable but the rules makers are not.


It's clearly a murky situation and the now famous article 40.13 needs a slight rewording. Instead of: "If the race ends whilst the Safety Car is deployed it will enter the pit lane at the end of the last lap and the cars will take the chequered flag as normal without overtaking." should be "In the case where a Safety Car is in force during the last lap of the race the it will enter the pit lane at the end of that last lap and the cars will take the chequered flag as normal without overtaking."

Clear now?

Plus the FIA needs an amendment to it range of penalties that allows for a little common-sense in the future for such situation where there's a clear ambiguity, i.e. in this case to just put Schumi back to 7th place.

As for Damon - he's one of the last gentlemen to have graced F1, there's not a dishonest or revengeful bone in his body, how dare these idiots send him hate mail!!


Also, Damon Hill has no blame in this. That is obvious because there is 4 stewards, and all 4 of them didn't write the rules.

This issue does call into question though, where or not this idea works or not. Because Damon Hill is well known, he is criticised more rather then if he was a nobody.

So does that make stewards want to award controversial penalties? Even if it's a fair decision, they will not want to get hate mail afterwards.


James, do you have any insight into this:

Mercedes press release states that their "opinion appears to have been shared by the majority of the teams with cars in the top ten positions who also gave their drivers instructions to race to the finish line."

At least Alonso claims he knew not to overtake, same with Hamilton I think. So are Mercedes making this up? Or are others just trying to appear clever afterwards? How do they know who was planning to race and who not? What about Coulthard's instant BBC comment about Alonso sliding his rear precisely because he was busy racing into the last corner?


No I was a little surprised by that line. Certainly Ferrari and McLaren drivers said that they were told no overtaking


One final thing, that I find most frustrating of all.

Jarno Trulli and Rubens Barichello both escaped penalty or reprimand I assume for two of the more boneheaded things I have seen in a long time. You have to remember they are two of the most experienced guys in the field.

Rubens threw his steering wheel onto the racing line and it was run over by the two Hispania cars and dragged around the track. He says he "had to throw it", I say BS, and that it was a temper tantrum that could have damaged and ruined another cars race.

Jarno for that crazy banzi move that only makes sense if he was in a WW2 dogfight over the pacific. It was RASCASSE. Look at Chandhok's car in the replay, what could he do? Trulli was never going to make that corner. It peeves me off when things like this happen to backmarkers so they don't care. Do that to one of the points finishers and there would be hell to pay. Same rules for all please. Does anyone remember how angry Jarno got with Sutil in Brazil last year?

The stewards took waaaaay too long dealing with that Schumacher thing. It shouldn't have taken more then an hour. And they completely forgot about the rest. If that Schumacher-Alonso thing was between two backmarkers it would have been ruled on very quickly.


I just want to add a note of support for Damon Hill.

I never for one second doubted Damon's integrity in this situation and I'm sure it was his worst nightmare when it happened.

To those who sent hate mail to Damon, you really should be ashamed of yourself!

To Damon, I would say don't be discouraged by the vocal minority and keep doing what you are doing.

All the best,



The leniency displayed by the stewards/FIA sofar this season, to promote racing I presume, has been a step in the right direction.

OK, only a verbal warning about racing in the pitlane was maybe a bit to far but as long as there is consistancy I am happy.

The penanlty meated out to Schumacher was too harse. Accept the green flags where in error and simply reverting to the previous running order gets my vote.

As for Rubens, another petulent display that this time deserves reprimand.


For all those assuming Damon Hill made the decision at issue, here is a question for James:

Did Damon even have a vote? There were still three stewards. Damon did a pre-race interview with Will Buxton of SpeedTV on the grid, and if I recall correctly, he seemed to indicate that his role was only to provide a driver's view of a situation, but that the decisions remained, as always, with the three stewards.

Can you check on this and provide further clarification?


If Damon was actually involved in this decision then I think the ex-driver steward/advisor has been badly implemented.

It seems to me that the driver should be there only to help advise on incidents involving driving standards - what is and what is not a racing incident.

In case such as this which is purely a case of interpreting the rules it should be down to the "professional" stewards alone, with the driver having no input at all.

I am no big fan of Damon Hill, but I have zero doubt he acting 100% professionally and impartially. The headlines/comments/hate mail etc against him only says something about the writers, Damon should just ignore them and move on.

I can only conclude that the driver advisor role needs further analysis and clarification. Consideration needs to given to both the scope of the role, and whether using drivers who raced against current drivers is appropriate?

Oliver Neilson

The rules and their interpretation are at fault here, not Ferrari, Mercedes or Hill and the stewards. In a sport as competitive, and litigious as F1 there should be no place for a rule that can rightly be interpreted in two conflicting ways.

For all of the former rivalry between Hill and Schumacher, anyone who has followed F1 would know Damon Hill as one of the good guys. I don't imagine for one minute that he would allow past history cloud the important position he was in last weekend. The rulemakers, and the marshals, or at least those who directed them, put the stewards panel in a no win situation. Any ire directed at the panel is, in my view, misdirected.

The job of an F1 team is to ensure that they make the best advantage of pushing the sports regulations to the limit, and not beyond (think F-Duct etc), if the rules have holes in them, don't be surprised if you find smart, competitive people like Ross Brawn and Michael Schumacher driving their car straight through them, it's their job, it's what they do. Drop Shumacher back to seventh, apologise for the ambiguity in the rule and chalk it up to experience is the right thing to do. To penalise Mercedes for a problem created by the rulemakers is the wrong one.


Formula 1 has clear rules just like anyone would have house rules in their homes, i know tensions get very high as well as emotions.

However, just as much we enjoy F1, i think hate and all threatening stuff should not belong to Formula 1, its fans and those who are there to make rules that the sport is run in a fair mode. F1 is dangerous and in Monaco Barrichello's car faced the wrong direction and had a car behind came in full, it would have been a big mess.

The world and Formula 1 doesnt live in the past and I know a few guys who will lose a championship by a point and move on to be better but there are those who will carry the "What If" as it is a disease daily.

I also dont think people in F1 are out for someone, to pay revenge or settle scores in F1.


There should be a written exam for all persons involved in f1 90% pass mark. Each specialist to have a section specific to their role. Then you could have no excuses about rules. This includes marshals and stewards.


I don't understand why Hill is blamed for any of this (- only reason he has been is by media types looking for a cheap headline)

As far as I understood, the ex driver is only there to advise the stewards in driving matters... Two cars collide, who was at fault, or who should have done more to avoid it, etc.

In this case, the actual move by schumi was not being questioned, (as I understand it) just whether ANY overtaking move would have been allowable between the safety car line and the finish line. And that is a straight rules interpretation issue. This should have nothing to do with the ex driver at all.

In my opinion, the hate mail is a disgrace but the media deserve some of the blame for deliberately stoking up the situation.


I hope the people who've sent hate mail to Damon also sent mail to priests who cover up child abuse and thugs who beat up old women for their next fix.

Or have they no sense whatsoever of perspective?


The problem here is with the rules themselves. Damon Hill has been quite readily fed to the wolves by the system, which finds it more credible to allow Damon to take the blame for this fiasco than they themselves.

What angers me the most is that we have been in this situation before, and yet nothing changes. Following the debacle of Spa 2008, inwhich one of the most exciting races in recent memory was tarnished due to its conclusion being decided in a stewards office, F1 is no closer to having its rules amended.

What I fear most is that a decision like this will cost someone, or hand someone, the world championship. As far fetched as that sounds it is not beyond the realms of possibility, and is the last thing this sport needs.

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