OllieF1
What Others Have To Say On That Penalty

What Others Have To Say On That Penalty

The F1 world has received a lot of publicity this week; some good and some bad, depending on your own view. But needless to say, just about everyone has an opinion on the penalty Lewis Hamilton received after his on-track skirmish with Kimi Raikkonen at the end of the Belgian Grand Prix. Many Formula One insiders have offered their view on the decision by the stewards to add 25s to Hamilton’s time, and the view from the paddock is just as mixed as the views from the fans.

Fernando Alonso, Hamilton’s team mate last year at McLaren, feels the penalty is fair. The Spaniard came into the pits at Spa last weekend to change to wet weather tyres and had a storming final lap. Alonso believes he could have won the race had it been one lap longer, although seeing as Nick Heidfeld was ahead and also on wet weather tyres, I feel Alonso would have only managed second. That said, Hamilton’s penalty didn’t effect the outcome of Fernando’s race, so one can presume that the double world champion is speaking without looking for advantage.

Lewis had an advantage by doing that [cutting the chicane]. If he did the chicane properly, he would never have crossed the line one metre behind Kimi. You lose five or ten metres and then you cannot overtake in Turn 1.

There were two or three laps to the end, many more corners to overtake at with the condition of the circuit. It was clear for me that it was not the right moment to overtake. The stewards take their decisions and they have been very strict this year. They are very hard but consistent. Fernando Alonso.

Alonso is in the minority of current drivers, as most feel that while Hamilton did gain an advantage, the penalty was harsh.

I think it is very clear, the rules are clear. Maybe the penalty is very hard but he has made the same mistake twice, he did in Magny-Cours and he did it in Spa. I don’t really understand why there is such a mess around it, there is a rule book and everyone has to obey the same thing. The penalty is rough but it is up to you to give the position back. Sebastien Bourdais.

What happened is that he took an advantage by cutting the chicane. You can ask drivers how many overtaking moves you see there. None between the last corner and the first corner, because there is such a small straight there. That is my opinion and it doesn’t change. Felipe Massa.

I actually don’t get Massa’s comment at all. The Brazilian states that because other drivers haven’t passed between the final turn and the first, that Hamilton shouldn’t have attempted it. Which, in my humble opinion, reads: racing needs to be dumbed down, the drivers need to agree on corners which they can pass beforehand, and to take one step further, permission needs to sought before making any move. I’m sorry Felipe, but just because other drivers may not have been able to pass at La Source, it doesn’t mean all can’t. Of course, the general opinion among drivers is that Hamilton was only able to pass because of the advantage he gained, but despite that, Massa’s comments are quite shocking to me.

I agree the penalty was quite big but I am not a steward. But it is also clear he got an advantage. The rules are very clear, if you cut the chicane you get the advantage you have to drop it and lose advantage, in Lewis’ case he should not attack in the first corner that is it. Jarno Trulli.

I just seen pictures so difficult for me to say if it is right or not what happened. For sure maybe he took a small advantage that is why he had the possibility to overtake him again in braking for Turn One, but obviously 25 seconds penalty was quite a strong penalty. Giancarlo Fisichella.

He did have an advantage because he would not be so close if he had not cut the chicane but the penalty was a bit harsh as it did not have a big result in the end result. But it won’t stop us from trying to attack definitely. Nico Rosberg.

So the general consensus among drivers – those people who fully understand exactly what it is like to drive a Formula One car in the conditions we saw in Belgium – is that Hamilton gained an advantage by doing what he did, but the penalty was quite harsh.

A slightly different view came from Renault’s Pat Symonds. Symonds took the opportunity while recording the team’s podcast to speak about the effect this will have on the sport as a whole.

As it happened in real time, we were talking on the intercom and said: ‘Wow that was definitely a situation where he has to give the place back’. I guess we weren’t that surprised when the stewards were found to be investigating it. Having looked at it again, I feel very, very sorry for Lewis. I think he has been very hard done

by.

It raises lots of interesting questions, and I am not talking about ‘Are the FIA on the side of Ferrari?’ We have to believe that they are impartial, the sport would not exist if we didn’t believe that. But I think it does call into question [the sport’s] philosophy, because everyone is saying we need more overtaking in Formula One, we need more excitement, and we need more personalities. And yet it seems to me that everything that actually happens seems to be against that.

Here we had a great race with people really challenging each other and for why? If it’s taken away, then why take that risk?

To me the facts are quite clear in retrospect. I have had a look at the videos, I’ve had a look at the published data which shows that Lewis was nearly 7 km/h slower than Raikkonen across the line, you can quite clearly see on the in-car camera that he lets him get completely in front, and in my view Raikkonen just braked very early.

Lewis went inside him, and if you look at the in-car camera stuff, Lewis drove around the hairpin very easily. He didn’t have a big slide, he didn’t have to correct it, he hadn’t gone in too deep and come out wide, it was a perfectly legitimate manouevre, and it wasn’t that much later that Raikkonen went past him.

This is racing, this is what we want. Pat Symonds.

While attempting to diffuse the situation regarding the FIA and Ferrari, Symonds basically says that we all want to see great racing, and in the final few laps at Spa Francorchamps, that is exactly what we saw. However, the superb race has now been tarnished by the stewards who, according to Symonds, have potentially stifled racing. Renault’s Director of Engineering also went on to say that he feels the decisions made by the stewards need to happen faster. This is something I too feel strongly about, and if the previous posts about this on BlogF1 are read properly, you will see that the crux centres around this very fact. The result of a race should not be changed two hours after the supposed winner has sprayed the champagne on the podium.

I think motor racing should be like football, not like cricket. Let’s have action, let’s know what is going on in real time, not wait for two days to find out the result. Pat Symonds.

I understand that when something happens at the very end of the race, little can be done to penalise the driver or team before the chequered flag is taken. However, the stewards need to find a way to speed up decisions. It shouldn’t take two hours to come to a conclusion, it should take a matter of minutes. And it is my belief that if this delays the podium celebration, then so be it. I would want to see the winner on the podium, hear the winner’s national anthem and see the team collect the winning constructors trophy. I do not want, as Lou from F1Break put it, go to make a cup of tea only to find after returning the result has since changed.

Oliver White

10 comments

  • Well, I couldn´t expect nothing different from Alonso, although I was expecting a little, I confess. The fact that he was “victimized” for the same kind of subjectivity in a judgment than Lewis, in the same period of the season, in a fight against the same team, could help him to be a little at Lewis´ side.

    Anyway, he must to preserve his interests in the spot right now, I believe…

    BTW, I really liked Lewis´ general answer to the drivers:

    “We always have our own opinions, but they have their own right to have their own opinion about what happened. It is always easy having a certain opinion when you are not involved, or you are the one who is NOT WINNING.”

    I read all his Q&A and I´m felling he is upset, really upset… This could be bad for him and the team and this is something nobody is discussing on this moment, the “After effect” of the penalty…

  • Hmm, it’s pretty much unanimous amongst current drivers that Lewis did gain an advantage – although most felt the penalty outweighed the crime.

    From what I can gather, the stewards didn’t really have too many options as to what penalty to apply though – a 10 place grid penalty at the next race was the other option I think but personally I prefer penalties to be served against the race in which the offence took place if possible.

    Hopefully the appeal will shed more light on this – praying for transcripts!

    One other thing – the rules are confusing me even more now. At first everyone thought giving the place back was the rule, then when the rules were checked it turned out there wasn’t a rule at all – yet now the drivers seem to be in agreement that the rules are clear and that you must give any advantage back. Do the drivers have a different set of rules to those made public?!

  • Hi Oliver

    My last on this subject as now it is time to move on: It’s Minza’s time!

    All drivers agree that there was an advantage. All (almost) agree the penalty was too harsh. I agree on that too as Kimi also did a lot of driving outside the track, and this is something I don’t like whoever the driver.

    I believe there should have been no penalty for Lewis (but nonetheless he took an advantage!) because to be fair everybody would nave been penalised.

    Was Massa says is: the proof of the advantage is the fact that Lewis could overtake at La Source: If a driver is behind another when getting out of the chicane then it is impossible for him to overake after such a short straight.

    You wrote “The Brazilian states that because other drivers haven’t passed between the final turn and the first, that Hamilton shouldn’t have attempted it.”

    I believe what the Brazilian states is this: It is physically (according to physics laws I mean) impossible and (the proof that it is impossible is that…) nobody has done it.

    To confirm that point Here is an extract from the thursday press conference in Monza :

    Q. (Ian Parkes – The Press Association) To any one of you: although it says in the rules you give a place back, does it say in the rules how much advantage you are supposed to give back? Because Lewis was effectively second both crossing the line – the time sheets prove that – and also going into the La Source hairpin. Just for clarification because we don’t know the rules like you guys do.

    SB: The rules are available for everybody to read I think and they are very clear. You gain an advantage, you gain an advantage. It doesn’t matter how big it is, if you end up being in a position to pass at the next corner then you gain an advantage, because at that place, as everybody said, you are never going to be in a position to pass, if you exit the chicane normally behind the guy, because it stretches out, it’s normal. It’s very simple, I think.

    That is a point none of us could make, but these guys are racing drivers they know what they are talking about.

    Get ready for Monza that could be a very hot week-end too 😉

  • I find this pretty sad that other drivers are being drawn into this. All these guys work and spend a majority of there summer time together, please due not pit drivers against each other, it really does not matter what Alonso, Bourdais, Trulli and all the others say it is just going to cause hard feeling. Dear God this is like beating a dead horse, not everyone is going to be happy with all decision, but lets not add insult to injury when it comes to the drivers.

  • I struggle with the logic of Massa’s comments. If you are behind at the chicane it is impossible to overtake by the first corner. Lewis was behind and travelling slower at the finish line which is after the chicane but overtook. So if it is possible to make up the gap in half the distance from the chicane it must be possible to overtake given the whole distance. Regardless of rights and wrongs what happened physically happened rendering Massa’s comment nonsensical. In normal racing I am sure it normally would be impossible to overtake in that distance but in normal racing the driver being challenged would not leave the door wide open. In normal racing it is impossible to make the pass Lewis made on Kimi at the first chicane at Monza last year but he did it.

    I think I am in a minority of one on my next point. I couldn’t care less if the results of a race are changed a week after it happens so long as the final result is correct. We need to have a system where results are absolutely final before the start of practise for the following race and that is not going to happen in this case. If Max wants us to treat F1 like chess we need to know the position of the pieces at any point in the game. How are Hamilton and Massa supposed to drive at Monza when they don’t know what the championship lead is? If Massa is in a position where he will take the lead in the championship provided the appeal is turned down does he back off and ensure he has the lead of the championship or does he keep pushing in case the appeal goes the other way and he is not in the lead of the championship.

    It is impossible for example to complete all the technical inspections of the cars before the podium ceremony so all results are provisional anyway. I would far rather that the process took a couple of days and ended with the correct decision rather than following the current knee jerk response of chcking a decision out quickly and being open to ridicule.

    Like everyone else I would prefer the correct decision to be reached immediately and for the race finish we see to be the final result but I am not sure that is possible. The one change I would make that could sort things out is to give the race director total power over matters of opinion on driver behaviour with the stewards only overturning decisions that can be demonstrably proved to be wrong. So Charlie or someone else in that position should not be on the intercom giving an opinion. He should be making a final judgement. That way like in football matters of opinion can be dealt with quickly.

  • I think what is clear from the drivers comments is that none of them are too sure about the rules either. Variously they make reference to gaining advantage and having to give the place back etc, and as Alianora and Clive and others have proven, this is not actually in the rule book.

    The stewards used article 30.3 or whatever it is stating that the driver must not leave the track – and then added their own little twist about the gained advantage, which appears to have been plucked from their nether regions. (I don’t have an encyclopeadic memory about F1 regs, so check out Alianora or Clives or Dr Vee’s blogs for much better explanation than I could ever give).

    And to be fair – although I haven’t read more than what you referenced on this site Ollie – Fernando doesn’t actually say he beleives the penalty is fair. He merely states that in his opinion Lewis had an advantage, and then goes on to say that the stewards are being strict this year.

    I also find it baffling, and I have seen it on a few comments now why people bring up the Magny Cours/Vettel incident as justification for this penalty saying that this is the second time Hamilton has done this.

    Surely a penalty is awarded for the infringement at that time? Or is there some sort of special cumulative effect that we don’t know about? But IMO if you have been punished for an offence & served that punishment, then the slate is wiped clean. Each new offence is treated in isolation (except maybe for dangerous things like deliberately ramming competitors off the road or using illegal cars or somesuch). But for simple driving offences, I really don’t think you should be punished twice for the same event that occured months ago.

  • I read Massa’s comments differently to you:

    I think he’s saying that because no other drivers managed to overtake on the start finish straight *without* cutting the chicane, Hamilton must only have been able to do so *because* he cut the chicane.

    It might not be particularly well phrased, but I think that interpretation looks more likely than yours, especially given the first sentence.

  • Massa omits one important proviso, whether or not what he’s saying is true. If the driver in front opens the door wide open and brakes early, any driver (even Massa) can grab the inside line and force his way into the lead at La Source. And that is exactly what happened.

    I don’t know why Kimi gave such an easy overtaking opportunity to Lewis (although I have a few theories) but it was an open invitation that Lewis would have been able to take even if he’d been two cars lengths behind. And, if you think Alonso, Trulli or any of the others wouldn’t have done the same, you’ve never raced a car in your life. 😀

  • @Kris: I see your point. It is perfectly possible (read: likely) I have interpreted Massa’s words incorrectly. But while I appreciate who his employers are, I still think the sentiment of his quote is a little off.

    I don’t know why Kimi gave such an easy overtaking opportunity to Lewis (although I have a few theories)

    @Clive: If we’re thinking the same, then that theory popped into my head as well. But then I thought about it and realised it was Raikkonen. If it had been Michael Schumacher, then I would have been certain: he would have done it on purpose in order to start the investigation. But I don’t think Raikkonen is as ‘clever’ as Schumacher.

    And, if you think Alonso, Trulli or any of the others wouldn’t have done the same, you’ve never raced a car in your life.

    The wise man doth speak’th. Or something. 😉

  • Actually, Ollie, I wasn’t thinking that Kimi let Hamilton pass so easily because he thought the stewards would then penalize the McLaren driver. That would be something so devious that only the mind of a Schumacher could concoct it in the time available. I think it’s simpler than that.

    It looks to me as though Kimi ceded the inside line because he knew it was damp (being off the racing line) and likely to have less grip, therefore. The idea was that Raikkonen could brake as normal for the corner and Hamilton, if he took the huge opportunity offered, would have to brake later and almost certainly overshoot – pretty much as he had done on the second lap when Kimi got past and into the lead.

    The idea proved wrong, however – the McLaren had much better grip than Kimi had expected and Lewis was easily able to outbrake the Ferrari and grab the corner. Raikkonen has been racing for many years and been in that sort of situation hundreds of times. He would know that the safest thing to do would be to keep the inside line and force Hamilton to go around him on the outside – a move that rarely works, especially at La Source. But the Ferrari’s lack of grip must have shaken Kimi’s confidence that he could complete the inside line successfully himself and he went for something a little more devious.

    I can’t think of any other reason why he should give up the advantage into the corner without a fight.

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