Hamilton the scapegoat in a sorry tale

lrg-3491-01f1gpaus2850Lewis Hamilton has been stripped of his third place in Sunday’s Australian Grand Prix after the FIA ruled that his McLaren team “deliberately misled” stewards in a post-race enquiry.

Forumula1.com’s Hugh Podmore asks why…

The stewards were investigating new evidence – probably radio traffic – concerning his pass of Jarno Trulli and Trulli’s subsequent repass. Hamilton has lost credibility, points and had a fantastic drive tainted by this verdict. And almost certainly, none of it was his fault.

The sequence of events was simple. Trulli fell off the track for reasons unknown when the Safety Car was out. Hamilton passed him, as he had no choice. Trulli rejoined behind Hamilton. So far, nothing was wrong. Then Trulli passed Hamilton illegally, still under SC conditions, which led to him being demoted to 12th place by the stewards after the race. But Trulli alleged Hamilton was going so slowly that he was forced to pass the McLaren, assuming it to be suffering from a mechanical problem. Toyota, however, dropped the resulting appeal against Trulli’s penalty on Tuesday, thinking that it was unlikely to succeed.

So the first mistake was Trulli’s fault – ie, he went off the track. The second mistake was McLaren’s and Race Control’s. There would be no other explanation for Hamilton’s allowing Trulli back past other than the team instructing him to do it, and no other reason for the team instructing him to do it other than because they thought those were the rules. McLaren have the rulebook at their disposal and should have seen that Hamilton could keep the third position he found himself in. But for whatever reason they were unclear, and Martin Whitmarsh explains why.

”Lewis made a legitimate pass and then was repassed – at the time the team asked race control several times about the repass but they were too busy to answer that question,” said the McLaren team principal today.

Meanwhile Lewis Hamilton had a million other things to be thinking about at that time, namely how to keep that dog of a McLaren car on the road with freezing cold tyres and brakes. It fell thus to the team to instruct their driver during the race, which they failed to do. For which they blame Race Control, who surely must also take their share of culpability. But afterwards it is again the team’s responsibility to give their representative in front of the stewards all the evidence required.

So again the next mistake was McLaren’s, for not providing – through Lewis – all the evidence the stewards required at their post-race meeting with Trulli and Hamilton. Perhaps the team thought that by leaving the radio conversations out of the evidence presented, Hamilton would be given the third place. While not exactly cheating, this is underhand and ought to be punished.

So why, in the name of the gods of racing, has the poor driver been punished? If in a calculated move designed to see another competitor disqualified Hamilton let Trulli by, then he should have been. If he then went to the stewards and knowingly hid evidence only he knew, then again he should have been. But it is very difficult to believe this is all Hamilton’s fault, and he – seemingly, again – is the one who has to suffer.

Why wasn’t he put back to fourth, then? Or why wasn’t McLaren fined and their constructors’ points removed? Every time something like this happens, the conspiracy theorists have another field day. It always seems to be Lewis, they say, on the wrong end of the decisions. And every time something like this happens it weakens the opposing argument.

34 thoughts on “Hamilton the scapegoat in a sorry tale”

  1. What nonsense…The article is forgetting that Lewis Hamilton is not a thumb sucking 3 old child. He is a World Champion for gods sake…He was very much a part of whatever happened. He was a culprit in the whole cheating episode..

  2. This only shows biased nature of FIA. Their control team is not able to take decision. FIA doesn’t accept the mistake of control team or stewards, but punishes drivers and team. Drivers for sometimes Team’s mistake. This is what was seen during Australian GP. This shows that they favour Ferrari. So when Ferrari failed they saw that Mclaren also didn’t get point, with stupid rules. You should equally fine race controller and see that we have adequate people their to answer any team queries. Anyways you have created so many complicated rules which you yourself are not able to clear. Example being diffuser. Get your own backyard right which punishing team and drivers. Or else we would be left with only your people and team would just drop out.

  3. Surely it is the accusers that have to gather the evidence against the defendant? If you went to court, the defence would bring the evidence needed to protect the defendant. Is that incorrect? Surely it is up to the FIA to produce the evidence that they require to prosecute?.

    A total and utter f*ing farse this sport. I am giving up on it. I would rather watch something that is not so obviously corrupt to the core. Fangio and Senna will be rolling in his grave at the farce that the FIA have turned this sport into.

    Scrap the podium and announce the winner a week after the season has finished. Only the FIA will decide the outcome now. Pathetic.

  4. If Hamilton is penalized any more I will not watch the rest of the season. This should of been settled the same day.

  5. I totally agree, what the hell is going on, you never heard a peep out of the FIA before, but “they” are dictating the sport now, bunch of t**ts!!!. Hamilton is the best thing to happen to British motorsport, the best thing since Nigel Mansell!!. Ok its all gone to his head a bit but hes a brit, he drives like a man posessed and it seems the FIA don’t like him at all. Fangio and Senna would certainly have something to say about the farce that F1 has become!! I love F1, but like many, can I stomach this joke for much longer????

  6. Larry, sorry but I disagree with you. Hamilton lied to the stewards therefore I think they had a duty to look into what he said to them and to the media, regardless of whether the original decision was wrong or right. And as they didn’t find out that he lied until after the race, it’s completely fair that they’ve had to make another decision a few days after the race weekend.

  7. Simple truth. Hamilton and Mclaren was asked during initial investigation that were there instructions to let Trulli pass during that period. Both Hamilton and Mclaren denied that there is. This is a outright LIE.

    Whether or not all these passing and re-passing is legit or not is not important. The simple fact is is Hamilton and Mclaren lied. So, Hamilton is not a scapegoat and ought to be punished.

  8. I agree they lied, but it shouldn’t have got to this point. Taking this long gives the impression of fixing a race. This isn’t the first time this has happened. Usually the champinion gets the benifit of the doubt. It seems not ever in Hamiltons case.

  9. The audio recordings the stewards listened to are now posted on the FIA website. They clearly show Lewis and McLaren deliberately allowing Trulli to pass. At the post race hearing they denied this. It’s no fault of the stewards immediately after the race not to have obtained this in the short time. They relied on the word of the teams and drivers and evidence to hand.
    If evidence comes to light later it of course should be reviewed.
    Justice is now done – not because Lewis let Trulli past under the SC, but because he later ‘omitted’ telling the whole story . Seems completely fair, and a pity as a talent like Hamilton doesn’t have to do this sort of thing.

    Compare this to Vettel’s attitude post race. He went and personally apologized to the BMW guys. A different class of man althogether.

  10. You’re comparing apples and oranges. McLaren lodged the complanint. Most drivers will stand by there team with a story. It’s a hard decision especially when the officials couldn’t keep up with the proper posistions during the race.

  11. Somebody has realised that if the difussers are proven to be illegal the 1st and 2nd places will be lost and Lewis will get 1st place. ‘They’ obviously will not want to give Lewis 1st place so have had to take action.

    Incidently……… the stewards see all of the race and hear the communcation going on. They need to be action at the time and not after podium places have been awarded.

    Lewis is a fantastic driver with or without a good Mclaren. But hes not liked – why…. now theres a question! You can do it Lewis. Prove them all wrong – again!

  12. Mandi you are so wrong.
    The results of the difuser hearing on the 14th of April will NOT affect ANY of the results in Australia (or Sepang).
    All 3 teams have already been cleared by the FIA and given the thumbs up by scrutineering before the race.
    This means they have been given the green light to race and therefore they cannot be punished now if the outcome of the hearing doesn’t go their way. All that will happen is that they will have to conform to a more accepted diffuser design from the next race onwards.

    As for the Lewis incident, firstly let me say that I’m a fan of his, but this punishment is well deserved. During the race everything was fine. He got 3rd place properly when Trulli went off and there is video that shows Lewis slowing down to let Trulli re-pass. To accompany that is a transcript of the radio-to-car between McLaren and Hamilton. It is clear that McLaren were not sure what was happening when Trulli went off and asked Lewis to let him re-pass (as they wanted to avoid any crap from the FIA as they got in 2008 knowing they are targets).
    Lewis knew he didnt have to do this but the team told him to anyway as they wanted to “play it by the book”.
    This voluntary re-pass by McLaren was unecessary but despite that it would have given Trulli a proper 3rd place because, hey, they let him past when they didnt need to. McLarens problem. So for the sake of that 1 point, McLaren it seems, decided not to be 100% forthcoming with all the evidence and seemingly even lied when asked if letting Trulli pass was a conscious decision.
    It is for that lie that the punishment is deserved. They should not have misled the stewards just because McLaren mis-read the situation and couldnt get clarification by Whiting at the time (to which Whiting should take some of the blame).
    McLarens worst case scenario for coming clean in Australis was 4th place. 1 less point.
    So yeah, they got busted.

  13. Can you imagine any other sports fans putting up with this? Imagine you favourite soccer team coming back from 4-nil behind to win 5-4 to win an important match!! …

    … then a week later the referee decides that the last goal 2 goals were offside so he takes the points away.

    What a joke. The FIA seems to be intent on making this sport an absolute farce. They need to get their own house in order (chairman, stewards, rules, FOM) before they start doing stupid things like this.

    I’ll not bother getting up at 6am to watch races anymore, I’ll just watch the news a couple of weeks later to find out the result.

    As it stood this morning before this decision, 6 of the first 7 finishers were subject to appeal! What sort of a way is this to run what used to be an exciting sport.

  14. It seems that to some people, Lewis can do no wrong. Might as well call him Saint Lewis.
    The truth is that the FIA strongly believe that he lied when asked if he had been given any orders to let Trulli pass. Then he lied when he said he did not let Trulli past – it’s all there in the radio transmission, he said “I already let him pass”.
    What sad excuse for media this place is.

  15. I’ve watched F1 all my life and seen a lot of things that have made me question the sport, no more so than some of the inexcusable decisions made by the FIA last season but I have to say I can’t see what else they could have done in this situation, Maclaren lied end of, I hate to say it because like many I was jumping up and down when Lewis won last year much the same as in 96 with Damon but it was unsporting and should be dealt with however I do think the stewards and race control need to be questioned aswell as this situation should never have gotten this far in the first place. The FIA need to get thier house in order before they make a mockery of the sport completely.

  16. The Race stewards have to be punished if there is any rule to do so. It was them who was responsible for this whole crap. Every time they take a decission and reverse it…… be it the rules or penalties

  17. wat the.. u idiots race fixing? hamilton being champion should get benifit of the doubt… NO! are u dumb… it should be a level playing field doesnt matter wat car u drive in.. champion or no champion… same rules apply to everyone… thats the way it is.. stop crying over it.. and face the damn facts.. hamilton/ mclaren lied to the stewards.. and in turn have copped this penalty. the sooner u can deak with the facts the better.. please stop making stupin nonsense of race fixing.. and everyone ganging up lewis.. because it isnt true.. lewis knows that and so do mclaren… as if mclaren had a problem with the decision believe me they would be appealing it.. and u dont see them sayin a word.. so get your facts right or shut up

  18. I don’t believe Lewis can do no wrong, but I do believe people always want Lewis to be wrong or be wronged.

    Having read more into this, I agree if Lewis has lied (and the readings do point this way) then the result is right.

    Its a real shame. He is a brilliant driver and he proven that. I hope he or Mclaren don’t try and result to underhand tactics. 🙁

  19. What I find appaling is that Mclaren AND Hamilton were happy to allow the injustice of Trulli suffering an unwarranted penalty. I find that indefensible.

  20. That’ll learn him!! Take the smug look off his face for a while and make him realise that, while we LOVE the underdog in this country and have been cheering him all through last season when he forced his way through against all the hurdles put in his way, there’s also one thing that we REALLY DETEST in sport in this country. And that’s a CHEAT.

    Diving in football? …CHEAT! BOO!! Johnny foreigners do that….! (Michael Owen anyone?)

    Hamilton is going to have work REALLY HARD to keep the fans on board because at the moment he seems to have shot himself in the foot. Perhaps living in Switzerland for so long is turning him into Johnny Foreigner? CHEAT!! BOO!

    The sport was becoming more discredited by the day due to the actions and odd decisions of the FIA over the last seasons. It was also becoming harder to explain to your workmates that you’re a ‘sports fan’ and follow F1. “What?!” they say…. “fekin’ Scalextric you mean?!”

    Credit crunch everywhere, teams cutting back costs, Honda pulling out. A sense of realism emerging maybe?

    All the more important then to kick the cheaters in the crutch and ensure that the sport maintains SOME form of integrity.

  21. This whole thing sounds fishy to me.

    The one thing which I haven’t seen it an actual transcript or recording of what Hamilton and McLaren actually said at the first steward’s meeting.

    The sequence seems clear other than that. My interpretation of the radio transcripts is that McLaren was being overly cautious, probably in large part due to what had happened last year at Spa. Advice was sought from Charlie Whiting, but the requests were ignored. The radio conversations were certainly available to the FIA during the race.

    Then BEFORE the stewards meeting, Hamilton in an interview told exactly what had happened, that Trulli had gone off, and Hamilton had to pass him, and that he had been instructed to let Trulli pass.

    Now the FIA says that Hamilton and McLaren had not said this at the stewards inquiry. If this is true, it seems incredibly stupid, since it contradicts the radio transmissions and his public statements.

    McLaren issued a statement saying that from there perspective, Hamilton had answered the questions he was asked at the meeting truthfully, but without a transcript of the meeting from the FIA we are left with no way to assess this. After last season, several teams seem to be very wary of pushing protests against FIA decisions because of prior draconian results.

    I, as well as anyone who wasn’t actually there, still don’t know what actually transpired during the stewards meeting.

    I, for one, am becoming more and more suspicious that the FIA has turned F1 from a sport into a Franz Kafka novel.

  22. Let’s all take a step back from the first F1 GP of 2009 for a moment. I’ve been glued to F1 for over fifty years since I first worked for Rob Walker. It is STILL a GREAT sport and the BEST SOAP OPERA of all time. Yes I know it may be difficult for newcomers to the sport to get to grips with provisional podiums etc., but F1 STILL occupies hours of family debate. Try watching each race with the TV & Laptop on & the FIA Blue Book to hand & start dishing-out your own arm chair penalties! Enjoy the ride – It’s really Prime Time viewing with action off-circuit 52 weeks a year. Value for money? YES!

  23. Tushar?? In what way WHAT HAPPENED IN AUSTRALIA shows that FIA favour Ferrari?? I’m sorry but your argument is completely pointless …

  24. The only idiot I see is the one who stoops to calling people names to get their point across.

    Lewis is 24 years old. This is his first team who’s paying him millions. If he’s hearded into a meeting with officials and told to support his employers stance before he can say a word. I would think this would be a hard decision to make. I guess I’m one of the only people here who don’t want to crucify some one for being human.

    On the other hand the FIA makes millions. You would think they would be able to get a saftey car out within 5 mins. after a accident. After a race is over I don’t want to see new results a week later. When Truly was declared to have been 3rd I was ok with it. But this circus going on right now is a joke.

  25. Awww he lied. WHO CARES? It’s a race, let them race for god’s sakes. All these ridiculous intricacies are going to be the end of F1. What happens over the radio is really un-important in my mind, at the end of the day it’s the cars and the cars only that matter. It now feels like when a race is over and you look at the standings, they will inevitably be different within a few days, and thats just completely ridiculous. If I was in charge instead of this Ecclestone joker, there would be none of this crap, then again, if I was in charge, F1 would be good again, and we can’t have that.

  26. No need for anymore arguements. LH has admitted to lying to the stewards

    However, there is a real scapegoat this time. All the blame has been put on one person, Mclaren Sporting Director Dave Ryan. Can you believe that LH actually said that Dave Ryan asked him to lie??!!

    Can anyone believe that Dave Ryan will tell LH to lie without the consent of Martin Whitmarsh?

    Still, the SIMPLE TRUTH is that, they LIED!

    LH is a fantastic driver, I am not a LH hater, but they have not been honest and they deserved to be punished. Period.

  27. After reading this have totally lost respect to this site. How biased are you? Hamilton accepted his ‘huge’ mistake, why can’t you? He lied, that is why he is punished. I will be deleting the bookmark for this site.

  28. Frank, in case it has escaped your notice this is a forum, where people with a common interest come to express their opinions, some you may like, some you may not. If you have indeed ‘lost your respect’ for this site because you don’t agree with other people then maybe you should f@*k off to another site or better still maybe apply for a position with the FIA, they could do with more open minded individuals like yourself to advise them on future policy.

  29. I think your one hundred precent correct
    He lied and so did his crew and thats what it was a lie , bad sportsmanship Hamilton champion extrodinary, lies and then wants to be forgiven and only says I was told to lie , , to make his own decisions now what is next ? Signned Cats

  30. you may not care that they lied but dont forget they were happy to see trulli punished for something he did not do ! and i dont think i herd him moaning he accepted it,as for lewis (i was told to lie) hamilton how old is he ? does he not know right from wrong? also this is not the first time they have been seen to lie, some say hes a brit to be proud of , “YEA RIGHT PROUD” . i”ve been the victim of a lier & it nearly destroyed my famly & life so may be your right what does it mater if some body only lied ???????

  31. Do you think Schumacher was telling the truth when he said he didn’t deliberately run into Damon Hill at Adelaide with his crippled car? What was his penalty? Nothing because he has always been favored by the FIA. The problem withthe sport is the biased nature and inequity in which penalties are dished out for similar offences. Had this been a Ferrari driver the only penalty would have been a paltry fine.

  32. Very funny Schumacher being favored. The FIA did everything they could think to stop him from winning. He never got the benefit of the doubt and they continued to change the rules in hopes of stopping his victories. When he stopped on the track they didn’t believe that he couldn’t turn, they just called him a liar and made him start last. At least I would think that MS would have been smarter than to lie whith his conversations to the contrary on tape. They continued the lie even after they heard the tapes. “I did not have sex with that woman” and “It depends on what the meaning of “IS” “IS”.

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