Spa – Hmm…

{ Posted on Sep 09 2008 by dScribe }

Should Lewis Hamilton have been penalised at Spa Francorchamps? That’s the question on everyone’s lips…

My first impression was his fight with Kimi Raikkonen was fair. After cutting the chicane, Lewis let Kimi back into the lead. That’s the normal procedure. Nothing wrong there. From the outside, it looks like a good clean fight. I mean, it did look like Kimi didn’t give him any room, so cutting the chicane was the only option right?

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My opinion started to change a bit when I saw the on-board shots from Hamilton’s car (from 3:20 on in the video below):

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From the on-board it looks to me like Lewis could have in fact taken the corner if he slowed a little but instead chose to keep his momentum to ensure he had an opportunity to pass Kimi into the first corner.

Regardless of whether or not Lewis backed off enough to “undo” the advantage he got from cutting the chicane, I think most people would agree that the penalty given was too harsh. Perhaps a 5 spot grid penalty in the next race would have been more appropriate or even just a warning? A 25 second race time penalty could have meant Lewis scored no points if it weren’t for the fact the field got spread out so much in the chaotic conditions – and that would have been a penalty even his harshest critics wouldn’t agree with.

Aside from the whole Lewis penalty, the race had some pretty exciting moments right from the start. So let’s get to the points:

Lewis Hamilton – Drove really well. Used the fact that the McLaren warms the tyres quicker to his advantage as the conditions deteriorated. Unlucky to get such a harsh penalty.

Kimi Raikkonen – You have to feel for Kimi. Spa is a track he owns and to crash out so close to victory must hurt so bad – especially as it almost completely rules him out of the Championship hunt.

Felipe Massa – A bit of poetic justice for the Brazilian. The gains Lewis made from Felipe’s car trouble in the past have somewhat been negated now. So it’s a straight fight to the championship. But in all honesty this wasn’t one of Felipe’s best races.

Fernando Alonso – Starting to impress again, despite his horsepower woes.

Nick Heidfeld – Brilliant decision to change to wet tyres at the end. A nice way to follow up a good qualifying performance. One of the rare few races this year when he’s done better than teammate Robert Kubica.

Sebastian Vettel – Every race this guy’s stock seems to go up :)

Toro Rosso – So nice to see the old Minardi team doing so well. I hope Vettel’s imminent move to Red Bull Racing isn’t a step backwards… I wouldn’t be surprised if Red Bull somehow do a deal to get the Ferrari engines in their lead team in the next few years…

Heikki Kovalainen – Showed just how strong McLaren is by storming back through the field. What he didn’t realise is he has to earn each and every position – it’s not his right to just go flying by everyone 8)


24 Responses to “Spa – Hmm…”

  1. The thing that strikes be looking at the Hamilton on-board is how early Raikkonen braked for the chicane compared to Hamilton. Clearly that Ferrari was struggling on the damp track.

    I’m completely convinced that Hamilton did more than enough to hand the place back, and that he re-passed Raikkonen simply because the McLaren was working so much better in the damp conditions.

  2. Hey Keith. Good to see you’re still around. Will have to drop by your blog again soon ;)

    I think the worst thing about Lewis being penalised is it sets a dangerous precedent. I mean, where do you draw the line? Should a driver have to drop back 1 car length behind their competitor if they cut a corner? It’s just a bit too grey.

    F1 needs full time stewards and consistent rulings.

  3. I’m definitely down with JYS on the consistent stewards thing. If you compare Schimacher’s overtaking of de la Rosa at Hungary 06 (find it on YouTube) with Hamilton at Spa 08 then there is no way Lewis should have been penalised.

    Looking at the onboard footage you could argue that Lewis gains a fraction of an advantage in momentum from cutting the chicane. But given that he was clearly faster, that Lewis clearly allowed Kimi back in front, and that ultimately it had no repurcussions on the race result as a whole (after this incident Kimi re-took Lewis, only to spin out and crash while in the lead, lest we forget) the penalty seems more than unfair.

    After all, what was that argument used to justify only fining Massa at the last race – that there was no actual impact on the race result? Despite a contravention of the rules? A few thousand Euros worth of a fine for Lewis’s transgression would seem appropriate here, if anything at all.

    The further implications for overtaking in F1 have been documented elsewhere. Also mentioned elsewhere is that some people argue that Lewis should have let Kimi further ahead. Well how far is far enough? Surely this is too large an area of ambiguity to exist in a sport like F1?

    Can, worms – well done stewards!

  4. Lewis should have waited until Les Combes to pass him back and no one would have said a thing.

  5. WOW…!!! the race it was super in the start and in the end….
    Of course Alonso did very good job… :D

  6. That was a great race, very exciting finish.

    Regarding Hamilton’s penalty, it is the inconsistancy in these rulings that bothers me the most. I also read that McLaren made an effort to confirm that everthing was good after Hamilton returned the position to Kimi…what more could be expected?

    Here is the excerpt…

    Martin Whitmarsh added: “From the pit wall, we then asked Race Control to confirm that they were comfortable that Lewis had allowed Kimi to repass, and they confirmed twice that they believed that the position had been given back in a manner that was ‘okay’.

    If Race Control had instead expressed any concern regarding Lewis’s actions at that time, we would have instructed Lewis to allow Kimi to repass for a second time.”

  7. Could Hamilton have avoided cutting the chincane?
    Probably not. But if there was a wall instead of a run off area he would not have been so adventurous either.

    Did Hamilton gain an advantage by cutting that chicane?
    I am no expert as the speeds of F1 cars but I think Jarno Trulli is and his opinion here has me convinced that it would have been impossible for Lewis to overtake that Ferrari in that corner without cutting that chicane.

    So what punishment was justified?
    The standard punishment is a drive thru penalty. That is what the rules say. The option was to give a grid penalty in the next race, but I dont know if that option is even there, I would have to look thru the rules. But the point is either is a valid penalty. One was given.

    I know its sad that the person who won the race ended up third but you can just bend rules just coz the person who committed the mistake won the race.

    Personally I think its a series of unfortunate events that was started by Lewis and he got punished for it. Period.

  8. when i saw it live i was under the impression that he choose to straight line the chicane instead of slowing down, after seeing the this now im certain he did so. whether the harsh or not is another question, but he did deserve a penalty for thats all i have to say.

  9. hey, long time admirer of the site, but my first comment. Ill start by saying i love a wee look at the site afetr the races to get the opions from everyone so theres my praise…

    I’m a Mclaren man myself, back from the day my local man David Coulthard was on top of his game. so i thought i might aswell drop into this argument. There was always little grumbles about ferrari being favoured but i never really listened much to it. Always thougth it was just people being paranoid like in football with clims of bias ref’s. Only in the last couple of years have i become a huge fan and understand the sport a bit more and seeing decsions like this ive started believing the same.

    This view was made even stronger by nikki laudas reported comments. he strikes me as a ferrari fan, fine, each to their own correct me iof im worng there). but he comes out as this being the most ridiculous decision ever.

    i agrre, i think mclarens treatment is an absolute joke. i cant let the doubts of ferrari favouritsm pass on this one… and even with heikki’s penalty. he was absolutely flying, and about to come into real contention to play a part in the race result. granted it was a daft move, but if that was a ferrari fighting back, id like to have seen if it was a “racing incident”

    the sport is going to kill itself if tehy carry on going liek this, its so disapointing and especially in whats beng a cracking season taht looked as if teh sports getting stronger, it seems to me the powers at be are trying their damest to ruin it. a BIG shake up is needed i think!

  10. Karlos – You’re right, there have been much worse “offences” in the past that have gone unpunished, so it’s very harsh for Lewis.

    Sean – True, that would have been the “right” thing for him to do. I guess it’s hard in those pressure situations though.. :)

    Chryso Alonso – Alonso did very well didn’t he? But one gets the feeling Renault is slipping back a bit :( BTW, you’ll have to get all the girls form the Raquel del Rosario thread to come comment on some of these race posts too! Nice to see you here! ;)

    Jason – To me it seems like there’s too many decision makers in F1. Perhaps they need a board of X number of people that attend every race – have access to live footage and can replay events and make judgement as quickly and as fairly (or not ;) ) as TV commentators can.

    Haas & MAK – Yeah, at the end of the day it’s hard to argue no rules were broken. For me I just wonder does the punishment fit the crime?

    Mair – Welcome to the site! :) Glad you took the time to post a comment :) I can’t decide whether Ferrari have a lot of decisions go their way, or whether it’s McLaren that have a lot of decisions go against them? :)

    I have to say that I think Heikki’s penalty was fair though but you raise a good point about whether or not he would have got a penalty if he were in a Ferrari… ;)

    I think the powers that be often “influence” things so that each and every year we have a close championship. Perhaps it’s in their job spec to make sure a championship is not decided more than 2 rounds from the finish hehe ;)

  11. Another point….the race stewards had the option of issuing a time penalty or 10 grid places at the next race. My opinion is that in this case, the 10 spot penalty would have been more appropriate.

    It is absurd to have the race finish, the podium ceremony and then issue a penalty like this under these questionable circumstances.

    BTW…to give full disclosure, I am a McLaren fan…but a motor racing fan first and foremost.

    dScribe – I think you summarized it well. F1 needs full-time stewards (like other professional sports) and more consistency.

  12. Hey…here is a suggestion.

    How about Mosely’s five prostitutes oversee the races? We could probably get better consistency on rulings and at the very least, the F1 money would be going back into the process. ;)

    Okay, I’m done now….

  13. seeing the on board footage, it was a fair decision because even if lewis gave the spot he immediately went into kimi’s slip stream giving him the advantage.

  14. cheers dScribe, i like your idea of them fixing it for a close championship. i can picture it now. just like the World Wreestling Federation got forced to change its name to World Wrestling Entertainment… are we up for the “Entertainment of International Autosport” running a “Formula Farce series”?

    im certainly with you on having the same consistent stewards at every race. im actually shocked at teh fact thtas not the case already. its a nobrainer to me!

    back onto the topic of lewis punishment and Johnnys comment, Lewis was getting closer and closer to Kimi and in his slipstream coming into that corner, Kimi braked really early obviously struggling with the damp track. i would personally say wen the actyual incidient in question of kimi shutting lewis off and then this leading to lewis going off the track lewis had his front wheels inline with the sidepod of kimi (this is clear from the offboard cameras)… by the time they were on the straight lewis was a clearly fully behind with a gap to kimi – my opinion anyway!

  15. To me it would seem abit silly to have rules that didn’t clamp down on this exact move by Hamilton – Cut a chicane and pass at the next corner. From the video, it’s obvious Hamilton could have backed down – cutting the chicane was quicker though…

  16. Being a Ferrari fan, I can’t say I’m unhappy that Felipe inherited the win.

    However, I think the penalty is ridiculous and if McLaren’s appeal gives the win back to Hamilton, I would not be surprised nor dissatisfied.
    After all, it’s quite clear that Hamilton did not drive a 3rd place race that day, cutting a chicane or no.

  17. typical Frekin’ fia and ferrari
    as the former is owned by the latter,there will never be any fairness in F!.
    That race was won fair and square by Mclaren,with the whole world watching…
    lemme see-
    we have an outfit that supports a Nazi facist like Max Moseley;
    who is best friends with the owner of GP watches,which effectively owns and controls both the FIA and Ferrari…
    and a typical Italian/Ferrari attitude of-well-if we can’t win-we’ll cheat or bribe the stewards!

    I have just stopped following F1.

    It is completely owned and controlled by Ferrari and is a waste of time.
    My dad has been saying it for years and I refused to believe him until today.

    Oh,and yes,I am qualified to make that statement-I know alot of Italians-my dad is half Italian and half English,(which I guess makes me a quarter :( )so I know both nationality’s very well.
    Ah well, shall have to find something else to do on Sunday evenings now.

    I HATE cheats.
    Massa almost killed someone in the pit lane last race and he got a petty fine…-today,Kimi actually re-overtook Hamilton twice-and blew the race all by himself.
    Why is it that only Mclaren get penilised by points…-because Ferrari and their cronie’s know they won’t stand a chance of winning otherwise…!!

    Hamilton will win this year.
    Glad Kimi is effectively out now.
    Massa hasn’t got the look of a world champion…-he looks like a loser-, but that’s it-I really don’t give a fcuk, anymore.
    :(
    Pity,as I have been watching F1 for 30 odd years- I have finally had enough.

  18. Nothing surprises me anymore with the FIA (Ferari International Autosport), notice how they announce Massa’s pathetic penalty after he secures a victory and how they announce Hamiltons demotion to 3rd after the trophies were presented – bloody cowards, FIA would have been derided by all if they’s done it at the finish. I wish McLaren would just pull out of the championship citing FIA bias, but as we support the underdogs nothing would give me greater pleasure than seeing them stuff it to Ferrari at Monza and win the 2008 championship.

  19. Some good comments from Pat Symonds here on how this type of thing is deteriorating the sport we all love….

    http://f1.gpupdate.net/en/news/2008/09/11/symonds-questions-penalty-hamilton/

  20. Well, Let me start with Kimi. He had the fire of a champion till the rains quenched him out. And I just read that he has signed another 2 year deal with Ferrari and that sums up his motivation, but have to wonder why Alonso was spreading rumors about his Ferrari switch. He obviously was lifting his hand up to tell them that he was available and that is the only way he can get to Lewis. Well, for all the Alonso fans, this is bad news. He might never get a competitive car for the rest of his career.[:(]

    And for the race, Awesome (with the help of the latter rain)… Only Spa can produce a race like this. Remember the 1996 race still where there was a massive pile-up before the La Rogue on lap 1. Awesome race.

    Kimi: The true winner, (Bad luck with the Ferrari in slippery conditions)

    Lewis : Lucky with the rain and unlucky not being able to resist temptations.

    Massa: “Also ran”, but ended up being the winner ??? . There are 2 classes of Massa. One, when being in front and second, when following.

    Alonso: Good job, I shud say but lost a podium in the last gamble.

    Heidfeld: Well, Put these guys under pressure and they perform.

    The Controversy:
    I should honestly say that all the guys who are pissed off with the stewards decision are venting out their feelings here. Check out, There are already more than 20 comments for this race. Great work by dscribe, for adding the second video. That Clearly sums it, I have been a small time racer and a partly technical watcher of F1 for 20 years and there is no doubt that Hamilton made more than 1 mistake in last corner. TV cameras reveal nothing at all!!! But the second video has these clarifications.

    Firstly after he had over braked in the last corner and if Lewis had to take the long way, which is the right way he would not have any momentum at all and he would had been at least more than 0.5 sec behind kimi. The last corner is so slow after the final chicane that lowest speed there is about 60 to 80 km/hr. Kimi had to take the chicane in slippery conditions and accelerate(remember, no traction control) and Hamilton had to just cut the chicane and accelerate??? (Does that sound fair?)

    Secondly, I tried simulating on my video game and got amazing results. If someone can teach me how to capture the video, I can post it here. Clearly Hamilton was accelerating before he reached the road itself (That calls for a penalty by itself) He was just being so impatient that he didnt let go the throttle but just remained a gear down till Kimi passed him, And then he jumps into 4th gear and starts accelerating into Kimi’s slipstream. NOT FAIR AT ALL!!

    All the drivers in the paddock seem to agree that the penalty was fair, as the race stewards didn’t have any time to investigate during the race and the penalty was a standard protocol. Glock was also penalized the same way.

    Well, That’s my research. And Niki Lauda is a sports politician now, trying to make many contrasting statements and gaining mileage from them. He comments for almost everything now. No respect lost tho, Great Sir.

    And some team principles have their chance now to speak against Ferrari (the team they want to emulate!)… They all know that the penalty was fair…

  21. Eureka Robin Stephen (India)!!

    Had I known that you had discovered a method to simulate and professionally analyze controversial race footage with your video game system, I would have “checked out” long ago!

    What else can you do with that video game? How about simulating the Kennedy assassination, the first moon landing, the Princess Dianna crash scene, those pesky global warming trends and put an end to all these silly controversies. ;)

  22. Well Mr.Jason, The video game is no evidence at all. Agreed.
    But if you really want to know how slow the last corner is, you gotta find out by yourself and the simulation games are the closest you will get to..

    Well and in case you didn’t know, all the top brass investigations calls for some simulating. Haven’t you watched those science channels?? I don’t know about the JFK assassination but the rest of the topics have been simulated or recreated using software’s including Global warming trends, moon landing and Di’s crash. In case you didn’t know, many F1 driver’s play video games to get used to the circuit. Even Alonso did a simulation run through the streets of Valencia before the street race.

  23. Actually Robin, they use multi-million dollar, purpose built simulators…not video games.

    Anyway, I was just giving you a hard time. Your comments are obviously as valid as anyone else’s here…I just thought that you were stating it more like actual fact, than opinion.

    P.S. I just saw the Monza qualifying….damn your Massa! ;)

  24. Jason – LOL @ Mosley’s 5 “helpers”… ;)

    Johnny – Yeah, he definitely got an advantage and it’s much clearer from the on-board shots. It’s just such a grey area though isn’t it?

    Mair – EIA… I like it ;)

    Robasto – Welcome to the site! Another name I haven’t noticed before :) This thread sure is bringing a lot of heated debate ;)

    Caitlin – Hey, another person from the Alonso threads.. good to see you here ;) I love what you said here – “it’s quite clear that Hamilton did not drive a 3rd place race that day”. That’s the perfect summary of events!! :D

    Paul and Andrew – Welcome! :) I think despite all the perceived Ferrari-bias Lewis and McLaren will probably come out on top still :)

    Robin Stephen – We really do need Alonso in a competitive car or else Lewis will create another era similar to the Schumacher-era. I mean, there are other drivers out there that can put it to him too (Kubica, Vettel), but with Massa, Kimi and Heikki filling the rest of the top cars there doesn’t seem to be much competition.

    Will Kimi PLEASE get the fire back!! :)

    Jason – Seems Massa didn’t capitalise on that good qualifying form after all in Monza… :)

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