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post #1 of 28 (permalink) Old 09-17-2008, 06:14 AM Thread Starter
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Mclaren's Spa appeal

Mclaren is about to appeal the stewards' decison to impose a 25 second penalty on Lewis Hamilton for cutting the bus stop chicane at Spa and subsequently gaining an advantage over Kimi Raikonnen despite " giving " the position back.

The rationale is that although Hamilton ceded his position he did not wait long enough to attack and re-take the position from the Finn.

At Monza on Sunday we saw a number of drivers come off the track, regain the track ahead of the driver they had been following, give the position back and as the commentary made clear " following clarification of the rules by the FIA" wait until both cars had gone in and out of the next corner before relaunching the attempt to race and overtake.

If Monza was the first race where the rules regarding this was clear then the implication is that at Spa it was not clear.

This would explain why Race Director Charlie Whiting when asked twice by McLaren if everything was ok said it was and why the stewards disagreed.

Max Mosley has said that McLaren should not have even asked Whiting and Whiting should not have responded. OK... rules are rules but if someone as experienced as Whiting doesn`t know his arse from his elbow then clearly clarification is required.

That such clarification was only made after the event means that in Spa the position was uncertain and therefore it was impossible to rule that Hamilton's manouevre was legit or illegit.


Without certainty the stewards' retrospective penalty imposition should be overturned.

Bet it won't.
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post #2 of 28 (permalink) Old 09-17-2008, 07:00 AM
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The rationale is that although Hamilton ceded his position he did not wait long enough to attack and re-take the position from the Finn.

If Monza was the first race where the rules regarding this was clear then the implication is that at Spa it was not clear.

Bet it won't.
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post #3 of 28 (permalink) Old 09-17-2008, 07:14 AM
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Mclaren is about to appeal the stewards' decison to impose a 25 second penalty on Lewis Hamilton for cutting the bus stop chicane at Spa and subsequently gaining an advantage over Kimi Raikonnen despite " giving " the position back.

The rationale is that although Hamilton ceded his position he did not wait long enough to attack and re-take the position from the Finn.

At Monza on Sunday we saw a number of drivers come off the track, regain the track ahead of the driver they had been following, give the position back and as the commentary made clear " following clarification of the rules by the FIA" wait until both cars had gone in and out of the next corner before relaunching the attempt to race and overtake.

If Monza was the first race where the rules regarding this was clear then the implication is that at Spa it was not clear.

This would explain why Race Director Charlie Whiting when asked twice by McLaren if everything was ok said it was and why the stewards disagreed.

Max Mosley has said that McLaren should not have even asked Whiting and Whiting should not have responded. OK... rules are rules but if someone as experienced as Whiting doesn`t know his arse from his elbow then clearly clarification is required.

That such clarification was only made after the event means that in Spa the position was uncertain and therefore it was impossible to rule that Hamilton's manouevre was legit or illegit.


Without certainty the stewards' retrospective penalty imposition should be overturned.

Bet it won't.
If Massa would've won Monza with Lewis not scoring - FIA would've want to equalize the running.

I don't get Moosley's comment - who should McLaren ask for clarification ? They are at the race Charlie is there, Moosley in south America, may be bent over a barrel.

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post #4 of 28 (permalink) Old 09-17-2008, 12:04 PM
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I am a Ferrari fan but it was clear to me from Hamilton's in-car, that Kimi gave up La Source chicane to him. That being the case, even with the ruling clarified, what is the following driver supposed to do if the car in front slows down? Not pass them? What happens when a third car comes up on them both - one that wasn't involved and doesn't have the need to cede the advantage? Its all balled up and I feel the FIA will over turn the ruling.

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post #5 of 28 (permalink) Old 09-17-2008, 03:13 PM
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Looking behind the Hamilton decision

Looking behind the Hamilton decision

Lewis Hamilton, Belgian GP 2008
© The Cahier Archive
The reaction in the international media to the decision of the Belgian Grand Prix stewards has been as damning as expected. Reaction to this website from fans has been equally damning. The popular British newspapers have been in full attack mode. The Daily Mail reports that Hamilton is the "victim of a conspiracy against McLaren", with the FIA heading a "polluted sport". The Daily Express says that the "puppeteers of the FIA have pulled the strings and made Lewis Hamilton and his McLaren team dance to Ferrari's tune", while The Daily Mirror says that F1 is "back in the dock" and described the events in Spa as "another tawdry episode in the sport's history" and concluded that the "same old stench mars the sport and turns fans away" and "ruins the efforts of even the best competitors, taints the day and leaves fans wondering what exactly they are fans of." The Independent says that the events of Spa "will be long remembered as being farcical and disgraceful by all in motor racing".

In Italy the pro-Ferrari press has defended the decision (as one would expect) but in Germany multiple World Champion Niki Lauda waded in to attack the FIA, saying that this is "the worst judgement in the history of F1" and said that it was "absolutely unacceptable" that the stewards can influence the World Championship in this fashion.

The question now is whether the FIA will put its head down and try to ride out the storm or whether it will make an effort to justify the decision in an effort to be seen in a better light.

The federation says on a regular basis that it is not its job to be popular and that sometimes referees make decisions which are disputed. A counter argument is that referees in soccer do not have permanent officials involved in the process.

The Stewards do not act on their own. They react to reports delivered to them by the F1 Race Director. This is Charlie Whiting, a former Brabham F1 mechanic who worked his way up to the position and works out of the same office as Max Mosley in Monte Carlo. In Spa Ferrari very carefully made sure that the media knew that it had not protested the result of the race and that the action was based on a report from Whiting.

Once the report is received the three stewards look at the issues involved, but they do so in league with an FIA-appointed "stewards advisor". He does not put his name to the decision but is involved nonetheless. This is the role that is played by former European politician Alan Donnelly. It does not help matters that Donnelly has acted as one of Max Mosley's closest advisors and even as his official representative at races for a number of years and that his consulting company Sovereign Strategy (which is housed in an FIA-owned building in London) has advised Ferrari (but not the F1 team) and a number of F1 teams, When he was first appointed to the stewarding role in January there were questions about whether he was the right man for the job, but he insisted that his goal is to re-establish the credibility of the FIA Stewards, as he was well aware of the perceptions in F1 circles.

It is also important to know if there was any input at all from outside Race Control, if only to reassure the fans that there is no outside interference in the decision-making.

The most important thing however is that people need to understand how the decision was made, what the report from the Race Director said and why it was deemed necessary for the stewards to even consider the incident and not others that took place in the chaotic last couple of laps of the race. This will help observers understand how the three stewards (Nicholas Deschaux, Surinder Thatti and Yves Bacquelaine) came to the decision they reached.

The three men are interesting in that Surinder Thatti is a Tanzanian who now sits on the FIA World Council representing Kenya. This may seem odd but in FIA circles is not unusual at all. An Indian represented China at the FIA for years and one of the members of the FIA Senate has represented at least three different countries in the course of his FIA career. Thatti is seen as a close ally of Max Mosley as head of the FIA Confederation of African Countries in Motorsport (CACMS). He was the official who complained some months ago about the appearance of Sebastien Loeb on the podium of the Mexican Rally.

Deschaux is the young head of the Federation Francaise du Sport Automobile, which sanctions French motor sport and promotes the French GP. He was one of the leading critics of Mosley at the FIA General Assembly this summer and is widely seen as a rising star with a good brain and it is hard to understand how he would have been a party to such a dubious decision, unless he was outvoted by the other stewards. Little is known of the locally-nominated steward Yves Bacquelaine, except that he is one of the leading members of the Royal Automobile Club of Belgium.

It is possible that the FIA could save face by overturning the decision using the FIA International Court of Appeal, although there is an argument that a drive-through penalty cannot be protested and thus the 25sec replacement penalty cannot be changed. Having said that on occasion the World Council has overturned stewards' decisions, notably in 1997 when an extraordinary session was called after the FIA stewards in Jerez declared that the Michael Schumacher's collision with Jacques Villeneuve was "a racing incident", which was clearly not the case at all.

About the only good news in the whole affair for the FIA is that Max Mosley will go to Monza next week without needing to worry about being embarrassed by a large number of media questions about his sexual adventures and the ensuing scandal that rocked the FIA this summer. The F1 media will be busy dealing with this new scandal.

However, one does have to ask whether going from one scandal to the next is really the best way for the FIA to operate.
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post #6 of 28 (permalink) Old 09-17-2008, 03:15 PM
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I am a Ferrari fan but it was clear to me from Hamilton's in-car, that Kimi gave up La Source chicane to him. That being the case, even with the ruling clarified, what is the following driver supposed to do if the car in front slows down? Not pass them? What happens when a third car comes up on them both - one that wasn't involved and doesn't have the need to cede the advantage? Its all balled up and I feel the FIA will over turn the ruling.
The rule clarification:
If McLaren driver cuts a chicane he can't pass the Ferrari driver. The Ferrari driver than suppose to stop on the next straight with McLaren behind him and wait for McLaren driver to be passed by other Ferrari driver. After second Ferrari Driver gains enough track space - racing can resume.


I agree - Kimi just wasn't feeling comfortable in the wet (and for a good reason) so he was very slow. Ferrari didn't lodge the protest - so they don't have to show Kimi telemetry or that will be a proof that he was cautious accelerating and very earlier on braking.

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Last edited by Kirill; 09-17-2008 at 03:17 PM.
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post #7 of 28 (permalink) Old 09-17-2008, 03:18 PM
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Interesting: F-1 drivers opinion re the Hamilton penalty

Interesting: F-1 drivers opinion re the Hamilton penalty (from bottom: questions from the floor)

FIA Thursday press conference - ItalyReproduced with kind permission of the FIA
Drivers: Sebastien Bourdais (Toro Rosso), Giancarlo Fisichella (Force India), Felipe Massa (Ferrari), Nico Rosberg (Williams) and Jarno Trulli (Toyota).

Q: Sebastien, two good results in the last two races. What are your feelings about those results? Is this the start and can you repeat them?
Sebastien Bourdais: For sure we hope to carry the momentum, that's the goal. Valencia was nothing special for me, just the team did a great job and the car was very competitive. But we didn't really fix the issues that I had been facing in previous races. Then we arrived in Spa and obviously I felt really good straight away. We had just had a few handling problems here and there but nothing fundamental. We found some solutions for this and in qualifying it was really strong. And in the race we looked set for fifth place which was quite unreal to be honest. When Claudio (Valestri, his race engineer) told me 'you are racing Kimi coming out of the pits' I was thinking 'what the hell is he saying, this doesn't sound right.' But it was just a great race and I can only hope that it had been 43 laps, not 44. That is pretty much the end of it.

Q: Do you feel you are getting on top of it now and the results can be repeated?
SB: It is tough to say. Obviously I felt really good on that track in Spa, it is a track which I always liked and it flows nicely. You don't have many entries with a lot of brakes in the corners, so that suited my style very well and it was not really showing the problems I had been facing with the R3. Obviously we came here and tested and I wasn't very comfortable but we will see if we can use some of the knowledge that we took from Spa and try and build from there and see what can happen.

Q: What is your future with the team?
SB: That's the question. All I can say is that right now it seems to be going fairly well. I will just try to keep the momentum going. It is not my decision obviously. If I could say what I wanted to do it is quite clear I would like to stay with Toro Rosso and use the work we have put together this year to try and build something strong for next year. I keep on doing the best I can and we will see if it is good enough. Obviously it is Gerhard (Berger, team co-owner), Franz (Tost, team principal) and Dietrich's (Mateschitz, co-owner) decision, so we will see.

Q: Nico, a good test here and some new components tested since then?
Nico Rosberg: The thing is with this track you have a completely different aerodynamic level, so it definitely gives us a better chance to do well here. We had a really good test and I really enjoyed this track. I have done well here in past years and the test was fantastic, we were second on both days. We should not be overly excited now, but I think we can - relatively to the races I've been in the near past or the near future - do well here. So maybe we have a chance to score a point or so.

Q: What is it about the circuit you particularly like?
NR: I think it is just the characteristic. I think it is really fun, big speed, big stops with the chicanes going over the kerbs, a good challenge and then all the medium speed corners. It is a nice track.

Q: I know you speak Italian. Do you feel Italian as well?
NR: I do think part of me is Italian. I have grown up with Italian friends and so I have really grown up with the culture also. And I get on best with Italian people. I really like the way they think and everything so it is fun and nice to race here too.

Q: Jarno, do you feel the Toyota engine is as strong as the other engines out there?
Jarno Trulli: Yeah, I think we have in general a competitive car but obviously this is not the kind of track our car likes very much, so we will fight hard as anyway in the last few years I have always been scoring points. So far this year we have been more competitive on a high downforce level than a low downforce circuit. We are here to fight and I think our engine is up with the best and I believe it is just a matter of getting everything right and finding a good way to make the car and tyres working on this circuit.

Q: What about the possibility of rain here?
JT: There is a high chance of rain. I can say this is not the best place to race with rain but we have to deal with it.

Q: And your feelings about racing at home in Italy?
JT: It is always nice to be back in Italy, in Monza especially, because there is always a special atmosphere here in Monza during testing and races. There are a lot of supporters from Ferrari and a lot of Italians, so it is definitely nice to be back home. I only live a couple of hours away from here.

Q: Felipe, your feelings about how the car is suited to this circuit?
Felipe Massa: For sure, as Nico said, it is a track which is completely different to any other track for how you prepare your car in terms of aerodynamics. I think we had quite a good test. I really hope that we can be very competitive. McLaren showed for sure a very good performance on the test and also last year, so it will be a big competition for sure. But I think we are in the right direction in terms of preparing for this race and see if we can start on Friday and Saturday morning with a reasonable set up.

Q: Would rain help you?
FM: We have seen many times this year that in the rain we lost a little bit of performance, so maybe it would be nice not to have the rain here and not have any opportunity to have a consistent race.

Q: Your best results here have been two ninth places.
FM: In Formula One. But before Formula One I won every race I did here, so it is not bad.

Q: I am sorry, I only have the Formula One records.
FM: It's okay, I know.

Q: Is it a circuit that you like?
FM: Yeah, I really like the circuit. As I said I had a great memory in the other categories, in Formula Renault, in Formula 3000, I always had very strong races here. Unfortunately in Formula One... last year it could have been a second place. We were doing a good race but then I had a mechanical problem in the car. I like the track and I am really motivated and optimistic that we can do a good job this weekend.

Q: Giancarlo, only one non finish out of 11 grands prix here at Monza. Presumably it is a circuit you like as well?
Giancarlo Fisichella: I have got great memories in Formula Three and even in Formula One two years ago I finished third and it was nice to be on the podium in front of my fans here. It is a great circuit. It is obviously different compared to other circuits, especially with the wing level. It is a tough circuit as because of the wing level there is very poor grip especially in the braking point like turn one and turn four. The car is really inconsistent and for that you need good control of the car.

Q: Do you feel the team has made progress in the last three or four races?
GF: Yeah, for sure. We have made through the season a step forward compared to last year, especially in the last couple of races. We got the new quick up shift and we made another step forward in the last couple of races. I was quicker than one of the Hondas in Valencia and in the last race we were just a few hundredths slower than the Hondas and the gap between us and the leaders was 1.3 or 1.4 seconds which is quite a lot but 1.3 or 1.4 four or five years ago, there was a possibility to start fourth or fifth. Now the gap is very small, so it is quite tough for us.

Q: What about your own future, do you see it in Formula One?
GF: Yeah, absolutely. I think we are very close to again finalising a contract with Force India for next year. I've had a difficult season because obviously the results are not what we were expecting, what we hoped for but the atmosphere is good, they are pushing really hard and as I told you, we made a step forward. I feel well, I think they are happy with me, so for sure next year we will work together again.

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR

Q: (Ian Parkes - The Press Association) Felipe, Lewis has just remarked at his McLaren press conference that despite what happened and the penalty in Spa, that he's coming here on a high, he feels like he's coming here as a race winner. I'm just wondering if, from your perspective, do you feel the same thing, that you're coming here as a race winner, even though the win was effectively handed to you by the stewards?
FM: To be honest, I've given my ideas on this many times about what happened. What's happened is that he took an advantage by cutting the chicane. You can ask other drivers how many overtaking manoeuvres you see there: no overtaking. Going from the last corner to the first corner is such a small straight, so he took an advantage, that's clear, that's my opinion, so it doesn't change.

Q: (Dan Knutson - National Speed Sport News) Could I ask the other four drivers what they thought about that incident and Kimi, and as a follow-up, do you think you and other drivers might be afraid to fight for a position now that you might get a penalty?
GF: I have just seen pictures, so it is difficult for me to say whether what happened was right or not. For sure, maybe, he took a small advantage, that's why he had the possibility, as Felipe said, to overtake him again in braking for turn one. But obviously, a 25s penalty was quite a strong penalty. As for the second question: when we get in the car and we're fighting to overtake a car, we don't think about that. We just try to do our best. Obviously we know if we cut a chicane or we take an advantage we need to back off and give the position back.
SB: Yes, I think the rules are very clear. Maybe the penalty was a bit hard, but I think he's made the same mistake twice: he's done it in Magny-Cours and he's done it again in Spa. I don't really understand why there's been such a mess around it. There's a rule book and everybody has to obey the same thing. The penalty is really rough but in the end it's up to you to give the position back or not. Pretty straightforward.
NR: Yeah, I definitely agree, because he did get an advantage, because he wouldn't have been that close behind Kimi had he not cut the chicane. But then again, I also think the penalty was a bit harsh as that did not have such a big effect on the actual race result in the end.
JT: Well, I agree completely with my colleagues. The penalty was quite big but I'm not a steward and I cannot decide what kind of penalty should be given. But on the other hand, it was very clear that he got an advantage out of it, so that's where it is. The rules are very clear. If you cut the chicane and you get an advantage, you just have to drop back and give back the position and in Lewis's case he shouldn't have attacked straight away at the next corner; that was it. On the other hand, with this new chicane, there is a lot of run-off, it gives you more chance to attack because in the case of a mistake, you wouldn't end up in a wall or in the gravel. If it was the case of Lewis in Spa, he wouldn't have gone much further than that. We have more chances to overtake.
SB: I think it was very clear and I agree as well. You have to be responsible for what you decide to do, and in this particular case, if you do gain an advantage like I said, you just give it back and make sure that you don't expose yourself to penalties. I think it's the easiest way to handle it. In my previous experience, my previous life in the States, it was actually a common thing. The stewards would not take action if you gave the position back, so I think it's only fair.
NR: I agree and I don't think it's going to stop us from trying to attack, definitely.

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.

Q: (Dan Knutson - National Speed Sport News) Felipe, how do you see the championship battle here shaping up for you in the last five races?
FM: I see it as being pretty competitive. I think when you see that there is a two points' difference and we have five races ahead of us, everything is really completely open. We have 50 points (available) in the championship which is quite a big number of points, compared to the difference, so the battle is hundred percent open. We saw this year that you have some races where maybe Ferrari was a little bit better. You had other races where perhaps McLaren were a little bit better. It's really difficult to make a clear comment on which track we maybe can have an advantage or not, or maybe if we have an advantage or if they have an advantage. I think it will be very competitive all through the races.
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post #8 of 28 (permalink) Old 09-17-2008, 04:00 PM
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Interesting: F-1 drivers opinion re the Hamilton penalty (from bottom: questions from the floor)

FIA Thursday press conference - ItalyReproduced with kind permission of the FIA
Drivers: Sebastien Bourdais (Toro Rosso Ferrari), Giancarlo Fisichella (Force India Ferrari), Felipe Massa (Ferrari), Nico Rosberg (Williams) and Jarno Trulli (Toyota ).
I wounder why they didn't use full names of the team (with engine suppliers)....

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post #9 of 28 (permalink) Old 09-18-2008, 02:20 AM
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Whether seen as unjust or not, I think the ruling will stand.
We'll see soon enough.
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post #10 of 28 (permalink) Old 09-18-2008, 04:06 AM
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My heart (knowing the facts) says it wont...
My brain (knowing the FIA) says it will stand...

As of last season, I thought I am crazy to think that there is a conspiracy against McLaren, to be this anal about McLaren following the rules, and be very lean with other teams.

Let’s recall some facts from last season:

McLaren admits the possession of the classified Ferrari material, however, they have proven that the material didn’t get used in any shape or form... also; McLaren insured that the engineer responsible for obtaining the info was discharged.

Yet, they got penalized for the incident...

Well... okay... let’s assume FIA loves to play by the rules...

HOW COME everyone overlooked the fuel temperature issue with BMW and Renault in the last race of last season, if these drivers were disqualified, the result of the entire championship standing would have changed... BMW and Toyota broke the rules, and never got even investigated, not to mention if it was an honest mistake or not, but the rules were broken, and there were no consequences...

This season, and even without reading any statements or press releases, even for someone who is not into the sport what so ever, by watching the recording of the incident, Hamilton played it fair, but the FIA still didn’t like it...

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