Belgium 2008: Hamilton Loses Victory, Massa Now Winner

Belgium 2008: Hamilton Loses Victory, Massa Now Winner

As Ago has just pointed out in the previous post, Lewis Hamilton has been handed a 25s penalty for cutting the chicane while battling with Kimi Raikkonen for the lead of the race. The penalty, which is a drive-thru after the completion of the race, means 25 seconds is added to Hamilton’s overall time and demotes the Briton to third behind Felipe Massa and Nick Heidfeld. Needless to say, I don’t think McLaren are too happy about this.

And neither am I, but not for the reasons you may think. I am absolutely disgusted that the result of a race has once again been changed after the podium ceremony. Everyone at the saturated Spa Francorchamps circuit saw Lewis Hamilton lift the winners trophy and spray the victory champagne. Yet, when they get home later this evening, they will learn that in fact Massa has won. That, in my mind, is completely wrong. It is so wrong, it nothing short of ridiculous. If the stewards cannot decide after an incident if any punishment should be handed out, then quite simply, no punishment should be handed out. And certainly not a punishment that affects the result of the race.

Do you agree with me, or do you think the penalty is perfectly reasonable for the infraction and also for the sport? As ever, the comments are open…

Poll Result:

Lewis Hamilton’s penalty is…

  • Completely Disgraceful – 137 votes (75%)
  • Perfectly fair – 31 votes (17%)
  • He should have been punished, but in another way – 14 votes (8%)

Total Votes: 182


  • Let me repeat what I said on Keith’s blog: Total rubbish! The stewards should be taken out and shot! Here’s an idea: Max should overule the stupid stewards decision and thus help clean up his image and the leader of the FIA.

    By the way, Keith’s site seems to be unavailable. I’ll bet it was overwhelmed by other outraged fans such as myself.

  • What’s increasingly infuriating is that Spa (and other previously challenging racing circuits) resembles another characterless car park in a rising percentage visit after visit – subtracting the ultimate, unnegiotiable precision required throughout competition for one that doesn’t punish errors and simply provides extra track for pressurised drivers in challenging situations.

    Organic surroundings leave pilots the impossibility of gaining an advantage through off-track excursions – these sort of controversial decisions wouldn’t have the option of occuring if grass or gravel made an appearance once in a while.

    It’s the compromises circuit designers are having to make, not the drivers or inconsistent regulatory bodies i’m annoyed at. Who can draw a definitive line between breaking regulations and snap reactions? A painted line on an acre of tarmac or an unsightly day-glo apex hump, apparently.

    Don’t give them the space, or the option. Safety isn’t an issue on corners such as the Bus Stop. Sure, we’re considering huge braking distances, but the space is present beyond the chicane to incorporate preventative measures other than satisfying budgets with a ‘get out of jail free card’.

    Fantastic, a headline that finally gifts me the option to complain about the overload of solid surfaces on modern international racing ciruits. (This had been boiling for a couple of years now.)

  • The last time I recall them changing the results was to allow Fisi to win for Jordan at Brazil back in 2003 when they gave Raikkonen the trophy erroneously.Fair enough then but now this is just disgraceful – especially as Charlie Whiting seen nothing wrong with the move.I hope Alan Donnelly and the two other stewards get their licences revoked for this.I’m not sure Alan should even be on a board of stewards – he’s a PR man and has Ferrari as one of his recent clients (and also he’s one of Max’s chums).They’ve brought the sport into disrepute quite frankly with their recent decisions.I did used to think they are trying to make it difficult for people to accuse them of being biased but now I’d bet many mainstream fans now here would question how impartial they are.I hope the FIA get embarrassed in the mainstream press especially with the amount of coverage Max got because that would at least force them to look as if they were doing something about it.The proverbial s**t has hit the fan here.

    I had the feeling when I was watching live that Lewis didn’t let Raikonnen go completely in front and might get into trouble for it but there’s no rules that I can see that say that says a driver must let another car go by say 1 car length.What happened to the benefit of the doubt and common sense? The only way the result should have been changed is if Lewis rammed Kimi off the circuit or something else so blatantly unsporting.Jamie , you’re right – this kind of situation should not exist in the first place and would not if they had gravel traps rather than these huge tarmac run offs.

  • I am stunned. Why the penalty? He was forced off, he came back on and gave way to Kimmi and then after giving Kimmi position he put the heat on and beat him. I don’t get it. This is my second year watching the sport and it is discouraging. Who wants a contest that has a legislated outcome?

    How come there was no drive through penalty for Kimmi at the beginning of the race when he did the same thing and came out number two?

    Don says Max should make this right – based on the amount of time it took the stewards to make a ruling I would bet Max made the call in the first place. He probably made a phone call and told them to strip Hamilton.

    This is unacceptable. I am disgusted and frustrated.

  • Yeah, looks like F1Fanatic is down at the moment. I agree with the taking certain people out back and giving them a piece of my mind at the very least. Unfortunately, F1 is F1, the FIA won’t listen to us mere fans and the stewards will continue to cock the sport up for everyone by not dealing with problems effectively.

    I mean, seriously, a post-race drive-thru? Gimme a frickin’ break.

    Edit: Huh, you all comment at the same time, just as I’m responding to donwatters. I’ll go through your comments in a moment, but thanks to all for contributing, a lot…

  • I’m okay with the penalty and the way it was dealt with.

    While it would be much better for him to have been handed a drive-through actually during the race, I think the stewards automatically defer decisions when the incident happens late in the race – and I’m not really sure what else they could do to be honest.

    Should he be forced to perform a drive-through within the first 5 laps at Monza next weekend or whatever?

    I’m pretty sure there would be further uproar about such a penalty, with complaints that penalties from one weekend shouldn’t carry on to the next race, etc.

    At the end of the day, the stewards just can’t win!!

    Perhaps when they review video evidence, they should do so in black and white so they can’t distinguish which team is which – thereby erradicating any accusations of Ferrari bias!

  • Hah! And furthermore, it seems you can only penalise a driver if he gains an advantage by avoiding a fellow competitor on the INSIDE. Who cares about diverting to run-off on the outside of a turn to avoid a collision with a vehicle? That kind of action is still gaining an advantage. (See: La Source Hairpin)

    You’re only penalised if you shorten the course’s length. Apparently, it doesn’t matter how fast you are going, or how much time you avoid losing by taking to external run-off.

    There’s no black and white anymore, it’s just grey, grey, grey.

  • Completely disgraceful – for the reason in the original article AND because Hamilton did nothing wrong. I’m English but not particularly a Hamilton fan – it was one of the most exhilarating race endings I can remember and this has completely and utterly ruined it.

    Massa nearly caused an accident in the pitlane a fortnight ago and was given a warning and a fine in a post-race decision – at worst this should have happened this time. As previously said, a post-race drive through penalty is simply blows-my-mind ridiculous.

    I just saw on the news that McLaren are appealing (obviously they would), I surely hope they win but even if they do, the whole thing has tarnished what was a magnificent climax to the race

  • yet again the stewards are on the ferrari side, no action was made against farrari in the last race, its totally unfair after lewis dropped back, and taking the win away from him after the podeium ceremony, the FIA is totally bias towards ferrari, when it comes to ferrari and mclaren, i feel utterly sick for lewis, its really bad what was done today,

  • At the end of the day, the stewards just can’t win!!

    I disagree. I understand that incidents at the end of races is harder to deal with, because of the time limitations.

    But, they could have delayed the podium ceremony. They could have allowed the stewards time to analyse everything. And then they should have sent the right people up in the right order. Also allowing the many thousands of fans to cheer for the right driver and not feel cheated.

  • But, they could have delayed the podium ceremony.

    I don’t think this has anything to do with the stewards, this will be Bernie aware that TV companies all over the world want to be seeing the top 3 up on the podium as soon as possible after the race – and then into the press conference. It’s the same reason they aren’t allowed to do donuts on their slowing down lap – everything is timed like a military operation by Mr E!

    I actually agree with what you are saying – it’s a shame that Massa doesn’t get to be on the top step etc, but logistically I can’t see how it can be helped.

    ITV certainly can’t keep the programme on air for a couple of hours longer than normal just to hear the final outcome – and it would be especially bad if the original result turned out to stand after all!

    And I doubt the thousands of fans would have hung about that long either – the podium ceremony would have taken place in front of empty grandstands.

    It’s a situation that leaves a bad taste in the mouth I agree, but I think Lewis should have been punished and can’t see how else it could have been handled.

  • What happened to the benefit of the doubt and common sense?

    @francois: The stewards do not understand this common sense thing, I fear.

    I am disgusted and frustrated.

    @Mike: This is why I fundamentally disagree with changing results after the race. For the relatively new fans like yourself, it must be so annoying. Unfortunately, the FIA do not always think of the very people who keep the sport running.

    There’s no black and white anymore, it’s just grey, grey, grey.

    @Jamie: The rules were once black and white!? Maybe in 1952! 😀

    the whole thing has tarnished what was a magnificent climax to the race

    @phil: I completely agree. I understand if a judgement has to made after the race, but the result should not change, ever.

    i feel utterly sick for lewis, its really bad what was done today

    @janet: Thanks for your thoughts. I try and keep away from the Ferrari/McLaren FIA-bias issue, and I haven’t said if I agree or disagree with the reason behind the penalty (I thought it would be more fun for you guys to talk it out, as you all are). But I understad why you feel that way. It does look bad for the FIA and the stewards.

    ITV certainly can’t keep the programme on air for a couple of hours longer than normal just to hear the final outcome

    @Craig: I get what you saying, I really do. But I don’t think the stewards should have taken an hour or two to decide. I mean, Football referees have instant video playback on the side, don’t they, and the decision is made within seconds. So what is the difference between that and this? Playback the video, assess it from however many views there are, then refer to the rule book and make a judgement. Ten minutes, maybe?

    Why does everything in Formula One have to come down to political bull-s**t and committee meetings?

  • Face it, television, well, the money it makes, thoroughly corrupts sport. Watching the Olympics I was struck by how, in many of the events, esp. the big attractions we saw here in the US, all of the competitors are doing exactly the same thing. They only compete on how precisely they can match a pre-determined set of criteria; they don’t compete on general athleticism. They’re becoming extremely skilled robots competing to see how completely robotized they’ve become. F1 and sports cars are much the same. The only broad-based competition now is in the chassis and engines. How different this is from a few decades ago.

  • Let’s assume that he did obtain an advantage, even after lifting off to let Kimi Raikkonen through and reducing the the speed advantage obtained through the run-off.

    Perhaps the stewards would enlighten everybody as to how many car’s lengths would be adequate to be judged as being fair!

    At any event he appeared to have more traction on acceleration and adhesion through La Source

  • It seems that the F1 rules are: Thou shalt only be penalised if thou art not Ferrari!!!

    It is becoming more and more obvious that F1 is Ferrari with all the other contenders just to fill up the field…

    Why dont they just give Ferrari the World Championship now. At least it will spare us fans from watching this farce! This is no different from rigging games!

  • Why do Ferrari even bother to come out of the pits? They can just stay in the pits, save fuel, save tyres… They can just claim the other teams looked at them funny, have everyone penalised and just be awarded 1st and 2nd place.

    In fact, they should do this during the first 3 laps of the race, so everyone can have the afternoon free.

  • F1 Bosses are taking the sport and fun out of F1!!!

    There are clearly no REAL rules governing F1… just preferences.

    Thanks for spoiling our sport Mosley and cronies

  • Well this strikes me as a really dumb decision.

    Hamilton screwed up/ran out of room, took the escape road, got back on track ahead of Kimi, and then let Kimi back past.

    And I agree with the other posters about track design and all that, and I don’t really want to get side tracked, but a way to get around this problem would be to do what Indy car does: Make a labyrinth of tires in the escape road, so if you do have to bail, it will really slow you down.

    Anyway, strikes me a dumb move by the stewards … Hell, if they really wanted to penalize him, why not dock Hamilton 10 spots for the next race?

  • Make a labyrinth of tires in the escape road, so if you do have to bail, it will really slow you down.

    @Tony: I’m not sure if I should say this, in case it riles you, but that corner – the old bus stop…
    …well back when it was a decent corner (or corners, I should say), they actually had a labyrinth of tires to slow the cars down. Although the tyres were essentially on the inside (the corner is now vastly different, annoyingly) a few drivers did run off in the wet, and were forced to negotiate the walls.

    You sir are 100% right, and although I think the safety element might come into play, F1 is dangerous, and the drivers are aware of this.

    Great comment Tony (and Francois who first mentioned it), thanks for reminding me of this. 🙂

  • Ferrari F1 MafiaThe Belgium Grand Prix run today is one of the highlights for me of the racing calendar. Great circuit, always eventful, good scenery etc etc. It usually rains too, which always makes for an interesting race and levels the playing field for all teams. Ususally the best driver wins.

    What we want to see, as spectators is overtaking, skill, speed, excitement. That we can always get from a GP race in the wet. Why not install a sprinkler system on the tracks, set to go off at random moments. What a spectacle that would be?

    We also want a level playing field. For many years I have believed that F1 is “fixed”. By that I mean that the power of Ferrari in the sport is so great that they usually get the favourable decisions made by stewards, officials and the guardians of the sport (Ecclestone, Moseley etc ……. ha ha ha, some role models eh?).

    The money in this sport is awesome. It also spreads unimaginable corruption. The media also goes quiet when biased pro-Ferrari issues are raised. Is this sport?

    I have an idea. Why not Maclaren, BMW, Williams, Renault, and anybody else except Ferrari and Terro Rosso (Ferrari 2nd team), start a new F1 competition. Let Ferrari win their little competition every year and we can have our own. Lets all agree to promote the sport in the right way. The spectators are the most important and any non-Ferrari supporters will be outraged by the events in Spa today.

    That’s it. I’ve had me grumpy bit. I for one will now turn away from this sport and will probably watch the moto GP instead. Purer. Or instead I might just settle down next Sunday, with a lovely glass or two of rioja and watch my tomotoes grow!

  • Yet again we,re treated to another totally unsporting and seemingly a “FAVOURITSM” decision by MOSELY,S mob of incompetant goons.,a first year karter will be able to figure out the total injustice of this Ferrari Intern.Ass. penalty.The FIA and their meddling bosses should hang their hesds in shame (and given 50 lashes on their fat rich :botties: )…what a pleasant “pay off” though for Ferrari for supporting our wierd M.M. a few months ago….ANGRY?FRUSTRATED?SAD?that these people can do this with such breathtaking ease of self belief..YOU BET !Hamilton,listen son,you know you WON at Belgium,more to the point,Formula 1 and its fans do too.

  • “The rule states; not only must the driver give up the corner if he drives off the track, he must gain no competitive advantage for the next TWO corners”

    This has hit the nail on the head, im a big Lewis supporter but he broke the rules because of impatience in the heat of the fight.

  • If a drive-through or stop/go penalty is considered within five laps of the race, it has to be converted to a 25-second penalty instead, according to Article 16.3 (since last race, I’ve got to know the contents of that article rather well!) The stewards had their hands tied on this – unless they’d been able to see two laps into the future, there was no way they could have issued an in-race penalty for what happened (the incident occurred on lap 42/43 of a 44-lap race).

    I’m dubious over whether a penalty was warranted, but if one was warranted, the 25-second penalty was correct. Not that this will gain the stewards any brownie points with a fan base made suspicious by numerous dodgy decision in the past.

  • Linda , where did you find that rule? I can’t see it in the 2008 sporting regs from this year.If that’s the case I’d like to know why so many people don’t know about it.

  • Linda can you please tell me where did you found that rule (about the 2 corners) can’t find it in the FIA docs I have (sporting code, F1 regulations…) Many thanks in advance.

  • What a suprise!!! 2 laps to go and ferrari lost there win, Its just not good enough so unfair!!! Still good old Max will soon put that right wont he? Not that he’s biased in any way. As long as ferrari pull away furher in the constructors title, and one their drivers can close the gap. Perhaps we should just have Ferrari’s and teams with their engines on the grid. It would do wonders for F1 fans!! sorry i mean ferrari fans. But of course Kimi never gained any advantage at the beginning 2nd corner 1st lap did he?? YOU CAN NOT HAND OUT ANY PUNISHMENT TO FERRARI, THE BACKHANDERS WOULD DRY UP. The maFIA should hang there heads in shame. Please dont kill the F1 sport Bob pope

  • I know I’m biased, but this is disgusting…. Lewis deliberately let Kimi back past and then went behind him and around to overtake… Where is the unfair advantage in that???? I Don’t get it. With Charlie Whiting also agreeing that it shouldn’t have happened. They must overturn it… must…

  • I believe this can be related to the feud between McLaren and Mosley. If we can recall, Mosley stripped McLaren of the constructors championship last year…

    I believe that it was Ron Dennis who digged up the Mosley scandal shortafter the season. This has been the reason that Mosley was almost unseated in his position.

    In retaliation I believe that Mosley is pulling strings in the FIA to give McLaren a hard time.

    Im not biased between McLaren and Ferrari but It can be clearly seen that McLaren is superior than Ferrari in the Belgium Grand Prix. Lewis Hamilton kept all of us in the edge of our seats.

    Quite frankly I have been following F1 since the time of Mikka Hakinnen and this Grand Prix is one of the best. The catch up that Hamilton did was simply spectacular and the finale of his duel in the closing laps of the race with no other than the current world champion Kimi is one of the best memories I have with Formula one. I believe that the bad blood between McLaren and FIA only hurts the F1 fans all over the world.

    I live in Asia and the last good moments before I slept last night was the dogfight I just witnessed between Kimi and Lewis, and to see that get stripped away is really heartbreaking.

    I agree that FIA seems to favor Ferrari in a lot of ways recently but let us not forget that FIA also changed the rules in order to limit the advantages of Ferrari during the dominance of Michael Schumacher, during the era when Mr Schumacher was dominating the sport, FIA drastically changed the rules in order to make F1 more exciting for us, I believe this shouldnt be done since it actually puts a limit to everyone’s capability of development.

    I hope and pray that Lewis wins the World Championship so that all this will just be a road to his glory. He deserves to be number 1 in my opinion. He has fought battles with Alonso and Raikonnen last year and now he is fighting his battle with the FIA!

    The runoff was valid since Lewis had no other choice but to take the escape route or he would have collided with Raikonnen. I’ve seen dirtier tricks from Schumi before.

    He did let Kimi pass, as a matter of fact Lewis even tucked in behind Raikonnen. Kimi should have been the one penalised because during that instance he was steering left to right which could have been interpreted as blocking. Lewis was just too quick. The decision of the stewards are very subjective and baseless.

    After 10 years of supporting F1. I am very sad to say that I will no longer be watching this sport unless Mosley retires or resign.

  • My 2p worth – the last 5 minutes of that race were the most exciting 5 minutes of racing I’ve seen in a long time – From what I could see Hamilton did exactly what he should have done – reliquished the road back to Kimi.

    This whole appeal is confusing enough to us – the fans – how it must confuse the more casual watcher of F1…

  • Didn’t it appear to you guys (in particular those who call themselves “the fans”) that if Lewis had been AROUND the hairpin he would have been much slower, and probably slightly outside the proper trajectory? as indeed Kimi was almost already too fast in this corner. As a consequence he would have been much slower as the exit of ANY corner commands the speed you will reach in the next corner or even more straight line!

    One cannot cut the chicane and then slightly slow down to let the other driver regain position! Sorry this is not what the sport is all about. So what “fans” are we talking about? F1/Track Racing or an another sort of fans?

    Now is the penalty fair? That is another story indeed…

  • In my view, most of the comments here show why there are stewards to adjudicate incidents like this one. The rules are clear, and the stewards judged that Hamilton gained an advantage by cutting the chicane. Whether or not he “let Kimi by” or not is not the point. The point is whether or not he gained an advantage. And in my mind, there is no way he could have been that close to Kimi so early on the straight in those conditions if he had passed through the chicane in a proper way. Rules are there to be followed, and to say you should dispense with the rules just because there was so short a time to the ceremony is really preposterous. In my mind at least.

  • Hi Oliver could you please get in touch with Linda to try to know where she found that rule about unfair advantage and the 2 next corners please? (her post for 9:22pm on sept. 7th…)

    OllieEdit: Responded via email.

  • the last 5 minutes of that race were the most exciting 5 minutes of racing I’ve seen in a long time

    I 100% agree. I was moderating the live blog at the time and simply couldn’t keep up. It was so intense. I haven’t felt like that while watching a race in a long time. It was simply electrifying. I want more…

  • i think we’re looking at two different questions here:

    Did Lewis Hamilton comply with the rules set forth by the FIA?


    Did Lewis Hamilton gain more advantage by cutting the chicane than he lost when he relinquished the lead to Kimi Raikonnen?

    If the answer to the former is that yes, he complied with the rules as written, then the choice of the stewards to asses a penalty is wrong — regardless of the answer to question two. If F1 is to be considered a sport, the role of the governing body is to create rules and then ensure that those rules are enforced consistently. And the role of the competitors is to use every bit of advantage allowed to them within those rules.

    I phrase that as a conditional statement because I haven’t read the actual text of the rules. (Maybe someone else can clarify)

    I think the answer to the second question is much more complicated, and there’s much more room for debate here. Run-off areas, tire barriers, momentum, slip-streaming, etc. are all part of this discussion.

    But here’s the point I want to make — they’re independent questions. If Hamilton complied with the rules as written by the FIA — the stewards were wrong and should never have assessed the penalty. If Hamilton was able to gain advantage while complying with the rules, the fault lies not with Hamilton but with the rules.

    A sportsman should never be expected to give up an advantage that is allowed to him within the rules. Racers are idolatrized for their ability to push everything to the limit – why should they be penalized for doing so?

    This seems to me to be part of a larger trend of the FIA expecting its drivers to conform to rules that don’t exist — that’s no way to govern a sport.

  • THIS just sickens me.Hamilton won that race fair and square. I am Ferarri supporter, but after that decission I am now Mclaren and if this stuff happens again as much as I like F1 I will not look at it anymore, because it will be judged by me as not being A fair sport. Hamilton really drove his heart out and won me over as a supporter, it was one of the best Final laps i have seen in F1 fo a long time.
    On that turn it even seemed as though Kimi made him go wide because he was very aggressive and did not give Hamilton any room.Did’nt the Stewarts look at that footage?

  • What a mess ! To take away Hamilton’s victory like that is completely wrong in every way. It was clearly a fair and wonderful fight for the race lead exactly what F1 needs with Hamilton winning the edge of the seat duel and skillfully reaching the checkered flag. One of the best F1 wins I’ve ever seen ruined.

    Hamilton clearly gave the place back after being forced to run wide in accordance with the rules what more could he do to comply? If it now seems that not only do you have to let the other driver through if you gain track position after running wide but also give them a certain lead distance then why does it not state this in the rules? Perhaps because it is impossible to do without stopping the race and getting out a tape measure before racing resumes!

    As a final point, if Hamilton is deemed to of gained an advantage from the incident and is punished by 25 seconds then Massa should also be stripped of his Valencia win because he was released early from the pit lane, earlier than was safely permitted, so he came out on the track a few seconds earlier than he should of been which is clearly an unfair advantage and thus a 25 second penalty should be imposed here also.If they are going to impose post race penalties which I think personally are ridiculous than at least share them out evenly. I expect then to hear the FIA announce that Massa will be stripped of that win after a three week late stewards inquiry.Is there a time limit on post race stewards inquiries?

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