Lewis Hamilton Under Investigation

Lewis Hamilton Under Investigation

Mark Webber - 2007 Japanese Grand PrixAs if it couldn’t get any worse for McLaren this year, it seems as though it could possibly still do just that. Championship leader Lewis Hamilton is currently under investigation by the Chinese Grand Prix race stewards because of his driving behaviour at the previous Japanese Grand Prix held at Fuji Speedway last weekend. It is believed that his driving while following the safety car in the poor weather conditions may have contributed to Sebastian Vettel colliding with Mark Webber, ending both races for the respective Toro Rosso and Red Bull drivers.

I have been following a great conversation for the past couple of days over at Sidepodcast.com, where the crew there asked readers to decide what happened following footage being made available from a fan on YouTube. The official footage broadcast all over the world doesn’t appear to show Hamilton doing much different. Though admittedly, his previous encounters behind the safety car in the opening laps seemed to be pushing the boundaries of the rules a little, and even commentator and ex-driver Martin Brundle commented on this during the race. However, not much was said about the second safety car period and the brunt of the blame was put at Vettel’s feet.

This amateur footage though, could now be the new evidence the the FIA are considering while they investigate the incident.

The post over at Sidepodcast.com asked a couple of pertinent questions: Why was Lewis on the far side of the track and why was he driving so slowly? The comments have flooded in and they make for an interesting debate. Especially given that this isn’t the first time this season Lewis’s driving has been called into question.

So the FIA have launched an investigation into the incident, and in typical FIA style it is the stewards at the following race (along with a couple of full-timers) who get to discuss and decide. A possible sanction, should Lewis be found in violation of the rules, would be a grid-slot penalty for the Chinese event. I’m sure Fernando Alonso is hoping and praying right now…

Formula One, F1, Lewis Hamilton, Mark Webber, Sebastian Vettel, Japanese Grand Prix


  • I think there needs to be serious decisions made at the FIA about what exactly is their business and what is an internal team matter.

    My opinions:

    – Official punishment for overcooking it without touching someone else sets a dangerous precedent. That’s the job of the team debrief. Do we now throw the book at Alonso for his mistake?

    – Changes to race results days after the event are a really bad idea. There should be a time limit on protests etc, and if with the advent of YouTube evidence comes to light later on, then maybe we need to have more cameras for official use.

    – Crashing because you were distracted by someone??! Most drivers would keep their gobs shut if they did that. I think with Vettel we’ve found the lower maturity limit of F1 drivers.

    – “Especially given that this isn’t the first time this season Lewis’s driving has been called into question.” Of course, as has everyone else’s on the grid. Not sure where you’re going with that.

  • I agree that most drivers who crash due to distractions generally keep quiet (I would if I were in that position), like Massa at the beginning if the season when Hamilton ‘distracted’ him into an error. Can anyone remember what Massa had to say about it. Probably few can because he generally kept quiet about it.

    “Changes to race results days after the event are a really bad idea.” I totally, 100% agree with you on that.

    I wouldn’t say that every pilot’s driving behaviour has been called into question, yet. But the point I was trying to make is that Hamilton has developed a bit of a reputation for making lunges at the starts, continuing a race after his car was craned back onto the circuit, and of course his driving behind the first safety car period at Fuji etc…

    Just suggesting that this isn’t the first time he has been involved in a questionable incident. Not saying he is wrong, but also not saying he is right. Unfortunately, that comes down to the FIA and the Chinese Grand Prix stewards.

  • The one good thing about all this fuss about nothing is that it’s allowing me to like Hamilton again. He may be an annoying character with a bit too much arrogance for his own good but his results alone show that he knows how to drive a racing car. People keep saying, “Ah, but how good would he be if he weren’t in a McLaren?” Well, I’ll tell you: at least as good as the other rookies everyone oohs and ahhs about this year – he’s already beaten all of them in lower formulae. And, if he weren’t in a McLaren, none of these investigations and probes into his driving style would have happened. He is targetted because he is going for the championship, that’s all, and I begin to want to say a few things in his defence.

    When FIA stewards can become involved after a race is over and done with and all because of an amateur video on YouTube, it becomes very obvious that the aim is to keep the championship open as long as possible. Raikkonen could have done doughnuts behind the pace car and no-one would have said a word except to point out how skillfully they were executed.

    Sorry, Ollie, it looks like your comments system caught the the explosion of irritation that has been building up in me as I’ve watched the total nonsense of this Hamilton/Webber/pace car business building up over the last day or so. And it’s not my usual annoyance at the inconsistencies and blatant favouritism of the FIA – I’m used to that and can bite my tongue (keyboard finger?) pretty well. It’s that you guys are forcing me into the position of having to support Hamilton, for crying out loud!

  • No problem Clive, you make some good points. I for one find it ridiculous that the FIA launch investigations after results have been declared over something comparatively small. Sure, big-time cheating warrants investigation, but to look into a relatively minor thing like this after the event has been closed is wrong in my eyes. I’ve said time and time again that this does not help the sport gain new fans who are genuinely becoming interested in the sport.

    I should point out that I’m speculating the footage on YouTube is the “new evidence”, but it could very easily be something else. Having said that, the coincidence is for all to see.

    I really wish the FIA would keep out of it until something serious happens.

    Speaking of doughnuts, whatever happened to Raikkonen for spinning around after the Belgian Grand Prix? After all, I thought doughnuts were deemed ‘illegal’…

  • Nothing happened to Raikkonen after the post-race doughnuts, despite their illegality. Hence Clive’s choosing it as an example.

    Hamilton’s behaviour felt out of line to me, but there were incidents where he was more to blame than this one. On several occasions, I felt that his erratic driving behind the Safety Car nearly triggered an accident It is purely because this incident fell foul of a rule that this one got investigated. As it happened, on this occasion, Hamilton had little to do with the accident – it was mostly the reputation he’d built up over the preceding hour that caused Webber to move out of Hamilton’s way and into the unprepared Vettel’s path. Hence why Hamilton was cleared. Good to see that Vettel will now only be reprimanded, though.

    We definitely need better camera work and more cameras on the circuit.

  • Indeed. If anything this incident has proven that what cameras are present are simply not enough to cover Formula One satisfactorily; both for the viewers (wink wink) and of course, when something like this happens.

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