McLaren Drivers Penalised

McLaren Drivers Penalised

Lewis Hamilton - 2008 Malaysian Grand PrixBoth Lewis Hamilton and Heikki Kovalainen have been penalised on the Malaysian grid following the baulking of Nick Heidfeld at the end of qualifying. Both drivers remained on the racing line while the slowed considerably after completing their fast laps. Heidfeld, who was just starting his quick lap, was forced to weave in and out of other cars, compromising his line and ruining his lap time (videos here). The penalty for both drivers is five grid slots, demoting Hamilton to ninth and Kovalainen to eighth.

I was on my last lap, my first lap on the option tyres, which was the quickest and should have been even quicker, if not for the two McLarens driving in the middle of the racing line at 80 or less km/h, while I was doing 289. It was not really normal, and that just caused me some laptime.

I think this has cost me about two tenths of a second, which would have meant being third instead of seventh. I just couldn’t drive on the line I wanted and, even more importantly, could not brake were I wanted. Nick Heidfeld.

For me, the decision is important because of another fact – the difference in speed between Nick and two slow cars was more than 200 km/h – which was a very dangerous situation. Mario Theissen.

McLaren have said they will not appeal the decision and accept the punishment handed to them.

We accept the stewards’ decisions, but would like to add that neither Lewis nor Heikki impeded any of their competitors deliberately. It was an unfortunate incident, nothing more, nothing less. We look forward to tomorrow’s race. Martin Whitmarsh.


  • I have to agree Dank. I spoke more about that in the previous post with the videos. To quote myself:

    But this race-fuel system has now been shown to actually cause unnecessary danger to other drivers as well as adding an extra complexity to the proceedings that isn’t needed.

  • Thank heavens for the penalty. I only just caught qualifying several minutes ago, and was left seething by the actions of the two Mclaren drivers impeding Quick Nick’s lap. Justice has been rightly served.

    This aura surrounding the top teams needs to be eroded – Louise Goodman or Ted Kravitz could both quite have easily questionned their Mclaren interviewees on their actions in the closing stages of Q3, but instead decided to analyse stereotypical, predictable events alongside forthcoming desirable race outcomes instead.

    Louise: So, how do you want to do in the race?

    Lewis: Quite well, actually.

    *End interview*

    Let’s see some more intensive and honest questionning, please.

    I propose a % in-lap time for each driver (e.g. if Felipe Massa runs a 1:35:00 he should be required, if running an in-lap, to reach the pit lane within 115% of that time).

  • Of all the blogs I have been reading Jamie your 115% idea is by far the best. This is spot on. But it makes to much sense for Bernie/Max to adopt.

  • Jamie’s idea does make sense and would be easy to implement. Michael Schumacher had a similar idea regarding the pace of cars during the safety car period as a way of eliminating the closed pit lane.

  • The reason a maximum lap time won’t work is because drivers will not be prepared to pull off line at the end of an in lap in case they go over time. I can just imagine a driver who has cruised round most of the lap and has to maintain a reasonable spped to guarantee he hits the 115% time moving over and letting someone on a flyer past knowing that he is going to get a penalty himself.

    If they want to block they will use the leeway time to go through the corners slowly and hang about the apex.

    I can see the stewards meetings now.

    You blocked driver B on you in lap.

    My in lap was 111% of my fastest lap so I was travelling faster than I needed to.

    The only thing that makes sense is to go back to fuel out qualifying which is what we had before Punch and Judy started messing with it. Pole positions should mean something. They should not be randomly accumulated based on fuel load and other factors.

    Think back to when Senna was getting ready to go out for a late lap. You knew if he got pole it was because he was the best driver/car combination. You didn’t need to wait to see when he pitted on a Sunday to find out if it was a good lap and you didn’t need to wait to Monday for the fuel corrected figures so that you could find out who really deserved pole.

    There is way too much unnecessary complication in F1 rules and the last thing we need is any more. I can just picture Kimi getting pole and the commentators spending the next minute and a half praising it only to discover he is a second and a half too slow on his in lap.

    The other option for a blocker of course is to do what the McLarens did and then park the car. Are we going to penalise everyone whose car breaks down on an in lap or are we going to further complicate things by taking %ages of sector times?

    If you are going to discuss these ideas you have to consider the consequences. Many ideas sound good and sensible on first hearing but you have to look at all possible angles.

  • That’s good thinking, but the two-race engine and four-race gearbox rules mean that drivers will still be cruising at low speed to preserve their machinery. Especially given that several teams appear to be marginal in the reliability of one or the other this year. Fuel-out qualifying will only solve the problem in conjunction with free engine and gearbox usage. There are several factors that have led to this unhappy situation.

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