The penalties in Sepang… a little analysis

There are a couple of reasons why I have not written about the penalties in Sepang, as yet. The major problem is that no-one had much information to go on at the time – and there were more important things to be considered. The decisions were made just before 8pm, more than two hours after the race ended. It took rather more time for the decisions to be published in the Media Center and elsewhere and so by the time this information arrived, the F1 paddock was not exactly packed full of people who could explain what had happened. People do not hang around in Sepang. It is hot and they want to go back to their hotels and have dinner. So, the journalists had little information to work on. Lewis Hamilton was reckoned to have “made more than one change of direction to defend a position”, which was a breach of Article 20.2 of the 2011 FIA Formula One Sporting Regulations. Alonso was deemed to have caused a collision. The Stewards are sensible people and include the driver Emanuele Pirro, who raced in 37 Formula 1 races between 1989 and 1991 before a very successful career in sports cars, including five victories in the Le Mans 24 Hours. The stewards had access to all manner of data that is not available to the fans, including different video footage, and even GPS satellite positioning data. So what was it that they saw that led to the penalties?

The two men in question said the following things after the race.

Lewis Hamilton: “Today was just one of those days. It’s never satisfying to start second and finish seventh, but that’s racing. We just have to take it on the chin and move on from it. During the race my tyres kept dropping off; we pitted earlier than was optimal, and ran out of tyres at the end. I’d hoped to make the end of the race on a set of used Primes, but they didn’t last so we had to pit right at the end of the race. There were a lot of factors that made this afternoon very difficult: the delay at the pitstop, being chased by a couple of cars when I was trying to look after my tyres, and being hit from behind by Fernando. I think he got a bit too close, and, when he pulled out, he just clipped me with his wing and broke my car’s rear floor.”

Fernando Alonso: “We were not lucky: if the moveable rear wing had worked all the time, I could easily have passed Hamilton down the straight, but instead we had to fight hard. He defended very well and, unfortunately, we touched: that broke my wing and I had to come back into the pits to change it, thus losing any chance of getting to the podium. These things happen.”

Ferrari engineer Pat Fry confirmed that Alonso had had to fight with one hand behind his back, because the DRS, “which failed after a few laps because of a mechanical problem”.

The incident which caused Hamilton’s penalty was timed at 17.20 and the incident which caused Alonso’s penalty was timed at 17.22. Given the lap times involved one can say with some certainty that Hamilton’s penalty related to a move on lap 45, while Alonso’s penalty was linked to the collision on lap 46 that led him to pit at the end of the lap.

What my own lap chart (yes, I still do an old-fashioned manual chart) tells me is that the two cars collided on lap 46, when Alonso was chasing down Hamilton for third place. He had been on Prime (harder) tyres for just five laps, while Hamilton was on similar rubber, which he had been using for nine laps. Alonso thus had a tyre advantage. However, his rear wing DRS was not working so overtaking Hamilton was not going to be easy. The time sheets reveal that on lap 43 Hamilton lapped in 1m42.579s, and Alonso in 1m41.810, Fernando thus carved 0.769s off the gap on that lap and ended up just 1.3s behind his old rival. On lap 44 he sliced another 0.995s off the gap, which meant that they were just under three-tenths apart as they started the 45th lap. In terms of lap time, therefore, it is clear that Alonso was much faster than Hamilton. But could he overtake?

The 45th lap saw their times increase, as happens when drivers are fighting for position. Lewis recorded a 1m43.781s and Fernando a 1m43.721s. At the end of the lap the gap was 0.237s. Next time around Hamilton’s lap time was a 1m43.841s, a tenth slower than the previous one. Alonso pitted with a broken front wing. After that Lewis’s lap times were consistent at 1m43.770s, 1m43.617s, 1m43.587s and 1m43.556s. Damage to his car was minimal given this progression.

The stewards’ decisions are interesting for two reasons. The decision made against Alonso was the result of “a report from the Race Director”. The Stewards considered the evidence, determined that a breach of the regulations has been commited by Alonso when he caused a collision with Hamilton. That was simple enough.

In the case of Hamilton there was no mention of any report from Race Director Charlie Whiting, which means that the Stewards were probably acting because of a complaint from Ferrari as Whiting obviously did not think anything had been done wrong. The Stewards looked at the evidence and must have concluded that Ferrari was right enough about a move by Hamilton to warrant a sanction. However, it is clear from the wording that the manoeuvre would have gone without any action if someone outside Race Control had not raised the issue.

The other point to consider is that Whiting did not consider the collision to have been sufficiently serious to warrant an investigation during the race, so he must therefore have looked at it again later and decided to report the incident to the Stewards. What was that he saw that led him to take action? Did he, perhaps, suspect that Alonso ran into Hamilton deliberately, hoping to cut the McLaren driver’s rear tyre and that the move backfired and he damaged his front wing?

There is no doubt that the Stewards would have looked at Hamilton’s technical traces to make sure that he did not back off in an effort to catch out Alonso. Clearly there was no suggestion of such a thing, which begs the question, why was there an accident?

We do not know the answers to these questions and it is unlikely that we ever will, at least not “on the record”. It is easy to sit at home and blame the Stewards, but they have a great deal more information than those with a cup of tea, some biscuits and an opinion.

I do not know the answer but i will make discreet inquiries as and when that is possible…

170 thoughts on “The penalties in Sepang… a little analysis

  1. Hi Joe
    Love your blog and am a regular visitor. For the first time I am not too sure of your comments. Alonso had absolutely nothing to gain by hitting Hamilton. It was a simple case of misjudging the distance and speed and hitting Hamilton. As much as they dislike each other do not think Alonso would throw away 15 points or maybe even 18. So am really confused with this penalty. Not only is it absolutely unnecessary but will stop drivers from taking chances as well.

    If the stewards do have an explanation for this they should come out and tell us.

    Murali

  2. Interesting analysis. For me it was quite simple.

    1) Alonso made a error in trying to overtake Hamilton, something that I would consider a racing accident, similar to when Hamilton drove into the back of Alonso in Bahrain in 2008.

    2) McLaren complained to the stewards that the accident had further hampered Hamiltons race and that Alonso should be penalised.

    3) When Ferrari heard this they did the same thing on McLaren when they discovered Lewis might have been weaving – which he wasn’t really.

    4) The drivers were annoyed at their teams for this. Alonso thus complimented Hamiltons defending and Hamilton admitted his guilt.

    This is typical inter-team nonsense. Hamilton did nothing wrong, and Alonso’s mistake was just a dumb mistake. They were not even frustrated at each other in the red button interviews.

    1. Joe Cowan,

      I do not understand why Alonso would have made the error at that place. He is not an incompetent, is he?

  3. Someone put it perfectly on twitter (and I will now mangle their more elegant words).

    DRS & KERS = artificial elements to encourage racing.

    Two top drivers actually racing = penalties

    Petrov will be done for illegal ride height next!

    I’m nowhere near Alonso’s greatest fan, but I felt it was just one of those things. Drive near the edge, you’ll fall off now and again.

    With Hamilton it’s just bizarre. If Alonso wasn’t complaining (if anything he was almost complimentary!) then there cant have been anything.

    Surely if they want to get closer to the fans they need to explain the decision much better and much faster. Honestly cannot see why that is a problem.

  4. Thanks as usual for your balanced, in-depth analysis.

    It would be interesting to see the footage of the Hamilton digression as, whilst he was clearly defending hard, the TV coverage showed nothing more sinister than that which was deemed to be fair when Massa was defending from Button in Australia.

    The difficulty with all this is ensuring consistency before the boring Ferrari International Assistance stories start to appear in Fleet Street’s finest…

    As for the collision, it just seemed that out of turn 2 and into turn 3 Alonso, on fresher tyres, had more traction and caught Hamilton more quickly than he expected. There is also a subtle little right deflection in the track on the run to turn 4 and it seems to be as Alonso moved to pass, Hamilton moved slightly right with the track and that was enough to prevent Alonso clearing Hamilton rear tyre.

    Interestingly, none of the interviews with Alonso seemed to show him moaning (a frequent accusation) about blocking, but rather that it was hard racing. I suspect that the team looked at it and thought it was worth a punt.

  5. Hamilton’s penalty is a little strange but acceptable as there may be more info.

    Alonso’s is stranger for 2 reasons. First is that he was penalized for something that didn’t outwardly harm Hamilton. Thr second is why Alonso was so much faster coming out of the corner that he ran into Hamilton in the first place.

  6. Hamilton – excessive weaving, turned into effective penalty, following a warning from last year with Petrov, changing the defending position four times. Hamilton himself: “I knew I was going to get a penalty” – perhaps he didn’t care much, because his race was ruined anyway. Alonso: “Racing accident” – this is what majority of fans think, too. Literally applying the rules – definitely yes. What about Sutil running into RB, thus causing a tire puncture and Maldonado hitting Perez, resulting in front wing loss ? Where those the same ? From a TV point of view, equipped whit cans of beer, yes. Stewards point ? Unknown to that time, unless Charlie told them to react. I understand that have whole load of data to look upon, but that doesn’t dismiss the bitter taste of Vettel’s weaving at the start, right ?
    Shady inference, but this is how it looked – picking random pieces of the puzzle. I will wait for more information.

    1. showtime,

      Read it again, opening your brain. I have suggested no such thing. I am looking for answers as to what happened and I don’t need people like you making accusations.

  7. I wondered if the LH penalty might be the result of an old-school, keep-the-scores-even complaint by Ferrari. Martin Brundle yesterday said precisely what you did about Pirro, access to more data, fairness, etc., but later confirmed that it did come from Ferrari. Seems such a shame, after a really interesting, engaging race, that we’re once again reminded that Ferrari’s will always resort to away-from-the-track politics and manouevering.

  8. Could the crash have happened as Hamilton came off the KERS, with the loss of 70BHP causing his acceleration to decrease at the unexpected rate for Alonso to hit him?

  9. Thanks for this writeup on the penalties Joe. Both seemed a bit strange to me, rather puzzling.

    I would love it if you could get some background on this, because it was hard to see anything more than a racing incident in Alonso’s move from the TV pictures.

    As for Hamilton, I noticed it when Brundle did his after the races review of interesting moments. Not much wrong with it I thought. Then again, he had been warned about exactly the same last year in the same race, so I guess a penalty had to be given.

  10. “a cup of tea, some biscuits and an opinion”

    Gold. Pure gold.

    As for the penalties, I imagine there’s no small element of the FIA hoping to send a message about what they’ll tolerate in the coming season. I have to say, even though I’m not an Alonso fan, I’m surprised that his move lead to a penalty. It seems to me that every time a driver puts one up the inside and locks up, he’ll get the same treatment. Is pootling round someone in the middle of the straight using DRS the _only_ overtaking they want?

  11. You don’t understand why Whiting decided to report the incident after the race and not during it so you came with a possible (just that one) theory to explaining it in which Alonso tries to cut Hamilton’s rear tyre on purpose . So last season after the European GP you tried to explain why some Whiting / steward decisions can take so long but yesterday it looked suspicious. You, better than anyone, know how this works, bringing up that scenario is uncalled to say the least.

  12. Hi Joe,

    Good analysis. Re Lewis, some others are saying things like “I didn’t see anything which justified a penalty”, which I assume means on TV (does anyone watch trackside/out the window these days?)

    However, on the lap in question the TV world feed was showing us the rear-facing onboard shot of Fernando’s rear wing, having just played in the (delayed) message about his DRS not working. We therefore never saw the head on shot of them coming up the start/finish straight. I expect FOM had that shot and were able to show it to the stewards. (Like you say, they have access to things we don’t.)

    If that’s the case then hopefully we’ll all be able to see it in the Chinese GP coverage, or in the race edit on the Formula One website in due course.

  13. The biggest annoyance has to be that no-one knew anything of the penalties until way after the race.

    Given the incident occurred on lap 46 they surely should have indicated the incidents were being investigated and could affect the race outcome.

    Ok technical infringements the FIA may only notice after the race but if an incident happens in the race the viewers should be told asap.

    I spoke to 2 colleagues who watched the race who didn’t know about the subsequent penalties until i mentioned it this morning.

    I’m sure there will be plenty more confused viewers out there. Can you imagine a football match where the result was changed 2 hours after the match?

    This is another area where F1 actually needs to follow Nascar’s lead. Results always stand and punishments handed out at next race (add a second to quali time for racers final session maybe?). That way casual viewers know what the hell is going on without having to go to news sites the day after the race for an official result.

  14. Brundle was of the view that Alonso got caught out by understeer when the front wing washed out, having gotten too close to Lewis’ rear end when pulling out to pass.

  15. @Joe Cowan – agreed, but it wasn’t exactly a racing incident, it was Alonso’s mistake.
    @Joe Saward – I’ll be sure to get my pills and visit back here when I get healthy.

  16. Thank goodness someone can be analytical and unbiased. Some of the comments on here beggar belief and only show the lack of clear thinking and common sense.

    Great bit of analyzing Joe and even bigger congrats on GP+. I was reading it by 1730 gmt. The article by The Dood was great and DJT’s timely reminder of Jim Clark was much appreciated. He at least admits to being and old romantic!!

  17. I see no reason why Alonso crashing into the back of Hamilton should just be considered a “racing incident” by everyone, it’s not as if there were lots of cars like at the start, Alonso was trying to pass and hit him in the back.

    I also dont see why Hamilton would get done for moving to cover his position 2 laps before when Alonso was over a second behind.

    Or am I just insane?

  18. DC on the BBC feed said he thought that Alonso had understeered into the back of the McLaren while pulling out of its slipstream and not wanting to lift off the throttle and sacrifice his momentum, Trundle seemed to agree with him.
    I wouldn’t put it past Alonso (and many others) to have been trying to deliberately cut Lewis’ tyre but would have thought this would be too risky, sounds like a simple slight misjudgement to me.

  19. Both were a bit wierd. Alonso made a fairly minor mistake, and the only person he significantly hurt was himself. Alonso can be a bit error-prone at times, especially when Hamilton is nearby. However, it wasn’t like he ended someone’s race, like when Rubens rammed Rosberg off the track in Melbourne. One wonders why a penalty is necessary, given he’s already paid a significant price by breaking his nose?

    As for Hamilton… I thought he was a little weavy when I watched it first time, and given he has history with the Sepang stewards, I can see the rationale. So long as future offenses of this kind are treated similarly, I guess it’s OK.

  20. So Alonso true intention was to cut the tyre and hoping for zero damages in his wing. That makes a lot of sense.

  21. This seems like an incompetent Stewards decision of old to me.

    I watched the race back and we didn’t see any footage of Hamilton’s weaving because the world feed was using a rearward shot of Alonso’s non-functioning rear wing.

    Even so, I can’t see how Hamilton’s weaving could be any worse than Vettel’s weaving off the start, and Alonso’s mistake only affected his own race as well.

    Strange decisions, the only saving grace is that it didn’t affect the result too much.

  22. Interesting speculation about the tyre cutting Joe. It’s something I’ve wondered about a couple of times, like Silverstone last year, when Vettel was leading into the first corner only to have Hamiltons front wing slice through his rear tyre, and that’s not the first time I’ve seen it happen.

    I actually think that it’s unlikely that Fernando meant to do that, as you can see from the amount of lock he cranks on the wheel. Thus I’d put it down to chronic understeer that close to the rear of the McLaren. His penalty was rather uncalled for I feel, perhaps it was purely because they felt Hamilton warrented his and seeing as Alonso had hit him they didn’t want to be seen to favour one driver?

    The Hamilton penalty is a lot clearer. He certainly weaved, it was subtle weaving but it was there for all to see. If compared to a lap where he doesn’t have anyone behind him you’ll see him go in a straight line, in the instance with Fernando behind he clearly initially moves towards the pit wall, then the grandstand, then the pit wall again and finally towards the natural racing line for corner entry. It was like a mini version of Petrov vs Hamilton last year. I can accept a driver moving once to defend and then moving back to ensure they’re near the racing line for coner entry, so two moves too many by Lewis on this occasion.

  23. You wrote: “Did he (Charly W.) perhaps, suspect that Alonso ran into Hamilton deliberately, hoping to cut the McLaren driver’s rear tyre and that the move backfired and he damaged his front wing?”

    IMO this would imply that:

    1) Alonso WANTED to cause damage to the car in front on purpose

    AND

    2) Alonso IS a fool, because he thought he could cut ham’s rear tyre without destroying his own front wing.

    I think this is not very sensible…what do you think?

    1. McAna,

      I am looking for answers not making accusations. Why is it that one is not allowed to do that whenever Alonso is mentioned. It is really tiresome. No other race drivers has such offensive fans (and I use that word in the sense of “being attacking” rather than “offending me”, although it works both ways.

  24. Good article pointing out unanswered questions. I don’t think either warranted a penalty.
    I don’t have the details but I think another driver (Beumi?) was given a 10 sec stop and go for speeding in the pit lane. I remember pit lane speeding penalties as drivethroughs not stop and go.
    Interested in more details on Alonso and Hamilton.

  25. Joe,

    Do you have any insights in how many times teams are lodging complaints by the stewards during a race? It is quite an easy way to gain trackposition or points, but as a regular viewer we don’t get that kind of information…

    Hopefully the stewarts will still release some information to clear things out, but with both McLaren and Ferrari accepting the penalties, the chance will be very small I guess.

    Wichard

  26. If this is inter-team squabbling then it is idiotic, FORCING the stewards into making unnecessary harsh decisions and making the sport look amateurishness or biased, again. Personally I thought it was great racing. Hamilton did nothing excessively wrong re. weaving and Alonso simply made a mistake. Now this will run and run 😦

    As a side note, i also considered your Alonso deliberately taking Hamilton comment out ‘strange’. but he is still managed by Flavio so I guess your viewpoint may be skewed. Your Blog, your views, love it, so don’t shoot me down on my opinions either.

  27. I’m concerned that someone with 20+ years experience of F1 journalism is forced to speculate about penalties that are serious enough to affect the result of a race.

  28. Hi Joe,

    Have you had a look at the first 10 seconds of the race where Vettel did at least 3, you could argue 5, very definite swerves to keep Hamilton behind him into the first corner? Aggressive and repeated transgressions of the rule which was then applied to Hamilton for simply positioning his car on the defensive line, and then moving back to the normal racing line as soon as it was clear that Alonso wasn’t close enough to attempt the pass.

    I’m beginning to wonder what the point of watching an F1 race is these days. I’ll admit to recording this one and fast forwarding through some of the duller sections so that I could get out into the garden sooner, which is bad enough. Now it seems that we have to wait to read the papers after each race, to find out what the actual result will be. It takes a bunch of guys to decide which rule they fancy applying to which car at the whim of the teams, Charlie, the FIA or Santa Claus.

    Please for gods sake send someone to the US for a season to see how Nascar and Indycar is run for the benefit of the fans. Then let me know when F1 has pulled it’s head out of it’s bum and I can start watching again.

  29. Joe,
    At the start of lap 45 Hamilton was clearly weaving down the straight. The rules state you cannot do this to defend position. However, what constitutes ‘defending position’? Hamilton’s maneuvers were aimed at ‘breaking the tow’ rather than preventing Alonso from passing. If, for example, as Hamilton went left then Alonso went right, then Hamilton went right and Alonso went left, then this would be blatantly in breach the rules. But in this case Alonso tracked Hamilton all the way down the straight. At the point Alonso did pull out Hamilton held his line.

    So is ‘breaking the tow’ against the rules as well now? This is an age-old tactic in all forms of motorsport. Crazy if they can’t do that!!

  30. no esta muy claro que la intencion de su comentario no sea la de una acusacion de intencionalidad en el accidente provocado por alonso. Le ha faltado en su perverso analisis preguntarse si quiza Alonso en realidad lo que le apetecia era romper el frontal de su coche para pasar por el taller y repararlo y perder su tercera posicion en carrera.

    Investigue si le apetece pero no lance al aire preguntas jactanciosas cargadas de un razonamiento corrosivo y acusador.

    mis saludos.

  31. Joe, your first comment says it all – tit-for-tat between teams. It’s just a shame that the FIA didn’t just say “Neither of you got the points you could have done, let’s leave it at that” rather than rise to it. Hamilton’s weaving at Sepang last year was far worse. On the whole the driving standards were excellent on Sunday, bravo to the lot of ’em.

  32. Forgive me for raising a somewhat tangential issue, but why do we have a “one-move” rule at all? I seem to recall that way back in the mists of history, moving across the track into the path of an overtaker was called “blocking”, and could get you black flagged (or earlier in history, killed). Then we seemed to segue into a “one-move” convention, and now it seems the convention has become a genuine rule.

    Recently, overtaking has become almost physically impossible – even though fans want more overtaking, drivers want more overtaking, and the FIA wants more overtaking. So why do we have a rule that makes it even less likely to happen?

  33. “I do not understand why Alonso would have made the error at that place. He is not an incompetent, is he?”

    Remember Bahrain 2008, Joe?

    Hamilton crashed into Alonso’s rear. British journalists said that Alonso did brake test Hamilton. Telemetry showed nothing. Conclusion? Hamilton made an error.

    Malaysia 2010. Alonso crashed into Hamilton’s rear. And british journalist say that Alonso (!) crashed deliberately.

    Double standards or what?

  34. It’s interesting to see this debate unfold. I like your analysis and look forward to what you can find out about the crucial decisions in the coming days. I can see old wounds opening up of Ferrari mentality vs. McLaren mentality arguments. I haven’t heard a discussion about British mentality (Herbert’s influence in Melbourne) vs. Italian mentality (Pirro’s influence in Sepang).
    Being a 10 year follower of F1 it is part of the spectacle I have come to expect… and, perhaps morbidly, have come to enjoy, why should the race finish at the chequered flag, when you can have a few days of aftermath debating.

  35. With the advent of DRS and the return of KERS I think it’s in the best interested of the stewards to clamp down on these sort of things.

    The drivers said they were concerned of more Webber flip style incidents this year and I think it’s right for the stewards to respond to that.

    Speaking of this incident specifically it’s pretty hard to know all the facts as to why they both got penalties in my mind

  36. I think Hamilton slammed on the brakes and hoped Alonso would hit him, taking Alonso out. Hamilton knew the only way to keep Alonso from passing him, was to “back into him” as it were. 😆
    Makes about as much sense as Alonso trying to slice Hamilton’s tire with his front wing anyway… 🙄

    1. jim,

      The FIA Stewards have all the traces of steering braking accelerating and so on. If Hamilton had done anything he would have been jumped on. I think Alonso probably made a mistake, however, all I asked was why Charlie Whiting took another look at the incident. The Alonso Fan Club goes berserk every time one even suggests that he may not be the reincarnation of Mother Theresa of Calcutta, but anyone with an open mind would ask the same question.

  37. I remember thinking that Hamilton was weaving a bit, but nothing particularly excessive, and I interpreted the latter part of it to be getting back into position for the corner.

    Alonso just misjudged the lack of pace of the McLaren out of the corner, his penalty for causing the inceident was the loss of front wing and subsequent pit stop, I don’t see why they needed to add time to drop him further back but in the same position.

    The only thing I can imagine in the seemingly tit for tat penalties is that maybe Ferrari said that were it not for Hamilton weaving at the end of the pit straight, Alonso would have already passed him and not been put in the position where he collided with a slower car exiting the slower corners. It’s a pretty lame argument though.

  38. I don’t think Alonso was deliberately trying to hit Hamilton’s rear tyre.

    I think he just wanted the full advantage of the slipstream and didn’t want to lift the throttle. He slightly misjudged it and caused the contact between the cars.

    We have seen this so many times in racing.

    It happens to me in sim racing that I am getting a really good ‘tow’ from a car in front and I don’t want to lift the throttle, but I run out of space and I must lift the throttle which always irritates me badly because it can often mean that I have to wait to the next lap to try again and you may not have many chances especially when the race is just about to end. I’m sure Alonso wanted to avoid that.

  39. Thank you for investigating this in more depth. It seemed likely from the way the penalties were reported by the FIA yesterday that the race director had decided to investigate the collision, but the complaint against Hamilton had come from outside. And so the question was, indeed, who had it come from.
    I’ve not seen any other journalist pick this up, but it’s exactly the kind of issue that calls for greater transparency. If some teams are more inclined to complain than others, then presumably they could be using it as a tactic. In which case perhaps every team should be doing it, to even the score. Or perhaps there should be a penalty against any team that makes an accusation that turns out to be unsubstantiated. And maybe that is happening already, under the radar, and we’re seeing harsher penalties against teams that abuse the system.
    As for the crash being deliberate, I guess we’ll never know. But yes, the only other explanation is incompetence, even if it was a temporary glitch. It was said last year that Alonso wasn’t a good overtaker. Maybe that will be disproved this year, but this failed manoeuvre in Malaysia won’t help his reputation.

  40. A grand total of 40 seconds for racing. Penalized for racing. I don’t get it. Rules are rules but that’s not to say the rules are idiotic. Ugh, so frustrating.

    So moving forward, every one-on-one battle I see this season I have to think to myself, “Was that legal? What’s the point if they’re just going to get penalized for racing?”

  41. Inconsistency and enforcing of rules has issues in most sports. Look at the amount of rules and lack of enforcement that takes place in football for instance. Constant foul throws, off sides, two footed challenges etc.
    @ sanfuracer – I did watch the start of the race again and although it looked like Vettel changed his position more than once the second move on Hamilton was also Vettel positioning to go in to the first turn but I can see how it might of also looked like a second change of position to stop him from overtaking.
    If the incident had no affect on any other drivers but the two of them why give the same penalty to both of them or give a penalty at all? How about just cancelling it out and letting everyone keep their positions? Now one driver loses points and the other doesn’t when it could be argued that defending a position a few extra times than is allowed is not as bad as running in to the back of another car. Although I can kind of understand it as both incidents could of had a more serious outcome. Either way a good and positive reaction regarding the incidents from both drivers. Let’s move on.
    On a seperate note what a pleasant experience it is not to have the FIA president mentioned every other day during the season like we had when Max was around. Although not my favorite person, well done to Jean Todt for keeping a low profile. Or at least it seems that way to me.
    One more thing what a drive by Mark Webber. It seemed like he pitted 10 times compared to everyone else and with no KERS he still almost finished 3rd. Drive of the race for me.

  42. The only fly in the ointment is a driver not being allowed to defend his position. No I don’t mean shoving him off shumiesque style, which was always against the rules anyway, just normal prevention, as was allowed for many tens of years before the nanny rule came in. Ok since the great days, the cars have evolved to make following closely and slipstreaming, into a hazard rather than a benefit but do we really need a rule that says in effect “Now let Johnny have a turn in front, there’s a good boy, else nanny will punish you”?

    I had Alonso’s incident down as a rare but simple error, due to the extreme heat and fatigue, coupled with increasing frustration at bits of the car not working and not being able to pass.

    Only much later did we hear that Lewis said that Alonso broke part of his rear floor. Seemed unlikely from the publicly available footage. Of course if the wing had not broken Alonso’s car may have been flung upwards so maybe it was for the best

    Any further Joe, on Bernies team manager meetings to try and retain V8 engines for 2013. Yes I know it’s settled but tell Bernie that!

  43. As a fan I don’t care about preserving the rule book. I care about the way F1 is being sanitized.

    Why do these “weaving” rules even exist? I want to see battles between world champions not “driver A pulls to the right in his one sanctioned FIA lane change, driver B pulls to the left and presses his FIA passing button. The commentators can’t even get themselves excited about this kind of “action”.

    The stewards do an ok job calling corner cutting and speeding in the pit lane and that’s all they should do. Lets see if they can call those two infractions reliably and with the same penalties applied each time for consistency.

    Even for the most cut-and-dried speeding in the pit lane infraction no one has any idea what penalty will be given from race to race. Seems like after 60 years we could at least figure that one out.

  44. I think it’s great to have some genuine needle/dislike between the drivers. I’m not entirely sure what is been implied with this post but sounds interesting.

  45. Alonso’s not incompetent. He’s human. Last time I checked that was enough reason for making errors. I generally enjoy reading conspiracy theories, but this is a bit of a stretch.

  46. P.S. Speaking of penalties I think there should be one for drivers who say “yeah for sure” during press conferences. The FIA should at least limit it to a certain amount. However since Kimi left F1 this has gone down dramatically.

  47. Alonso was given a penalty to avoid claims that the FIA are anti-McLaren and anti-Hamilton–it had no effect on his finishing position, so it was simply symbolic. Just imagine the backlash if Hamilton was the only driver in that situation that received a penalty.

  48. ”Did he, perhaps, suspect that Alonso ran into Hamilton deliberately, hoping to cut the McLaren driver’s rear tyre and that the move backfired and he damaged his front wing?”

    Is that even possible, to cut someones tyre without damaging own front wing, don’t think so, and don’t think that Charlie Whiting is incompetent to even think about it, is he?

    strange thoughts, no?

    1. Sasa,

      Yes it is possible. I have seen it done a few times. It is very risky. I do not know why Charlie looked again at the incident. I was simply suggesting possible explanations, but the Alonso cheerleaders never let one get away with any word against the great man, which I find irritating.

  49. I really don’t understand why either of these drivers got a penalty and again it shows a total lack of consistency from the stewards. If they are going to allow Vettel to make half a dozen changes of direction on the run to the first corner as he did yesterday then they cannot penalise Lewis Hamilton for what he did. I am happy to admit to being a bit of a Hamilton fan so could be biased and I am definitely no fan of Alonso although I am an admirer of his ability.

    What we had yesterday were the best two drivers on the grid going at it wheel to wheel without the artificial DRS screwing things up. That is what I would love to see every race. Let the two of them fight it out. So there was a very minor bit of contact. Big deal. It clearly wasn’t intentional and Alonso clearly was never going to gain from it. It was a very minor misjudgement while two great drivers were running together at 150mph or whatever. Even Lewis did not suggest there was anything that needed looked at by the stewards in his less than happy attitude after the race.

    I cannot believe Emmanuele Pirro agreed with this. He is a proper racer and must have enjoyed seeing these two race.

    In the end the penalties are irrelevant but I hate the idea that stewards are penalising racing.

  50. Did Hamilton brake test Alonso, or did Alonso deliberately drive into the back of Hamilton? Only the computer data traces will reveal this.

    Perhaps it was a simple mistake on Alonso’s part, after all nobody wants to damage their front wing.

    If they were racing for first place how long would it take to resolve this position by the FIA? Surely before the podium celebrations.

  51. The thing I found odd regarding penalties was either Buemi or Alguersuari (I forget which) getting a 10 second stop & go penalty for speeding in the pitlane while Barrichello only got a drive-through for causing a collision which led to a retirement in Australia. Surely these were the wrong way around, if not a harsher penalty still deserved for Barrichello?

    According to Rob Sinfield (Grand Prix Diary) Herbie Blash doesn’t think Hamilton weaved:

    Not that it means anything, I guess.

  52. Surely the one change of direction rule combined with rapidly degrading tyres will now make it almost impossible to legitimately defend your position when under attack from behind.

    I can’t help but think that Hamilton’s race result was effectively determined by flat-spotting a set of tyres on Saturday leaving him without enough tyres to complete the race distance in a competitive manner.

    The Pirelli tyres are now too much the dominant factor in the races, for me tyres that last only a few laps are as much “Wacky Races”-style gimmicks as KERS and DRS. Driver skill and on-track racing (not just passing a car on shot tyres) should decide the outcome of races not just tyre conservation.

  53. You did suggest that Alonso did it on purpose. That’s exactly what you did. And then you have the gall to attack someone for ‘making accusations’.

    And to suggest that someone else have a lie down in a darkened room!

    Scuzzy, sir, just scuzzy.

    By the way, Alonso’s small mistake doesn’t mean that he’s incompetent. It just means that he made a small mistake, like every great and less-than-great driver or rider in motorsport.

  54. Joe

    you did suggest such a thing – and it looks like a few readers picked up, not just those that “need to lie in a dark room” – it wasn’t them that started the conspiracy theory….

    “Did he, perhaps, suspect that Alonso ran into Hamilton deliberately, hoping to cut the McLaren driver’s rear tyre and that the move backfired and he damaged his front wing?”

  55. Could Alonso have been caught out by KERS? If he was expecting Hamilton to hit his KERS but Hamilton didn’t/couldn’t due to his rear tyre wear, Alonso could easily have found himself with 80hp extra and nowhere to go. Wouldn’t be difficult to be caught out when he was already so close.

  56. Hamilton was weaving down the pit straight on lap 45. He acknowledged this being so. Thus his penalty is falr. BBC showed a replay of Lewis moving at least 3 times on the pit straight.

    Alonso’s penalty is a bit more complicated as he was trying to use the tow for as long as he could to slingshot by Hamilton. However he touched Hamilton and damaged Hamilton’s car as well so maybe a penalty was deserved.

  57. joesaward

    quentin,

    That is the way things are in racing. It is not just a Ferrari thing.

    Cannot agree more.
    Quentin McLaren have protested the Red Bull front wing flexing in the past few days…so why is their complaining OK but Ferrari may not.
    Lewis admits that he was expected to be called in by the stewards as a result of weaving…yet all have commented that Alonso makes any mention of this – his words were “Lewis defended hard” (this was no criticism more of a compliment to Hamilton fighting hard to keep the place).
    Quote Autosport “I knew I was going to get a penalty. I’m not surprised,” the Brit told Autosport. “It’s racing. I’m not going to argue or disagree with the penalty.
    From my side I’m not allowed to move more than once. Do I class it as dangerous? No, but that’s the rule. Twenty seconds is not such a bad penalty for it”.
    Martin Whitmarsh feels (as did David Coulthard) that Alonso was trying to get out earlier, but the slipstream caused him to be pulled in faster than expected catching him out. We must remember that Alonso had lost DRS, so was using the slipstream to the max to help get past … and with hindsight cut it too fine.
    I would have been quite content if no penalties had been imposed. We want some charging & racing… the Stewards must not destroy that by overzealous application of rules.

  58. Looking forward to any extra info you might find, Joe. At the minute, neither of these penalties makes any sense at all :

    If Lewis weaved unacceptably, where exactly ?

    For Fernando, everyone knows how fragile front wings are, and besides, the Ferrari clearly had the legs of the McLaren at that stage, and would have got past in the end. To suggest any intent is surely ludicrous – like trying to injure someone’s fist with your chin.

  59. Joe,
    Any chance you might post an extract from your lap chart? I’d love to see how you do it and I’m sure others would agree…

  60. Great analysis and many thanks for sharing it with us.

    But I’m still left with an awful sense of deja-vue, and just when I thought we had left all the nonsense behind us.

  61. Joe,

    You replied to Joe Cowan that Alonso is not an incompetent. I’m surprised by your answer.

    It seems to me that Lewis’ tires were shot and he just couldn’t accelerate hard enough. Alonso was in full attack mode (especially since his DRS was defective) got great acceleration and just got a little too close and clipped Lewis. If this is not a racing accident I don’t know what is.

    Every F1 fan complains about the lack of passing and when we get 2 of the best going at it hard they get penalized.

    I wonder how many times in his long career Pirro has done the exact same thing…?

    The only logical explanation is what you are alluding to, the team principals had something to do with it.

  62. Another conclusion that could be drawn is that there is nothing more to either penalty that appears on the face of things.

  63. Thanks Joe,

    Both penalties seem to be rather odd. Looking at the footage of each of them since the penalties would suggest that they are correct ‘in law’ but would seem to be a little petty.

    There are going to be some very busy stewards in the coming races starting this weekend if this yardstick is to be applied.

    I do hope that anyone other than Se wins this weekend and I cannot believe that I didn’t lump on when I saw him 11/4 before the first race.

    Ginger.

  64. I am a bit with Quentin here – from what I have seen – only once mind you – the Alonso front wing looked like a rare miscalculation – and deliberate surely wouldn’t make sense given front wings apparent fragility – can’t comment on Hamilton block or otherwise but if this docking of time for what might previously have been interpreted as racing incidents is going to be the pattern for the season then it could get messy

  65. After 25 years of following F1 I just think you gotta shrug your shoulders and think `Its all fixed tricks`.

  66. Joe
    Could you please give us a piece on your lap chart and the information you record?

    The FIA produce a version – but there is no timing information provided. How does yours differ?

    Begs the question why the sport does not stream the timing information and provide analysis software that would allow us to see the same sort of information that is available to the teams on the pit wall.

    If the timing data could also be stored then we could all do detailed post race analysis & understand better the strategy decisions that are made.

    regards

    Jeremy

  67. Martin Brundle’s post race comment, whilst he was replaying the incident, was, if i recall correctly, FA simply got too much oversteer in the dirty air, as his front lifted / lost downforce. That, and a bit of frustration from Fernando, late braking, sounds very reasonable to me.

    But what was the sequence of the investigations rather than announcing the penalties? Just because it’s so odd, what i mean is presumably you can start looking at things in a different order to how you announce them. Joe Cowan’s sequence above sounds perfectly logical, but i’d like to see timestamps when complaints are noted, and to be honest i’d like to see short 100 word summaries of what the initial complaint is, because i’m inclined to think that it was preemptive / speculative on Ferrari’s part, by a hair.

    I’m frustrated there are no official sector times published after the race for general consumption (not that that would actually settle anything) but it would interest me to see the sector diffs from lap 46 back on a plot. Kicking myself now, i’d not thought of an obvious solution to that earlier.

    . . .

    Anyone know if Petrov is OK after his flying lesson?

    GM might want to sponsor him, if you heard about the Chevy Cruze, and steering wheels . .

    – j

  68. Joe, with regard to defending position illegally by making more than one move, I really thought that is was Vettel did into turn one on the opening lap.

    I am a Vettel supporter and have a lot of time for him, so no bones to pick with him, but did he not make two very obvious direction changes to block Hamilton off into that first corner?

    1. just,

      Do you want to watch racing? Or do you want the drivers to shy away from one another. Action should only be taken when there is a fault involved.

  69. i watched the incident several times in slo mo. Both cars were coming out of the corner and as they straightened up Lewis made his first move to defend his position. At that exact moment, Alonso went to overtake. Alonso collided. Had Lewis not made that first defensive move then Alonso probably would not have clipped him so IMO was a racing incident. Coming out of a fast corner, Lewis would not had time to change his position twice and did not do so.

    If you contrast this with BUTTON attempting to overtake MASSA in Australia, there are significant differeences. MASSA clearly made 2, sometimes 3 changes in line and road position as BUTTON tried to overtake. Yet MASSA received no penalty, maybe because McLAREN lodged no complaint. Yet again, this smacks of one rule for Ferrari, one rule for the rest.

  70. All I think of it is the stewards, the governing body and anyone else who makes up the rules, are ruining the sport this way. We want more racing, invent ridiculous technical aids so we get more racing, but in the meantime punish every single mishap that occurs. Come on, racing is racing, accidents happen, and in a way, should happen, they’re part of the game! If we don’t allow the drivers to race each other, what’s the purpose of the sport anyway??

    One other thing. Can someone explain to me why speeding in the pitlane is penalised harder (Buemi 10 sec. stop-go) than crashing into each other (Barrichello Australia, regular drive-through)??

    1. Fritzo,

      If you read the story again, you will see that the Race Director did not think that Hamilton’s defending moves were a problem. Nor did he initially react to the Alonso crash. Thus he was letting the racers race. Ferrari asked for the Hamilton move to be investigated. At the same time for some reason Charlie Whiting decided to look again at the Alonso move and then reported it to the stewards.

  71. It’s a bit of a Sherlock Holmes puzzle this:

    – why did Hamilton say that Alonso had broken his floor when the times you quote disprove this (and he was already very slow before, with JB pulling away and Alonso catching)?

    – why was Hamilton uncharacteristically lost for words to describe the race?

    – why did such a brilliant driver as Alonso make such an uncharacteristically clumsy mistake?

    I think maybe Hamilton did do something to fox Alonso into the collision. The collision didn’t do any harm to Hamilton’s car. In which case, McLaren had no cause to protest against Alonso. So maybe they invented the harm in order to justify the protest. Hamilton thought he’d better say as little as possible because he didn’t know the story yet. The stewards thought the collision was fishy but couldn’t prove anything against Hamilton, so instead they took an exaggerated attitude towards his direction changes (although they were not unreasonable in themselves).

    Probably a load of old rubbish, but it fits the facts.

    1. Anthony,

      The FIA Stewards have all the data so they know that Hamilton did not do anything. They have access to steering traces, brakes, accelerator etc. If there was soemthing wrong they would have reacted to it.

  72. What i’m failing to understand here is why Hamilton received a penalty for changing direction, when Vettel, who did the same off the start line to defend against Hamilton, went unpunished.
    Is this inconsistency from the stewards or accepted behaviour into the first corner?

  73. Joe, thanks for replaying to my comment.

    I certainly think Alonso is not an incompetent. I think it was just an error due to the difference in speed, which at that point was considerable. It was Alonso’s fault, but nothing more than a racin incident.

    Remember, Hamilton did the same to Alonso in Bahrain in 2008, and nobody suggests that Hamilton is incompetent.

    On another point, is Hamilton falling out with McLaren? I sense a growing tension!! I really feel this team and this driver are not suited for each other!!

  74. Yes joe I saw your question mark. But thayt does not negate the fact that you put the conspiracy theory out there and then rudely had a go at people who pulled you up on it..don’t put it out there if you don’t want comments on it

    As to your question. No I don’t think it was deliberate. And if u don’t think it was deliberate you would never have put the question out there

    1. rc,

      You are quite wrong and it is amazing to me that you think that you somehow have a right to tell me what I think. I do not think it was deliberate at all. I do not understand what happened. I was looking for reasons why the cars collided and why the Race Director decided to look again at the incident and then refer it to the Stewards. What made him change his mind? I asked a question. I was not saying that Fernando did this or Fernando did that. I wanted to understand why he was punished, so that I can explain the reasons to the intelligent members of my readership. I do an honest job and I pride myself on that, so it gets to me when people fire off ill-considered, rude, bigoted or nationalist comments, often because they do not really understand what they have read. I try to be patient but there are times when all I really want to do is to shut down the comments and lead a nicer, quieter life. I do this for your benefit and I do it for nothing. I give you the benefit of some insight. I even give you the opportunity to have a voice. But all you (and some others) do is bite the hand that feeds you… A lot of people in the F1 business tell me that I am stupid to bother responding to readers because no good will come of it. There are times when I think they are right. But why should other fans who appreciate what I do suffer because of the critics?

  75. Joe, naturally I want to watch racing. You yourself said, in an article about Sauber being penalised, that rules are rules. Hamilton got off to a good start and was all over the back of Vettel coming into the first corner. He made a very deliberate move to the right to cover Hamilton off, and then another very deliberate move to the right when Hamilton changed direction.

    I was just interested to note that the one event was investigated and punished, but no attention paid to the other. While I am comfortable with most rules in F1 I know my knowledge is superficial. My understanding was the drivers are allowed only one move to defend a position. It was that rule, as I understand it, that Hamilton infringed upon, but I can see no reason why Vettel was not investigated.

    It could be something as simple as saying that he made the move to the left to get the racing line into corner one, but I dont know enough about the rule to know whether that is aceptable.

    So in answer to your question, I’d like to see racing, but I would also like to know that rules are being enforced equally at all times. I’m happy Vettel won, but that doesn’t make me any less interested in the application of rules.

  76. Always good to read a healthy number of comments on any particular race incident and the HAM/ALO incident has generated lots. My view is that it was a racing incident and shouldn’t have been punished. What really disturbs me is that a team (in this case Ferrari) can lobby the stewards hours after the race has finished and seek to penalise HAM.

    Surely the stewards (regardless of their make up on a race by race basis) should be beyond the influence of the teams? Perhaps this isn’t the best example but if you look at the referee in football or the umpire in tennis they stand firm by their decision once made despite being surrounded by players protesting innocence.

    It does F1 no favours at all to bring post event penalties against racing incidents when race control saw nothing untoward during the event. In football things do go unseen by the ref’ but generally teams accept that it’s the nature of the game and sometimes things go in your favour, othertimes not.

    There will always be debate about racing incidents – that’s healthy – but what isn’t healthy is the impression to the general F1 audience that pressure can be applied against stewards to favour a result. That shouldn’t be allowed and a firmer and more consistent approach to race governance needs to be created so drivers, teams and fans can have the confidence that as the flag waves the result is a sound one.

  77. Joe,
    I’ve heard a lot of comments about Vettel ‘weaving’ or changing his line into the first corner and going unpunished – are multiple changes of direction at the start generally acceptable?

  78. Looked to me like Hamilton brake tested Alonso. The speed gap was so big, hoe could Alonso have misjudged an overtake that “simple”?

    The stewards apparently looked at the drivers’ traces and found no wrong doing however. Oh well….

    Pity that actual racing is being penalised.

  79. Joe Cowan

    I too noticed the change in the way Hamilton is talking, certainly when asked about not being able to drive alongside vettl at Red Bull.

    However, I don’t think this is due to being displeased with McLaren after all they’re delivering a car that can compete. The more likely explanation is his new management team with Simon Fuller.

    The whole thing sounded like an early “Show me the money” statement for contract negotiations in the future. Typical sports agency behaviour.

  80. @ Joe It’d sure be interesting to know why Charlie decided to look at the Alonso incident again. Is there any chance this was a reaction by McLaren to news that Hamilton was under investigation for weaving?

    RE: Vettel weaving that so many pro-Hamilton and anti-Vettel fans mention, I don’t buy into the idea his weaving was anything like that of Hamiltons. Seb made two distinct moves, as did Hamilton behind him. One was protect his line into the first corner, this was a reaction to Hamilton jinking to the right (the defensive move allowed). The second was after Hamilton had decided to move back onto the natural racing line for corner entry. This is a move that I don’t see weaving by either driver, as moving back onto the racing line is generally accepted. Ergo Vettel defended once.

    Hamiltons motives were different, and if Lewis thought he was due a penalty then I cannot for the life of me see why his fans can’t accept that one.

  81. I think that Hamilton moves to right ( legally) and that he don push Kers on that lap ( lega, too)
    A defensive move that Alonso don’t see or wait.
    Alonso push Kers as in previus laps and the result was a collision.
    A simple race incident ( in my opinion)

    “Charlie Whiting took another look at the incident”
    Why you think that?

    FIA F1 Regulations:
    “16.1 “Incident” means any occurrence or series of occurrences involving one or more drivers, or any action by
    any driver, which is reported to the stewards by the race director (or noted by the stewards and referred to
    the race director for investigation)
    Unless in the opinion of the race director it was completely clear that a driver was in breach of any of the
    above, any incidents involving more than one car will normally be investigated after the race.”

    Hamilton Incident:
    Any occurrence or series of occurrences involving one or more drivers which is noted by the stewards and referred to the race director for investigation

    Alonso incident:
    Any occurrence or series of occurrences involving one or more drivers which is reported to the stewards by Charlie Whiting

    Any incidents involving more than one car will normally be investigated after the race….
    Unless in the opinion of Charlie Whiting it was completely clear that a driver was in breach of any of art 16.1

    – necessitated the suspension of a race under Article 41 ;
    – constituted a breach of these Sporting Regulations or the Code ;
    – caused a false start by one or more cars ;
    – caused a collision ;
    – forced a driver off the track ;
    – illegitimately prevented a legitimate overtaking manoeuvre by a driver ;
    – illegitimately impeded another driver during overtaking.

  82. “Did he, perhaps, suspect that Alonso ran into Hamilton deliberately, hoping to cut the McLaren driver’s rear tyre and that the move backfired and he damaged his front wing?”

    Accurate analysis. What you have written is in very bad taste.

    1. muc,

      Buen día. A question mark is a means of asking a question. It is not a statement. I am simply trying to understand what happened and why and am looking at every possible explanation. If you have an explanation as to why Charlie Whiting looked at the incident again and decided to report it to the stewards then please let me know. If not, don’t lecture me about what is good taste and bad taste. Accurate analysis: You come from Spain and you do not know much about what some racing drivers are capable of doing.

  83. Joe, I think the Alonso crowd opposes you so vocally is probably because you don’t bother to hide your dislike for him.

    I admit the way this thing unfolded is peculiar, to me it just seems that Alonso made an error, no more no less.
    I looked at the replays a couple of times and can’t really see Hamilton weave. If anybody was weaving it was Vettel at the start!

    To me it simply looked like a racing incident and no penalties needed, but I’m just a spectator.

    1. Zeph,

      I do not dislike Alonso. I do not approve of some of things he has done in his career, which gives one an impression of the man, but I have no axe to grind with him. As I have tried to explain several times in responses to comments, I am looking for an explanation as to why the Race Director changed his mind about the incident and recommended a punishment, because I think it was a racing incident. The thing that I hate is all these rabid Alonso fans who instantly start throwing around accusations. His fans are the only ones in the world who behave this way and I don’t like it.

  84. Hi Joe,

    Considering the implementation of the rules/regulations so far do you think the season will continue with only one example of an infringement being punished throughout the race. Examples for this so far are:
    Australia; Button exceeded the track limits when overtaking Massa thus receiving a drive-through penalty, however, Buemi exceeded the track limits when overtaking Sutil and Vettel (to a lesser extent) exceeded the track limits when overtaking Button both occuring at Turn 4 both Buemi and Vettel received no penalties.
    Malaysia; Hamilton penalised for weaving in front of Alonso thus receiving a drive-through penalty (+20 seconds to race time), however several other drives could be accused of performing a similar maneuver, most notably, some drivers at the start of the race and Petrov weaving in front of Massa a few laps prior to Hamilton’s infrigement.

    Do you thinks this will continue as it has done in the past where it is luck if you get penalised?

    DavidR

  85. It should be remembered that Ferrari leave no stone unturned in getting an advantage in all races, (Also not forgetting that via the Concorde agreement they get more money that all the other teams) if there is any opportunity to put in a protest with the stewards they do so. This sometimes leads to a tit for tat protest from other teams who judge themselves ill done by and more or less obliged to retaliate, though in this case Charlie apparently took the lead instead.

    Jeremy Braithwaite: You can always use the Formula1.com live timing chart which has the position graph on one of it’s tabs (or was that what you meant anyway?) I found the timings on the chart lagged somewhat and the position list was often out of sync for several laps. Seems the young chaps in charge are not used to racing with overtaking and pit stops. (like what we old gits remember from our 30s and 40s but then we had bits of paper too and a variety of watches with second hands some stop and some not)

    John (other) You should have tried driving my old Alfa Giulietta (One of my larger customers at the time, this being their equivalent of the regulation Cortina) in the wet, understeer of many feet was common unless driven virtually flat out or at a slow crawl, but then it couldn’t stop either and the lights came on by them selves at random in the rain. but it didn’t matter since one couldn’t see anyway, the screen was permanently steamed up at the slightest hint of rain, the demister being as effective as a chaffinch’s fart at twenty paces, though deafeningly loud. Still those were the days eh? eh?

  86. joesaward said:

    The thing that I hate is all these rabid Alonso fans who instantly start throwing around accusations. His fans are the only ones in the world who behave this way and I don’t like it.

    Ha, you don’t spend a lot of time on the forums, do you? You should hear the Hamilton fans!

  87. To toss one more conspiracy theory into the pot….

    Our esteemed Beeb commentators in their Daily Telegraph and BBC columns respectively reckon old Fernando not only has quick reactions in the car but also when up in front of the beak. Basically, the headmaster called him in and then he said “it was not me sir, it was Lewis” and there we are.

    Plausible? I don’t know – John (other John) mentions above that it would be nice if we knew who reported what and at what time. Then the conclusions could be drawn.

  88. joesaward said:

    Did he, perhaps, suspect that Alonso ran into Hamilton deliberately, hoping to cut the McLaren driver’s rear tyre and that the move backfired and he damaged his front wing?

    With highly suggestive statements like these, it should not surprise you that the Alonso fans take offense.

    What’s more, you are the only one to go off on this tangent.

  89. firstly rodders – poor call, lets be civil and logical come on. informed, on the track opinion vs armchair commentary is why we view and post here, no?

    back on topic, watching it live on streaming TV, it seemed like it was all on for young and old, great stuff, fair racing amongst great modern rivals. i had flashbacks of spa in the rain with lewis and kimi. only this time dry, and bitter rivals with alonso being a tad ambtious.

    hearing about the penalty for alonso, understandable, but hamilton as well?? mind-blowing!

    now though watching the D/L replay, seems as early as turn 1, hamilton swerves, ever-so-slightly, back and forth. live, no reason why you would re-assess that, so ironically smooth was lewis’ defence.

    in fact, i have a load more respect for lewis now, giving him the benefit of doubt that he was playing a cool defensive game, playing the “oh is there someone i know somewhere behind me?” style. which is SO not the lewis of old! fuull marks.

    but you must undertand why ferrari raised it (agree with joe’s deduction here thatthey did), as when you look back at it, lewis is flowingly (is that a word?), subtly moving around the braking zone. one could call it a smooth line, but knowing how sharp and edgy lewis’ driving style is, it s uncharacteistic for him to be so smoothly obstructive lol it had to be him playing with alonso.

    do doubt alonso did it intentionally though, rather he was rattled by lewis’ uncharacteristic button-esque driving and got played.

    to me, lewis just showed a whole new game, which even alonso did not expect.

    i even more look forward to these two closing up on each other again. just hope alonso gets the opportunity to be in the front this time to see if he can play lewis the way he got played. because as much as i dislike alonso’s ethics, he is the master manipulator, and lewis just showed him up and fernando was probably the only one who knew it, hence the escalation to charlie.

  90. after watching the collision replay, i have to admit, although alonso made a few errors last year, he isn’t the kind of driver to make close-combat errors like this. sure he pushes the envelope like aganst kubica last year, but close-combat? nothing immediately comes to mind. he is the ultimate hunter and defender (eg imola agaisnt schuey)

    joe’s theory is unlikely, but plausible. it was almost like he was trying to clip the edge of hamilton’s tyre, but nudged it instead, coming off second best. or he just lost downforce!

    stand by my earlier comment that alonso got played though in the lead-up, and lewis was in total control. either way, alonso came off second best this round.

    so wish vettel wasn’t so far ahead so we could see if he indeed has the gonads of these two warriors.

  91. Joe

    You wrote: I am looking for answers not making accusations. (..).

    No offense was intended, but the simple hipothesis of Alonso (or any other driver) wanting to cut Hamilton (or any other driver) rear tyre is not very likely or sensible, in my opinion.
    Do you agree with that?

  92. Joe,

    just in case you are beginning to doubt that anyone has, I have actually read and understood your story!

  93. Anthony,

    I think maybe Hamilton did do something to fox Alonso into the collision. The collision didn’t do any harm to Hamilton’s car.

    This shows great imagination. A driver who is struggling with his car trying to stay ahead of the other great driver on the grid engineers an accident at a fast corner because he knows his car will not be damaged??? You really should be writing more fiction like that.

    If Lewis wanted to engineer an accident surely common sense says he would do it at the hairpin where it is easy and the chance of damage to his car would be greatly reduced and the chance of being punted off the track or into a spin practically non-existent.

    To all those who think Joe said that Alonso deliberately caused the accident I suggest you read websites that require a lower reading age. Anyone analysing the penalties has to consider the thought processes of the stewards and the possibility that one of them just may have considered that there was a 1% chance that the accident was deliberate is not the same as saying Alonso rammed Hamilton so ban him for life.

    It is very easy when reading something on the internet to get hold of the wrong end of the stick. So if you read something and your reaction is that you can’t believe Joe said that maybe you have misinterpreted it.

    A little bit of rational thought can prevent a whole lot of needless hostility.

  94. For what it’s worth, I’m part of the Alonso fan club and thought your post was very good. The only part that might rankle people is the question about rear-ending Hamilton on purpose, which seems strange because rear-enders are pretty common in F1 and tend to hurt the chasing driver’s front wing more often than the lead driver’s rear tire. I know it was just a question, but it was a surprising one.

    I do wish the stewards would release more information about their decisions.

  95. I feel pained to point out that I am not one of the spammers/ trolls/ fanatics who delight in messing up your blog and time, I am merely seeking to understand an understanding of a respected motorsport journalist.

    I felt that Hamilton deserved the penalty, and that its imposition was necessary. The jinking violates the rules and the code of conduct, its unsporting. To race in a professional, proper manner, Hamilton should have exaggerated the diagonal line to the left, as he did, then moved to the right (inside), and kept it there, as he did not. The weaving, however marginal it may look to some, is totally unacceptable in racing, evident in numerous incidents involving shards of metal flying through the air. The incident was exactly the same as last year, except that this time the driver in question didn’t throw himself from one far side of the track to the other. A good decision by the stewards, a simple reprimand would not have embedded the illegality of the maneouvre into the drivers’ minds. I am not sure why you pass aside this incident and others as ‘racing’. Perhaps you, too, hold the opinion that it is bad racing. I’m just a little perturbed that you may deem it as acceptable in racing?

    P.S, are the online magazine and weekly newsletter seperate?

    Cheers,

    Seb

  96. Joe said: “His fans are the only ones in the world who behave this way and I don’t like it.”

    You should take a look on the BBC forums! They’d have you believe Alonso is the devil and Hamilton an angel. They’re far more defensive than the FA fans above.

    I think attacking you (from FA fans) for what is essentially a musing is rather daft. It’s actually pretty annoying, as I come on here to try and get a more balanced picture of things, as although I’m British my support doesn’t default to Hamilton and McLaren, something which is true of all my long term F1 friends who are British (i.e. those watching and attending races for 20 years+). Kimi, Webber, Fernando, Schumacher and Kubica are all well liked though, it’s the people we support not the nationalities.

    I think perhaps the new breed of supporters that Alonso and Hamilton have both brought to F1 don’t share the same values in racing. There is quite simply nothing more frustrating in F1 than Hamilton consistently trying to compare himself to the late great Ayrton Senna, who for the record would have almost certainly won 3 WDC in the cars Lewis has had at his disposal. Yet his fans always go on about how alike they are. Having watched Senna race I’m thinking they’re nothing alike bar the yellow lid.

    I’ve gone off topic here haven’t I ?! Apologies. The point remains though, living in the UK I get to see some of the worst most of the British media/fans views on things, and i’m quite sure some of it will match up to Alonso fans idiotic comments as well.

  97. Hey Joe thanks for these evenings with Joe (in my case mornings) for free. Just kidding on the “free” bit, I would gladly attend if you ever came to a place near me. But this is different, no? not question time, more like debate time.

  98. “A lot of people in the F1 business tell me that I am stupid to bother responding to readers because no good will come of it”

    Actually I think it makes you the most respected F1 journalist out there. Someone who is willing to justify and stand up for his views (Which is fantastic!). Those who don’t do this will forever be discredited by people who disagree.

    I’ve disagreed with you on occasions, and I certainly hope I’ve not offended you, but it’s great to get feedback about an alternative view. I don’t think your integrity ever comes into it, only people who’s arguments are weak (or false) have to rely on such arguments.

  99. Joe – Thanks for your analysis. Conspiracies are always the loser’s tool for excusing their deficiencies.

    Out of interest, there seem to be quite a few mysterious failures from the leading teams (Ferrari – DRS, RBR – KERS, etc). Do you think these are just teething problems, (which I would not have expected from teams of this calibre) or do you think there is more to it? Perhaps rules being bent to the limit therefore causing failures?

  100. Joe – upon reading my comment above, I realise I should have made it clear I was making it in response to some of your reader’s conspiracy theories, not a reflection of your own analysis.

  101. Joe,

    After seeing all of this, makes me appreciate MotoGP even more.
    No KERS, no DRS, No Weaving penalties.

  102. Great analysis as usual.

    My opinion: Well, Lewis admitted that he expected a penalty so we have to take his word for it…quite humble of him considering we have not seen the “move” in question. I thought the FIA was going more transparent in these things??

    Dunno why Alonso was penalized. It was a racing accident, he only hurt himself by hitting the McLaren. Had he taken Lewis out, sure give him the penalty. Yes he hit him….and that is the cause of the penalty,period…

    How long before penalties are given out for wheel-banging?

  103. After watching the end of lap44 and the begining of lap45 numerous times I cant for the life of me see any weaving, I can see Lewis going once off line to defend an return to the racing line, but then all I can think of is Ron Dennis`s voice circa Senna Movie promo with the face of Baptiste an Ron talking of `Forces` of the dark variety. Oh Hum some things never change.

  104. Joe, please do keep up the good work here on your blog and don’t let the minority put you off from responding to comments – I come here everyday to read your musings and find your insights into what is happening in F1 of great interest.

    I know that the majority of people on here respect you and even if they disagree with you they don’t feel the need to attack you like some of the ‘sad’ examples above. And I expect not one of the people who complain above would dare say anything like what they do on here to your face – the anonymity of the Internet sadly allows people to be like that.

  105. Joe,

    I have read your little story- thanks for pointing that out. As you say “We do not know the answers to these questions”. The stewards have a chequered history and who was the expert former F1 driver in Malaysia?

  106. 25 years ago, the terrible Frank Williams accident but also a reminder from the Nigel Mansell autobiography referring to his battles with Senna:

    “On the first lap of the race in Rio I got a good start and thought I had done enough going down the straight to pass him (Senna) down the inside into the fast left hander. I got alongside, my right front wheel level with his shoulder and began braking, but he suddenly came across and hit me. I braked hard to avoid an accident, but his left rear wheel hit my right front and sent me off the road into the Armco, tearing off my left front wheel.”

    “We did not talk about it afterwards, but I learned an important lesson about racing against him that day. If I hadn’t backed off we would both have hit the Armco and it could have been a serious accident. As it was I came off worse and it would not happen again. His tactic was to intimidate and I refused to be intimidated.”

    Any further comment or comparison with today needed?

  107. Hi rpaco!

    ooh . . don’t get me started . . sweet Alfa. . you see i *like* understeer ~ compared with cruddy fly – by – wire plastic boxes which, like a Typhoon’s aero, uncharitably, wouldn’t turn a corner without computerized trim, you knew you were in a glorious piece of work if you could feel the feed in . . not to mention you could sort out the Playstation generation by manadtory test inclusion of following your back end at speed on a country road tens of miles from help, or call box, no cellular naturally 🙂

    Tounge in cheek, we’ve possibly overlooked that these penalties set up the whole fan “debate” scrummage very nicely for the year! Look on the bright side, if you just avert your ears from whoever piles in, muck sweat, we can go enjoy ourselves more 🙂

    Still in jest, i’m imagining Joe silently groaning “Read what i *mean*, not what *you* think my words say” and burying his head in his hands at Trojan “debate”. Bit like my trying to sort the lousy management to our building, by pointing out we can reelect the mgmt co board, silence for weeks then suddenly a ten page circular comes, precisely aiming at the entirely wrong thing. Agh, the Humanity of it all! 🙂 (sorry Joe, just have to laugh at the side shows time to time)

    About the chart lag. That (not singularly) scuppered my little plan of just working out the serialization of the split data and pumping that as an overlay. I’m now wondering whether i can be bothered to try to resynch that feed to a buffered video relay, because that involves grabbing the lap counter, top of screen, running it thru ocr (a simple diff might suffice as a trigger, but gah, alpha channels, ugh), and sorting all this to a heartbeat / timestamp. Not even sure that would work “as is”, either, as you would need to cascade all the splits per car, from the leader.(I’m a bit spoiled for fairly arcane kit i’ve not played with lately, so this isn’t an offer to do diddly for anyone else, merely to see if i can better inform myself and enjoy the race). Maybe i’ll have it sorted by lap 70 at Brazil!

    Anyhoo, didn’t spoil the race for me. Like you say, business as usual for SF. Nothing can knock seeing a new lot with decent race chances.

    Incidentally, rpaco, they were designing motors with protractors rather than ogees about the time i could afford to drive, if you’ll allow my tender years!

    all best to all,

    – j

  108. HowItusedtoBe,

    and Martin Brundle, in turn, notes his same experience with MS.

    But i’m uncertain this is a straight lineage.

    I can’t bring myself to see anything deliberately “move over or else” about FA’s move, even if i screw up my face, squint, and think as angrily as i can about the Armada, and the impending latest bank-eu-ruptcy.

    – j

  109. Just a thought, about people who think there was a lot of weaving and cover moves, ain’t it just a long time since we saw any real action? Well, we don’t need to go all pop psych to understand the public agry bargy. Oh, the point, oops:

    Peter Coffman has an interesting Q: why the “one move rule at all?” [sic].

    Having just downloaded the rules from a fia website subdomain argent.fia etc. ~ there has to be a pun there . .

    20.2 – “Manoeuvres liable to hinder other drivers, such as more than one change of direction to defend a position,
    deliberate crowding of a car beyond the edge of the track or any other abnormal change of direction, are
    not permitted”

    but really, in a sequence of corners, there can be any number of attempts and legitimate defences, where a car looses or gains track position significantly.

    Either this should be scrapped, because it sounds like a general “good behaviour” rule, or it ought to be clearly decided by explaining on which overtaking attempt, on which section of track, the improper defense / “hinderance” took place.

    Joe’s right, this is decidedly stuff of “discreet inquiries”!

    – j

  110. re the Lewis “I was expecting a penalty” quote. Do we have any context on this? It could mean he knew he’d done something wrong, alternatively (and more likely in my eyes) it could mean he knew stewards were investigating and he was being ever so slightly sarcastic.

  111. I think you are being really unfair to the Alonso fans, I seem to remember the Schumacher mob being equally offensive! Though they do seem to have quietened down a bit recently…..

  112. “When men were men” etc. drivers were expected to defend their positions, wheel to wheel banging was common, as was knowing the amount of force to use.

    We were still in the era before carbon fibre and today’s crash/impact tests, before HANS, before gell buffered helmets, before conveyor belt over tyre barriers, real gravel, catch fencing ; a drivers feet were the second thing to hit the barrier after the nose-cone crumpled; so the point is that it mattered a hell of a lot more back then, that drivers did not crash, the risk of serious injury or death was very high in a crash. But now, when injuries are rare flukes, and the drivers better protected in so many different ways, we have the nanny rule.
    Drivers of the Prost, Senna, Mansell eras would walk away shaking their heads at not being allowed to race properly, “what is this for kids now??”

    I wonder if Joe in his normal travelling and race attendance comes face to face with some of the older ex-F1 drivers, if so could he find time to ask what they think of 2011 Sporting regs 20.2

  113. Martin,

    quoting you,

    ~ re the Lewis “I was expecting a penalty” quote. ~

    I’m starting to think he’s got it right sussed out, that lad.

    That wasn’t – i believe – a commentary on his own driving, nor an admission . .

    so i go with your second idea. Either he got the radio word, or, my preferred idea, he’s just savvy to how things go. I like the latter, because his level headedness of late could presage some really serious driving. You can’t push unless you know the rules and how they work. Do we really have to go over the examples? That would fit very well with his raw talent finding the paths long trodden, looking for a space to live in . . .

    (not a Lewis fan, i keep saying, but genuinely warming, especially if he can take a swipe at stupid rules whilst at it)

    – j

  114. TimW,

    Until about 98/99 i was a total Schumi fan.

    Gotta say, he’s getting good to watch again.

    Thanks to that Kobayashi bloke 🙂

    OK, to explain, it’s been so far a lot of fun to see MS back on the track, just you can’t froth at the mouth anymore and get to laugh at the men from the pound wielding nets on sticks trying to bring you back “home” 🙂

    Oh, that probably disqualifies me as a “genuine” Schumi fan by most standards. But i assure you i was, then, and now.

    I just keep thinking – and i had my fair share of nearly, almost, all the way and back, in life – just what is going through his heart every race he runs. I find MS being there more enjoyable on noticing the different lifts in his smile, guessing when he thinks he got a good run. That is so different from him being dominant and the sneer he too often had. I also see a calculating brain working out how to retire finally with dignity. Heck, i think he’s in the process, just doing it quietly, and revelling in the idea. I’m not betting on what will come in race results though, not until he decides he no longer likes to choose his rubber for the start, anyhow!

    – j

  115. Joe

    A couple of years ago, sorry but I forget exactly when, there was a suggestion that the FIA would publish steward’s decisions, and the reasons behind those decisions, wasn’t there? This was after a load of controversial decisions by the stewards.

    Has that ever happened? I don’t know if it has, I rarely look at the FIA website.

    Most of the “Hamilton did/did not do this…”, “Alonso did/did not do that…” comments on this post could be answered if the FIA explained their decisions for those of us who would like to know.

    Charlie Whiting’s role in this process would be interesting to know too. What caused him to reassess the Alonso/Hamilton collision? Does Charlie have to refer things to the Stewards or can he make a decision about a penalty on his own?

    Why do some incidents that occur mid-race not get investigated until after the race? We often see an announcement that an incident involving car X and car Y will be investigated after the race. Why not straightaway, there is not always an accident or safety-car to distract the stewards and/or Charlie.

    Your comment about “..tins of cloned stewards who all make the same decisions.” in the previous post is great but surely there should be more consistency. I am thinking about the Buemi penalty for speeding in the pit-lane, only a few posters have mentioned this. Why did he get a 10 second stop and go when the normal penalty is a drive-through, according to Buemi? Is he right about that? I think he is. Or was he doing about 170 mph and deserved a stricter penalty? The stewards could tell us.

  116. John (other John)

    I was never a Schumi fan although I had respect for his talents, I could never get over the whole ramming people off the road thing, and couldn’t forgive his part in making F1 so dull between 2000 and 2004. However I do find myself looking to see how he has got on against Rosberg and even being pleased if he has done ok. Personally I don’t think the comeback has been as disastrous as people like to make out, Nico would give anyone a hard time in qualifying and for a man in his early forties to out qualify him even once is quite an achievement.
    I thought MS looked pretty strong in the last few races of 2010 and he certainly looked pretty sharp on lap 1 in KL.
    Schumacher has now officially joined Chas and Dave and Pot Noodles on my list of guilty pleasures!

  117. Drivers are complaining about the rubber marbles that are being strewn around the track, especially just off the racing lineas Petrov claims to have experienced.
    My take on it is that the rules on tyres should be such that the drivers are not always driving such ‘dangerous’ tyres. Could Pirelli not just introduce a new tyre more similar to last year that didn’t degrade at the high rates the current ones do? Rules could dictate that cars must do 1 stint on the ‘old tyre’ thus reducing the levels of marbles, perhaps 2 stints depending on the change. Just an thought…

  118. Hi TimW!

    honest with you, i stopped following F1 in that 01 to 04 stretch, and it took a lot to bring me back, slowly.

    It was stultifying, painful as it was a great driver causing me to loose all faith, and i stopped because i simply couldn’t justify to friends and family that i’d be absent every other weekend, for something which made me sad.

    I often think Schumi realised how much entertainment value he could be, gained a sense of humor, and wanted to give something back. If so, that’s cool, and honorable.

    I agree it’s a guilty pleasure. That’s a huge improvement. I’ll skip the Chas & Dave, though, if you don’t mind 🙂

    Enjoy the weekend!

    – j

  119. Joe, in the build up to the GP this weekend the question of why Vettel was not penalised for his movements at the start of Sepang was addressed.

    The reason given by the stewards and enforcers was that they do not penalise weaving at the start of a race because it would be impossible to police. The nature of the start is that cars are all moving around each other, making it almost impossible to penalise one without penalising all the others.

    That was what I was hoping you could answer for me. I did not want to see Vettel punished or to have bland and boring starts. All I was after was a logical explanation as to why there were differences.

    Thank you for your great reporting in general though. Having only found your blog recently I have been referring as many people as I can find.

    1. just,

      I think that the answer is that the first lap of a race is not quite the same as the other laps. However, no-one has said as much.

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