What a load of rubbish…

Stories that Ferrari ordered Felipe Massa to “destroy” Lewis Hamilton’s race in Singapore are a classic example of modern Internet journalism gone bananas. The stories are based on a radio message from Massa’s engineer Rob Smedley which was not included in the live television broadcast, in which the English engineer told Massa to “Hold Hamilton as much as we can. Destroy his race as much as we can”.

The circumstances, one should remember, were as follows: Hamilton started the race at a disadvantage because the FIA had decided that he should not be given an extra tyre, despite having had a puncture in qualifying. He was then boxed in at the start by Mark Webber and had to lift off and so dropped from fourth on the grid to eighth. He recovered to sixth in the early laps, passing the two Mercedes and closing in on Massa. The two men then ran together with Hamilton keen to get ahead and make more progress and thus close the gap to the people ahead.

The implication of Smedley’s remark is very clear. Hamilton was in a faster car and Massa had much to gain from a strategic point of view by holding him behind until the pitstops. This would mean that Massa should come out ahead and thus Hamilton’s charge back to the front would be frustrated. The two men pitted at the same moment and on the first lap out of the pits tangled with Hamilton running into the back of Massa. This left Lewis with a damaged nose and Massa with a rear puncture.

The Ferrari radio call has been taken out of context and extrapolated into being a call for Massa to cause the collision. This is poor reporting and deeply unfair to Ferrari. The clash, which was blamed on Hamilton by the FIA Stewards, was a fairly normal racing incident with Lewis being to blame if anyone was. It was certainly not something worthy of stories that suggest that Massa might have done anything deliberately. His anger at the accident is a clear indication that he did not intend anything to happen, so the story is a complete work of fiction.

After the incident Hamilton pitted again (going on for an extra lap with his damaged nose) and was then given a penalty as well, which dropped him down the order. Massa had to do most of a lap on the damaged tyre and lost a lot of time and dropped to the back of the field, which meant that he was then stuck in traffic for most of the event. He was less than happy about this and later expressed his discontent to Hamilton during a TV interview. This clearly annoyed Hamilton, but he restrained himself from any reaction and walked away.

The incident has led to the somewhat predictable stories suggesting that Hamilton is too aggressive in his driving. I do not believe that for one minute. He seems like a driver who is frustrated with his machinery and doing everything he can to get a good result. In such circumstances drivers make mistakes, but it is not in their nature to sit calmly behind others. Nor do I believe it is a question of bad management. Lewis seems to be fairly composed most of the time and suggestions that he somehow needs calming down seem to come largely from people who have no idea what they are talking about.

“I don’t think Lewis is here seeking to make enemies but a car in front of him is a car he has to get around and you don’t overtake a car without some risk,” said team boss Martin Whitmarsh. “The car in front of him at that moment – it doesn’t matter who it is – is the enemy of the moment. Lewis will be upset, but he is a resilient individual. He chose to walk away from a skirmish that could have been.”

Massa was aggrieved because he felt his race had been destroyed by Hamilton’s mistake.

“There is no point in me hiding the disappointment and anger I feel at the end of a race that could have been a very different result,” he said. “The damage following contact with Hamilton penalised me a lot because I lost so much time in the early stages when the traffic was still very heavy. After the race I tried to talk to him, to clear the air, but he walked away without even answering, so I told him what I thought when we found ourselves in the interview area.”

100 thoughts on “What a load of rubbish…

  1. I don’t think people are now blaming Ferrari for the Massa/Hamilton incident directly, it’s much more complex than that.
    We don’t often hear of teams directly instructing their drivers to hold someone up. It happens, it’s happened for years, and it will continue to happen – but to hear it out there so clearly does rather detract from the “racing” aspect of the sport. Every driver should, in my opinion, be driving to achieve their own best result. To decide to hold another driver up is one thing, but for a team to make such a blatantly unsporting remark over the radio (probably in the knowledge that it would come into the public domain) is another thing entirely.
    I really want to like Ferrari, but there’s a slightly sinister undercurrent running through them that if they can’t be the best, they’re damned if others will be. And that seems to include Hamilton and McLaren as enemy number 1, for whatever reasons they may give!

  2. Joe – leaving aside the tabloid tittle-tattle, what’s your view on Massa (the 2010-11 version) as a driver? Can you envisage him ever standing on the top step of the podium again? Do you think Ferrari will honour the remaining year of his contract or move him on? And where could he go?

  3. I agree with what you said but still… Smedley needs to choose better his vocabulary. “Destroy” sounds offensive to me too. It’s always a pleasure to read you. Congrats for your blog.

  4. Thanks Joe for stating this. Indeed, loads of rubbish. Not a very nice move from the F1 site (formula1.com) to include these radio messages in their video report. And of course the BBC likes to post it as ‘gossip’.

  5. Sorry Joe but in my opinion your comment is fine if Lewis had not been given a drive through. This is the crucial point. FIA decided (as usual) that Lewis should be penalised because he hit a Ferrari. There is always no doubt on it. This is not racing anymore. It’s a joke. Like wrestling. I hope that Lewis will switch to more a more fair competiton like IRL or Nascar. F1 is for ridicolous drivers, like Massa, Barrichello or Maldonado.

  6. Regardless of what happened in this incident the bigger story in my opinion is that Jenson Button has proven to be a better all around racing driver this year than Hamilton. If the car is deficient in comparison to the Red Bull (and what car isn’t?) and has to be driven at or over the limit, then it seems Jenson has done a better job of this than Lewis. I like Lewis a lot, and he’s certainly fun to watch in attack-mode, but I fear he may never be able to control his wild streak sufficiently to become a great driver. Conversely, and I never thought I would ever say this, Fernando Alonso has impressed me this year with his clear-headed decision making. When he has the car to fight with the top guys he does so, but quite fairly and professionally. When his car if well off the pace he allows the faster guys to overtake him eventually without resorting to Scumacher-like “defensive” tactics. Lewis could leanr a lot from watching film of Button and Alonso this year. But something tells me his ego won’t allow that.

  7. Hi Joe,

    I think there can be no doubt that Ferrari ordered Massa to destroy Hamilton’s race, what I think is open to interpretation is exactly that – the interpretation of that command.

    Certainly when I read about Smedley’s message to Massa, I interpreted it as meaning to hold up Hamilton as much as possible for the betterment of Massa’s race prospects, not to put himself, Hamilton, the marshals and spectators in harm’s way by deliberately engineering a collision – which would have been much easier to do if Massa was behind, rather than ahead.

    I think it is the non-specific press – i.e. the ones who do not write about F1 regularly but like to pick up on a bit of scandal – who don’t understand what Smedley’s instruction meant in the context of Grand Prix racing.


  8. Joe – in fact, you shouldn’t put blame on “modern Internet journalism”, but in the guys responsible by the race edit released by FOM — Bernie’s men — after each race.

    It looks like they do not have problem to sync the crash with Smedley´s instruction and sell to the world another controversy.

  9. joe

    i have read you for years – have never really bothered to comment on issues relating to f1 a sport i love and have followed since you were in short pants – increasingly i am detecting a certain amount of bitterness in your tone. a holier than though attitude is prevalent in your writings, which is a shame as your credibility is becoming tarnished in my eyes.
    the smedley order was out of line and definitely designed to hamper lewis and benefit fernando – he should get a yellow card at least.
    all the biggies are reporting on the incident autosprint, autosport etc etc- perhaps you woke up and realised you missed the story and make amends with this piece nonsense above.
    bad sport joe.. embrace new age communication which makes your blog more widely read than you ever imagined… and get off you high horse
    best i find me another credible source because you are starting to ramble annoyingly in your musings – age creeps up on all of us – its how we deal with it which determines if we die happy or grumpy… you heading in the wrong direction


    ps: i bet you don’t publish the comment 😉

    1. tom dudeson,

      You lose your bet. You are welcome to have an opinion. However, as you have given me the benefit of your frank thoughts, please allow me to respond as frankly. I think that you means of detection are faulty. I ignored the story for most of the day because it was rubbish. Then I decided that it was time to say something. I am not bitter at all. Nor am I old. The story is rubbish. If the biggies are reporting it, then their standards are slipping. You can believe what you like but look at the comments around this one and see what others think.

  10. Glad to hear a sane balanced view on this incident and Lewis in general! Mountains out of molehills…

  11. As much as I completely agree that Massa didn’t deliberately cause the contact, I read the situation somewhat differently.

    My interpretation was that Ferrari wanted Massa to slow Hamilton to prevent him from later challenging Alonso, effectively “destroying” his race in the long term. I wonder if by actively trying to hold Hamilton up, Massa could have been approaching the corner slower than might be predicted, perhaps explaining why Hamilton clipped Massa’s rear wheel.

  12. To add to that, a friend has just mentioned that:

    “…it’s a bit rich to complain about someone bumping into you when you’ve been told to hold them up.”

    I hadn’t thought of it that way, either!

  13. Hi Joe,
    I was a bit surprised when i watched the race edit with the radio transmission. However, i couldn’t help thinking that the message, as you say, was taken entirely out of context. After the incident, and after Massa pitted for new tires, and Hamilton pitted for new wing and then drive through, Hamilton had to over take Massa again – for all we know it then that Rob Smedley issued the message. I don’t think it was a good message, but that’s gamesmanship – an integral part of the sport (all sports). I certainly agree – i don’t think the incident was a result of any message delivered to Massa over the radio.
    Have you an opinion about whether the message was delivered before or after the incident?


  14. The sentence “The Ferrari radio call has been taken out of context and extrapolated into being a call for Massa to cause the collision” pretty much exhausts my position, too.

    I guess it’s pretty boring on the development front, as well as the title chase, so bit of spice was needed.

  15. Thank you Joe for being one of the few people to report this in a rational and balanced manner. My ineterpreation is as yours that Rob Smedley was just asking Massa to make it as hard as possible for Hamilton to overtake to protect his position.

    As for the contact – it was a miscalculation of a few centimetres by Hamilton as he tucked back in having realised the pass wasn’t possible – and without Massa getting a puncture, losing ground by having to pit for a new nose may have been seen as sufficient punishment. Indeed, some other drivers have got away similar, if not worse examples recently.

    It’s become very easy and fashionable to knock Hamilton, I’m glad I get to read a proper journalists view amongst such drivel.

  16. You say the “implication of Smedley’s remark is very clear”, but I think the fact that there’s an argument going on at all proves that isn’t true. To me, saying “destroy his race” is a little more than saying “stay ahead of him”.

  17. given that vettel has dominated everything, leaving little to discuss in the closing stages of the season. and given that rob did actually say what he said, so the reporting is factually accurate. i don’t see the harm?

    better than having fans turning off, bored senseless by red bull’s domination.

    FOM have contrived to create an interesting twist to the season’s end with a simple video edit. genius.

  18. Another example of a poor choice of words by Smedley, in the same vein as “Fernando is faster, do you understand?”

  19. I saw that on a certain mainstream website this morning and the story holds no more water than a tea strainer. Must be a slow news day for them to say that. Reading the first three lines betrays the true nature of the ‘scoop’ and I am surprised such a large organisation chose to run with that non-story.

  20. Remember the leaking of McLaren radio tapes from Jerez 97, conveniently timed to distract from Schumacher’s disqualification?

    Isn’t Karma wonderful…

  21. It is disgusting how the popular press whip up these incidents, elevating them to more than they amount to. Clearly Massa was annoyed with Hamilton, and he does seem to carry somewhat of a chip on his shoulder, but everything I saw on the TV led to my conclusion that the collision was an unfortunate racing incident. Massa’s rearward facing camera clearly showed Hamilton locking his front left wheel, and the resultant lack of retardation no doubt contributed to the contact being made. Locking a wheel is an innocent mistake. Yet now we have websites (less realistic and a damn sight more sensationalist than this one) playing Chinese whispers, reporting that an Italian website said that Massa is organising an anti-Hamilton meeting in Japan to discuss his perilous driving. I am sure that this supposed meeting is as much a load of rubbish as bending Commander Smedley’s words to make it seem as if he ordered the ruination of Hamilton.

  22. Jerry,

    I think Ferrari will honour the last year of Massa’s contract. I do not see him beating Alonso on a regular basis. I fear that his best days are behind him.

  23. I suppose it makes a change for some pro Hamilton stupid “journalism”, as opposed to the usual “Madman Lewis causes Eurozone crisis” sort of stuff. I guess it shows the desperate levels some inferior bloggers and writers will stoop too in order to get a few hits.
    A good piece again Joe, thankyou.

    you make a good point about Jenson, he is driving beautifully. and has scored more points than Lewis this year. The point is, despite Lewis having “a bit of a mare” and seemingly is unable to get through a weekend without some sort of incident, the gap between them is only 17 points, not that much considering we are comparing Jenson’s best season with Hamilton’s worst. If you compare the gap between the McLaren drivers and the Ferrari pair (100 points) or the Red Bull drivers (127 points) we can see that Lewis hasn’t been that bad really!
    P.S I think Fernando has always been a very impressive driver.

  24. Unless you have Massa’s telemetry there always remains some doubt whether Massa was deliberately slower through the corner. Maybe this could explain why Hamilton hit him.

  25. The way I read the message is that it just confirms that Massa’s sole purpose at Ferrari is to try and prevent other drivers from challenging Alonso and that his own finishing position is relatively meaningless to the team. After all, if Massa wanted to maximise his own points haul from that race then logically he should have behaved more like Rosberg & Di Resta who both recognised that they had little chance of holding off Hamilton for the whole race and therefore needed to lose as little time as possible to their true rivals. His post-race frustration levels may be as much down to that as anything else.

  26. it was a non event but i think the transmission and choice of wording made it pretty clear just how bitter smedley and massa still are towards hamilton.

  27. I don’t think anyone – journalists or otherwise – is suggesting Massa deliberately caused the incident.

    But what is feasible is that the incident PARTLY was triggered by Massa blocking like his life depended on it. Like in Monaco, where he defends so hard against Lewis that he actually, on his own accord, hits Webber. Something that was lost in the general whoopla about Lewis.

    And when you defend hard, the risk of incidents go up. Which would mean that perhaps the penalty was somewhat unfair. Massas hissy fit afterwards was certainly unfair and looks quite silly now.

  28. I ask again, has anybody demanded Massa’s telemetry ?

    He was needlessly blocking a faster Hamilton, not just for himself, but more so for Alonso, Ferrari have been caught red handed using the Number 2 car as an aggressive roadblock, slowing and hitting Alonso’s rivals ?

    What great Sportsmen.

    Lewis hit him as he had a slight lock up, while trying to stay very close and pass ASAP. If this was a result of Massa deliberately baukling at the apex, it is intentional unfair play, aka Cheating.

    How many other incidents have we seen go unpunished, what we need is consistency, not rules applied to try and dim the shining talent of Mr Hamilton.

  29. Hi Joe

    I thought your post was spot on. Standards in reporting whether online, print or broadcast are so low – context, among many other elements, seems to be forever lost – the message to Massa isn’t a story, the reaction sadly is.

    It’s made me wonder, what’s the most suprising/disappointing episode you’ve come across in your F1 travels?, and in the immediate aftermath of Singapore 2008, was it generally thought, ‘that’s a bit fishy . . ‘ ?

    Keep up the great work


  30. Two thoughts arise out of this:
    1) It has always been F1 practice to use both team drivers to the fullest, if that means a tactical use of the number 2 driver as a blocking device that is fine, it has always been done.

    2) This could give Rob Smedly the chance to win another Oscar to add to his existing one for the explanation of him telling Massa to let Alonso past last year. 🙂

    3) (I lied) The stewards now seem to be anti Hamilton in any incident which would previously have been a “racing incident”. Apparently the drivers asked the stewards to investigate all incidents however small or inconsequential, this has led to the ridiculous number of stewards’ enquiries. Basically now it anyone sneezes Hamilton will get a penalty. That said however, he had better pull his finger out and get on with proper passing.

  31. Hamilton composed? I disagree. I think he´s got perphaps the poorest impulse control in the field. Exhibit A: Monaco, B: Canada, C: Spa and D: Singapore.

    Some people think that quickest = best. A good driver need to be quick, consistent across car alignment, tracks and weather, composed and, last but not least, a whole heap of back-office qualities to be able to inform and motivate the factory.

    Button is a much more complete driver.

  32. applause joe
    i eat humble pie
    but stick my view: it’s a good story – just check the responses it has garnered

  33. Very much a mountain out of a molehill… I suppose FOM are thinking that with Seb needing one point and Red Bull with one and a half hands on the WCC, something is needed to create controversy – even if there is none. I can’t see it as any more than Rob encouraging his boy in his usual buff tones.

    What if… Massa had not had the accident in 2008. I felt he “lost” the WDC in a real sporting way in 2007. He was at the top of his game and gained a lot of respect. Somehow, he never came back as the same driver.

    Last but not least, he hardly destroyed Hamilton’s race on the second pass did he? Hamilton went past him like he was standing still.

  34. Joe,
    What Smedly said was unsporting and brought the sport into disrepute PERIOD. He needs and should receive the punishment that is required. $100m I think is the going rate in F1 for bringing the sport into disrepute. Oh I forgot only McLaren get those fines.

    Now let’s look at how this got out there. Bernie released it (his web site). He never does anything without a motive. Well let’s start with it gets McLaren and Ferrari going at each other. That would help him right now as he tries to upset FOTA. That fits with making Red Bull flavor of the month and Red Bull saying slightly negative things about FOTA. Divide and Conquer. It also does not hurt to keep viewers now the championship is done early with a little scandal. But more to the point Masa was running around trying to get the drivers to gang up on Hamilton at the next drivers meeting before the next race. I am pretty sure that Bernie wants the star Hamilton to shine and could not care less about a non star Masa and had something he could use to shut that nonsense drivers meeting down by showing that Hamilton was being deliberately frustrated by Masa and that Ferrari have way overplayed the outrage card. It also won’t hurt if Ferrari are forced to show the telemetry data to show Masa did not lift and cause the incident. I guarantee you Bernie had knowledge and motive for getting this out there and cares little for Masa who adds nothing to the show and a lot for Hamilton who does.

    1. Adam,

      What Smedley said was nothing of the kind. It was a turn of phrase. An expression and to make more than that of it is just silly. The rest of your post is equally lacking in reality.

  35. “The incident has led to the somewhat predictable stories suggesting that Hamilton is too aggressive in his driving. I do not believe that for one minute. He seems like a driver who is frustrated……”

    ….by being completely out driven/thunk by his team mate.

    I think you meant to say this?

  36. Joe,

    I’m in stitches at this whole thing. The lengths some people will go to in the defence of their chosen driver – truly remarkable. Some of the comments here could have been pulled straight from the Daily Mail.

    Thanks for saying something. It’s important that there are some people talking sense when the mainstream media is printing bollocks.

  37. @David Hodge Kimi won the championship in 2007, Massa lost it in 2008 and had his accident in 2009.

    And yes this is non-story. Hamilton had a more aggressive tyre strategy, it was worth it for both Ferraris to not let him through to run in clean air ahead of them. Nothing untoward about that.

  38. Your too kind on Ferrari/Massa, look at Monaco this year, massa clearly moves over on hamilton at the hairpin, ruining is own race & hamiltons. I believe Massa clearly has a problem with hamilton


  39. Massa is a quick driver, remember he almost won the WDC by a corner,
    but he hasn’t returned to form since he was hit by a bit of Brawn debris;
    imagine a bag of sugar hitting you at well over 150mph!

    Rob Smedley is well known for his choice of words, think ‘magnanimous’ when he had to relay a message to Massa once.

    It’s only words…
    Did you know the British Army doesn’t retreat, it withdraws.
    The British Army doesn’t kill the enemy, it destroys them.
    This is the language of the armed forces.

    Incidentally Joe, were Brawn ever punished for that misdemeanour?


  40. Joe,
    Even in jest comments can be seen to bring the sport into disrepute. What if he told a joke in poor taste over the radio for example? Turn of phrase is not a defense, just like yelling “fire” in a movie theatre is not free speech.

    Given the context he should have carefully chosen his words. Hence all the discussion right now about those words. He has, like it or not about what he was intent on saying, brought the sport into disrepute. Absent the words, no story! His words, a story and well, disrepute I think is what has resulted .

    Would it have been a handy turn of pharse if he used profanity?

    F1 wants to be seen to be the ultimate in being professional, so act it when speaking on the radio……If you don’t, then punish him, just like Hamilton was for a racing incident, it is seen as if bias is being shown. Defending Smedly when he allowed Hamilton (or probably notified Charlie W, so let’s see the e-mail exchange please Ferrari) to take a drive through for a racing incident is odd. Where was Smedleys radio comment about “oh Hamilton’s drive through was not correct”????? I was talking about double standards and unpunished this is a huge double standard. Hence my McLaren and fines comment that followed it! 😉

    You did not comment on Bernies motivation for getting this out there which is after all much more to the point!


    1. Adam,

      I did not say Smedley was joking. It was a turn of phrase that has been taken out of context and spun into a rubbishy story.

  41. Slightly of topic but why do commentors on this site slag of autosport? There aren’t many websites where you can go to get relatively live updates on F1/ALMS/BTCC/ etc….
    I don’t think the autosport article suggested that Masa did anything on purpose. They are just reporting a story, whats wrong with that?

  42. Somebody tweeted a link to Barrichello’s engineer in 2008 (Jock Clear?) radioing him to tell him to “kill Heidfeld” – funnily enough Autosport, The Mail, et al failed to pick up on this story at the time… While an order to hold up another driver is hardly tasteful I’m glad that the more savvy reporters such as yourself keep perspective. The sensitive souls who don’t like the idea of one driver working to hold the opposition up really shouldn’t watch DTM. There it is accepted that drivers can have their races massively compromised by keeping them from pitting at the ideal moment if there is a chance that they could stay on the track and be used to hold up the leaders. Maybe somebody should tell the tabloids about this shocking practice?

  43. It was a very bad choice of words by Smedley. Something like “slow him down” would make more sense. Why would Smedley use such language and why would ferrari intentionally target Lewis? There was no gain from points that McLaren may loose by Masa holding him up, Ferrari cannot catch up with McLaren in the constructors and Alonso must be more worried about Jenson and Mark in the drivers championship. So why target Lewis like this?

  44. It was all to benefit Alonso. Massa was never racing Hamilton. He is too bad. The incident where Hamilton clipped Massa, Massa was mighty slow coming out of that corner. Not Hamilton’s fault.

  45. “Felipe; Fernando, I mean Hamilton is faster than you, do you copy?”

    Another out-of-context print to increase zealot blood pressure. Still, it was rude of Lewis to ignore Felipe just after the race, if not rude, then girly.

  46. Joe and what I am saying is words have consequences or should have in this case. If it is fair to be punished for a racing incident (Hamilton) with a drive through, then it is equally fair for Smedley to take it on the chin for his choice of words/turn of phrase or what ever you want to call it.

    Dont care if it was a joke, a turn of phrase or a code word or anything else. Hold him to the same high standard as Hamilton was held, or alternativly, accept that Hamilton tries harder than most to get in front and such issues happen in racing, drop the stupid drive throughs because someone on the pit lane made a complaint to Charlie W hoping to get an advantage and then we can accept Smedleys rather poor choice of words in a motivational speech for an indifferent driver.

    But then there is another irony, he was encouraging/motivating his driver to go slower! Not something Masa has ever found hard unless he qualified first. But maybe words are hard to come by under such pressure…but he should still have thought how it would appear when it is heard in public.

    Not a rubishy story, a tale of two standards, if nothing happens as a consequence of his poor choice of words/turn of phrase. It is also a tale of someone else who manipulated the media by putting it out there in the first place. The real story is why put it out there, and what did they gain by doing so?


  47. Fair, balanced and sensible comments, Joe – unlike the bulk of what I have read about the unfortunate incident.

  48. It’s not Massa’s fault, it’s not Hamilton’s fault, it’s those bloody front wings’ fault!
    More than Hamilton’s, or Vettel’s, or whoever’s over-agressive driving, it’s those wider-than-an-airplane front wings that have caused most of the racing incidents of the past 3 years. We’ll see much cleaner racing when the carbon fiber knives that serve as endplates for those things get back inside of the front tyres where they belong instead of outside of them.
    It’s the genius at the FIA who thought it would be such a brillant idea to make front wings that wide who should receive a penalty.
    Oh and I don’t remember Hamilton getting a penalty for puncturing Vettel’s tyre at the start at Silverstone last year in exactly the same way; guess why, oh because it was a simple racing incident caused by those stupid front wings, not an “avoidable collision”.
    Heck, if Mansell was driving those current F1 cars he would probably “cause an avoidable collision” at each race…

  49. Smedley did not say wreck his car, or put him out, or anything else to suggest contact.

    No Ferrari defender am I but in this case you have to keep the comment in context as Joe clearly states.

  50. Thanks for the very good article Joe!

    I suspect Massa was frustrated as He is currently on the verge of losing His drive at Ferrari? not sure though

  51. A sideways thought about radio transmissions. We know they are played on a delay. If the engineer and/or driver is effing and blinding on every transmission, doesn’t that stop them being replayed?

    Here’s a question for you Joe as you are probably able to hear the transmissions live during the race – fruity language generally used or not?

    Another sideways thought – a tweeting friend of mine (does that make him a twit?) tells me Heikki has come out and said this “let’s get Lewis behind the bikesheds” meeting is going to be sparsely attended. It’s all made-up news these days…

  52. Joe

    It was a flipping poor choice of words, in any situation! I’d suggest Rob needs to consider what he says in future, to avoid opening another can of worms. But then again, we all now know what the comment ‘Alonso is faster than you’ means.

    Plus, Alonso’s team mates do have a habit of causing accidents in Singapore. I never thought I’d see someone admit to deliberately crashing to help the team, like Piquet Jr did. Ferrari seem to have a history over the last 10-15 years of being happy to sacrifice the second car for their favoured son (Schumacher, Alonso). Is it really so unbelievable that maybe, just maybe…

    Maybe it is all circumstantial evidence, with regards to this one incident. My suspicion at the time was Massa took the inside line for the corner, naturally to defend, but seemed to go through there a bit slower than you’d expect. Still, at best it was only have been a racing incident, and I’m still unsure what Lewis was penalised for.

    Another thoughtful piece though, Joe. Better than all the blunt, in-your-face rubbish you see elsewhere.

  53. Any chance Hamilton is suffering side effects from the concussion no one admits he sustained during his crash at Spa?

  54. So does this mean defending your position is against the rules? Seems like the rules are making this key skill increasingly obsolete.

  55. [Quote]. He seems like a driver who is frustrated with his machinery and doing everything he can to get a good result. In such circumstances drivers make mistakes, but it is not in their nature to sit calmly behind other[quote]

    Whilst I agree with your post…I wish you were this generous with all drivers that have incidents…although not that many have as many incidents as Lewham…

  56. ‘Destroy’ is a legitimate choice. We should remember that Smedley is a brilliant engineer, not a cunning linguist.

  57. It would appear that a surprising portion of F1 followers (including some professional journalists) have a difficult time integrating the dual concepts of “sporting behavior” and “team sport”. In recent years, we have seen repeated instances of people insisting that one must choose one of those concepts over the other. Yet it is inarguable that racing has traditionally featured both.

    Perhaps this is yet another symptom of the fact that we’re living in an age of simple-minded soundbite thinking. It’s a sad feature of modern times…

  58. Thankyou… even Autosport ran a story about it…


    At that time
    4th place – Alonso
    5th place – Massa
    6th place – Hamilton

    Massa isn’t going to attack Alonso is he? So he has 2 choices, one defend Hamilton or 2) keep a steady place and try not to lose time against Hamilton.

    McLaren were against Ferrari and visa versa so it made sense to scrap for position.

    Hamilton was faster and so the only way of giving Ferrari the chance to hold Hamilton back was to defend hard against Hamilton.

    That is what he was told to do ‘defend hard against Hamilton’. This is not something new many times in the past have a slower driver/tyres/car held up a faster combo that they are racing in the overall.

    As for the language, it isn’t out of the ordinary. How many times have you heard someone say in an interview post race ‘and then I got held up by ____ and that destroyed my race’ or ‘and then that ruined my race’… same thing here word for word.

    Ferrari were racing McLaren for the overall, Hamilton was faster at that stage and Massa unable to attack the car in front was told to fight for the race position not just the positions at that time and hold Hamilton back by defending hard.

  59. Agree, absolutely, with every word – and particularly the spirit of this piece.

    I absolutely despair at these people’s obviously disinterested trolling for and mindless broadcasting of this type of net trash.
    Joe. You do very well to expose them and their fantasies. Well done.
    I do what we all should do. Vote with my feet. Don’t go near them and Actively Support the applied standards of the professional journalist and of professional journalism.

  60. With the engine roaring behind them and the focus needed by the driver to drive the car, messages by the engineer seems to always be short and straight to the point. That said, saying ‘Destroy his race’ is much better than saying ‘I need you to hold him behind as long as possible you so that we can affect his race strategy as much as possible’. Remember, this is Singapore where there isn’t a lot of long straights where the driver and engineer can basically have a conversation.

    It was taken way out of context.

  61. Well said Joe! At least someone sees it how it is. I was quite disgusted by this kind of “news reporting” especially because every news outlet seems to jump in on it …

  62. AN Jnr – correct me if I’m wrong bit don’t Indycar enforce a rule where you have to stick to the racing line, leaving space for overtaking on the inside? If that stops ‘weaving’, defending (blocking?) or the antics of one M Schumacher at Monza, maybe it’s a good idea. I was watching Youtube footage of the Arnoux/Villeneuve duel at Dijon in 79 the other day; there was no ‘defending position’ there. Well, up until the last lap, where it became a banger car race…! 🙂

  63. Some right old tosh being written in the comments, but the volume of them shows this was an inspired story created by F1 (assuming it was indeed intentional).

    It wasn’t ‘a poor choice of words’ – it was an excellent choice from a passionate competitor (Smedley) looking to put fire into the belly of his driver to ensure they came out ahead of Hamilton when the flag fell.

    It wasn’t ‘unsporting’ to hold up your competition at a phase where he is faster than you – it’s a bloody motor race! What next? Shall we just let them all do their 55 laps one at a time and use a clock to see who was fastest?

    Come on people. These are the top competitors in their field, don’t we want to epic, gladatorial battles by a whole field of people who are driven to be better than the next guy?

    I know I do.

    I want them passionate about winning. I want them angry when they lose. Mad when they make a mistake and emotional when they win. I want to see and feel just how much competing means to them; that being the best comes second to the cash in the bank and the glitzy lifestyle. I realise that is a romaticised view but that’s the show I am looking for and F1 IS theatre.

  64. Ian,

    RE: Your Hamilton tyre question, Paul Hembery tweeted an explanation last weekend:

    “Just to clarify again, Pirelli do not make any rules. Secondly the reason why Lewis cannot change tyre is to prevent abuse of the situation where drivers damage on purpose a tyre to get it changed giving an unfair advantage. Only if there are circumstances beyond team control, a tyre defect, something unusual on the track can it be changed, and then only the damaged tyre. and with permission of FIA. FIA have a difficult role in F1 and Charlie Whiting and his team do an amazing job, mainly unseen, to ensure fair play. F1 is about pushing the limits and someone has to make sure there is control.”

  65. Joe.

    Stupid stories aside, what is your take on Lewis’s drop off of form as far as his normally superb overtaking abilities this year?
    Do you think this year technical rules regarding DRS / KERS & tyre performance could have something to with it?
    Was he better when it was harder to pull of an overtake but now it’s easier, it has somehow upset his rhythm.
    Also could it explain why Jenson has been so good this year at overtaking when he previously was not noted for that particular skill?

  66. Excellent article as ever Joe.

    FOM were a bit naughty releasing this but hey it sells. The season is over so we need something to talk about. Lewis is box office so it is him.

    I think that this bunch of great drivers need a little more needle full stop. They are all busy saying nice things about each other like the tennis players in the top 4 at the moment.

    We need needle.

  67. If I were Massa I wouldn’t do that, did he? Ferrari has to accept the fact that others are better enough to be on top just as they were on their best races. If they have that thought or even considered what was right then perhaps that “radio message” had not come along. If truth was told, the purpose of a real race was just defeated by a mere greed and this is such a rubbish for the Ferrari.

  68. Regardless of how the message was interpreted it makes something bltantly clear. Massa’s job in that race was to act as a rear gunner for Alonso and stop Hamilton, Massa is fighting to keep his seat at Ferrari so does as he’s told and as such his defence was a little too robust (Similar to Monaco where again Hamilton was looking like a possible threat to Alonso), costing them both. Probably doesn’t help that Massa can’t get past Brazil 2008 and maybe feels he has a point to prove.

    If you and your team are going to play those kind of games then how can you complain so loudly when it backfires?

    I’m sure the incident in Q3 was orchestrated by the team to try and hinder McLaren too, in that case it worked quite well.

    We are talking about Ferrari after all, its not like they don’t have a history of it.

  69. In modern language, one word can take on several meanings depending on the context of which it is used.

    Smedley clearly said – Destroy his race. At no time did he say – Destroy his car.

    Let’s not forget, this is the same man who, in Malaysia 2009, spoke the famous words over the radio – Felippe baby stay cool!

    Was he saying Massa is a baby? No. Was he telling Massa he was too hot? No. He was telling him to calm down while they waited for a restart which never came…

  70. Pretty much guarantee Hamilton will be in a faster car than Massa; Massa is only there to repay the accident that took his career. It’s now time for him to go.

  71. Joe

    In your view would this be such a non story if someone got hold of a recording of Lewis’s race engineer telling him to “destroy Massa’s race” or “destroy Alonso’s race” following which a similar event occurred?

    There’d surely be outcry, half the planet would be baying for Hamilton’s blood, McLaren would have to get out the extra wide chequebook to fit all the zeroes on the multimillion dollar fine and half the team would be facing lifetime bans.

    Such is F1 these days unfortunately.

  72. I’m not so sure that this was just a poor choice of words – I think it speaks to a certain win-at-all-costs philosophy for which Ferrari has become notorious among many in the racing world.

    I remember when Massa rammed Hamilton into a spin in Japan 2008 (for which he received a drive-through). The TV feed showed the Ferrari crew leaping to their feet, screaming with delight and pumping their fists in the air. On every other occasion when I can recall a driver hitting another car from behind and knocking it off track, the team always looked anxious, not filled with aggressive joy.

    That image (which I have never forgotten), suggests to me that Smedley’s commment is more indicative of an underlying, unsporting attitude at Ferrari which regards their competitors as enemies to be destroyed by any means available.

    Do I think that this was an instruction to damage Hamilton’s car? No I don’t.

    But I do think there is a sort of unsual “subtext” of violence and agression in the Ferrari team (more explicitly manifested by Luca de Montezemolo smashing his TV, or that video of a Ferrari mechanic smashing the vending machine in the pits, when they lost the 2008 championship). Smedley’s violent metaphor is just another expression of that atmosphere,

  73. Joe,
    Not seeing conspiracies where there are none, just questioning motives when there is a distinct lack of equality in decision making right now. If you want to meter out tough punishments then it HAS to apply equally to all.

    If you choose to make some information available after the race then why is not an unreasonable question.


  74. I´m brazilian, so i´m portuguese speaker (so i may be missing something); even though i believe It´s a study on cinicism and subleties, and also a very bad move from Ferrari. Smedley let it up to Massa to understand the order (very clear indeed: “destroy his race as much as we can”) whatever the way he wanted, and it´s always possible that he overdid it, what a silly move…! I have no doubts that it was a very, very bad move from Ferrari, and ALSO aimed at downing Massa, who from his part agreed to play the game.
    I believe Ferrari and Massa should be punished.

  75. The only person gaining in all this is Alonso and history tells us he would do anything to win, cheating would be high on his list but never directly.

  76. @Chris: You have to remember what happened in that race at the start: both McLarens, but especially Hamilton, braked much too late for turn 1 and nearly took both Ferraris out, after having been passed by them in the run from the grid. While they all got away from it (though Raikkonen said his steering was hit), it certainly impacted their race badly when it could have been a Ferrari 1-2 after turn 1, so I think the showing of joy was mainly a nervous feeling of revenge for what happened at the start.

  77. Rubens was oce told over the radio to “kill him”. Its on youtube for those that can be bothered. Don’t recall the outrage or conspiracies then…well he wasn’t in a ferrari. Get over it people destroy his race was just a phrase…or do Lewham fans see a conspiracy in everything

  78. Joe,
    as a side discussion on this move from Lewis on Felipe; I do not understand how FM could still be side by side with LH when they hit the braking point. LH was in the DRS zone and easily came aside FM before the fast right hand curve: he should have been ahead of him coming in the braking zone unless his top speed (with DRS activated) was much lower that the Ferrari. In that case it is a very similar “mistake” from the McLaren boys that prevented Lewis to pass Michael in the main straight of Monza.

    Thank you for your blog and sorry for the approximative English

    Alain (from France)

  79. the drivers championship has been done and dusted for a while now `, so the need for massa to support alonso for that is long gone

    so why wasn’t massa told …you are faster than alonso ?
    if alonso is so good he is clearly the best person to hold off hamilton , so massa being in front of alonso would be better

    or is that not allowed ?

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