Hamilton Disqualified

April 4, 2009

Lewis Hamilton has been stripped off his third-place finish in last Sunday’s Australian Grand Prix, by F1 governing body the FIA.

Hamilton who produced a faultless drive at the Melbourne circuit, from 18th on the grid to fourth, has been dubbed a liar following a new investigation by the stewards prior to this weekend’s Malaysian Grand Prix. The reigning world champ who finished in fourth behind the safety car had been promoted to third shortly after the race, as it emerged Jarno Trulli had passed Hamilton under yellow flags and was subsequently penalised. The Brit had passed Trulli, after the Toyota driver fell off the track whilst following the safety car. Lewis, knowing the rules of not passing whilst behind the safety car, conceded the place back to Trulli, but later told the stewards that he had not knowingly allowed him to pass.

Ok, so both Lewis and the McLaren team should not have lied about this, however, it is a bit harsh that the British press have gone to town on branding Hamilton “a liar”.

The facts are inevitably clear-cut. Hamilton did ask his team on the pit wall whether he should hand the place back to the Toyota after he had lost track position, the team did instruct him to concede back the place. The evidence is in the radio transmissions. Hamilton and team manager Dave Ryan did mislead the stewards when asked, telling them the team had not told Lewis to hand back the place.

In all fairness to Hamilton, he was only doing what he was instructed to do, and told the media on Friday in Malaysia, “I am not a liar. I’m not a dishonest person. I’m a team player and every time I’ve been informed to do something, I’ve done it. This time I realise that it’s a huge mistake and I’m learning from it.” He adds: “I was misled – it’s easy to be misled sometimes – but that was the situation and that’s why I’m here.”

Lewis even stated in his interview with the media that he did not have time to think about it before he went in to see the stewards after the race in Melbourne. He says he was instructed prior to going in and “I went in and I did it and felt awkward and very uncomfortable and I think that the stewards could see that. I’ve never felt so bad. Try to put yourself in my position. As I’ve said I am not a liar and I’ve not gone through life being a liar or dishonest. So for people to say that and for the world to think that way, what can I say?”

Following the Briton’s press conference the FIA have put Hamilton in the clear as far as this controversy is concerned. For McLaren, they face further investigation and could face a fine or disqualification from this year’s championship.

Hamilton, having been disqualified from the Australian GP, is now back on zero points and will be aiming to start a-fresh in Malaysia and bring home as many points as possible. Consequently, the Toyota of Jarno Trulli has been reinstated in third with six world championship points.

Hamilton now needs to keep his head down and focus on Sunday’s race. Both Lewis and teammate Heikki Kovalainen will start from 12th and 14th on the grid respectively, with the McLaren still off-pace, failing to make it through to Quali Three. Ferrari’s Felipe Massa will start from 16th on the grid after failing to make it into Quali Two – a mistake on the team’s part as they had been over-confidently preserving his tyres for Q2 and Q3. Brit Jenson Button starts on Pole for the second week in succession for Brawn-Mercedes.


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