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FFS, FIA

Wednesday 10th September 2008

The Belgian Grand Prix took place on Sunday. It was, it’s fair to say, an extremely good race. The last few laps literally had me on the edge of my seat because it was so amazingly tense. Anyway, Lewis Hamilton was the victor after yet another outstanding drive. I’m not really a fan of any team or driver, but he’s seriously impressive and for my money is one of the best drivers out there at the moment (and given that he’s only on his second season, it won’t be long till he’s the best out there). He really deserved to win, because he outperformed everyone else so remarkably.

So, he won. Although actually, he came third. You see, he made the basic error of, uhm, overtaking a Ferrari…

I’ll explain. For most of the race, Hamilton was 2nd to Kimi Raikkonen. After the second set of pit stops, however, Hamilton started to close to Raikkonen due to the McLaren seemingly working the tyres better than the Ferrari. With 3 laps to go, he was close enough to attack. Coming into the Bus Stop chicane (is it even called that any more?) at the end of the lap, he outbraked KR and went to the outside, to be on the inside for the second part of the chicane. KR forced him over, so LH decided that rather than crash into him, he’d cut the corner. This put him ahead of Raikkonen, which for obvious reasons is illegal. So, Hamilton let him past, and re-took the lead at the La Source, the next corner. This is the move, if you wanna watch.

Because he cut the corner, the stewards later decided that Hamilton had an unfair advantage, and applied a 25 second penalty to him (basically they added 25 seconds to the time it took him to finish the race), which meant he finished third.

Given that Hamilton slowed to allow Raikkonen the place, was subsequently 6kph slower over the start/finish line than Raikkonen and behind him on the track, I’m not sure where the advantage comes from. If anything the fact that he had to slow down to concede the place means that he must’ve been slower than Raikkonen, I would’ve thought. That he took the lead at La Source is testament to Hamilton’s skill and Raikkonen’s cautiousness.

Two weeks before that, Felipe Massa (the other Ferrari driver) was leading the “race” (procession) at Valencia. At his second pitstop, he was released into the path of another driver, and had to lift off to avoid crashing. I defy you to watch this and tell me it’s not unsafe. The rules pretty much agree, and IIRC mandate that Massa should’ve had a drive-through penalty (i.e. have to drive down the pitlane without stopping), which wouldve cost him the win and given it to Hamilton. Now, this wasn’t Massa’s fault, and I wouldve  been a bit disappointed if he lost the win because he deserved it. But, he also deserved the penalty, because he and the team broke the rules.

He got a fine of $10,000, rather than the penalty stipulated in the rules. No punishment at all, then. Bear in mind that at the same race (and in fact at Spa), the same thing happened in the support race. Result? Drive-throughs.

These are two parts of a very large picture. And I don’t want to believe that there’s bias towards Ferrari (and against McLaren), but the more that happens the more it becomes more and more possible. At the very best, there is some horribly inconsistent application of the rules. At the worst, it’s bias. Either way, yet again the powers that be have shown themselves to be horribly out of touch with what the fans want. With all the “important” people calling the Valencian race a huge success, even though it was actually really, really dull. The commentators at one point were talking about a tomato-chucking contest thats held in the region each year. I shit you not…

And then with this race, penalising Hamilton for doing his job in overtaking Raikkonen. They don’t realise that this is exactly what the fans want to see; two drivers battling hard for the lead of the race. That’s exactly what motorsport is all about, but it seems that the FIA want to stop that at all costs. Over the past decade or so, pretty much all the rule changes have conspired to make overtaking harder for the drivers, and detract from the spectacle. Not on purpose, obviously, but it’s clear that those making the rules don’t think about the effect those regulations will have upon the sport. For them (and by “them” I mostly mean Max Mosley, the arrogant bastard), it’s mostly about a long power trip. About getting their own way.

The Hamilton ruling angered me. After such a stunning – inspired – drive, it’s gutting to see him stripped of such a well-deserved result. But it’s not just that. And it’s not just because it’s yet another highly dubious decision that benefits Ferrari. It’s because I can imagine the “average” viewer, who doesn’t really follow the sport that much but watches the odd race. I can imagine them seeing the Belgian GP and tuning out thinking Hamilton was the winner, only to hear on the news the next day that actually he came third. And I can imagine them thinking “what a load of bollocks that F1 is then”. It angers me because if anyone says that because of this race, I can’t defend it.

I’m fed up of the sport I love being tarnished by fools.

(anyway, if you’ve ever said F1 is boring, watch this. Even though I know how it ends, watching it back it still makes me smile)

Posted at 12:43 am | Posted In: MotorsportRant Tagged:

2 Comments:

hannah

Thursday 18th September 2008, 9:56 am

Although I know little about this it does strike me that the stewards did take the excitement and fun out of race. It’s a shame because from what I’ve seen, Lewis Hamilton, is an amazing driver and has brought back a degree of panache to the sport. Incidentally quite a good last race by him to come from 15th to 7th place. It’s getting close at the top now though :o/

Dickie

Tuesday 23rd September 2008, 12:06 am

Yeah, I think you pretty much hit the nail on the head there (fwiw, he could’ve won the last race if he were a little luckier). Vettel thorougly deserved it though – I’ve said it for a while and I still think it; he’s gonna win a title one day. Probably.

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