Lewis Hamilton suspension in Melbourne

Ok, this one’s old news by now, but still worth including on the blog for future reference.

Sources: http://en.f1-live.com/f1/en/headlines/news/detail/090402110240.shtml; http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/motorsport/formulaone/lewishamilton/5096265/Lewis-Hamiltons-reputation-tarnished-after-Melbourne-controversy.html

Lewis Hamilton was disqualified from the Melbourne F1 race for misleading race stewards (Charlie Whiting, Olafur Gudmundsson & Steve Chopping) over an on-track incident with Jarno Trulli.

Essentially, the facts are that there was a collision between Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull Racing) and Robert Kubica (BMW Sauber) which led to a safety car being deployed. As Trulli went around a corner, he went wide and left the track. He was then passed by Lewis Hamilton. Dave Ryan (McLaren’s Sporting Director) then instructed Lewis to slow down in order to let Trulli pass him to regain third place (for fear of a repeat of the 2008 incident, with Ferrari where Lewis was docked points). At the end of the race however, McLaren complained that Trulli had overtaken during a safety car phase and Trulli received a 25second time-penalty which demoted him to 12th place, while Lewis was promoted to 3rd.

Both McLaren and Lewis were charged with a breach of Article 151c of the International Sporting Code (acting in a manner prejudicial to the conduct of the event by providing evidence deliberately misleading to the Stewards). Allegedly the team was not explicit enough in releasing the content of the radio transmission between the team and Hamilton during the incident. Interestingly, this was the same Article 151c that McLaren were held to have breached in the infamous spy-gate scandal over the use of Ferrari data.

FIA Charge sheet: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/motorsport/formulaone/mclaren/5120783/FIA-charge-sheet-for-McLaren-in-full.html

Martin Whitmarsh (team principal for Mclaren), who was on holiday after the incident, placed all the blame for this decision on Ryan, and suggested that a culture of cheating did not exist at McLaren. A transcript of the April 5th press conference with Whitmarsh can be read here: http://timesonline.typepad.com/formula_one/2009/04/whitmarsh-it-was-incompetance-not-conspiracy.html

While a transcript of Hamilton’s radio transmission can be read here: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/motorsport/formulaone/lewishamilton/5095480/Lewis-Hamilton-disqualification-radio-transmission-transcript.html

Dave Ryan was suspended by McLaren and subsequently sacked, while Lewis Hamilton publicly apologised for “wasting the steward’s time” and claimed he had been misled by Ryan.

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About Kris

Associate Professor in Sports Law, Staffordshire University; British Gymnastics Senior Coach

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2 Comments on “Lewis Hamilton suspension in Melbourne”

  1. The Binocular Says:

    Hamilton just following team orders


    • Kris Says:

      while ethically this may be enough to exonerate him, would this stand up legally – the ‘if your friend told you to jump off a cliff’ argument?
      I agree that if you stand up to a manager / team, then you may jeopardise your playing career, but at what point is this a defence to a charge?


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