Tue 9 Sep 2008
Nothing much new has come out regarding the Kimi/Lewis incident, so the comments on blogs across the internet are simply filled with the same things. Those who support Lewis continue to do so and those who are pretty comfortable with the outcome are similarly unmoved to change their opinion.
Now that McLaren have decided to pursue their appeal after all, this story is guaranteed to continue to rumble on until the end of the season. Because of this, a huge group of F1 followers are likely to claim the winner of the title is not the true victor - assuming it turns out to be either Hamilton or Massa that is. Should the appeal overturn the penalty and hand victory back to Hamilton, and he go on to win the championship then Ferrari and Massa fans will be outraged. Similarly, if the penalty stands and Massa goes on to win then McLaren and Hamilton fans will be up in arms.
Personally, I thought McLaren would decide against appealing for a couple of reasons. Firstly, vocal public support is already on their side and Hamilton is widely being viewed as the injured party here. Should he go on to win the title it will be viewed as being against all the odds, with him having to beat not only the two Ferrari drivers but also the FIA. On the other hand, should he lose out, it will all be blamed on this incident with the masses certain the FIA had engineered another victory for the red team and their drivers.
Secondly, past experience has shown that if you appeal something and fail to prove the penalty should not stand then you risk an even worse penalty. In this case, the team may feel that any additional penalty would be against the team rather than Lewis himself thereby assuming his title challenge will go ahead unhindered. Presumably that would mean a fine for the team rather than a docking of points for Lewis or a grid penalty at a later race.
It seems a big risk to me, unless they really do have what they consider to be irrefutable proof in their favour. We shall have to wait and see.
Unless anything new crops up prior to the appeal, this will be the last word on this - at the moment there are still a lot more questions rather than answers following the Belgian GP, both about this subject and others :
1. When Kimi came to a halt against the barrier as his race came to an end, his left rear tyre was punctured yet I’ve not seen any footage to explain why this was so - why was his tyre punctured? Did this cause his crash?
2. In a sport with rules covering everything and anything, why can noone point to one printed statement that would have cleared up all this nonsense in a couple of minutes? Why is it in the FIA’s interest to keep the rules as vague as possible?
3. The video of Kimi and Lewis entering the last chicane, if taken in isolation, could just as easily show a clip of Kimi lunging up the inside of Lewis rather than Lewis trying to go round the outside of Kimi. Had that been the case, and Kimi been trying to pass Lewis, how would we be arguing the case? Kimi gets ahead up the inside, moves over to the racing line while Lewis, the overtaken party, takes a shortcut and comes out ahead. Would he have had to give the “advantage” back, or as he was ahead at the start of the move could he have retained the lead? Who would the neutrals be supporting in that case?
4. Prior to the race, Lewis assured us that he never gets overtaken round the outside. Well, apart from Massa a few races ago but it was never, ever going to happen again. When is someone going to ask him about that statement? As far as I could see, Kimi overtook him on the outside in this very race…
5. Quite a few people have pointed to other incidents which have happened in the past where no penalty was handed out. I’m not expressing an opinion either way on these, but assuming the stewards later realised they made a mistake in these cases and perhaps should have penalised the drivers, what should they do? When viewing this incident, they should have looked back at the previous moves and copied the penalty - but if the first non-penalty was a mistake then should they perpetuate the mistake by repeating it? Or should they make a stand now and set a new precedent rather than rely on old ones?
6. Football and other sports are as guilty of this as F1 is, but why are referees or stewards never allowed to come out and explain their decisions? Football fans are infuriated with decisions every week and never get any answers - all it would take is for a short explanation to appease a lot of these unhappy people. In this case, I think if the stewards had released a statement saying “the outcome was touch and go but in the end because of X, they decided Y. Had Lewis done Z then everything would have been okay therefore all drivers in similar situations in the future should also do Z and will therefore be safe from penalty.” Why can’t this be done? Even if not publically, at least tell the drivers and teams what is expected of them.
7. When Lewis took his shortcut, I immediately thought he may be penalised - and from reading blogs, articles and comments I know I’m not alone on that. In fact, McLaren themselves concede they contacted Charlie Whiting to find out his view on what had happened. If the rules or conventions are as simple as meaning all Lewis had to do was to allow Kimi back into the lead, then why did they seek outside confirmation everything was okay? Is it reading too much into it to assume McLaren’s call to Charlie was because they themselves felt it was a very close call as to whether Lewis had done enough?
8. Can someone please arrange for a couple of drivers to recreate the scene - this may be a job for Brundle and Blundell. What I am especially interested to see is what action the person playing Lewis could take when “Kimi” gets back in front after the first part of the chicane - the feeling among a lot of people, Lewis included, is that he could do nothing other than turn left and take his shortcut. I, along with others, find it hard to believe he couldn’t have braked to avoid a collision but I accept that I have absolutely no experience of driving an F1 car - roughly the same amount of experience as other people commenting on this area of the incident! Personally, I think this was possible but Lewis, as a racer, chose the shortcut option simply because he knew it would lose him the least amount of time. Had there been a more prohibitive run-off area, either speed-bumps, gravel or somesuch, what would Lewis have done? Come on ITV, give us something worth watching in your build-up to the racestart for a change!
One question to which I already know the answer - are we all looking forward to getting back to racing this weekend?
Assuming you are still watching F1 that is…