Tue 14 Oct 2008
Imagine you are sitting at home watching TV, your kids playing outside, when a car comes hurtling past your front gate at 100mph.
You call the police who stop the car further up the road, breathalyse the guy who turns out to be twice over the limit.
What would you want the police to do?
Would you want them to throw the book at the driver in the hope that doing so ensures he is never stupid enough to do the same thing again? Or would you be thankful he didn’t hit anyone and want the police to simply wave him on his merry way?
It’s this second course of action which Lewis Hamilton wanted the stewards to take at Fuji last week after his overambitious out-braking attempt on Kimi Raikkonen at the first corner.
We both got the same penalty but I didn’t hit anyone and he did Lewis Hamilton
His argument is that he didn’t hit anyone therefore he should have been allowed to race on as if nothing had happened. I know there are several supporters of his argument here, but I just don’t see things the same way he does - something I’m quite grateful for to be honest.
What I would agree with perhaps is the notion that they shouldn’t have both been dealt the same penalty, however there’s not a huge number of options open to the stewards so I have some sympathy with them also.
The fact there wasn’t a coming together with other cars - either Lewis and Kimi, or indeed anywhere else further back was for one reason alone, and that was because everyone avoided Lewis and each other. Nothing to do with Lewis at all. It wasn’t as if he braked too late and then took avoiding action - the positioning of his car meant he had no other option but to go straight on. Thinking about the championship for a second (which Lewis obviously wasn’t at the time), it was quite within the realms of possibility that Kimi could have turned in and taken both Lewis and himself out of the race - and I’ve no doubts that the FIA would have laid the blame at the feet of Lewis.
In fact, Hamilton can think himself lucky that Kimi didn’t take the route as he would be really under pressure in China this weekend :
I have the impression that the powers-that-be regard Lewis’s driving in Fuji at Turn 1 as bordering on reckless and that if he had touched another car or caused an accident he would be looking at a 10-place penalty in Shanghai. There’s no soul-searching there; this another open and shut case as far as the rule-makers are concerned. Ed Gorman, The Times
That would really have put his title hopes on the backburner - especially considering had he been out of the race then Massa wouldn’t have run into him and been hit with his own drive-through penalty. In fact there’s a pretty good chance he would have won the race and would now be leading the championship.
It’s all ifs and buts however, what is certain is that Hamilton must listen to what he is saying about bearing the championship in mind and heed his own advice - he needs to win this championship otherwise the pressure on him each subsequent year he isn’t champion will only build and build.
I’ve said before that due to the number of mistakes made this year I don’t think either Massa or Hamilton really deserve to be called a champion, but given it will happen anyway I’m leaning towards Massa deserving it more than Hamilton at the moment.