Thursday, April 02, 2009

Zoom Zoom: More Politicking In F1

Let me set the stage for you on what happened at the end of the Malaysian GP: Robert Kubica and Sebastian Vettel are locked in a heated battle for second and third place on the podium with three laps to go. (In my view), Kubica is overly-aggressive and is at fault for causing both cars to wipe out, ending their race. A full-course yellow is then necessary and the race finishes under caution with Jensen Button coming first and Rubens Barichello coming second. Because of the crash, Jarno Trulli is now in third and Lewis Hamilton in fourth. This is where the shenanigans begin.

Depending on who you believe (shouldn't there be video of this!?!), Trulli somehow ran off the track. Seeing this, Hamilton passed him. Not sure if he was allowed to do this, Hamilton sought advice from his team and they told him to let Trulli pass him again, which he did. After the race, McLaren Mercedes filed a protest stating that Trulli passed Lewis Hamilton under caution (a no-no), and should be awarded third place. The protest is accepted and their positions were officially swapped.

Today, however, the decision was reversed and Hamilton was stripped of all points earned in the race because either he or the team lied to stewards about what really happened. I'm still trying to wade through the reports to figure out what truly (Trulli?) happened, but even if McLaren tried to gain an advantage by stretching the truth in their telling of the story, isn't stripping them of all points a little harsh?

And ask yourself this question in all seriousness: If you replace Hamilton with Felipe Massa of Ferrari in this situation, is the same judgment handed down?

Not only that, but Vettel was handed a 10 place grid penalty for his involvement in the Kubica crash. I've heard many opinions on this from experts and fans. At best, people thought it was a 50-50 blame share, a racing incident, and at worse it was Kubica's fault (my stance). The stewards once again saw it completely differently. Again, no explanation.

This is what disgusts me about F1. There are no legislated penalties for issues like this - the penalties are handed down subjectively and without proper explanation or justification. It leaves the door open to all kind of conspiracy talk. F1 would do itself a favour by being consistent in its rulings. Alas, Bernie and Max are the ones running this circus.


lola said...

The penalty against Vettel is ridiculous. It was a racing incident and I, like you, tend to think Kubica had more to do with it than Vettel did.

As for Hamilton, he is bearing the brunt of McLaren's colossal hackery from last season and spygate. The punishment is over the top and unfair. McLaren needs to wake up and sort themselves out because people smarter than them (i.e - Ross Brawn) are playing with full decks.