The FIA have revealed details of the new evidence that prompted stewards to strip McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton of this third place in the Australian Grand Prix and hand the place back to Toyota’s Jarno Trulli, who had originally been penalized for passing Hamilton under the safety car.
According to the FIA, in the original enquiry into the incident, both Hamilton and McLaren stated that they had not deliberately let Trulli pass. However, in interview footage recorded immediately after the race - and not originally seen by stewards - Hamilton says he was instructed to move over for the Italian.
Furthermore, the FIA say that McLaren radio recordings contain ‘two explicit orders’ given to Hamilton to let the Toyota pass. Based on this new evidence the stewards ‘felt strongly that they had been misled’ by the driver and team, resulting in their decision to disqualify the world champion.
Full statement from the FIA:
PENALTY IMPOSED ON DRIVER NO 1 LEWIS HAMILTON AND COMPETITOR VODAFONE MCLAREN MERCEDES
SUMMARY OF KEY CONSIDERATIONS
At the first hearing following the Australian Grand Prix the Stewards did not have the benefit of the radio exchanges between driver No 1 Lewis Hamilton and his Team Vodafone McLaren Mercedes nor did they have access to the comments to the Media given by Lewis Hamilton immediately after the end of the race.
From the video recordings available to the Stewards during the hearing it appeared that Jarno Trulli’s car left the track and car No 1 moved into third place. It then appeared that Trulli overtook Hamilton to regain third place, which at the time was prohibited as it was during the Safety Car period.
During the hearing, held approximately one hour after the end of the race, the Stewards and the Race Director questioned Lewis Hamilton and his Team Manager David Ryan specifically about whether there had been an instruction given to Hamilton to allow Trulli to overtake. Both the driver and the Team Manager stated that no such instruction had been given. The Race Director specifically asked Hamilton whether he had consciously allowed Trulli to overtake. Hamilton insisted that he had not done so.
The new elements presented to the Stewards several days after the 2009 Australian Grand Prix which led to the reconvened Stewards Meeting clearly show that:
a. Immediately after the race and before Lewis Hamilton attended the Stewards Meeting he gave an interview to the Media where he clearly stated that the Team had told him to let Trulli pass.
b. Furthermore, the radio exchanges between the driver and the Team contain two explicit orders from the Team to let the Toyota pass.
The Stewards, having learned about the radio exchanges and the Media interview, felt strongly that they had been misled by the driver and his Team Manager which led to Jarno Trulli being unfairly penalised and Lewis Hamilton gaining third place.
Transcript of the radio transmission between Lewis Hamilton and his team:
Team: OK Lewis, you should need to make sure your delta is positive over the safety car line. After the safety car line the delta doesn’t matter but no overtaking. No overtaking.
Lewis Hamilton: The Toyota went off in a line at the second corner, ..., is this OK?
Team: Understood, Lewis. We’ll confirm and get back to you.
LH: He was off the track. He went wide.
Team: Lewis, you need to allow the Toyota through. Allow the Toyota through now.
LH: He’s slowed right down in front of me.
Team: OK, Lewis. Stay ahead for the time being. Stay ahead. We will get back to you. We are talking to Charlie.
LH: I let him past already.
Team: OK, Lewis. That’s fine. That’s fine. Hold position. Hold position.
LH: Tell Charlie I already overtook him. I just let him past.
Team: I understand Lewis. We are checking. Now can we go to yellow G 5, yellow Golf 5.
LH: I don’t have to let him past I should be able to take that position back, if he made a mistake.
Team: Yes, we understand Lewis. Let’s just do it by the book. We are asking Charlie now. You are in P4. If you hold this position. Just keep it together.
Team: OK Lewis, your KERS is full, your KERS is full. Just be aware. You can go back to black F2, black Foxtrott 2.
LH: Any news from Charlie whether I can take it back or not.
Team: Still waiting on a response Lewis, still waiting.
Team: Lewis, work on your brakes please. Front brakes are cold.
Team: If we are able to use one KERS that would be good. If you deploy KERS please do so now.
Team: OK, Lewis, this is the last lap of the race. At the end of the lap the safety car will come in, you just proceed over the line without overtaking, without overtaking. We are looking into the Trulli thing, but just hold position.
My questions are:
a) why was Trulli deemed allowed to pass Hamilton, if he had gone off the track?
b) knowing this, why did the team tell Hamilton let Trulli pass, then try and take it back and tell him not to let him pass?
c) why DID they lie to the stewards? Seems to me all they had to do was tell the truth and Trulli would have been punished for passing under yellow?
d) even in light of them lying, the facts remain that Trulli went off by mistake, Hamilton passed him legally, then Trulli passed Hamilton illegally. Why is Hamilton being stripped of his points (and not being awarded third position)?