Video: Lewis Hamilton and Heikki Kovalainen investigated over blocking

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Lewis Hamilton and Heikki Kovalainen have been summoned to appear before the Malaysian Grand Prix stewards to answer questions about why they apparently delayed BMW’s Nick Heidfeld and Renault’s Fernando Alonso on their final qualifying laps.

The penalty for delaying other drivers in qualifying is typically five grid places – which would move the back from third and fourth to eighth and ninth. Should they be penalised?

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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44 comments on “Video: Lewis Hamilton and Heikki Kovalainen investigated over blocking”

  1. The cars on the racing line on the left should probably be penalised, that looked terrifying from Heidfeld’s view.

  2. I’m not sure how I would call this one.  Certainly, they were on the racing line, and moving slowly.  They also made no effort to move away from the racing line, but you could equally say that if they had done so, given the closing speed of the BMW, and the fact that Heidfeld had already decided to go around them, that there would have been an accident of simply aircraft style proportions.

    It would indeed be unfortunate for the McLaren drivers to receive a penalty.  Heidfeld has every reason to feel aggrieved and clearly lost time.  However, you could argue that negotiating traffic is part of the game for both the team and the driver. 

    The important issue here is that of safety and for that reason alone the stewards need to issue clear guidance for the future.  Whether or not that should include penalising the McLarens is another matter.

    It was obvious from qualifying in Melbourne that this a problem of this nature was going to arise as a result of the new qualifying format – it was only a matter of time before it occurred.  What we need now is a clear decision from the stewards and guidance that outlines the behaviour expected from drivers in Q3.  If we don’t get this then every qualifying session will become vulnerable to this kind of uncertainty in the aftermath and that is the last thing that we need.

  3. I will be surprised if they do not get penalized. I did not look like the blocking was intentional but people got sent back down the grid for less serious blocking … 
    They may not have realized that some drivers are still on their fast laps but  they clearly impeded Heidfeld …

    With the new rules all the cars are going back very slowly to preserve fuel. But they should not do so using the racing line …

  4. It would be a harsh penalty if they were penalised. This is purely and simply the FIA’s fault because of their crazy qualifying rules.

    Although it wouldn’t be a surprise if  the FIA gave ferrari a helpingh and

  5. It doensn’t really look as thought it compromised Heidfeld that much from the on-board cam view from his car.The track’s wide enough although both McLarens were on the racing line and he had to dodge them.

    Mind you , I’ve seen Fernando Alonso penalised for a lot less than that not so long ago so the stewards are capable of anything… 

  6. I agree John there needs to be some clarification as to what drivers can and cannot do in qualifying – imagine something like this happening in Monaco for instance…

  7. Interesting, Hamilton just 2 positions behind Alonso. I cant wait to see this fight :)

  8. I think they should be penalised if they have actually blocked the other drivers. I think its only fair that way.

  9. Yup, should be interesting tomorrow.  But that penalty won’t mean as much if it does rain during the race.

  10. and they were, 5 places grid penalty for both drivers

  11. Another fudge from the fia. All you need to do is sneeze and you get a grid penalty these days! If you look at the video it is hard to judge what else they could have done — all the cars were going slowly.

    It is amazing that you get penalties for this yet, last year, with all the fuel funnies in Brazil (where the rules were clearly infringed) no penalties were handed out!

    Bottom line is that the FIA need to sort out this mess as tracks like Monaco will be a disaster. Also if it rains it won’t really matter at all. Will be fun to watch Lewis and Heikki try to come though the pack. Could see a few risks from Hamilton, so it will not surprise me if he does not finish the race

  12. Personally i think that would be very harsh. But to have hamilton further down the grid would be very interesting to watch. As much as i want hamilton to win the race i dont think he has any chance. The ferraris were unstopable out there.

  13. Thats deffinitely grounds for a penalty, in F1 you cant just look at your own belly and use the racing line at a snail´s pace during qualifying, very poor form there by both drivers.

    At least heikki (think its him on the back?) appeared to wake up and try to move out of the way, but damm just look at hamilton… Looks in mirrors and couldnt care less!

  14. Great news, but now FIA need to introduce a minimum time for an in lap to ensure fairness, makes for an interesting race. I imagine overtaking should be easy enough for the pair of them, although if rain comes, or if they are caught in someone elses accident at the start who knows what will happen.

    I would love to see Heikki beat Hamilton tomorrow. That would make for an interesting pairing for the rest of the year.

    Cant wait for a good action packed race tomorrow, lets just hope we dont have to listen to ITV crying over LH, and interview his dad yet again!

  15. they should be penalised! i’d be very surprised if they don’t do it…

    okey, drive to pits slowly, but not on the racing line.

    Others were penalised for less…

  16. If u watch the replay, it was more Heikki than Hamilton that was responsible for blocking both Nick and Alonso.  He was more in the braking zone. Nick didn’t lose time going past Hamilton.

  17. No question that they should have moved off the line before slowing.

  18. Guys they have now been moved 5 places back on the grid. So Kovy 8th and Lewis 9th!

  19. How difficult would it be for them just to impose a 110% pole lap time limit for their final inlap – if it’s the same for everybody, then nobody can gain an advantage? Seems rather obvious to me, but then that’s the FIA for you.

  20. Josh that’s what they should do but I think they’re having trouble working out what kind of penalty to impose.

    How about you loose a place for every lap you do > 110% speed?

  21. Both Mac’s were in the way, they get the penalty they earned. As Josh stated they had the in lap requirement last year and inexplicably dropped it this year. Look for it to be reinstated next race. They’ll figure out a penalty as well, but won’t impose it unless someone is blocked. Unless it’s a McLaren of course and can help Ferrari!

  22. Although as it’s an in-lap it’s quite hard to measure presumably.

  23. Only giving McLaren a 5 place penalty was rather lenient imo. But then teh FIA and stewards are generally lenient when it comes to McLaren anyway, so I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised.

  24. well it does’nt much matter what the boys at the FIA do or don’t do as the rules thes day seem to be written on the fly from race to race…Blocking   yea the Macs sure had the look of blocking.. now of course besides the being set back 5 spots will the FIA and Mad Max start an invetigation to see who "ordered’ the blocking..galds the F1 seasons are turing into really bad soap operas….how about for qualifing  we send one car at a time out with whatever fuel load they want  than make everone top off to start the race…naw to simple for thes boys

  25. One of my favorite rants is none of the teams have ever got out of the “one hot lap” mentality. They wait until the clock runs out and then ‘roll the dice’. One wide turn, one off, one missed brake point their entire qualifying is worthless. What a foolish way to qualify.  And at that point they are ALL running in ‘traffic’. Why they don’t turn their hot lap sooner and then wait to see if they have to improve puzzles me.  Fuel load is NOT an issue, they’re only runing 5 or 6 minutes of the 10 minute session, perhaps 12 pounds of fuel in a 1600 pound vehicle, immeasurable.  With the threat of rain it looked like Kova was going to try that routine, he came to pit exit early, but then didn’t. Heidfeld and Alonso…’s their own fault, they should have tried earlier when there was less traffic. If you want to penalize someone……it looked to me like a McLaren crossed the circuit directly in front of the on-coming Alonso. That is worth more discussion than any “blocking” complaint.
    Blocked for a micro-second, this is nothing more than a minor ‘racing incident’ not worthy of discussion.
    Penalties, penalties, penalties, hasn’t the FIA got something better to do that manipulate the event?

  26. I really was waiting for a time when the arrogance of LH would come out (man, 22 years, world champ, driving for McLaran!!) and it has now. Clearly George has a point in the comment no-2 but he should not be going in the faster line anyway to begin with, the point of not moving to avoid collisions is less beaming here!! Anyways, got sick without sleep and couldn’t watch the quali, if anyone has a video link, please please send it to, gonna sleep now for 15 hrs – race comin up guys..

  27. another question… i remember some cases similar to this (or even less important) that the stewards decided to penalise a driver by deleting his fastest laps at qualy… For example, Monaco 2006, Fisichella was penalized by blocking Coulthard so they deleted his fastest lap.

    why now a 5 place penalty?

  28. Arun — I think Lewis was simply following Heikki and wasn’t paying attention, so not sure you can call it arrogant (silly, yes … arrogane, no)

  29. FIA are lenient towards McLaren at all, but the stewards were doing there job. Not much to do with the FIA in actual fact.

    Heidfield is a fine one to talk about blocking, not like he’s never got in someone’s way before now is it?

    Why 5 places? who knows, they just might as well as delete their qualifying times.

    IMO, this qualifying still is not working aswell as it could be; it would be a lot more interesting if in all three qualifying sessions each car carried just enough fuel to go on an out lap, hot lap and in lap, with a mandatory minimum of three tries, with each session all being 10 minutes whilst having a 110% rule for the in lap.

    or even better, on Q1, they should all run for one lap before getting in their car :P who ever is still running, well tough! j/k.

  30. Qualifying is fine the way it is leave it alone, have a min in and out lap time!
    When are Mclaren gonna start playing by the rules?

  31. I guess the penalty is justified though what a bad weekend for the Woking outfit. Nonetheless this is the time for Lewis to prove that he is worth all the awards he has been earning lately, which will mean a podium finish and no less. What i can’t seem to find in the regulations on
    is the specific clause requiring a docking of five places. Is this arbitrarily decided?

  32. what i cannnot understand is how kubica isnt being talked about wen he was on the other side of the road ahead of hamilton going just as slow…are team mates aloud to block eachother…? the FIA want a nice little title fight this season, and seeing as Ferrari had a double ret. in Australia it looks like there are trying to get the teams on level terms again…

  33. Can’t help feeling that two drivers are being penalised when it’s the system that requires attention (as Mark Blundell said in ITV’s coverage). More than the problem of blocking, you’ve got one car on a balls-out fast lap while others are trying to conserve fuel for the race. This obviously leads to immense differences in speed and is therefore incredibly dangerous. If there’s a crash than the closing speed would be in triple figures.

    From the McLaren drivers’ perspective, what were they supposed to do? Drive their cars off the tarmac and into the gravel to ensure the BMW-Sauber had space? You’ve got to be on the racing line at some point just to get round the corners so if you’re unlucky with timing (as I believe is the case here) and you’re caught near a corner by a car on a hot lap then you’re slapped with a penalty. The cynic in me suggests that McLaren are being penalised for just having two cars on the track now, but I’m sure that can’t possibly be the case.

    From a purely balanced perspective, right at the start of the on-board coverage from Nick Heidfield’s BMW-Sauber (32 seconds into the above clip) – before he gets anywhere near the McLarens – there is another car on the inside of Heidfield at the previous corner on the racing line. Why is he also not being penalised?

  34. The cars shouldn’t have been going so slowly on the racing line to start with. That’s dangerous. The trouble is that creating a rule to prevent slow cars on the racing line that can be fairly enforced is extremely difficult. So punishing the two McLaren drivers for the nearest rule in the books that they broke – baulking Heidfeld and Alonso – is perfectly fair. What isn’t fair is that there were about four other drivers engaging in the same behaviour, yet the stewards didn’t investigate them. Is it too much to ask for consistency from the stewards? (That question is rhetorical, by the way).

    The lap requirement last year only applied to completed laps and was only used for the purpose of fuel crediting. Non-completed laps (such as in- and out-laps) could not be counted because there hasn’t been a completely accurate and consistent way of timing individual in/out-laps since 2002 (when all circuits had a fibre-optic loop). I can see such loops being reinstalled eventually, not just as a rule enforcement tool but to enable true digital TV broadcasting again. Next race, however, is too soon to hope for…

    Fer no. 65, the fastest-time removal penalty was removed because drivers got differential punishments according to how they’d gone about qualifying up to that point. When one driver gets penalised one place (Villnueve against Fisichella, Nurburgring 2006) and another is penalised five places for the thing (Alonso against Massa, Monza 2006), it suggests a certain inconsistancy in the way punishments are applied, even though both of them had the same initial punishment (loss of fastest lap). N grid places is considered to be more transparent and a more equal punishment between cases.

    NDINYO, there’s a good reason why you can’t find a specific clause calling for the docking of five grid places. It doesn’t exist. The nearest thing in the regulations is Article 31.6:

    "In the event of a driving infringement in any practise session the Stewards may drop the driver such number of grid positions as they see fit…"

    While this doesn’t explicitly cover qualifying, it does suggest that the stewards are free to use whatever number of grid positions they deem appropriate and that five places is an arbitrary number. Surely this is another recipe for inconsistency in decisions.

  35. Cooperman.. refer to this figure on how they tackle the apex, and why LH should’ve known better not to be in the fast lane…

  36. The more I look at the video, the more I think it’s a load of crap giving them both penalties- I’d love to see just how many people they passed over the course of their hot laps who were in some way inconveniencing them. As somebody else said, if they choose to wait till the last possible moment for their hot lap, then that is naturally going to have consequences, and they should just deal with it. Fot heidfeld to say he reckoned he lost 2 tenths there is absurd – he never even let up on the throttle, and frankly his teammate on the inside was far more of a distraction, it seemed.

    Still, in a team as well run as Mclaren, you would have expected both the drivers not to be anywhere near the racing line, or at least for their engineers to have warned them over the radio that they were being approached by some drivers on their hot laps  and to make sure they were nowhere near – smacks to me of the kind of incompetence that never happened under Ross Brawn at ferrari (if Schumi ever got in someone’s way on a hot lap – you knew he damn well meant to!), and is just another example of the way Mclaren seem to want to throw away championships.


  38. Don, firstly, it’s impolite to use caps for an entire posting, second, the McLarens weren’t penalized for going slowly, they were penalized for going slowly on the racing line, which interfered with other drivers’ qualifying laps and could have caused an accident. Only the McLaren drivers were that thoughtless or irresponsible.

  39. I agree with a lot of what’s been said here (apart from the few bits of partisan axe-grinding) – particularly Alianora and Cooperman’s remarks.

    I do think that, on the whole, the stewards have been fairly consistent with this sort of thing: Alonso blocked Hamilton at Hungaroring, five place grid penalty. Hamilton and Kovalainen blocked Heidfeld and Alonso, five place grid penalty. Hamilton didn’t block Raikkonen at Interlagos, no grid penalty. Although I wonder how Raikkonen went un-penalised for blocking Kubica in Q1 at Melbourne?

    I think the point raised by Cooperman is the most important – the wider issue is the problematic regulations. Some people have suggested ways of making sure drivers don’t slow each other down while preserving fuel on the way to the pits. I think the simplest answer to this is to stop making drivers qualifying with race fuel loads. As I’ve written before, it’s a useless rule that has failed to achieve the purpose it was introduced for.

  40. When watching the qualifying the only car I saw at that moment impeding others was Timo Glock. And he was also immediately a topic of the commenators on Star TV. Apparently no drivers complained about Glock, so he was not investigated and penalized.

  41. And again we see another episod of soap opera … after just two qualifications FIA will make changes according to autosport
    did all we tired about these rules changes ?
    "And it is the fear of an accident that has prompted calls for a maximum lap time rule to be introduce from the next race in Bahrain to ensure there is no future repeat of the incident."
    Safety is only aspect what is described here … BUT what excactly will hapen when driver is moving with min allowed speed and some other driver trying to pass him with racing speed ? We see it in every race … no matter how fast someone is, he can’t pass on every place on track … so drivers will be forced to drive outside ot racing line with some minimal speed just to be sure not blocking someone … it’s strange for me …

  42. Absolutely.
    You want to stop blocking after qualifying has finished?
    Have an exit lane to the pits 100-200 metres after the finish line.  The drivers who have finished their last hot lap would be off the racing line – and off the track – and on a scenic route back to the pits.
    Seems simple to me.

  43. Think Lewis should avoid these thing. What I concluded from–profile.htm
    Hamilton is a rising star with lots of achievements in his kitty and these acts leave a bad impression about him.

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