Why do million-dollar F1 drivers keep making mistakes at red lights?

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Lewis Hamilton would be best advised to skip today’s newspapers. Unless he wants to read several unfortunate comparisons between his father’s prang in a Porsche last week and his crash with Kimi Raikkonen in the pits (see video here).

Hamilton is not the only F1 driver to have messed up at a red light in recent years. Nico Rosberg committed exactly the same mistake yesterday but, not being Hamilton, he gets less attention and a lot less vitriol from some quarters.

But why is it happening at all? We all know that if the light is red you have to stop so surely the world’s top racing drivers know the same?

Running red lights

Hamilton and Rosberg are the latest drivers to fall foul of a closed pit exit. They join Rubens Barrichello, who re-joined the track passing through a red light at Melbourne this year and was disqualified.

So were Felipe Massa and Giancarlo Fisichella in last year’s Canadian Grand Prix. And Juan Pablo Montoya two years before that.

The phenomenon of drivers passing through red lights has become more frequent in recent years because of the increasing use of the safety car.

For safety reasons, the pit lane exit is closed while the safety car and any F1 cars near it are passing by. However last year the rules were changed to control when drivers could come into the pits during a safety car period, meaning the entry to the pits may be open while the exit is closed, which rarely happened in F1 before.

Driver/team error

But despite all this a red light means stop so why are the drivers not seeing it and not stopping?

Hamilton said:

I saw the two guys in front battling in the pitlane and all of a sudden they stopped. I saw the red light but by the time I stopped it was too late.

This suggests a couple of things. First, the pit lane stop light is hard to see if you’re not one of the first drivers in the pit lane queue. And it also suggests that it hadn’t occured to Hamilton, and presumably Rosberg, Barrichello and the rest, that the pits would be closed.

In other forms of motor racing we hear the teams giving their drivers a constant stream of useful information. In Indy Car the drivers have spotters around the track to let them know if they have a car close by them that they might not be able to see.

Exactly what F1 teams do in terms of giving their drivers information can be hard to tell because we rarely get to hear their radio transmissions. Did McLaren or Williams warn their drivers of the likelihood of the pit lane exit being closed yesterday? If so the warning wasn’t heeded.

The blame ultimately has to rest with the drivers but as with everything in F1 it’s a team game as well as an individual sport. If it’s hard to see the pit lane exit light at Montreal, and past experience has suggested it is, then McLaren and Williams should have taken that into account.

Problem solved?

However this may no longer be a problem from the next round. At the next race in France the teams are to trial a new system where, in a safety car situation, the drivers will receive a message informing them to activate a special ‘safety car mode’ on their cars, slowing them down.

This should allow the pit lane to remain open during safety car situations and hopefully will eliminate the chance of accidents happening as the drivers react to a safety car deployment.

The image above is illustrative and not a photograph of the red light at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve

Author information

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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65 comments on “Why do million-dollar F1 drivers keep making mistakes at red lights?”

  1. Robert McKay
    9th June 2008, 13:24

    “Nico Rosberg committed exactly the same mistake yesterday but, not being Hamilton, he gets less attention and a lot less vitriol from some quarters.”

    How true this is. Very few people have mentioned Rosberg making the exact same mistake. But he’s not public enemy Number 1.

  2. Scott Joslin
    9th June 2008, 13:36

    There were a number of extreme factors which contributed to the problems in Canada of which I am not sure this new change addresses.

    1) The Pitlane was classed as “Open” just as all the cars ploughed into the pits, yet there was a red light at the end not letting the drivers out – So was it really open? Was this a cock up by the stewards who released the trigger too soon? Should they have waited until the end of the first racing lap after the Safety car has pit?

    2)Tthe light was on was due to the fact that cars from the pitlane cannot exit the pits under a safety car while the safety car and train of cars is passing by the pits. (as seen by Montoya a few years back)

    So thes new change to the safety car rules won’t necessarily rule out this potential situation (even though it was quite a freak scenario) as the red light at the end of an “Open pitlane” will still occur.
    And with drivers allow to be side by side in the pits, such as Kimi and Kubica, we will get this drag race scenario again. I believe Lewis saw the light, but was aiming to get alongside Kimi to make a 3 way race off out of the pits, again a potential accident waiting to happen.
    The Fia should enforce a rule where only it is only line astern in the pitlane so drivers don’t try to double up.

  3. The reason there isn’t as much of a fuss made about Nico Rosberg is because he isn’t constantly compared to Ayrton Senna. So it’s not as much of a ‘surprise’ if he makes a mistake. What gets me is that Hamilton can keep on making these silly errors and yet is still “Senna-esque” in the eyes of certain commentators.

  4. Every time the safety car comes out, all the gains made by the front drivers, especially the lead car, are negated. This seems to be grossly unfair. Why can’t Formula One work out a system in which when the safety car is deployed all cars on the track should slow down immediately to the exact same speed as the safety car -and not allow everybody to catch up and form a procession? That way nobody gets an unfair advantage over anybody else. In this age of advanced telecommunications, coordinating this between the safety car and the drivers shouldn’t pose any problems.

  5. Install break lights?
    There are already light at the back for rain & the pitlane limiter. Why not use it as brake lights as well?

  6. michael counsell
    9th June 2008, 14:21

    Hamilton and Rosberg should have been aware that a red light was likely given that the other cars must negotiate two chicanes and a straight at safety car pace while they just have a straight pitlane. You have to feel sorry for Raikkonen because there was nothing he could do other than stop at the lights.

  7. I agree with Doctorvee in that Rosberg doesn’t get a huge amount of good press coverage when he does something well, therefore it’s only fair he doesn’t get much negative press when he does something bad.

    Hamilton gets massive coverage when he does well, so it’s only to be expected he has the same amount of negative coverage when things go wrong.

    The other point is that Nico managed to screw his own race, but noone else’s unlike Hamilton who effectively took Kimi out of the race.

    I can’t understand Hamilton’s view that him crashing into the wall at 300kph and only taking himself out of a race is somehow a worse thing to happen than this 50kph shunt in the pits which takes himself and another driver out of the race.

    I just don’t understand how his mind works sometimes!

  8. ogami musashi
    9th June 2008, 14:28

    I do find the harsh against hamilton too much.

    If you watch the video you can see there’s not so much time between kimi’s stop and hamilton runing into him.

    It is so easy to criticize while you’re on your chair.

    Driving high speed machines (especially cornering) is physically tough and demands a lot of concentration, pit stops allow for some pauses and you concentration may fly away a bit during them.
    A F1 car just stop in no distance at such speeds.

    It is like someone has a car crash, remembering the crash it is easy to say “i should have made that, why didn’t brake earlier?” etc…but on the moment!

    Ok That’s a big mistake from hamilton no doubt about it (and rosberg)..but hey they’re humans…and they are racing! it is like you’re driving on public roads.

    I really find people not very tolerant with those drivers and always saying “they’re supposed to be the bests”..the bests doesn’t mean “perfect”.

  9. ogami musashi
    9th June 2008, 14:29

    “it ISN’T like you’re driving on public roads”..my bad.

  10. I’ve moved the comments that are just about the Hamilton crash here: Video: Controversy as Lewis Hamilton hits Kimi Raikkonen in the pit lane.

    I think Michael Counsell is quite right when he says the drivers should generally have an idea whether or not there’s going to be a red light at the end of the pits. For example, I don’t know how Barrichello could have thought the pit lane exit would be open when he went in at Melbourne, as the pit entry was also closed.

  11. If kimi and kubica knew and stopped their little duel in time why didn’t hammilton (or rosberg)? Think he was just miffed two cars pipped him in the pits. If you watch you’ll notice that kubica and kimi start breaking at the same point before the light whilst lewis just goes straight through and breaks a good while later. Heat of the moment tunnel vision perhaps?

  12. Approaching a red light at 50mph is exactly like driving on public roads, no cornering, nothing physical in that situation. There simply is no excuse.
    My view is that they just seem to forget that there is actually a light at the end of the pits due to them only thinking about getting out on the track. The pit isn’t a place the drivers enjoy to be in, being there means losing time, so the reaction is to try and get out of there as quickly as possible.
    Ok, if you look at the list of culprits it has two Brazilians and a Colombian who could be classified as a little bit “loose” when it come to their driving at times. Rubens maybe not so much.
    then you have two very young driver who were very motivated in that situation, Lewis because he lost a lot before and Nico because it looked like he could gain from this.
    All of this isn’t really an excuse for missing a red light AND two standing cars and saying that poor Lewis only had a few seconds is ok if he’d be my mum, but these are highly paid F1 drivers who are said to have quick reactions and the ability to multitask in very harsh conditions. Obviously Lewis and Nico didn’t have the ability at that particular moment in time. Lewis has shown thte same flaws last season, so I maintain that he is very quick, but can’t deal with everything he needs to be able to deal with. Maybe he’ll learn, maybe he won’t…

  13. Robert McKay
    9th June 2008, 15:30

    “The other point is that Nico managed to screw his own race, but noone else’s unlike Hamilton who effectively took Kimi out of the race.”

    If Hamilton had stopped where he was supposed to, and not a few feet further forward, Rosberg would have done exactly the same thing to Hamilton that Hamilton did to Raikkonen.

    Again, it seems to me like a lot of people are misplacing their hatred for ITV/James Allen’s continual hype of Hamilton onto Hamilton himself.

  14. Doctorvee – whilst I see your logic in stating that Rosberg isn’t continually compared to Senna, I equally don’t see why someone who IS compared to Senna shouldn’t be expected to make the odd pressure error every now and then. Great as he was, Ayrton did make mistakes and errors of judgement. As do all racing drivers, even the very best.

  15. What fascinates me about this debate (both on this thread and on other related ones on this website) is exactly what fascinated me about the Max Mosley debate (interestingly and surprisingly). It is that people are so very, very quick to stand as judge and jury on people – to try them, sentence them, condone or condemn. What this says about the commentators is perhaps more interesting than what it says about the objects of that commentary.

    No-one – least of all racing drivers – perfect. Even the very best make mistakes. Lest we romanticise the recent past, Michael Schumacher made a goodly number – sometimes in critical, championship deciding situations. Senna made mistakes, Prost made mistakes. Fangio made mistakes. End of subject. We all do. It’s sad that so much hot air is being wasted on this subject, when we could be toasting Kubica’s well deserved first grand prix victory. Another fantastic racing driver – but, guess what, he makes the odd mistake.

  16. Ok George, you say even the very best make mistakes, which is of course true. But now please give me an example of a mistake similar to the one that Hamilton made that any of the drivers you mentioned have made?
    When did one of them miss a red light and/or run into an opponent who was actually stationary at 50 mph?

    The point here is not that Lewis made a mistake, that happens to anyone, why this gets so much attention is the type of mistake he made. It’s bad enough that drivers like Rubens, Montoya and Massa made this mistake when there wasn’t anyone in the way, and I wouldn’t classify any of them as being one of the all-time greats, but add to it two cars parked at the line and it gets very, very embarrassing.
    So, what mistakes of this magnitude did the guys you cited make due to a loss of concentration, if that’s the right term?

  17. As Kimi pointed out, it’s one thing to make an on track mistake in the heat of battle and quite another to eliminate yourself and the reigning WC in a pit lane red light incident.

    Lewis should just admit to making a bad mistake as opposed to glibly attempting to write it off with his “these things happen” comment.

    As for us fans commenting on driver’s behaviors that’s what the sport is all about, from a fans perspective, isn’t it? As opposed to sitting around and debating these merits at our local sports bar, we now have the internet to chat about our favorite teams-drivers-circuits.

  18. ogami musashi
    9th June 2008, 16:20

    “Approaching a red light at 50mph is exactly like driving on public roads, no cornering, nothing physical in that situation. There simply is no excuse.”

    You missed my point. I said a race is a demanding situation, and pit stops are a manner of break, you can use it to breathe a little.

    Hamilton surely didn’t pay attention, that’s a mistake for sure but that’s easy to judge people when you have never lived such a condition.

    And for the person who asked for a similar mistake, what about michael schumacher running into one of the pitcrew??? this is an easy mistake also..how about the drivers that missed the pit entries and ended in walls etc…

    that happens…

  19. doctorvee,

    You must to read any Senna´s biography to understand that Senna were so erratic than Lewis at his first years. Sorry, but there’s some flaw in this logic…

    Luciano Burti, former Ferrari test driver, said in Brazilian coverage that after a pit stop the diver needs to check some car systems on the steering wheel panel and Lewis and Nico must lost a half second doing that…

  20. Robert McKay
    9th June 2008, 16:43

    “When did one of them miss a red light and/or run into an opponent who was actually stationary at 50 mph?”

    OK, the latter is difficult to forgive, but plenty of people have done the former, especially in Canada. JPM and Massa for two.

  21. A flashing red light on the dash/steering wheel would be helpful.

  22. I`m sure that there never happened of two drivers stopping at the red light.
    These situation was really new. Hamilton had lost seven seconds at the yellow flag and to positions in the pits. He was mad about it. Super competence is very questionable always.

  23. ‘in a safety car situation, the drivers will receive a message informing them to activate a special ’safety car mode’ on their cars, slowing them down.’

    I am intrigued by this. Will this be like the Pit Lane Limiter, only used on the track? Any idea what speed the cars will be limited to when using it?
    More importantly, to get back on topic, have there been any discussions before about fitting in-car warnings about yellow flags, safety cars etc? Since we are due to have another generation of cars next year, wouldn’t this be the right time for the FIA, the drivers and the teams to arrange such things, or are we going to have to wait until theres a really serious accident in the pit lane?
    And on a similar note, I have been wondering what would happen if a driver missed the exit of the pit lane and hit a parked safety car or doctors car, as that is where they normally sit in a race. Would the driver get penalised? And I know that the FIA always have spare safety cars and doctors cars too.

  24. I’m happy for Kubica, especially after last year’s crash, but I find it RIDICULOUS that a race should be so significantly affected by such an incident. No excuse for Ham/Ros not looking for the light at the end of the lane, but couldn’t we just make the light BIGGER and BRIGHTER so it couldn’t be missed — and maybe hang it over the lane rather than off to the side? It’s a safety measure after all, isn’t it?

    It’s always puzzled me why the lights, message boards, AND the yardage-to-turn signs are so SMALL anyway….

  25. That was an excellent point about the pitlane being open to allow cars to enter but then close it right away, once they have entered, they should be allowed to exit right away.

    I think the safety car is overused. Why not slow the cars to a crawl just in the close vicinity of the incident. Surely the driver did not required medical attention. Just keep the traffic controlled at that point.

    All drivers make mistakes, Nico is my favourite driver out there now, but he clearly screwed up as well.

  26. Scott Joslin
    9th June 2008, 20:59

    I firmly believe that the “pitlane bottle neck” that these rules create has a lot to do with the crash in canada. What if more than 6 cars came into the pits, say 10 (one from each team) you cannot have them screaming to get out of the pits only to hold them on a red light. The pitlane is not suitable for that type of situation – if it is, then in needs to be double the width!

    Also, here is something to think about, what would happen at tracks like Brazil or Silverstone where the last pit garage is right next to the pit lights. You could have the team last in the pit lane unable to enter their box or exit due to a cue of cars, and we all know which team is ment to be in that last position!

  27. From the video the pit lane light is placed high so Hamilton saw it flash blue and turn red at exactly the same time as Kimi, in fact his angle of vision was better than Kimi’s. He just failed to react.

    This is the same situation as him crashing into the back of Alonso a couple of races ago. He just seems to fall asleep sometimes. I think he should be tested for narcolepsy.

  28. This is how it unfolded and if considered without bias, you will find its very difficult for this accident not to have happened considering the top 3 drivers were in the pits. Lets not forget also that the pit was the busiest I have ever seen it since these new SC rules came into being, thus there was plenty of scope for confusion and distraction.

    1) Hamilton is coming from way back with a longer distance to cover likewise Rosberg.

    2) Kubica and Kimi are at the end of the pitlane hence a shorter distance to the line and a clear view of the red lights.

    3) Hamilton and Rosberg are already at the pit lane speed limit as they near the end of the pit exit.

    4) Kimi and Kubica accelerate out of their respective pit boxes and begin to slow down almost immediatly.

    5) Kimi is still moving like he is about to pass Kubica. By this time Hamiliton has already seen the red lights and is on the brakes like wise Rosberg.

    6) Unfortunately, that is the dirtiest part of the pitlane since its not a regular braking zone with the net effect being that they cant stop in time, more so Rosberg as he was by this time carrying even less speed yet the dirty track made stopping all but impossible.

  29. I wonder if the FIA will look to improve overtaking “on” the track, as opposed to in the pits?It seems the best place to do it these days, as if you get an opportunity (as Kimi did) to get alongside in a pitstop situation, you grab it, as its much easier than passing on the track.

    Maybe I’m just dreaming…but I can’t wait for slicks!!

  30. Oliver, good points.

    Now what if there was a 50-inch HDTV-type display centered over the end of pitlane saying “STOP!” in bright red letters? Really, I’ts OK to make it larger than a standard road traffic light!

  31. The BIG FLASHING RED LIGHT was easy to see and shown as clearly visible ABOVE the cars in front. Plus why are the drivers not paying attention anyway? If the safety car is out, you’re not allowed to pass anyway, meaning that Lewis had no need to be flooring it as, unlike Kubica and Raikkonen, he wasn’t racing anyone to the end of the lane.

    On my website, while reserving most of my vitriol for Lewis, mostly due to his arrogance and attitude, I did mention Rosberg did it too. Perhaps if Rosberg had petulantly smacked the camera away, and had a history of arrogance I’d have given him a kicking too. But Rosberg is a sportsman. Not a media hyped, overrated driver.

    I find it rather telling that McLaren are whining about Lewis’ punishment, whereas Williams and Rosberg appear to have just accepted it. I would expect nothing less from a team that actually has class and dignity.

  32. evely bodely mades mistekes

  33. Christopher
    9th June 2008, 23:53

    I don’t know the pitlane layout and the timings, but Rosberg seemed closer to Hamilton than Hamilton was to Raikkonen when they set out, and Rosberg’s impact was smaller, so it seems like Rosberg managed to react better at least.

    I thought giving them both the same size of penalty seemed a little unfair. Maybe jsut 5 places for Nico?

  34. I don’t know if Formula 1 stewards know how to give a penalty of less than ten grid spots.

    I think that as much as we like to pretend we want to see the best car and driver win, I think this season is secretly revealing that human error is and should be as much a part of the championship as forgetting to tighten the lugs on the wheels or destroying an engine.

    If there is to be a habitual queue of cars leaving the pits, maybe it’s time to consider having the pit signal be similar to the lights on the grid, so nobody can complain about its visibility? That light bar Ferrari are using instead of a sign on a broomstick like everyone else must be having some kind of positive effect…

  35. Whitmarsh said they did warn Hamilton, but he said something like “frankly we gave him, we could have given it to him earlier”. I think the the pits was just to busy for both drivers and team personnel

  36. Michael K – Oliver and Scott Joslin pretty much answered your question for me.

  37. I’m curious as to whether a series of escalating fines can be introduced to drivers especially when they appear to insist on leaving their cars in dangerous parts of the track when they break down. Perhaps this will encourage drivers to think about what they are doing and not mess up the race for everyone else with silly safety cars spoiling the race.

  38. An interesting suggestion Chaz, but one that opens as many problems as it solves, I think. Sutil did park in an awkward place, true, but could he have gone any further? If he couldn’t then he had no choice but to stop where he did. And to have pulled over earlier than he did on that particular stretch of track would have been even more dangerous. It would be a minefield of claim and counter-claim in attempting to assess intention and judgement. The safety car calls at Montreal this year were particularly erratic. My feeling is that Montreal is a track at which this kind of chaos always erupts. The layout of the circuit ensures that it does. This isn’t a bad thing in itself, but the volume of pitlane incidents there over the years is now a cause for concern, I think. The problem is, given that Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is on an island, they are limited in the amount of room that they have to make alterations.

  39. doctorvee, Senna wasn’t God. He commited errors too. Vent your hate alright else but don’t try to pull wool on our eyes by giving a half-assed reason for Hamilton bashing.

  40. Perhaps in this instance George, hence the suggestion at escalating the fine system depending on what the telemetry data shows up (i.e. could Sutil have free wheeled to a safer position or was he more concerned on reducing further car damage?). I must add that it appears Sutil could have continued a further 10 or so meters on the grass around the right hand into the corner which would have been safer, not to mention the slip road directly ahead of him which was perhaps marginally a little further away. But this has not been the first and indeed I’m sure will not be the last frustrating and quite probably avoidable instance that need not have needed a safety car deployment.

  41. I think it’s just simply the case of a driver reacting under racing circumstances. Under normal conditions, he would try to nail it, but then realises he’s under the safety car.

    Speaking of which, can someone please explain why the current safety car rule was ever implemented. It serves no purpose whatsoever…

    By my recollection there were certainly no problems (apart from backmarkers screwing it up) with the pit lane being open under the old system.

  42. A Singh – it was because when a safety car period was called drivers would often head straight to the pits, still at racing speed, potentially passing through a crash site on the way. By preventing them from being able to go into the pits the organisers wanted to prevent that but, as so often happens in F1, it brought unintended (but entirely predictable) consequences.

  43. Leaving aside the issue of Hamilton, there is a good case for making the stop light at the end of the pitlane larger.

    The whole point of having a red light there is for safety purposes. If it is small enough that drivers sometimes fail to notice it (as we have seen many times) then, even though it is the driver who is largely at fault, that is a good enough reason for improving the lights.

    In road traffic lights the unit has to be made to balance safety, cost and also aesthetics. If safety was the only concern, road traffic lights would be huge and possibly arranged on gantries above the street, with repeater lights on the approach (as used on the railways). But that would be too expensive, and would ruin the aesthetics of the street for pedestrians etc.

    In F1, cost and aesthetics are of far far less concern and safety is absolutely paramount. So the fact that the pit lane exit stop lights have not been altered, even though drivers continually fail to notice them every single year, is very surprising.

  44. I was of the opinion it happened because , after having lost a healthy 6-7 sec. lead , pitting , and seeing BOTH his main opponents passing him , must have triggered a reaction to gun after them so that on re-joining the race , he could be in the best position to pass , but the safety car was still out then , so that does not explain. Obviously he just lost a bit of concentration at the wrong moment , and that was it. Unfortunately it has attracted the penalty for France , but if he had not crashed and gone through the red , would have been black flagged anyway. Hard , but fair. Kimi’s incident was a racing one , so was Coulthard/Massa , Fisichella/Vettel etc , racing incidents = no penalty. Maybe Lewis’ brain functions best at high speeds , thinking back to China last year , error at low speed again. If so . he has something to work on.

  45. bChaz, I do see your point, I just don’t think it’s workable as a regulation. It’s not clear-cut enough and it would waste far too much of the steward’s time at each and every GP. There would be protests against unfair decisions and the whole thing would be a nightmare. It’s just a whole host of ‘what ifs’. What if Sutil had carried on and made for the escape road? What if he had come to a halt on the racing line? Ultimately, who is the judge of the ‘safest’ position to stop? The drivers? The GPDA? The FIA? The race stewards? The marshals?

    I understand your frustration – you are right – it is not the first and it won’t be the last time that the safety car is deployed, but it’s a fact of life! There are enough convoluted rules in F1 without adding to the statute book.

  46. George, I concede that this is not perhaps the best idea but I simply suggest it because taking someones money usually has a remarkable way of encouraging clarity and common sense. There are a whole host of other penalties one could consider including demoting grid positions for the next race etc. But I do think that some kind of penalty system needs to be implemented by the appropriate people with not to much additional work. This should be a fixed sliding penalty scale. As expected decisions of such will be taken on a case by case basis.

    The safest places to stop can be discussed and flushed out during driver meeting although I do appreciate that incidents probably never unfold as expected and are usually quite quick and chaotic.

    You are correct in that I guess it is my frustration with the status quo. It’s not often we go to a decent track where cars can actually dice and overtake each other, only to see that race unnecessarily ruined.

  47. The Safety Car only got called up in Sutil’s case because his car eventually caught fire. With better marshalling, it wouldn’t have mattered that his car was parked where it was – they could have moved it at their leisure (it wasn’t in the line of fire) in the same way as they’d moved Alonso’s and Glock’s in free practise. In fact, the way they went to his car, went away and only called the Safety Car after the ad break gave a good hint that such was their intention. Whether that was sensible marshall behaviour in the first place is another question…

  48. Great headline on this one Keith!

    Good to see so much discussion on the topic. From what i’ve gathered, the braod issue of drivers leaving the pits under red lights can be attributed in part to three factors:

    1. Poor light fixtures at some tracks, both in terms of the devices themselves not being big/bright enough, or in a bad position to look for.
    2. Eagerness on the part of drivers to leave the pit lane and simply overlooking/forgetting the red lights.
    3. Lack of information from the pit wall on the red light status.

    I chalk up Hamlton’s shunt as an accident, but being that it took one of the top championship contenders out of the race through no fault of his own,perhaps this will raise awareness of the issue with the administrators of the sport.

    Are there any other stops on the schedule where drivers have gone through red lights in recent years?

  49. The only point that doctorvee was trying to make is that Hamilton’s mistake was brought to everyone’s attention more-so because he is considered one of the best drivers on the track.People want to call him Senna-esque,then he has alot to live up to.I don’t have anything against Lewis but,if I hear the word Senna-esque again I am gonna choke.Yes,I am sure Senna made his share of mistakes but,did he ever smash into someone in pit lane or beach his car in the gravel in pit lane?I am not sure so,I am asking.

  50. What made me a little bit uppset was Hamiltons behaving afterwards. Why he just could not say that it was his fault and that he is really sorry THAT he ruined other drivers race not IF he ruined it, like he said. And then later on he said that he thing that rules are stupid and he think his penalty is harsh. Well they are rules and you suppose follow rules even you dont like them. Even CEO of McLaren said that penalty was hard but fair.Rosberg said complete different:

    Hamilton on Tuesday is quoted as deriding his penalty as “harsh” and the closure of the pitlane “silly”. Rosberg said: “I think I deserve the penalty, the same as Hamilton. He didn’t stop, and neither did I, so we deserve the same fate. I saw the red lights too late, so it is natural that there is a penalty. I made a mistake,” Rosberg added.

    It is true, however, that while Hamilton failed to see both the red light and the stationary cars of Räikkönen and Robert Kubica, Rosberg’s mistake was slightly different. Rosberg agrees: “Of course, if Hamilton had slowed, I would have been able to better understand what was going on. But he kept going, and then suddenly … [hit Räikkönen’s Ferrari].”

    There is different in attitudes between Rosberg and Hamilton. No matter if we are Ferrari or McLaren fans or what ever, but i am pretty sure that none of us want see race to be ruined by stupid accident in pitlane.

  51. Terry Fabulous
    11th June 2008, 4:58

    Wesley I recall Senna driving into the wall after Portier when he had a 40 second lead over Prost in 1988.
    And that mistake haunted him and turned him into a harder and more ruthlessly efficient driver.

    Hamilton hasn’t made that transition yet.

    But lets not forget that Lewis is 23.
    At 23 Senna was racing Brundle in Formula 3 and was very VERY ragged.
    Also when Senna raced in the mid eighties the other drivers thought he was a dangerous lunatic, it was only when he got to his 30s that he matured and became a more admirable man and really sensational driver. Think of some of his drives in 1993 in an underpowered McLaren.
    Athletes often become far more mature and agreeable as they reach their late twenties and thirties. The Australian Cricket Team being the big exception.

  52. Hamilton checked on the red lights, which of course was flashing like they’d soon go green, and lost his reference to the stationary or soon to be stationary cars.

    The more we argue over this the more we see problems with the whole scenario.
    There is a reason why each team has an individual standing with a marker indicating where each driver will stop on the starting grid. The drivers sit so low in the cars that they cant see a line crossing the road from a distance. Drivers coming from behind in the pits, can’t even tell where the drivers in front are going to stop.
    The drivers in front had not even fully come to a halt before the impact

  53. Helmuth von Moltke
    11th June 2008, 17:31

    So Hamilton gets a 10 place pummelling from the stewards. Does this mean that if he goes P1 in Q3 & gets demoted to midfield he will be able, as anyone from P10 back can, to choose his own tyre/fuel strategy before the race proper starts? If so he must surely go uber light to get P1 & then hopefully a bit of clever strategy will save his bacon. Or can’t that happen?


  54. Why do interesting topics, such as this, have to degenerate into opportunities for contributor’s to praise their favourite driver or more often slag-off their most diliked driver?

  55. @ Oliver
    “6) Unfortunately, that is the dirtiest part of the pitlane since its not a regular braking zone with the net effect being that they cant stop in time, more so Rosberg as he was by this time carrying even less speed yet the dirty track made stopping all but impossible.”

    Hmm, as far as i remember, F1 cars could stop from a good 160kmph-0 in 3 seconds or so(this was about 7-8 years ago). I think things have advanced now quite a fair bit, even with “SLOW ’em down” rules. So this argument is quite hollow. Pitlane speed limit is about 80-100 odd kmph, depending on the track. So this has to be one of the stupidest things ever, in the history of F1.

    Also, i think most people do not dislike Hamilton as much as they dislike how he acts(this includes me). He could have apologised to Kimi, but he is too good for that, so he gives him a shrug(when Kimi approached him) and later suggested rather inaptly what he did. That is, “if” i ruined his race. Newsflash… if you shunt someone, you’ve ruined their race!

    Now to people who wonder why Nico isn’t given much heat. What would you say about a guy who admits to the fact that he erred? Perhaps you could just state that he erred. Could you give him some **********, as you might to the other bloke(this happens to be Hamilton), who can’t get his head around to see the reality? Now please people, spare me the details that he is a good driver. I know that he is and this isn’t about it. I’m saying that he needs to see the reality and start behaving like a human being, before others start treating him like one. May be that’s why people do not like him(a good chance that it is).

  56. Lady Snowcat
    11th June 2008, 20:20

    Because Roy…we are human…

    I assume that Lewis will have to fight for his grid position and keep to the fuel load in Q3 even after demotion… unless he doesn’t bother with Q3…but that would put him…last…

  57. Roy, it’s because Hamilton is the most hated driver in F1. Notice how few remarks there have been about Rosberg.

  58. Rosberg,like Kimi,has CLASS.

    There you go,I got in a Rosberg comment.

  59. Sri. Drivers going through the end of the pitlane never have to apply the brakes there. And if you analyse the level of activity in the pit lane, you will find that, on every race weekend, the tracks may get on average over 80laps before the race, while the pitlane gets only about 10 laps So if u multiply that by all the cars you will see the track probably gets 1600 laps while the pit late gets only about 200.

    Another thing to note is that the pit exit isn’t a standard braking point, most drivers are already up to speed when they are exiting the pits, so even if its dirty, their momentum can take them through that point.

    If you watched the reply of the incident, you see, both drivers in front somewhat searching for the exit line. And kimi was still moving when he was hit. Rosberg said in his defense that he saw Lewis moving so could Lewis not have seen Kimi And Robert side by side and moving, thinking they were racing each other, then when he saw they were stopping he looked at the lights saw they were red but in that short time had already moved forward getting even more closer to the already slowing down cars ahead, as he probably didn’t know the exact point cars come to rest at while waiting for the lights to clear.

    I do not care who wins or loses and it doesn’t bother me to come to the defense of Lewis. What I am really interested in, is if there is a flaw the rules that can allow such to happen. If the pits were such that the cars will take only one line going out then I bet you we wont have something like this happening.

    And if Kimi had not moved to be a feet or 2 ahead of Kubica, its Kubica who would have had his car hit.

  60. Keith – I know my contribution to this is/was straying off the topic but why is Hamilton the most hated driver in F1?
    Because where British and we hate anyone who is remotely successful and naturally F1 fans abroad don’t want him beating their drivers.
    I wonder if our Spanish counterparts have spent so much vitriol criticising Alonso or if the Italians are cursing Valentino Rossi. Why blame Hamilton for all the hype surrounding him, it’s the British mainstream press who are to blame. They are obsessed with personality, but don’t worry as soon as they’ve tired of him and found some dirt to dish they’ll start knocking him off the pedestal they’ve built.
    Why does it have to be hate? Why can’t we just admire all the drivers/riders for their willingness or madness to put their lives on the line for their sport?

  61. Roy – there’s a huge debate on tha already here: The most hated man in F1

  62. @ Oliver

    If someone, who is aware, informed by the team that the pit-lane might be red signalled and yet is careless enough to not mind what’s in front of him/her. He/she would still cause a pile up, whether you’ll be queing ’em up in one row, or, for that matter as many as you’d like.

    One may even overlook this, Kimi did, yep, he and Rosberg have class. Kimi did not do anything rash, he rather politely gestured towards the light, which was ignored.

    Tunnel vision is what they have, but they are supposed to ace. Each and every one of them. If some chappie errs, it could be written off as one, as mentioned above. What could not be withstood, is the fact that the chappie went on to say that “if” he ruined somebody’s race, he’s sorry. LOL!

    Post victory party, 100,000 quids
    McLaren F1 as a reward, 6,000,000 quids
    Wrecking cars in pit-lane, priceless

    Well, it did not come as good as i’d have wanted it to…

  63. I am no Hamilton supporter. But if two guys pass someone in the pit and LOOK like they are going to accelerate away, the guy whos passed will hardly remember or notice the red light. With a few more seconds, maybe.

    It is very understandable. Not excusable.

    And if you saw the red light too late, its your fault. Say its yours. Simple. Whats to lose?

    Imagine he did the same to Michael Schumacher’s ferrari. You have seen what he does when it happens to him. Sato got it once.

  64. Matt, a lot of the guys here do not remember the the pitlane is also under race conditions, and you don’t stroll out of the pits leisurely. Accidents happen for a reason and its those factors responsible for accidents happening that we should try solve not blaming drivers.

    What would have happened if Hamilton began to slow down with Rosberg even much closer to him, for sure it will be an even bigger smash.

    It is a highly unusual for drivers to stop at the pit exit. So its highly likely drivers have no reference point or indicator as to where the guys in front of them would stop if they have to.

    Hamilton didn’t say he did not deserve the panalty, he just said it was harsh. Rosberg just agreed that they deserved a penalty but he never said the one given to them was the right one.

  65. What would have been harsh is to make these people sit out a GP or 2. Some drivers were dealt this way for an offense of much lesser degree.I solemnly believe that would have been in order.

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