Felipe Massa, Lewis Hamilton. Nick Heidfeld, Spa-Francorchamps, 2008

Hamilton is moral victor in Spa thriller

2008 Belgian Grand Prix review

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Lewis Hamilton won a thrilling Belgian Grand Prix – but the stewards’ decision to strip him of his hard-earned victory soured what would otherwise have been remembered as a magnificent race.

Kimi Raikkonen was poised to score a fourth consecutive win at Spa but Hamilton capitalised on a late rain shower to attack the Ferrari driver.

After a thrilling wheel-to-wheel duel Hamilton took the win as Raikkonen crashed. But after the race the stewards relegated Hamilton to third and handed victory to Felipe Massa.

Kimi Raikkonen takes the lead

The Belgian Grand Prix began and ended on a wet track but it was dry for the most part in between.

Lewis Hamilton got a perfect start from his 11th career pole position and scorched away from the chasing Ferraris.

Kimi Raikkonen took up second place by slipstreaming past team mate Felipe Massa at Kemmel but further back chaos broke out.

Jarno Trulli had made a sublime start, diving past a string of cars. But Toro Rosso’s Sebastien Bourdais braked too late at the first corner and brunched his nose into the back of Trulli’s Toyota.

Also in trouble was Heikki Kovalainen who bogged down terribly when the lights changed and tumbled down the order from third to 13th.

It got worse for Hamilton at the start of the second lap when Hamilton had a half-spin at the La Source hairpin. If he hadn’t pulled out such a large lead on the first tour he’d have fallen a long way back, but as it was he was able to rejoin in second behind Raikkonen.

Massa was third ahead of Fernando Alonso, who passed Mark Webber at Kemmel on the first lap. Trulli ran sixth before spinning at the chicane. Nelson Piquet Jnr took his place but slipped down the order after briefly taking Trulli’s place.

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Heikki Kovalainen’s race gets worse

Kovalainen began to climb back through the field, taking Timo Glock, Nick Heidfeld, and then Piquet. Kubica surrendered seventh on lap eight but on the following lap a mis-timed move on Webber at the chicane tipped the Red Bull driver into a spin. Within a few minutes the stewards announced Kovalainen would get a drive-through penalty for causing an avoidable accident.

At the front Hamilton kept within range of Raikkonen. The McLaren was much faster than the Ferrari in sectors one and three, but lost over half a second per lap in sector two. The gap stayed at around a second as Massa fell to 5.6s adrift by lap nine.

Hamilton was first to pit on lap 11 and it worked perfectly for Ferrari as he came out of the pits behind Kovalainen. For some reason McLaren were not of a mind to get Kovalainen out of the way by bringing him in for his penalty, or a pit stop.

Raikkonen pitted on the following lap and came out with Sebastien Bourdais, Kubica and Kovalainen between himself and Hamilton. Once they had pitted, Raikkonen’s lead had grown to 5.6s, and Massa had reduced Hamilton’s advantage to 4.4s.

Kovalainen’s pit stop and penalty left him 15th, and he spent six laps stuck behind David Coulthard. He eventually cleared the Red Bull and on lap 28 put a (clean) pass on Webber for ninth.

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Lewis Hamilton catches Raikkonen

At the front the status quo seemed settled. Hamilton could only take a tenth out of Raikkonen’s lead occasionally. The the final set of pit stops changed the picture.

First, Hamilton had a shorter stop and gained two seconds on Raikkonen. Then, with both cars on the harder compound tyre, Hamilton reduced Raikkonen’s lead initially, the McLaren seeming to heat the tyres up more quickly. By lap 28 Raikkonen’s lead was down to 2.4s, but by then the Ferrari was up to speed and the gap stabilised once again.

Alonso had taken fourth ahead of the Toro Rosso duo. Heidfeld was seventh after a poor pit stop for team mate Kubica. But a final belt of rain was about to change everything.

As the rain began to fall lightly from lap 39 so Hamilton began to reduce Raikkonen’s lead further. By lap 40 it was under a second, but Hamilton had a brief moment of oversteer at the chicane and lost over a second.

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Fight to the finish

As lap 42 began Hamilton cut 1.4s out of Raikkonen’s lead again and they charged into the chicane side-by-side, Hamilton on the outside. Raikkonen, with Hamilton fully alongside him, pushed the McLaren clean off the track, putting Hamilton in the lead. Hamilton dropped back and let Raikkonen re-pass him, as per the rules, but caught Raikkonen’s slipstream and passed him again at La Source.

It still wasn’t over. Halfway around lap 43 Hamilton had to dive off the track to avoid Nico Rosberg’s Williams, which was re-joining the circuit. Raikkonen charged between the pair of them and took the lead again – but only for a few metres, as he spun at the exit of Fagnes.

Raikkonen then lost it again at the exit of Blanchimont and swiped into the barriers. Race over, fourth consecutive win at Spa gone.

By now it was raining heavily but neither Hamilton nor Massa wanted to risk losing the lead by pitting for wet weather tyres. They crawled around the final tour, taking over two and a half minutes each.

Video of Hamilton and Raikkonen’s battle

Drama in the rain

Meanwhile seven drivers had switched to wet weather rubber. Nick Heidfeld, Timo Glock, Nico Rosberg, David Coulthard, Kazuki Nakajima and Jenson Button on lap 42, and Fernando Alonso on lap 43.

Heidfeld and Alonso cut through the dry-weather stragglers on the final lap to finish third and fourth, demoting Vettel (fifth), Kubica (sixth) and Bourdais (seventh). The latter had begun the final lap in third place. Alonso later said if he’d been switched to intermediate tyres one lap earlier he’d have won.

Glock took the final points-paying place but only until the stewards got their hands on him. He was relegated from eighth to ninth for having passed Webber under yellow flags. Appropriately, Webber was promoted to eighth in his place.

The other drama on the final lap was the sudden disappearance of Kovalainen, who came to a halt on the Kemmel straight having been seventh.

Video of the last laps at Spa

More about Timo Glock’s penalty

Controversy after the flag

Sadly the drama was not to end at the chequered flag. The stewards determined after the race that Hamilton had gained an advantage by cutting the chicane while racing Raikkonen, and added 25 seconds to his race time, leaving him third behind Massa and Heidfeld.

Glock received the same penalty for passing Webber under yellow flags and was dropped from eighth to ninth behind the Red Bull driver.

The stationary Kovalainen was classified tenth ahead of Coulthard, Rosberg and Adrian Sutil, who moved ahead of Nakajima and Button when the rain fell, Trulli was 16th ahead of compatriot Fisichella, and the crashed-but-classified Raikkonen.

The only non-finishers were Rubens Barrichello, who load sixth gear, and Nelson Piquet Jnr. Piquet repeated the mistake he made in practice of touching a wet kerb, and spun off.

More about Lewis Hamilton’s penalty

The comments below have been split across multiple pages. If you are having trouble viewing all the comments click here to see them all.

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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90 comments on “Hamilton is moral victor in Spa thriller”

  1. As always, great post.

    Prior to the appeal being heard, i think we should all revisit the Massa/ Kubica battle at the end of the Japanese grand prix last year. If i recall correctly, Massa went way off the track at the last corner only to rejoin in front of Kubica and taking the position at the flag.


  2. Great report as usual.

    I hope after such controversies, they would stop covering all the run off areas with tarmac! Nearly all drivers made fundemental driving mistakes yet they got away with them.
    Why didnt Ferrari pit Massa for wets at the last lap, what did he have lose anyway? He was way ahead of 3rd placed driver and look how much heidfeld made up on him at the las lap.
    Also why does a drive through penalty equates to 25secs? I remember the old 10 secs stop-go penalty was equal to that.

  3. If lewis gained an advantage cutting the corner, then i hope every driver who miss the corner at every gp at the start get docked 25 seconds,simple biased fia ferrari fans. Lewis would be penalised either way, he gains an advantage or takes kimi out. FIA time to buck your ideas up and keep the racing fair!!!!

  4. i actually have a question about heidfeld. well, bourdais i should say. everything was so focused on the kimi/lewis fight even afer kimi went off so what was going on behind was sort of confusing. i thought speed said there had been some sort of incident or spin for bourdais but everything i’ve been reading sounds like heidfeld and alonso were just plowing through on the wets. did bourdais actually spin or did vettel and kubica just get by him?

  5. Thomas O, Now thats something. Come to think of it what do you make of this?


  6. I’ve been a fan of F1 since 1978. I’ve been a Williams fan for nearly 30 years now, ever since I saw the beautiful FW07 raced by Jones and Regazzoni. But, after the disgusting decision made by the stewards today, I’m finished with this fixed, stinking, ‘sport’ now. No more time to waste on this bent crock of dross. Bernie and Max, you’re welcome to your Ferrari at all costs championship, I hope you’re happy.

  7. “…. Kovalainen would get a drive-through penalty for causing an avoidable accident.”

    See they would have gotten Hamilton one way or the other. If he stayed on track and caused an accident with Kimi he would have gotten this penalty, instead he went off, spared both cars and gets penalized for having a competitive advantage.

  8. Oh please, will you all just stop whining.

    Hamilton’s move gave him a serious advantage on the next corner. He was faster them Kimi, and probably would have overtaken him after that, but that’s entirely not the point. He almost did not let Kimi get pass him when slowing down, just to get the vacuum behind the Ferrari. If that was in the middle of the race, he would have had a stop and go.

    I’m not a Ferrari fan (actually I just watch the races these days. No team provides exciting races like before), but the punishment was right.

    Don’t blame any of this on Massa, nor Ferrari. They didn’t even made a formal complaint to FIA. This is just the rules.

    This is an UK blog, and will continue to be. Stop being so biased and get real.

  9. Piquet hasn’t done himself any favours by crashing yet again in the wet. Monaco, Silverstone and now Spa.

  10. Keith, great article again, but a couple of points.

    Kimmi never passed Lewis when he spun, he overshot LaSource and went around the outside of Lewis. He then buried the throttle whilst on the run off area, and straight lined the run off to come back on the track right behind Lewis with greater speed, which he then used to pass him at Kemmel.

    Gained an advantage by running off the track? You decide.

    Also, I don’t think the onboard shows any contact between Lewis and Kimi, but there is no doubt Lewis had to move over as Kimi was definately about to be guilty of creating an avoidable accident by closing the door as he was.

    You stated that Lewis closed the gap on the last stop by being quicker in the stop. I noticed this too- as they were both racing to the end, does this indicate that McLaren pitted with fuel on board- they seem to be very paranoid about Safety Cars!

    Unfortunately, I don’t think there is a Moral WDC. Schumy would never have won it though.lol.

  11. On re-watching the Hamilton/Raikkonen episode a few times – I recorded the race – I believe that Lewis did gain an advantage by allowing Kimi to pass him and immediately tucking into his slipstream, so enabling Lewis to overtake him again. It would seem that Lewis followed the re-pass rule to the letter if not the spirit of the rule, and so a penalty that effectively strips him of the win is far too harsh.

  12. Robert

    Okay, think about this: later the same lap, like Lewis ahead of him, Kimi lost control slightly at Pouhon but made absolutely no attempt to stay on track and used the long stretch of run-off to gain speed, meaning that by the time they reached the curve before Fagnes he was all over Hamilton – precisely where Rosberg span and Hamilton went off track to avoid him. Kimi though ignored the yellow flags and overtook.

    This was resolved shortly after when Kimi span and lost his position.

    But going by the FIA ‘make it up as you go along’ book, I make that a breach equal to the ‘gaining a sporting advantage’ for which Hamilton was punished, and another breach of overtaking under a yellow flag. Is that 20 grid positions at Monza for Raikkonen then?

  13. Thomas O — you are on to something!


    It really is remarkably similar. You were right, Massa went far too wide, missed the corner, and used the paved runoff to build speed and pass Kubica. This is the most black and white ‘argument’ I have seen regarding this all day.

  14. Well, I think the damage done to the spetacle, handing victory to someone who didn’t deserve it at all, while taking it away from someone who drove brilliantly, is evident…

    Meanwhile, I don’t think it is as clear as you say that the decision took by the stewards is essentialy wrong, “stupid”, “ridiculous”… It was rather debatable, polemic, doubtful… not openly idiot…

    Hamilton did NOT effectively surrender the position, he let Raikkonen pass, “but only just”, like a few people have said, and took the slipstream to re-pass Kimi immediatly…

    Politicaly, I think they should have left him unpunished, just like they did with Massa in Valencia.

    Legally, its a typical “hard case”, that, in principle, contemplates more than one possible decision, and the factors that inspire the veredict are well beyond the rules…

    1. Well, I think the damage done to the spetacle, handing victory to someone who didn’t deserve it at all, while taking it away from someone who drove brilliantly, is evident…


    2. Well, I think the damage done to the spetacle, handing victory to someone who didn’t deserve it at all, while taking it away from someone who drove brilliantly, is evident…


  15. @ Kevin:

    “Thomas O — you are on to something!”

    agreed! Massa should have been penalized!!

  16. In case it helps you see the other side, BBC’s F1 podcast (with Maurice Hamilton) said that the ‘entire paddock was united in the view that Hamilton was totally innocent’. You can download the podcast from iTunes. I don’t think Maurice lies or says things without making sure of the facts so this is pretty much a black day in F1 for me.

  17. p.s. I was talking to those who think Lewis’ penalty is justified.

  18. when Lewis spun on the 2nd lap, Kimi went around the outside to AVOID hamilton. Are you people blind?

  19. that was for berni.

  20. Thomas: I thought that that “pass” was suspect from the first second. Now I know that it WAS suspect, or maybe it IS completely legal. It has to be one or the other. Right? What are other notorious Chicanes? Montreal (my home town) has one, Monza has two (see below, France has one. It would be fun to find other instances of cutting.

    IIRC at Magny Cours, they had a rule that the driver could not put 4 wheels on the other side od the line/grass-creete, on the exit of the last chicane.

    Ben: In somewhat of an ironic twist we are heading to a track with 2 notoriously cut chicanes! This could be interesting.

    Robert: you can’t spell Ferrari without F I A … FerrArI.

    Bernification: In wet conditions, running off the traditional line often offers more grip, due to less oil, rain-slick rubber, etc. You are right about Schumacher though!

  21. A simple clarrification of the rules to state that if a driver cuts a corner, they cannot pass for 2 corners. Clearly if you cut a corner you are at an advantage for the next corner (due to not suffering from aero turbulence and being able to be on the gearbox of the other driver much sooner than if accelerating out of the corner whilst behind the driver), but not for the one after that.

  22. Keith, Thank you for this wonderful blog. I don’t know how you are able to maintain your composure because I spent most of the day trying to keep my emotions in check thanks to the gross injustice that was done today. Knowing that so many people including yourself are united against what is clearly unnecessary interference by faceless entities that contribute little to the sport, I actually feel better about the future of F1.

    I almost decided to give up this sport but after reading through the comments, I have to say to (especially macca) fans: Don’t give up yet. Lewis will fight back and we’ll be right here to root for him.

  23. AmericanTifosi
    8th September 2008, 2:45

    No! No! No! Massa went off track, yes. But going off track is different than cutting a chicane because cutting a chicane gives you clear advantage (chicanes are in place to slow cars down). Going off-track at a straight part of the track like Massa did gives you a clear DISadvantage. Lewis fully deserves his penalty. The two situations are completly different.

  24. AmericanTifosi
    8th September 2008, 2:47

    Also, Hamilton is not the “moral” victor. Kimi was the real driver of the race, full stop.

  25. the sad point is that every time there is a hard decision to take the benefit is for ferrari.

  26. AmericanTifosi, running wide on, like Massa did is an advantage, it increases the radius, allowing a higher speed. Even though it increases the overall distance, the better acceleration more than makes up for it. Especially considering Kubica was on wet painted kerbs and grass-crete, though it’s not Massa’s fault that Kubica was there.

    Further, the run-off area offers more grip, due to the more abrasive asphalt and due to the lack of oil, marbles, slick rubbered-in asphalt.

  27. ******** to F1! Should be called F(errari)IA

    Lewis should’ve won! Down with Raikonnen!!!

  28. I believe that Hamilton deliberately avoided the chicane to be closer to Hamilton on the straight. He took advantage of this illegal maneuver to not lost contact with Kimi.

  29. The argument for Ferrari about advantage gained makes selective use of the facts. In the plainest terms, for car 22 to go into the corner besides or slightly ahead car 1, and then come out directly behind car 1, after being pushed off the track, is no advantage–it was the worst possible outcome for Hamilton, not the best.

    As far as the slipstream-advantage, car 1 was passed under braking, after passing car 22 under full-throttle acceleration—Raikkonen did not have on a Hanford device. And as the fact of Hamilton running down Raikkonen like he was chained to post showed, Hamilton could have passed it at La Source on a bicycle. You can’t extract that factor and declare that the only reason Hamilton got past at La Source was by virtue of slipstream.

    The rule about cutting the chicane is simple. The stewards decided it the FIA rules are a living document that needs to adapt to any circumstance where Ferrari loses.

  30. When I first watched the race I thought the fight between Kimi and Lewis was amazing. Both drivers were pushing the limits and just all out racing. It was Great!! At first I didn’t notice anything wrong with Lewis’s cut corner. He let Kimi by and then got the pass. After I found out that Lewis got the penalty I watched the you tube vid over and over. It really does look like Lewis was too hot headed and should have waited before taking the pass. He was so close to Kimi that it seemed that Kimi was trying to avoid contact on the straight where Lewis made the move.

    I still think FIA should have let this go since it was a great battle in racing, but if you want to be technical I guess the penalty is justified. If they let it go Ferrari probably wouldn’t have pursued it. Its sad that such a great race ended like it did.

    On another note, its a shame that Kubica’s pit crew made the fueling error. He had a good chance at podium!

  31. I agree with Polak (about Kubica indeed)
    Just watch YouTube video over and over and you see…
    Lewis will be champion, sooner or later, but he deserved this penalty.

  32. They will argue the facts at the appeal, not dessert, one imagines. The entire argument that Hamilton gained an advantage rests on the idea that he would not have been on Raikonnens’ tail going into La Source but for cutting the chicane. Given that he was abreast of Raikkonen seconds before and was in fact ejected from the track by him, this defies all logic. Furthermore, but for being run off the road, he would not have cut the chicane in the first place. The outcome desired by the stewards is that a driver gets to keep his pursuer behind him for not one but , at least two corners by running him off the track at a chicane.

  33. Daniel, how many drivers in the history of F1 have driven spectacularly? Many. Did they all win their respective races in which they drove spectacularly? NO.

    If you want a sport where the winner is judged on how “spectacular” they are, go watch figure skating.

  34. dmw, of course Lewis gained an advantage by cutting the chicane. The alternative would have been to back right off (& probably brake) mid corner and then have to turn hard right to get back onto the track once Kimi had gone by, and then to turn left out of the chicane and accelerate.

    There is no way he’d be on Kimis gearbox if he did this.

    Therefore he gained an advantage by cutting the chicane, and that advantage take place though the corner and all the way down to the apex of la Source.

    Given he overtook Kimi before the apex of la Source then he deserved the penalty.

  35. will they be able to appeal?? it wont be justice if they cannot appeal.

  36. Why was he penalized for passing kimi when kimi crashed the person that he got a so could advantage on is out of the race. and the way massa has been in the rain i dont think he could have got past him.

  37. The only way this penalty makes sense would be if Kimi came home second. Then MAYBE the FIA could justify demoting Lewis to second and awarding the win to Kimi. Seeing as how Kimi so ineptly broke his car, why penalize the winner only to gift the win to Massa???

    It would be appreciated if the word “moral” never be used in any context with the Mosley led FIA, as the word has no applicability whatsoever.

  38. i am done with F1 its all run by the corporation with most money its not about the skill of the driver the FIA is all over McLaren and it dont matter how good Alonso is because he dont have the car so if all gos to plan the FIA and Ferrari have nothing to fear

  39. Before I say anything, I just want to say I am a Williams fan of over 20 years, so I don’t really care about the whole McLaren victim thing (Williams have been on the end of it with Farrari once or twice in their history as well)…
    However there are two points I want to make.

    One that nobody has picked up on. When Kimi was driving down to the first corner, with Lewis about to make his move does anyone else think he was weaving like hell?? Given the official FIA rule about moving once to block a car behind, it seems to me that Kimi was madly weaving more then once to block Lewis. hmm surely a 10 place penalty at the next race…

    Two, how lame does the non-decision last race concerning Ferrari and their release of Massa from the pit now look??

    I don’t favor McLaren in this at all, but I am getting a bit sick of this post race steward pro-Ferrari standard that has been in operation for what seems since 1996.

    Perhaps Bernie needs to extend the telecast for a further hour for the second half of the race, a live feed into the race stewards room to see who really wins every second Sunday..

  40. Hey guys, like a lot of people here I too am a Lewis & Mclaren Fan.

    But I think it is unfair to question the intentions of the FIA stewards. The facts are there for all of us to see. The decisions are based on interpretations of the rules and will vary from person to person.

    Lewis is still the best driver around. This incident is not going to change that fact anyway. He is still 2 points ahead of Massa and 19 points ahead of RAI. There are 5 races to go. Lewis can still win the WDC this year if he scores more points than them.

    Then why all this fuss?

  41. the fuss is because there is no consistency in the way f1 handles certain people and certain teams. everyone should be treated fairly and stealing people’s wins is making a fool of all us who watched. WE ARE NOT SO STUPID U KNOW. we can see when someone has been cheated from a hard earned win.

  42. Typical UK biased reporting.
    It is not disputed that Hamilton is talented. However, he is not infallible, saintly nor standing on any high moral ground. He tried for an advantage and lost out.
    If any of you couch potatoes had played any kind of real sport, you would understand that the umpire has the final say, regardless of whether or not you might agree with it. In this case it is the stewards making the adjudication.
    Would any of you more blinkered ones have anything to say if there had been an issue not involving Hamilton?

  43. KBS just read your comment out loud and listen to yourself. referees often get beat up for unfair rulings. this is not about hamilton because hamilton did what he had to do, its about fia biased rullings. dont miss the point.

  44. All the teams should boycott the Italian GP (for starters) if Lewis is not reinstated the Spa win. Massa and Ferrari should step up for once and refuse the win, but unfortunately they do not have the principals or the guts and they won’t.

    This stewards decision has been a damaging and disgusting farce and fiasco and has made a mockery of F1. I guess the stewards feel the Mosley affair wasn’t enough to spice things up and have resorted to blatant open cheating.

    (P.S – thanks for the accurate reporting of the facts as we all saw it happen on the TV Keith)

  45. Ron Dennis had Charlie Whiting confirm to the team that he had followed the rules. The telemetry shows that Hamilton was running 6km/h slow than Raikkonen as they passed the start finish straight. Raikkonen’s slash from side to side from directly in front of Hamilton confirmed that Hamilton was behind him.

    So, Hamilton quite clearly followed the letter of the law. He may well have pushed the law a bit, I conceed, the spirit of the law may have been bent a little bit, but we’ve seen that countless times from Prost, Senna and particularly Schumacher. Usually without penalty like this.

    It’s a very poor decision because they are now going to have to reword the law and make it clear that you have to give the place back for at least 1 or 2 corners.

  46. Not sure if this was already posted in the previous thread but here is David Crofts interpretation of events (audio).


  47. “Moral victor”? Purify your eyes, People… Even fanatism has its limits.

  48. Sorry Keith, i did post it on the previous blog, but this seems relevant here as well.

    Lewis, with all due respect to a talented racing driver as him(am not a fan of his though), should have done what logically should have been done. Use the god-darned brakes(even in Canada he should have had). All those people who justified him cutting the corner, we should remember that vehicles have BRAKES to slow them down, which were also available to Lewis. He could have lifted off, or used the brakes, isn’t too hard, or is it(keeping Lewis’s actions in mind, i could be wrong)? He got a penalty in France and one would think, “boy musta’ learned his lesson!” Guess we got it all wrong, when he goes on to say “If there’s a penalty, then there’s something wrong because I was ahead going into that corner, so I didn’t gain an advantage from it.” Lessons in humility are in order for him, one would imagine.

    About giving back the advantage(which he shouldn’t have have had in the first place), this is not the first time that this driver has resorted to such a move(France being the case in point). I know we all have our loyalties lying with something/ someone, and we root for it/ them. Does it have to be so blind though? FIA/ and stewards did very well to penalize him as a deterrent, to any such future incidents by this particular driver(or anyone else for that matter).

    Some people have questioned Kimi over the move, squeezing Ham out. Well, he had the inside line, he did what he/ anyone else in his position, would have done, what’s all the hoopla about?

    Now about Valencia and Massa. Let us get one thing straight, it is one and the only such incident in F1 which got penalized(in more than a decade or so), even if it was monetary. Infact, i was quite surprised to see it being raised by the stewards, for that matter. So, with all due respect, can you all please quit whinging about it?

  49. That was one of the worst decisions I have seen in F1, since Schumacher rammed Hill preventing him becoming two time world champion.

    As soon as he cut the corner, I thought “slow and let him pass Lewis”. And he did, immediately.

    I had a feeling the penalty would happen all afternoon, but why did it take 3 hours after the race before the announcement? The race director said there was nothing wrong when interviewed after the race.

    If Ferrari had any decency they would give the points back.
    Think it damages them too. Formula 1 fans already think there is huge bias.
    You can’t really disagree with them now.

    The actual race had a brilliant ending though!

  50. This is how i see it. Massa started 2nd , ended up 3rd, passed no-one and won the race…….well done the FIA

  51. @Chris
    The decision to impose penalty lies with the race stewards.

  52. the only reason they penalized lewis is to make the last five races more excitable, there for bring in more veiwers to the sport. which i find wrong lewis won the race simple, last year mclaren got $100 fine and once again they are being penalized, fia and ferrari always seem to be the talking point lol

  53. Yesterday’s race made me mad and I promised myself that I wouldn’t watch any other GP this season… nothing new right?? The thing is, I said that just after HAM stole the position from RAI and didn’t gave it back PROPERLY in a clear unfair play movement.
    Keith you said: “Raikkonen, with Hamilton fully alongside him, pushed the McLaren clean off the track, putting Hamilton in the lead.” I think this is a twisted way of seeing things. He did not put anyone off the track; he was just making a fair defensive move. If anyone was responsible for HAM cutting the chicane was plain and clearly just him. He was just not close enough to pass there, he tried to brake later to lower the gap but was not enough and had to go wide to avoid the collision. I know that MAS has “let him pass” in similar situations but you should not expect the same every time. Kimi did not brake-tested him or anything, just protected his racing line, so if HAM went wide it was only his fault and should gave the position back.
    The thing is that in the next corner, he did not give back the position properly. HAM did not behave like a sportsman but rather like someone who cheats and then takes advantage of the situation. He left kimi pass and immediately afterwards took advantage of RAI’s slipstream, took the interior and regain the position. As you can see in the video RAI had to take the exterior (bad) side of the line to avoid him.
    Personally, I believe is a well deserved penalty. I also believe, HAM must still learn to keep his head cool. At that point of the race RAI was struggling to keep the pace so HAM would have been able to pass him and eventually win the race.
    I do not consider myself a fan of RAI but I am really sad he ended in the wall, he made a brilliant start and 41 flawless laps. I reckon he lost his cool after the incident with HAM, is just a pity that the season is finish for him and maybe his career.

  54. Flipper The Hedgehog
    8th September 2008, 11:32

    To Sri – you can’t criticise him for not using his brakes. It was wet. People appear to have overlooked this crucial point. This was why he didn’t brake, why he cut the chicane and why Raikkonen wasn’t able to keep it on the track. As to any advantage he may or may not have got the net effect would still have been that the McLaren was faster in the wet and he would have got passed. The advantage has to be seen in the context of the final few laps as a whole not in isolation as many that support the stewards’ decision seem to be doing.

  55. I’m far from being Hamilton’s fan, but I agree that stewards’ decision was unfair. Even if Hamilton took and advantage, 25 s penalty is disproportionate and kills F1’s spirit of competition (!!!). 5-places penalty on the grid for next race would be much better idea. I agree with the preceding speakers wondering why Massa didn’t get such penalty last year in Japan. By the way, Spa proved itself to be the best, most interesting and entertaining track in F1 calendar. It’s fast, diverse and unpredictable. Unfortunately, we can’t say that about brand new Valecia or Bah(no)rain circuits.

  56. It is always disappointing when the result of the race is decided off the track rather than on it… and being a fan of Felipe… it does not make me proud to see that he won this race off the track…

    Coming to the penalty… I think Formula 1 is becoming more like WWE and the stewards more like Vince McMahon… in essence… they pick the most popular person on the grid and start targeting him for all the weird punishments… I think what they realize is that they have nothing to lose by being unpopular… as long as Lewis becomes the wronged hero… because that would ultimately mean more publicity and hence more money for F1… it is stupid but possible…

  57. @ Flipper The Hedgehog:
    Hi there Flipper… You make an interesting point that it was wet out there. One would think, that it is more important in treacherous conditions as in Spa to be extra cautious and brake as appropriate. Yet, we find him braking ever so late and cutting the chicane, almost running into the back on the car in lead(in that corner) and with such an excuse of an avoiding maneuver.

    Also, all the incidents on penalties are seen in isolation. There are no ifs and buts… as we would want it to be.

    Not aimed at you personally, but i bet many of the people screaming foul, would have screamed louder if it was Lewis who got nerfed. Just an observation.

  58. Sri – your point about being cautious makes some sense but I think you’re forgetting Hamilton would not have had to cut the corner if Raikkonen hadn’t forced him off. Hamilton did not cut the chicane because he’d outbraked himself – he hadn’t outbraked himself, he was cleanly alongside Raikkonen.

  59. @ Keith
    Yes, but with all due respect, Kimi had the apex and held it. Ham could/ should have braked or slowed down. Which is also what happened in France. Ham just didn’t brake, chose not to and instead cut through the chicane, then and now. Which is the point i’ll bet, cited by the stewards for the penalty. We may keep arguing this, but Ham’s got to learn that something’s got to give. That ain’t going to be the stewards. This shall happen to one and all and Ham isn’t going to be an exception anytime soon.

  60. I have a question… had Lewis not been penalized, would it not have set a precedent where any driver could straight-line a chicane, over take another car, break the other guy’s rhythm or maybe slow him down enough and then relinquish the position gained and then over take again at the next corner?

  61. Flipper The Hedgehog:
    Ah, but he DID brake—even to the point of locking up a front tire! In one video, you can see the tire smoke coming off his right front. Let’s keep the facts straight, okay?

  62. comment 49, Chris:

    “If Ferrari had any decency they would give the points back.”

    No team, not even McLaren, will look gift points in the mouth. But asking Ferrari to act decently is a stretch, isn’t it? Just examine their history for corroboration. Particularly Alonso at Monza qualifying (2006?), grid penalty and all. If the FIA didn’t investigate on their own you can wager a handsome sum Ferrari would have protested. Alan Donnelly makes sure all of Ferrari’s interests are protected, good bad or otherwise. That’s his job.

  63. @ Harkirat:
    Come on Harkirat, no one here’s bothered about that. I may not after-all be surprised if they go on to express their displeasure at that and wish that there was a penalty.

  64. OK, OK, OK. We all saw what happened. Here is my view: Hamilton followed the letter of the rule, but got a small advantage out of it. He re-joined the full-throttle club about 3 meters behind Kimi at the beginning of a 20 second “straight line”. He gifted himself a superb slipstream.
    Is that deserving as much penalty as he got? Probably not, but one could argue that Kimi would have not crashed had he not being in pursuit. Or he might, who knows.
    In my opinion Hamilton got a small advantage and a huge penalty for it.
    To make a soccer analogy, the home team throws the ball off-bounds because some player of the visiting team is injured. The visiting team then puts the ball in play 5 meters away from the goal line of the home team and goes pressing the poor defender that gets the “gift”? By the rules? Yes. Fair, nor quite. Then again, no referee would award a penalty kick for that, would they?

  65. michael counsell
    8th September 2008, 22:42

    The moral victor? I was far more impressed with Heidfeld, Alonso, Vettel, Bourdais and Sutil. I don’t think the way he overtook Raikkonen was moral, but I don’t think he should have been penalised either.

  66. Lewis Hamilton is the greatest grand prix driver of all times (Senna a close second) – I just cannot believe that the brillient performance from Hamilton was questioned at all. The whole thing is shocking. Last year was bad enough as Hamilton was robbed of winning the 2007and now this!!!!!

  67. marie, please do not put Hamilton above Senna. I would argue that Senna has shown much more impressive driving than Lewis.

    Wilgus: of course Lewis braked. He was coming into a corner. What others are saying is that he didn’t brake to let Kimi past, and instead he cut the chicane. If he had the balls to make the move he should have had the balls to stick with it.

    With all these nice runoff areas, F1 will continue to have problems such as this. Drivers know that in the worst case they can escape and cut, with no reprecutions. If the pass doesn’t work they simply end up right behind the competing driver.

    Just make all these places sand boxes and this wouldn’t happen. Then again a sand box would bring out the safety car which would allow some lucky drivers to teleport to podiums.

  68. @Sri…

    I agree with you that it really does seem that people here are not even considering the repercussions of no penalty… and if they really believe that there should be no penalty imposed for straight-lining a chicane… then I guess soon trailing drivers will start straight-lining chicanes to gain valuable time and maintain their momentum… it seems to totally escape the readers of this post that chicanes are there for a purpose, and one person straight-lining it and not getting penalized will set a bad precedent…

  69. @ marie
    I understand/ appreciate your right to have an affiliation towards anyone/ anything. However, history of F1 has seen drivers much better than Hamilton(from Britain itself for that matter). Also, he was not robbed of the ’07 title. He had a good 18 points lead going to the last 3 races. He just shot himself in the foot/ face… whatever you think suffices to say that he did not do himself any favours.

    @ Harkirat
    However, there are also some sane voices nonetheless and i must thank them. Thank you every single one of you, who think that this penalty was OK. I’d bet that most of the people who you saw complaining at Hams’ penalty, they would also cry foul if it were a red car jumping the kerb and ask(more like DEMAND) for one. This is what i wanted to say in the previous post, but i deleted a sentence so as not to offend no one(sometimes i guess it’s unavoidable).

    You know what is funnier? M Schumacher tried to contest his DQ from a race in season of ’94 and got DQ’d for 2 more races(yeah right, FIA favours Schumacher!!!). Citing the example, if the team McLaren contest the penalty, they could be further penalized by the FIA. I say go team McLaren. LOLLLLL

    The best possible thing would be to advise lil innocent Lewis(who’s dunnit twice, if you include this plus France) to stop making a habit of straight-lining the chicanes.

  70. I rewatched the race last night (all hail the DVR) and here is something I haven’t seen mentioned:

    Lewis clearly gave up the position. Kimi’s car passed in front of his without contact so he was clearly behind him. The only arguable point must then be was Lewis closer to Kimi because he went off track. Now, in my opinion, the rules don’t say anything about this but let’s assume it’s wrong.

    Just after the pass, Kimi went off track on the next left hander. Instead of coming back on, he accelerated down the run off area for a good 4-5 seconds before slotting in right behind Lewis. It’s very clear that Kimi made up time and ended up closer to Lewis by traveling off track. Just after that, they ran into traffic which allowed Kimi to re-pass Lewis so you could just as well argue that Kimi was only able to do that because he went of track (not forced off – just went off) and made up that time to put him closer to Lewis.

  71. I’m totally disgusted with FIA and their disgusting bias concerning any incident involving Mclaren. This race was the most exciting and thrilling I’ve ever watched. Hamilton the boy racer is such a joy to watch and truly deserved to win. He is the only driver out there with the intelligence to master wet conditions. Whatever the outcome with Mclaren’s appeal, this stewards decision has left a very bitter taste and left FI very tainted.

  72. Now all the people who think the penalty was wrong, also consider this… Trulli is quoted by autosport.com, to be stating that “Ham gained an advantage”


    He definitely knows more than us couch experts… He is known to be reasonably fair and an uncontroversial person. Knows better than Lauda, cos Lauda’s not racing, he used to(that was more than 2 decades ago).

  73. I have never watched F1, so I had NO bias before reading this story. I don’t know any of the drivers or the teams.

    From watching the video you can make a few definite statements;

    1. Hamilton was gaining quickly on Raikkonen.
    2. Hamilton was ahead going into the second turn.
    3. Hamilton let Raikkonen back into the lead before passing him again.

    I don’t think Hamilton had much of a choice at that turn. Even if he did brake, and brake HARD, Raikkonen was cutting that turn so hard that he would have pushed him off the road and possibly wrecked both cars. I don’t see any other way of looking at it. Raikkonen took that turn like my 11 year old does at the go-kart track, he didn’t care who was beside him!

    Another way to look at it, if there had been a barrier there so Hamilton could not have cut the corner there is ZERO chance that Raikkonen wouldn’t have put him into the wall. (And both would have probably been a tangled mess.)

  74. @Sri

    I don’t think that anyone disagrees that Hamilton could have gained an advantage by cutting the corner, that’s why his team told him to let Raikkonen pass him. It’s not Hamilton’s fault that that he could then use that to his advantage.

  75. @ schazoom!

    Well, please take time to read the posts here(on this forum) and you’ll know why i said what i did. Some are in-fact blaming Kimi for the incident, as ridiculous as that is.

    What must have went against Ham, was the fact that there was little attempt from his end, to turn into the corner. He simply straight-lined it to his convenience. Also, on board video suggests that Lewis’s theory of being in lead is treading on very very thin ground(if you’d call it that). Kimi held the apex, as being on the inside line it was his prerogative. Ham, like other drivers on the outside line was expected to go around or wait for his turn. Unless there is an accident or aquaplaning or some other silly thing, in which such a thing as cutting a corner is unavoidable. His lackluster attempt at taking the chicane properly may have been, what you’d call the last nail in the coffin. Stewards have cited the rule which someone has quoted in some other post on this blog, to the effect that only black and narrow should be used for racing. I think, this is why the penalty was handed out to him.

    Also, i wouldn’t call the boy innocent(anything but that), as it ain’t the first time that he was up-to it. France being the case in point before this. Both times, he has gone ahead and issued statements to the effect that, “i was ahead, but we would have clashed…” If you ask me, boy’s got to learn some humility and learn how to keep his cool. Infact, i wouldn’t be surprised if Court penalizes Lewis further, for repeat offense. There’s a precedent from ’94 when a penalty was petitioned by a certain Schumacher, for his stop-go on the last lap at Silverstone. In this case, Ham’s guilty as sin, as soon as they show the video, the telemetry. Why? Cos the chappie didn’t do a basic thing as brake and steer and chose deliberately to cut the chicane, for the second time in this season. It’s like setting standards. Lewis was making being towed back by cranes, and other such stuff like this look like routine. About time that it all stopped.

  76. Sri, I don’t think Hamilton had an alternative but to cut the chicane. Looking at the onboard, Raikkonen squeezes him so sharply he has to go off-track to avoid a collision. Braking alone simply wouldn’t do it, especially on the damp track.

    I think it’s a mistake to see this as the same as the France incident – on that occasion he clearly had gone in too quickly and wasn’t going to make the corner. This is different.

  77. Keith, since you have watched the incident over and over, i’ll leave the ball in your court with a couple of questions.

    Q) Did Lewis brake late, infact later than Kimi going into that turn?
    A) Lewis braked late, knowing fully well that Kimi was on the inside lane and that it was raining/ track was wet.

    Q) Braking late means sometimes you run out of tarmac, isn’t it?
    A) Yes, if you brake too late, it could be disaster.

    Q) Was Kimi on the apex and doesn’t being on the inside line gives him the right, to take the corner pretty much as he sees fit(of-course, we’ve not seen Kimi knocking other cars out like Senna did, have we ever)?
    A) Kimi WAS on the inside line, apex was his and Lewis could have followed through. Albeit in that situation where he braked hard and followed Kimi through, would have cost him precious track time. I think that’s why he chose to cut the corner, not the fear of running into Kimi(which if you ask me, is rather an inapt argument on Ham’s part).

    Q) Was Ham lapping Kimi’s car, as he said he felt squeezed out? What else can you expect from a racing driver on the inside line, especially when racing for position(in this case, race lead and a potential win)? So in that sense, whether this is an AMATEUR(calling Ham a rookie would be doing him a favour, as he’s been racing for more than 10 years) mistake on Ham’s part?
    A) As hard it seems to swallow, Ham has momentary lapses of reason, just like every one of us. That’s all there is to it really…

    No… this is not very different in the sense that it is/was an oversight on part of Hamilton, on both occasions. Both times he was racing for position and one thing even the last of the 22 cars would hate is ceding position. We all know that, don’t we? Albeit, Ham’s finding out, that people will not move out of his way, even though he drives a McLaren Mercedes and touted as the next big thing in F1. In-fact, that makes him someone that they’ll measure up-to, to prove that they are worthy of a better drive(not so difficult to deduce). He will do himself good if he learns this bit fast. Simply put, this is just plain embarrassing.

  78. Sri – I can’t quite follow your argument but you seem to be saying that if Hamilton has just braked he wouldn’t have hit Raikkonen. I don’t think you can say that for sure and, given what happened to Kovalainen early in the place, surely you can understand why Hamilton would not have wanted to risk it?

  79. I believe that he did not want to lose track time and he did what he thought what suited him best. I’m just trying to say in the above post that Ham is human, makes mistakes. Which here i see, people are steadfastly not willing to acknowledge.

    Essentially, this is a similar sort of mistake, that the lad had made a little more than a month ago. Braked late in both instances, put himself in a situation where he could go nowhere. Took the easy route to save himself some track-time, in relation to car ahead. Nothing more, but nothing less…

  80. Sri – “put himself in a situation where he could go nowhere” – this is the bit I disagree with. It’s not as if it was inevitable that Raikkonen was going to swerve across on him. Raikkonen was putting himself at risk of being taken out by doing that.

  81. @ Keith

    Well, it’s wet and raining and a chicane without traction control on dry tyres is what we have. I think that was a dangerous combination anyways. Well it was 3 laps or bust. Can i blame Ham for trying? No. But do i think, he should bear the consequences of a move coming unstuck. Yes! Cause and effect. It comes into play here. Ham braked late trying to overtake Kimi. Kimi, who WAS on the inside line for the bus stop chicane. Ham did put himself, where he didn’t need to be. On the outside but to brake sharply and lose some serious track time, as a consequence. Ham could have tried a passing move after La-source or after Eau-rouge. So in a way, yes Ham did choose for himself this predicament.

  82. @Keith- Keith please look at it objectively, forget that it is Lewis and forget that it was a McLaren, and think of this… A certain driver has already been reprimanded and penalised for cutting corners/chicanes to gain track advantage, now the same driver repeats the same move once again, only this time he decides to overtake another in the same controversial manner, only to temporarily relinquish the position, and all this while he is maintaining the momentum he built as a result of cutting that chicane, and then uses that momentum to overtake the driver at the next corner. C’mon Keith just answer this, isn’t all of this uproar simply because Lewis was not at the receiving end of someone else cutting a corner to gain an advantage on him?

    @Sri dude… with petitions being signed and everything else that’s happening, I think we should just keep our peace. I really do not expect people here to understand the reason for the penalty. In my opinion the debate should have been whether the penalty was too harsh? In my opinion, giving him a penalty on starting grid in the next race would have been a kiss on the wrist after slapping it. The only way Lewis will learn that he cannot win races by cutting Chicanes/Corners is when he gets a penalty like the one he got.

  83. I swear that is so true!! massa was knocking kubica off the apex of those corners and vice versa. No action was taken!, no penalties. Everyone agreed it was a fantastic battle on the track. So why does it matter now?

  84. Harkirat – I always strive for objectivity. After the Magny-Cours incident I pointed out that Hamilton was in the wrong for not yielding the place back to Vettel:

    Video: Pressure on Lewis Hamilton after error in French Grand Prix

    But I am firmly of the opinion that the Spa penalty is wrong. Hamilton cut the chicane – because he had no option other than to go across it – and yielded back his advantage to Raikkonen. As Pat Symonds has now said, this verdict will discourage people from racing each other.

    Sri seems to be arguing that Hamilton shouldn’t have tried to pass Raikkonen at the chicane, which seems to prove Symonds’ point.

  85. Well Keith… you are quoting Pat Symonds… I’ll quote
    Sebastien B, Nico, Jarno, and Giancarlo… please read through this article, and maybe you’ll realise that the argument, as I pointed out earlier, should have been about how harsh is that penalty.

    For the record I agree, he cut the chicane because he was forced off the track, but I guess the rules state that the driver may not cut a chicane to gain an advantage, which Lewis did, and had he not blundered in France similarly, maybe his penalty would have been a Cash penalty as well…

  86. @ Keith
    I am arguing, that there consequences, to everything. One could have been that Ham might have taken the lead. The other is, where he cut the chicane, unable to pass… quite deliberate at cutting the chicane and hence was handed out the penalty. I never said that he shouldn’t have had tried. Had he only put some, heck, any effort into it, he’d have taken the corner alright. Albeit, he’d been a lot slower, but yes, he could have made it. He chose to do what was in his best interests, stewards didn’t think that it was fair. For it is not only about Ham’s best interest. It’s a sport. You have some rules and they must be adhered to. Yes, i agree that strange things happen from time to time. However, one may not cry foul every-time one’s favourite driver gets nailed.

    Oh, there’s a precedent to his prove his QUSTIONABLE MOTIVE(now am going underground, don’t fancy Macca/ Ham fans issuing a hit on me), from France, that is. Hence, the penalty under the rule that he got. I think this is a first. I think it is entirely fair. Or we’d have drivers routinely cutting corners and that i do not like.

    Another interesting thing about Ham. He never acknowledges whenever he comes off a luckier person and we have a few instances from a year and half. However, if he has someone stepping on his toe… that’s a different story. We have a press release with the whole British media toeing his line. What in the name of heavens is that about??? NO DISRESPECT MEANT TO YOU KEITH, NONE WHAT SO EVER(you’re much more objective than many people i’ve read)… I’m just saying that he gets the media in, “look at poor darling Ham” mode! I’m just saying he’s smart and media better watch out, before they buy anything coming from him. He has his own reasons/ agenda to do what he does. Drivers are groomed to be that selfish(at least on track, when it comes to work), media should remember that.

  87. Would like to add to the previous by saying, that may be media fully understands. Readership/ Viewership is what it is all about, i guess.

  88. It is rather amazing as to what everyone has to say, fair is fair, you ferrari fans out there it is pure hypocritical to say he got an advantage. Hamilton never passed Kimi, at the next turn they both run in the back of a backmarker and Hamilton run off track, so where is the advantage.This is just Racism.That is the worlds problem right now, and it is like a cancer.If you are a real sport fan no matter what everyone anyone will chase the fairness.

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