Charles Leclerc, Lewis Hamilton, Monza, 2019

Hamilton: Younger drivers “get away with a lot more”

2019 Italian Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton says younger drivers are being allowed to get away with more in wheel-to-wheel racing than has previously been allowed.

The Mercedes driver made the comments after complaining about Charles Leclerc’s defensive moves on his radio during the Italian Grand Prix.

The pair clashed at the Della Roggia chicane on several occasions, including at one point where Leclerc squeezed Hamilton wide on the way into the corner. The Ferrari driver was shown the black-and-white flag for the incident. The use of the flag has recently been revised by FIA race director Michael Masi.

However Hamilton believes Leclerc was dealt with leniently. “It seems the new generation get away with a lot more in that space of how they manoeuvre their car compared to, I would say, the more experienced drivers,” he said. “But it’s good knowledge, now I know, and look forward to the next one.”

He added he sees little point in discussing the incident. “It doesn’t really matter what I think,” he said.

“We’ve gone over and over this multiple times and it’s pointless me bringing it up. I avoided the collision and then just kept focusing and trying to get close.”

Leclerc went on to win the race while Hamilton slipped to third behind his team mate Valtteri Bottas.

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

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74 comments on “Hamilton: Younger drivers “get away with a lot more””

  1. Didn’t we all (including most drivers) cry out to let these drivers race??

    I think that if the stewards can get a good rithm going with timely black and white flags, maybe throwing in reprimands in some cases too, and for the rest they let the guys race, that would be great for the on track action.

    Sure, it was on the edge. But Leclerc learned from Verstappen where the new limit was, Hamilton sees it from Leclerc (although we’ve seen quite a few moves of the same calibre between him and Rosberg in the past.). All of them learn and get on with it.

    1. 100% agree. The black and white flag gives great racing. Safe racing.

    2. Exactly. All drivers (young and old) get away with more nowadays. And that’s a good thing IMO.

      But over time stewards hand out tougher penalties to the new guys than to the oldies. Many examples of that.

    3. There are five different types of defensive move being compared in this discussion, and they are not equal:

      1. “Pushing” to the edge of the track on corner exit with a car alongside: This is a move that Hamilton used a lot against Rosberg, and recently used to good effect against Bottas in Hungary (Turn 3). It follows the natural tendency of a car pushing wide under power after the apex, and has always been considered safe (it is easy for the following driver to back out) & allowable. Stewarding on this has been consistently permissive, although there comes a point when the car width(racing room rule applies.

      2. “Pushing” to the edge of the track on corner entry with a car partially alongside: This is the Verstappen signature move that caused Bottas grief at Monza last year. This is more dangerous – when a car is braking it is relatively difficult to take evasive action. Until recently, this was considered to be a banned move, but difficult to enforce. It would seem to violate the car width racing room rule, as there is no “understeer” excuse to justify the push to the edge of the track. If this is what Hamilton is referring to, then he is correct, stewarding is much more permissive since Verstappen.

      3. “Swerving” under power to block a car from pulling alongside: This is covered by the regulations, and is usually permitted. You are allowed one change of direction. If you do it too late, don’t be surprised if you end up in a crash, as (often) the driver behind is committed and has nowhere to go! (Ros/Ham Spain 2016, Ver/Ric Baku 2018). There was one occasion when Schumacher nearly pushed Barichello into the wall at Hungary in 2010, which was heavily criticised and penalised.

      4. “Cutting” a chicane & retaining the lead/gaining advantage: This has been a contested area for penalties. At Spa in 2008, Hamilton was penalised 25 seconds post race even after he gave the lead back to Raikkonen. On the other hand, Hamilton received no penalty in Monaco when under pressure from Verstappen (although Verstappen also cut the chicane on that occasion) and no penalty in Mexico 2017. There is inconsistency here, but it is .. consistently inconsistent!

      5. “Failing to turn into the corner”: This was Rosberg’s move in Austria 2017, as he falsely equated it to (1) above. However this simply forces the other driver off the track at corner entry and has generally been penalised. It’s probably close in nature to (2), but is much less dangerous, because the failure to turn is after braking and delays getting back onto power to accelerate through/out of the corner.

      In my opinion, the rules need to prioritise safety and then good racing. IMNSHO, if a competitor is alongside, you should not be able to push them off the track under power, or under braking. On the exit of a corner, it’s fair game to use the width of the track, unless the car on the outside is ahead of you.

  2. I don’t think that young drivers get away with more. I think the main difference is that they are the only ones who are willing to push the limits, whereas some of the older guys aren’t willing to do so (not saying that’s a bad thing). Maybe if drivers like Verstappen or Leclerc had a championship to fight for, they wouldn’t be taking risks like this, but they can afford to since all they basically race for now is for podiums and the odd win. And I don’t mind F1 relaxing the rules of combat, it does make for more interesting wheel-to-wheel racing.

  3. I hope this is just a “new era” for stewards. Since Leclerc vs. Verstappen in 2019 Austrian GP.

    1. @bulgarian that wasn’t remotely a call that deviated from previous stewarding precedents, as any number of analyses will show you

      1. Hopefuly you are right. There were other weird decisions this year for Leclerc too. For example, Fine for Leclerc-Grosjean pit lane collision was “consistent with previous penalties”.

  4. Maybe because recently the rules have been relaxed a bit? And the black and white flag was introduced for this sort of incident (the only worry is drivers doing 1 dirty move per race knowing they’ll get away with it, maybe need to soon just straight up punish a move to make drivers know that they will still do that). But yeah, for the kind of moves that you think ‘that’s a little bit naughty’ but imo aren’t really worth a penalty. Maybe Hamilton hasn’t really realised the rules being relaxed because usually he’s so far ahead of everyone. I personally find it annoying where every on track battle with a bit of contact or a bit of a squeeze ends up in a penalty. The black and white flag is great to get away from that, as if Hamilton was able to get into the same position again, Leclerc couldn’t have done the same move.

  5. So the period 2014-2016 Hamilton was still young? Man, has he aged terribly since then in that case…
    What nonsense. His fights with Rosberg were as hard as we’ve seen in F1 since Schumacher Hakkinen at least and probably before then. Leclerc and Verstappen are doing the same thing. Just scares him that, unlike Rosberg, he doesn’t necessarily have a handle on them.

    1. Exactly what I said when I read his comments here @hahostolze!

      1. Key thing for me is when he says “avoiding” collisions… Does that include wheel banging?

        I think the worst thing I saw today was moving under breaking, but even then it wasn’t that bad.

        1. @icarby I thought that what Leclerc did in the Curva Grande after his error was worse than what he did when they both arrived at the second chicane. THAT is where the ‘Verstappen rule’ still makes sense: don’t swerve on the full throttle parts when a driver is quickly gaining on you.
          But the push into the second chicane was fair game. Hamilton should have been less naive, for me.

          1. The Verstappen rule is not in use at the moment, is it?

          2. Haha, well I sort of have two Verstappen rules in my head.
            One is for moving under braking – that one is no longer in use, and rightly so (arguable).
            The other one is the ‘Spa 2016’ one, moving on the straights/under full throttle. That was also punished and attributed to Verstappen as ‘new thing’, and there it was totally accurate to do so. It’s dangerous and unnecessary.

          3. But the push into the second chicane was fair game

            @hahostolze I think that running someone out of road on the exit of a corner when you’re on the racing line is acceptable, and most drivers will accept that they’re being naive in that instance. Surely being side by side into a breaking zone and being pushed off the road is different, and shouldn’t be viewed as naive. The driver should be entitled to space at that part of the track. If drivers avoid that sort of move then we’re going to have a big reduction in the amount of legitimate overtaking that we see

      2. He never goes side to side under braking

        1. I’m referring to Lh. It was clear that Leclerc moved left, then right. It’s precisely that kind of move that causes a big accident at high speed

    2. You conveniently forget intra-team, on track, squabbles are treated differently from squabbles between teams, by the stewards. Its not like Toto can go over to Mattia and say tell your boy, that’s not nice, let us not do that. It’s for the stewards to discourage that kind of thing, which they failed to do. The precedent set, by the black and white flag, basically allows 1 dirty move.

      1. @gufdamm I conveniently forgot nothing, as the rules don’t remotely allow for what you’re claiming, and it would be farcical to do so. Intra-team battles can still cause issues with safety, with fairness. Even with Toto Wolff as the helm (hell, especially with Toto Wolff at the helm). This changes nothing, and it makes no sense to suggest otherwise.

        1. Its is easily argued that intra-team squabbles are often ignored for the sake of racing. Why would a team ask to penalise themselves? You make an argument that Lewis and Nico had similar squabbles, so Lewis shouldn’t be one to talk, correct? So what is wrong with my claim? When Lewis and Nico crashed out in 2016, neither were penalised. That was a very unsafe situation, even with Toto Wolff at the helm, his position as the boss, didn’t make the collision any safer. Similar matters between teams are handled differently, and the more subjective the matter is, the more inconsistent the stewards become. Take Canada 2019 incident, for example.

          The rules are there, but penalising and the penalties dished out are so subjective. We often hear more that a penalty is not needed, than a rule was broken, for any stupid reason the steward wants to give (if they even give a reason). So you either forgot, or conveniently forgot.

        2. @hahostolze did you watch the race? What a load of horse poo you’re chatting honestly.

  6. Just as I was about to say how gratious Ham has been, he says this. Brundle went to fight for his corner on the interview but Ham didn’t take it, gratious. Rachel asks Ham about the racing again and not gratious. Ham gets away with things that most drivers don’t but he didn’t use to. Max and apparently charles do get away with more and from the start of their careers.

    1. I can’t remember a time Hamilton crowded out a driver in the braking zone after already making 1 move (maybe last time Massa at Suzuka or something like this?). Running drivers wide on corner exit is a different kettle of fish.

      This black and white flag seems to me a licence for one bit of dirty driving. Can’t stand it personally.

      1. @john-h what’s your belief on the sainz/albon incident?
        Black and white is a dumb move from the fia who is trying to validate every move, like VAR it’s decision means absolute truth, even if wrong. I guess people forgot what racing is.
        Ham is thinking f1 doesn’t need him anymore, it has 2 fresh new products that are less demanding. He got Canada what does he want more.

        1. @peartree my view is that Sainz was fine to take the racing line on corner exit and Albon should have backed off the throttle.

          I think Hamilton is trying to find out what these days is acceptable to the stewards so he can drive accordingly. He’s probably also confused as to why not leaving a car’s width in a braking zone is suddenly not without consequence. I’m also completely baffled! I don’t want to see high speed airbourne crashes thanks.

  7. As long as the stewards stay consistent (and within the direction that Masi is outlining for driving standards), I’m OK. What I don’t want to see is Grosjean earning a penalty because he’s Grosjean, while Max/Leclerc get away with the same move.

    I am ruefully impressed with Leclerc – after Austria he said of Max words to the effect of”I didn’t know those moves were permitted. Now I do”, and he has widened his repertoire of defensive moves to include a few “fangs out” manoeuvres. Very nice growth on his part.

    1. “after Austria he said of Max words to the effect of”I didn’t know those moves were permitted. Now I do”

      When Hamilton was asked after the podium ceremony about Leclercs’s driving, I believe he says the same.
      So expect in future races lots of weaving side to side and drivers not leaving a cars space for each other.

      I guess that is going to be the new normal until we get a serious accident via one of these new acceptable moves. After all the rules were in place to avoid such an accident so loosening these rules for more racing excitement is a retrograde step in my opinion.

    2. Absolutely. Leclerc is doing everything in his power to win the race, fair play to him!

      Personally I think being more lenient with penalties is setting a dangerous precedent for wheels interlocking in braking zones, weaving, etc. I expect a big shunt soon unfortunately.

  8. When Max was doing these kinds of moves on Vettel , Kimi, etc for 2-3 seasons , Lewis didn’t open his mouth and so serves him right that now it’s not just Max but Leclerc also who is able to compete with Mercedes and give him a taste of the same medicine that was dished out earlier. At that time Lewis used to just smile when asked about Max’s tactics. He should either learn to counter those moves or put up with it.

    1. Everyone did. And if the moves were not on him why would he? If he was asked an opinion then he gave it

    2. LOL. Only Sir Jackie Stewart opens his mouth, on behalf of other drivers. You guys are more inconsistent than the stewards. Lewis pressured Leclerc into cutting a chicane, and nothing came of it, how else should he “counter those moves”? Lewis is the only driver in a position to show these discrepancies: He pushed Leclerc the entire race as a result, Leclerc did 2 questionable things, which shed light on an issue. As would any other driver, offended driver, Lewis eventually raises the issue, and this is your response. You cry every time the role is reversed, i’d bet on it.

  9. The warning flag I can agree on
    But the chicane cutting was not a penalty at all. Leclerc was ahead, AND more importantly hamilton didnt attack or attempt to overtake at that moment.
    Lets say he attempted an overtake and leclerc cut the chicane, that would be a 5 sec penalty

    1. Leclerc scampering across the kerb, didn’t indicate to you he was at a disadvantage missing the chicane? You should not recover time lost, from your mistakes, by cutting the track.

      1. True, but did he recover time? In fact Hamilton just got even closer.

        There have also been times where the chased driver cuts a corner (by overbraking) without penalty

        1. When you miss the corner there, the barriers there, you must drive clearly indicate, the on track penalty of missing the corner. Leclerc scampering across the kerbs cost him way less time than going through tha.

          1. Hamilton cut corner in fight vs Ricciardo Monaco 2016 and didn’t get penalty for that. So I guess we can say it’s F1 judges are consistent.

          2. Hamilton got a penalty and lost the win in Belgium 2008 for a lesser infraction of the same rule.

            Leclerc would have been compromised on the exit of the chicane due to his error had he not cut the chicane so Hamilton was denied a run at him around Curva Grande.

            Just be consistent guys!

          3. Totally diferent situation, when Hamilton cut shicane back to Belgium gp 2008 he was behind Kimmi not ahead, and he gain unfair advantage. Yesterday Charles didn’t get any advantage, and Hamilton was not attacking him inbefore cut shicane, actually he even lost some time there, so there’s no need to punish him.

  10. They just interviewed Michael Masi on Sky about the decisions today. Vettel got drive through + 10sec, whereas Stroll got just a drive through because “there was no contact with the other driver”.

    He then said regarding the Ham/Lec incident that there was no penalty as there was no contact, last year Verstappen got a 5 second penalty because there was. So the question is, should Hamilton have kept his line and take the contact if that’s the only way to penalize the other driver?

    1. So the question is, should Hamilton have kept his line and take the contact if that’s the only way to penalize the other driver? Sad, but true!

    2. @burden93 Apparently the better you are at avoiding contact (i.e. the better driver with faster anticipation and reactions) the less benefit you get from stewards. For those of selective memory above, Hamilton got penalized for ‘excessive driving’ plenty of times in his early career and more regulations were introduced to curb this ‘youthful enthusiasm.’ Now the movement is the other way, as he noted, younger drivers being allowed more leeway. He hasn’t complained, he’s just said, fair enough, noted for next time, if necessary. Personally I’m happy seeing more aggressive driving, except maybe for the double moves under braking. This is a really important rule for safety reasons. If I driver moves once and the rule applies, then the driver behind feels that they can go for a gap without a risk of being blocked. You can’t have ambiguity. If you’re going to allow it – as Leclerc did today – then that has to be known and drivers know they’re taking that risk. Hamilton responded quickly enough – as he did when Vettel double blocked him close to the wall at Socchi last season. But you can’t just rely on quick reactions and skill of the driver behind to avoid high speed collisions. At some point, you’ll get a huge crash if the rule isn’t made clear. That’s why consistency matters in this case.

    3. @burden93 And yet there was no contact between Vettel and Hamilton in Canada (because Lewis avoided it), but there was still a penalty applied to Vettel. The reason stewards are seen to be so inconsistent all the time is there are a number of factors that go into every decision, and naming one thing as the reason behind a decision will always contradict a verdict on some past incident.

    4. @burden93 That’s definitely an option, but that also risks crashing out of the race. It was hard to tell from the straight on shot if they were side by side, wheel to wheel, but it looked like Hamilton’s fronts were alongside Leclerc’s rears. In which case, it’s Leclerc’s line to take as long as he leaves enough room for the other car.

      Here is why I think they gave Leclerc the black and white instead of a penalty:

      When approaching that chicane, the racing line is to track out to the left through Curva Grande and then glide to the right to open up the next corner. As they both started moving back right immediately after tracking out, they were side by side, but by the time they reached the braking zone, Leclerc’s car was mostly in front of Hamilton’s with his right rear along side Hamilton’s left front (difficult to tell looking head on, I could be wrong about that).

      Leclerc kept moving right as one would do to follow the normal line, so it wasn’t obviously in response to Hamilton. But of course Hamilton’s front wheels were still along side and he had to choose to either back off, go off track, or be pushed by the Ferrari. He avoided contact and went off track, but he would have been well within his rights to stay where he was and let Leclerc hit him.

      Leclerc’s defense was very cheeky, but also very good race craft because the way he moved created enough doubt about it being a “move in response,” which is explicitly forbidden. In the US, they often call this “The Pruitt Fade” after an endurance racer named Scott Pruitt. Not leaving enough space is also explicitly forbidden, but, the leading driver does have the right to return to the racing line on approach to a corner. If he had obviously jerked to the right to keep Hamilton from passing, there would not have been any justification for not giving him a penalty. But there is enough ambiguity between those two driving standards that it creates a grey area.

      I suspect that was the key to why they warned him but didn’t penalize him. They certainly could have penalized him on the “leaving a car’s width” rule, but given what we saw with Perez and Albon last week, this year’s stewarding has trended toward being more permissive of that kind of grey area. I think either decision would have been valid, but I’m personally glad they didn’t interfere because it would have ruined the excitement for the rest of the race.

  11. “they get away with a lot more” says the only driver in the history of F1 who once got back on track thanks to a tractor…even more pathetic than yesterday…

    1. And scored 0 points.

      Hamilton has been the victim of stupid penalties more than any other driver I can think of.

      1. The fact that he scored 0 points has nothing to do with what happened. Simply put, that was the most intentionally dangerous thing i’ve seen happening on a racetrack ever…but hey! He’s the first ever black F1 driver in history, what a pity he isn’t muslim as well…(Bernie’s words, not mine).

        1. It was probably more dangerous to leave him where he was to be honest. Every car that came past after went off in the same corner.

        2. that was the most intentionally dangerous thing i’ve seen happening on a racetrack ever

          Not even in the top ten, and Vettel driving alongside him under safety car conditions to deliberately bash wheels is above it in the rankings.

          1. Unfortunately I remember a french guy that died because of the injuries sustained after his car collided with a tractor in Japan. Vettel move, albeit dirty, didn’t pose a threat to anyone’s life.

        3. That’s about the most creepy mention of Hamilton’s skin colour I’ve ever seen, and I was in Spain for _that_ race. Let’s hope this dude doesn’t have access to high powered weaponry and a school with muslims and black kids in his neighbourhood.

          1. You clearly didn’t get a grip on what I said. I just quoted Bernie Ecclestone in one of his interview back then. Let me know when you’ll grow a fully functional brain so we can elaborate further…

          2. Oh, I got a grip on exactly the wolves you whistled at. You are one creepy individual

  12. I have to admit that while defending Vettel fervently for his move at Montreal, I had a problem with some of the Leclerc’s repetitive moves under the breaking and I think he wouldn’t get away with it so easily if it wasn’t for Monza and all the Ferrari fans watching the race. Some maneuvers were questionable.

    1. And his later sweep of the track to block Hamilton on curva grande somehow went unnoted. This is the very track that gave rise to the rule that if you move to block you have to leave a car width on the other side when you move back across.

      Also he ran Hamilton of the road at the start.

      leclerc made three really dodgy and dangerous moves to win this race. But let them race, I guess.

      1. We always “let them race”, until someone gets hurt. I read the reason behind them not penalising Leclerc is that there was no contact, I really hope that isn’t true, sets a horrible precedent.

  13. He’s right, Belgium 2008 for example.

    Hamilton should have stayed on track and let Leclerc hit him, then a penalty would have been inevitable, but obviously risks of damage to both cars.

    1. Hamilton has had a lot more than his fair share of freebies over the years. Don’t come moaning about the 2 times things didn’t go his way.

      1. I’m moaning about inconsistent rules tbh.

  14. Hamilton, despite being an awesome racer can be a very sore loser… Not saying the move by Charles was 100% kosher, but it wasn’t deserving a penalty one bit… Hamilton wasnt fully alongside…

    1. Sette Camara got a penalty for the exact same maneuvre yesterday.

      1. When it comes to Hamilton, being reasonable, goes out the window. Its almost as if Hamilton is ruining the sport because everyone has a problem with the message because of the messenger.

      2. Yep, I watched the F2 race yesterday, it was an instant 5 second penalty for exactly the same thing

        1. Sette is not driving for Ferrari, I guess.

  15. Being CONSISTENT with the stewarding would be more useful to everyone than changes and new regimes…

  16. I would say Leclerc had the benefits of home turf advantage. On any other track he would have been penalised.
    Today had the Lafosse to thank for his victory. Im sure the stewards would have been considering their flight home if they ruled against Leclerc, or took a certain victory from him.

  17. I think it probably should have been a penalty when he ran Hamilton out of road in a straight line under braking, and I’m sure it would have been before the ‘Black and White Revolution’, but I’m glad it wasn’t as it prolonged a great battle.

    Don’t think Leclerc did anything else wrong in the race, aside from defending hard but fair.

  18. I wonder what Verstappen would’ve done?

  19. So now we have a black and white flag. A driver is “warned” and then cuts a corner and puts in a few questionable moves and nothing happens….what’s the point of having the black and white flag??

  20. Well this is a consecuence of allowing all the dirty from Crashtappen, so now all the youngsters decided they want a crashtappen out of penalties card everyrace.

  21. I think people miss the big picture, which is inconsistency. Consistency leads to hard racing, without going over the limit (unless by accident, as everyone makes mistakes). Slowly changing rules leads to inconsistency, followed by a spate of incidents, followed by more rule changes etc etc.

    Take the LeClerc incident going into the 2nd chicane. Did he leave Hamilton a car’s width? Clearly he didn’t. Whilst punishing him would have been considered harsh and damaging the racing, that’s only a short-term viewpoint. If you apply that rule, without fail every time, then you’ll magically discover they’ll all leave space and the racing will be just as good.

    I thought the one car width rule was iron-clad these days, but clearly it isn’t. You can say it’s in the name of racing, but it’s all but certain this will come back to bite them later as someone takes it a bit too far (given there’s no longer clarity on what is and isn’t actually allowed).

  22. This is not limited to F1 Lewis.

  23. Would love to see the inverted comments in here from the people viciously defending Leclerc’s driving if it had been Hamilton who pushed him onto the grass and accelerated across the first chicane like that. Something tells me you would all have a somewhat different opinion lmao. Hilarious levels of bias just because it’s against Lewis.

    Enjoy it, you won’t have anything to celebrate for a while now.

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