‘Hamilton didn’t break the rules by reversing’ shouldn’t be a story

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Lewis Hamilton’s misjudgement at Tosa during last weekend’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, which left his Mercedes briefly stranded in a gravel trap, looked like being a decisive moment in the race.

Remarkably, he got away with it, and he didn’t even need an enterprising Nurburgring marshal turning up with a crane. But, just as on that famous occasion in 2007, a few people took it badly.

As the W12 slithered to the edge of the trap, its wheels locked, Hamilton made a final, desperate attempt to retrieve the situation with minimal time loss. He cranked the wheel to the left, released the brake and stabbed the throttle. Perhaps the Mercedes would flick left onto the paved access road and he could escape quickly?

He couldn’t. The W12 merely jerked forwards into the barrier, breaking its front wing. A final insult.

The only way out of this situation was now to engage reverse gear. Formula 1 cars are required by the rules to be fitted with one, precisely in order to aid their recovery in this kind of situation.

Drivers rarely have cause to use reverse, however, and the world champion took 11 seconds to engage it. (That’s still better the Jimmie Johnson managed in yesterday’s IndyCar race.)

As Hamilton crawled backwards out of the gravel trap, his race engineer Pete Bonnington kept him updated on the radio about which drivers were approaching the scene, to help him rejoin the track safely:

BonningtonOkay Lewis let us know if you get moving, okay.
BonningtonSo Alonso approaching, then Mazepin.
BonningtonSo you’ve got Sainz, Gasly then Vettel.
BonningtonSo Ricciardo car approaching.
BonningtonHamilton rejoins the track
So box, box.

From going off the track to rejoining it – backwards – took Hamilton nearly a minute. His race was surely ruined. Yet is wasn’t: By sheer luck, a crash on the following lap caused a red flag, which meant he got his lost lap back.

Hamilton let the crane take the strain in 2007
Predictably enough for any drama involving Hamilton, a hue and cry went up on some corners of social media that he must have broken the rules somehow. The possibility that reversing back onto the track might be illegal was seized on by a few.

FIA race director Michael Masi has had to explain some questionable calls in recent races. The decision not to investigate Hamilton for engaging reverse gear was not one of them.

“Reversing out of the gravel trap to the edge of the circuit, listening to Lewis’s radio between he and his team, they were absolutely advising him all the way through where [he] was, so in that particular circumstance I wouldn’t consider reporting that to the stewards,” he explained.

My first reaction to the social media uproar over Hamilton reversing onto the track was an eye-roll. His success has bred a lot of resentment, and no doubt some were disappointed to see him rebound from a near-terminal error to bag second place and keep the lead of the championship.

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Sadly, there exists a wearisome few whose pathological hatred of Hamilton makes every lap he goes unpunished for some imagined grievance a travesty.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Imola, 2021
F1 cars have reverse gears so drivers can do this
But perhaps that alone doesn’t explain why so many people were of the mistaken belief he’d transgressed.

The Formula 1 rule book is a dense piece of work. The sporting regulations alone – never mind the technical rules, the new-for-2021 financial rules and the over-arching International Sporting Code – run to over 42,000 words. Over the course of Hamilton’s 15 seasons in the sport they have more than doubled in length.

Even this is apparently not enough. The recent rows over track limits have revolved around the supplementary rules guidance issued by the race director at the start of every race weekend.

A sport as complicated as Formula 1, in which competitors build unique racing machines and unleash them on a different circuit every race weekend, is never going to be as simple to regulate as, for example, football. Nonetheless, the density of the regulations makes some aspects of the competition hard to follow.

Fans have grown used to seeing drivers penalised for seemingly arbitrary violations. In the same race, Sergio Perez was penalised for overtaking cars during a Safety Car period while Kimi Raikkonen was penalised for not overtaking cars in another phase of the race while the Safety Car was on track. Even the stewards had to admit that was a “contradiction”.

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In qualifying, Lando Norris lost a potential third on the grid because he strayed beyond the white line at one corner. That evening, I lost count of the different screengrabs I saw fans discussing on social media showing other drivers crossing the lines at other corners, without having their lap times deleted.

Raikkonen copped a peculiar penalty
Those drivers went unpunished because different track limits were in force at those corners. But while the most dedicated fans will understand these quirks of the rules, they are hardly intuitive.

So on reflection I can understand how a casual fan might wonder whether Hamilton had broken some obscure rule without necessarily having it in for him. After all, five years ago he was reprimanded for allowing his car to roll backwards in the pits, where using reverse gear is illegal.

When F1 requires cars to have a reverse gear, it should be obvious that a driver isn’t automatically breaking the rules by using it. This isn’t just a case of fans’ biases towards a certain driver or educating them about the rules, it’s also a matter of how complicated the regulations have become.

Formula 1’s rules will never be simple, but they could certainly be simpler. Or at least have their most flagrant contradictions rectified.

Instead, the sport intends to ratchet up the complexity yet further, by introducing new race formats for different weekends.

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2021 Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix

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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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113 comments on “‘Hamilton didn’t break the rules by reversing’ shouldn’t be a story”

  1. “‘Hamilton didn’t break the rules by reversing’ shouldn’t be a story” shouldn’t be a story

    1. @hunocsi ‘“‘Hamilton didn’t break the rules by reversing’ shouldn’t be a story” shouldn’t be a story’ shouldn’t be a comment on “‘Hamilton didn’t break the rules by reversing’ shouldn’t be a story”.

      1. Everyone know you can reverse to get out a terrible spot when there are Yellow flags waving even i knew that. So nothing to see here….

        1. isthatglock21
          26th April 2021, 14:07

          Yes you might…But the old Twitterati (both old & new fans) as ever were up in hysterics. Throw in the casual viewer or even folk who have no idea what F1 really is other than seeing outrage at Hamilton so chime in with their opinion. It’s important the F1 media explains things, no matter how basic they seem to some. Especially in the era of more newer & ‘stan’ culture fans. Would be more helpful if Brundle/Crofty nipped these ‘non-issue’ & clear debates in the bud whilst on air.

          1. Ah, the ardent Hamilton fan reveals himself where the default position is always that any criticism is just resentment from people with a ‘pathological hatred’. Then typically goes on to reveal the hatred of non-Hamilton fans. It’s a classic really. Hatred and other people is always the topic. This is a week ago, so must obviously have festered.

            Although it was obvious where the site’s loyalties are with the constant angled stories, I wasn’t quite expecting this. It’s like a regular commenter made the article.

          2. @isthatglock21 posted in the wrong place. Not in response to you.

        2. There’s still a rule about rejoining the track unsafely. Backing onto the track might be considered a breach of the rule, but according to this story, just questioning it means you’re a hater.

          Reply moderated
        3. @macleod There’s still a rule about rejoining the track unsafely. Backing onto the track might be considered a breach of the rule, but according to this story, just questioning it when it comes to Hamilton means you’re filled with hatred.

          1. Exactly, when Hamilton reversed back on the track, a car whizzed by at race speed. That’s dangerous driving…..Also the next lap, Russell bangs into Bottas…..I’m sure I heard a downshift that broke the gearbox and caused the sparks from Russell’s rear end Before he hit the grass and Bottas….I don’t know and I could be wrong but I saw the onboard from Russell and the car behind. There was enough space…. but I don’t know

          2. I think that rule is when Like Vettel joined the track in MOnza. Lewis just stayed on the most outside of the track where not the racing line was. Otherwise you could never rejoin the race safety.

      2. “What should or shouldn’t be a story” shouldn’t be a story.

      3. I think @hunocsi makes a good point and I hoped he’d get a more mature answer.

        Personally I have not read a single comment in which a fan or viewer questioned the reversing out of the gravel trap.
        Of course I didn’t read every comment here; the usernames help me to ignore the h8ers and extreme f&bois.

  2. I’ve watched F1 for almost 30 years, and even I wasn’t sure whether or not what Hamilton was doing was allowed or would get a penalty. I know reversing wasn’t allowed in some instances (but couldn’t remember off the top of my head it was just the pitlane) and also that Ricciardo got a penalty for a crash while reversing recently. Even it was technically allowed, I thought it might get penalised for being unsafe almost by definition (i.e. reversing onto a racetrack during an active race sounds dangerous). I think that complexity of F1 rules definitely turns people off, see the penalty Kimi got in the same race.

    1. Surprised that seasoned race fans wouldn’t know of this. Is was only a few years ago Max did it at Monaco for example.
      Although I get the point of the ‘hue and cry’. For example we have spent the last seven years regularly watching safety cars; with cars catching up with the leader and lapped car unlapping themselves, and the only complaint has been the time taken for them to sort themselves out. And at the front of the pack invariably its been Hamilton watching his lead whittle away to virtually nothing. And its taken all of those years until the last race for a chunk of the community to suddenly be offended about lapped cars unlapping themselves. Coincidence that Ham was one of those unlapping himself?

      1. @ian dearing @macleod
        I don’t recall Max reversing in Monaco. Several drivers have reversed out of escape roads in Baku, but not many have done the same in Monaco in the more recent past.

      2. @f1hornet and ian dearing I was one of the first here to question it after the race, but certainly not in a ‘hue and cry’ way, for all along it was obvious to me that the commentators had not even mentioned it as an issue when it happened, nor was it even brought up after the race, at least in the coverage I watched. I quickly policed myself on it by googling for it, and found the Max/Monaco of 2018 practice incident when it was revealed that reversing was particularly accepted under a yellow flag circumstance. I then immediately knew why LH was fine, and it certainly would have helped knowing then how much caution LH and Bonnington were taking, and now reading that Masi was taking that into account, still implies to me that they take each incident on it’s own as to how safely a driver reverses onto a track. Max in Monaco was investigated as well, and cleared, but it is not like, as Keith implies, even a seasoned veteran fan of F1 should automatically know when a driver reversing is fine or not, and certainly I think it safe to say all incidents such as these get examined.

        1. @robbie https://youtu.be/RGWuPTxVN8k
          Max didn’t reverse after his FP3 crash, so I’m not sure what specifically is the reference above.

          1. @jerejj Obviously there was an incident, not a crash, in one of the previous practice sessions, can’t remember specifically which one, but likely on Thursday of that race weekend, when Max was investigated and cleared for reversing. Apparently there was a yellow flag, but as well Vettel had come up on him fairly quickly nonetheless, so the stewards looked at it but cleared Max of any wrongdoing. He must have just over cooked it a bit and went into one of those little runoff areas at Monaco.

          1. Thanks luckly my memory wasn’t that bad….

      3. You have spent the last years regulary watching fans bemoaning the unfairness and safety hazard of people getting a lap back during safety car periods. Now that the same complaint affects your hero Hamilton you pretend you’ve never saw this before so you can have your usual go at non-Hamilton fans as is your want. Coincidence?

    2. Daniel got a penaulty of causing a collision not because he was reversing in Baku. Max didn’t get a penautly in Monaco when he reversed there.

      I watch motorsport for more then 50 years and the rule book went from a few pages to twice the Bible in tickness.

      If Max didn’t catch my eye during Carts and then to single seats i would have quit following the sport.

      1. Today’s cars plod around doing boring DRS overtakes whether its Max or Latiffi so not exacty sure F1 will appeal to you anymore than it did recently. You might really have to quit Is my guess.

  3. Hamilton seems to be very polarizing, with many fleeing the mid-field when it comes to him.

    The hatred towards such an accomplished driver is obviously silly, and is silly other’s obsession with him, convinced that he is a semi-god that never does anything wrong.

    Both are silly. He is an admirable, incredible capable and accomplished, but human and flawed, athlete, that tends to manage to be at the right place at the right time and to make the most of anything that is thrown at him.

    He makes mistakes too, he is simply lucky sometimes, and he’s not always untouchable, but he is also a 7 times world champion.

    1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      26th April 2021, 13:35

      He is an admirable, incredible capable and accomplished, but human and flawed, athlete, that tends to manage to be at the right place at the right time and to make the most of anything that is thrown at him.

      You’ve just offered the perfect description for Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Ronnie O’Sullivan, Stephen Hendry, Phil Taylor, Ayrton Senna and…. Lewis Hamilton :-)

      The difference between being good and being great can be summed up in that single sentence particularly the part “manage to be at the right place at the right time and to make the most of anything that is thrown at him”.

      I would also add “What enables them to be at the right place at the right time is the fact that their natural skill is a few levels above everyone else’s”

      1. Don’t really think your last sentence is entirely applicable in F1. Too much politics involved.

        IMO Hamilton was good but not outstanding when the seat opened up at Merc. There were several drivers who could be in the exact position Hamilton is right now.

        1. I agree, Alonso would be at 8 if he had somehow jumped into that seat.

          Reply moderated
          1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
            26th April 2021, 16:40

            @elf341 No, you don’t know that and there’s no proof that Alonso would have even managed to split championships with Nico. Alonso is super talented but so was Schumacher. How did he do at Mercedes?

            Don’t get me wrong – Schumacher had different goals and therefore drove differently at Mercedes than Nico who just wanted (and only needed) to outscore Schumacher but Nico could have done the same to Alonso. The “sit back and score points and beat your teammate” tactic works extremely well against champions especially if other drivers get racy with said driver.

            All you need is a Massa, Maldonado, Albon, Mazepin and you’re all set – they’ll do the work for you:-)

        2. A very good driver, but a few drivers as you say could have taken that spot and become multiple world champions, namely Alonso, Vettel, Button, and perhaps even Ricciardo given his solid form in 2014.

          I guess that’s where motorsport (typically) differs from many others, the reliance on the machinery is so heavy it’s difficult to quantify the advantage it gives one driver over another. Ronaldo/Messi, or Federer/Djokovic etc. demonstrate superiority which is 100% on their ability, with nothing to lean on but their own skillsets.

          1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
            26th April 2021, 16:32

            @Gary sure anyone can take the spot but Lewis was better than any of those drivers you mentioned. They simply put the best driver in the car.

            That’s not necessarily true about soccer – Messi/Ronaldo play on the best teams and therefore have more opportunities to shine.

            Tennis is probably the toughest sport but playing someone who has won the grand slam 10 times in the past decade, is kind of like racing Mercedes Benz in F1. Can you imagine sitting across from Nadal at the French Open?

            P2 is one thing for Max, 6-0, 6-0, 6-0 is another when you’re playing great and losing by 1 point every game. P2 makes you feel like a winner – 6-0, 6-0, 6-0 makes you feel like P20 if you’re the 2nd best clay player in the world :-)

          2. Remember that, considering the influence of the car on their performance, part of the skillset of being an F1 driver is to be in the right car at the right time. So many drivers have come unstuck on that. Hamilton, on the other hand, was heavily criticised for his move to Mercedes at the time with many (including myself) considering it a mistake…

        3. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
          26th April 2021, 16:20

          @S You mean to say Niki Lauda was wrong? I think it’s safe to say that Niki had forgotten more about racing than most WDCs will learn in their career :-)

          By the time, Lewis joined Mercedes he was arguably a 4 time WDC.

          1. @freelittlebirds But not actually a 4-time champion…. Not that it would matter, as in the vast majority of cases, the champion has had the fastest and most reliable car over the course of a season. It’s much more about car than driver in F1, and always has been.

            Rather than debating whether Lauda was right or wrong and how much of a part he actually played – the question should be “Could anyone else have driven the (dominant) 2014+ cars to multiple championships?”
            And the answer to that, in my mind, is unquestionably YES.
            And so making Lauda correct regardless, I guess…

          2. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
            26th April 2021, 16:53

            @s well, that’s why Lauda hired him. He knew he was looking at a potential 11+ time WDC…

            There’s no way to know if Mercedes would have won a single championship without Lewis. Were they winning before he joined? Will they win any since his departure?

            That’s a question that plagues Toto’s mind every day… It doesn’t help that Lewis performs a dozen jaw dropping performances every season :-) He can’t help but wonder how the team will do without him. I would not be surprised if Mercedes has a Williams or Renault cliff drop after Lewis leaves.

          3. @freelittlebirds
            What? There’s no way to know if Mercedes would have won without Hamilton??? Are you serious?
            They weren’t winning WHEN he joined either, but we know Mercedes cranked up their investment massively for the 2014 regs. Bottas is coming second more often than not… Rosberg won the championship there too. Russell jumped in it for one event and would have won on raw car pace if not for some team stuff ups.
            Really? Are you actually serious?

            It won’t be a driver change that significantly drops the team’s performance, it will be a rule change – just like it has been for the last two dominant periods.

            Honestly, your cult-like extremism for Hamilton is a little bit creepy and scary.

          4. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
            26th April 2021, 17:52

            @s I think you missed the point. Ask Todt and Brawn how many championships Ferrari would have won without Schumacher. They will say it’s hard to know that but they wouldn’t be surprised if they hadn’t won any.

          5. @freelittlebirds Never mind Schumacher – how many championships would Ferrari have won without Todt? Brawn likely wouldn’t have gone there, nor Rory Byrne. And how much were Ferrari spending relative to their competitors, to entice those people and achieve those results?
            Since we are talking about Ferrari’s dominance, how were Barrichello’s and Irvine’s results? Pretty decent, from memory… Sometimes better than Schumacher’s.

            I think you are overestimating the driver’s importance more than just a little bit.

          6. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
            26th April 2021, 18:56

            @s I don’t disagree with you that it’s a whole puzzle and that ultimately a driver is nothing without the team but you can say the same about any sports player and their coaches. Would Rafa have won anything without Toni? Probably not. You can find any player and pinpoint the “catalysts” that propelled them to their success.

            I’m not overestimating the driver’s importance – the championship literally rests in their hands :-) Their actions decide if they will win or lose the championship.

        4. Love the way that now he’s rubbish in the minds of amnesia fans on here, Vettel’s 2017 and 18 attempts have been airbrushed from history

        5. But Mercedes, driven mainly by Lauda, specifically went for Hamilton. What does that tell you?

      2. @freelittlebirds
        Not really possible to compare tennis with Formula 1. In tennis everyone has access to the same equipment and the difference is entirely down to the player himself. Formula 1 is 90% machinery and 10% driver. Hamilton himself said that he wouldn’t have achieved anything if he stayed at McLaren. That’s why you can’t really compare someone like Hamilton to the greatness of Roger Federer, who beat his rivals on a level playing field.

        I do think that with the budget cap and windtunnel regulations, Formula 1 is slowly heading towards becoming a spec series. When that happens, the achievements of those drivers who win titles in the future on a level playing field can be compared to people like Federer and Nadal.

        1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
          27th April 2021, 0:05

          @kingshark there’s machinery in tennis too – athletes work on improving their bodies as much as their technique. The car is very similar to an athlete’s body in many sports. People in F1 discount the driver but it’s always a combination of a superb driver and a superb car that is a winning combination. I would say it’s 50-50.

          His comment about McLaren was the fact that the team was going downhill – of course, the car was going to follow suit. You put the best player with the worst coach or the worst team, kiss the silverware goodbye:-)

          1. @freelittlebirds

            there’s machinery in tennis too – athletes work on improving their bodies as much as their technique. The car is very similar to an athlete’s body in many sports.

            The only way this could possibly be considered comparable to Formula 1 is if only 2 tennis players in the entire world were allowed to be in shape, while everyone was forced to be fat. Oh, and one of the two tennis players that was in shape had average technique, and was only allowed to be in shape because he’s not a threat to the other tennis player in shape.

            Once you wrap your head around this, then you begin to understand just how lopsided and meaningless Formula 1 has been for most of the hybrid era.

            Anyway, I’m not the only one who thinks this way:

            https://www.independent.co.uk/sport/motor-racing/formula1/ronnie-osullivan-lewis-hamilton-spoty-2020-b1744614.html

          2. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
            27th April 2021, 13:35

            @kingshark I see your point – I do agree that F1 is not a level playing field. My point is that few sports in life are. For instance, Bjorn Borg lived in Sweden so he could only practice tennis indoors or over a few months of the year. Did that stop him from becoming one of the greatest players? Is it as easy for a kid that’s pathologically fat as you mentioned to become the next Pele? Nico Rosberg was the son of a WDC so all the doors in F1 were open to him. Same for Max Verstappen who was literally handed the keys to a Red Bull the day he stopped using a pacifier.

            On the other hand, Lewis came from very humble beginnings and maybe he was lucky to be good enough to even make it into F1 based on the inequities of F1.

            Would Ronnie have become as good in snooker, if he didn’t live in the UK?

            What you see in F1 is simply a reflection of all sports around the world. To be honest with you, the car’s important but to get into the best car and to create a winning car, takes a lot of talent even in F1.

            There are very few WDCs who weren’t deserving of their titles. Hamilton is probably the most deserving champion in F1 – if anyone fails to see that, it’s simply their own shortsightedness. He delivers a lot of vintage Hamilton performances where you know you’re lucky to be watching him race.

    2. I think the most people are turned off on his luck now there is a saying champions make their own luck….

  4. I hadn’t heard this was a major issue until this article to be honest but I don’t think the initial concerns were to do with it being Hamilton. Seeing any driver reverse onto a live race track is a worry and most people are just concerned about an accident.

    The fact it wasn’t investigated shows that he was on the radio so it wasn’t an issue and I hadn’t heard anything further. Articles like these aren’t really helping, they’re just going to cause more division amongst fans.

  5. Actually, when I was watching and on the live chat here, I said that he should not reverse onto the track, and when he did that, I thought he was going to get a penalty…

  6. It was always clear to me that he hadn’t done anything wrong & that he therefore wasn’t going to get a penalty.

    Reversing in the pit lane isn’t allowed but reversing out of a runoff is something that is fine so long as you do it in a safe manor & I can recall many instances of drivers reversing out of runoff’s over the years (Mostly on street circuits but also on the permanent circuits on occasion).

  7. I think, in this case, many could know the rules better, although I am amongst those who only know them at about, since I wacth F1 for almost 3 decades, but I always liked to learn the empiric way, instead of knowing everything by letter from books.

    So a bit I was in doubt when he reversed onto the track, but I not considered it a severe case, and as far as I remembered they can reverse if it not creates danger. So I guess he got some support from the team, whether someone is approaching or not, and he not did it in an ugly way. I have seen far worse and far less patient rejoinings. So this case was minor to me even if I have not knew the rules about reversing by letter. But at least now I got a refresher.

    Imo F1 could use more spotters, dedicated persons who warn drivers of dangers. As far as I know it is less common to have many spotters at F1, or they have less than many other series. For events like this they could be very helpful, and it would be much easier to accept than some mild forms of “coaching”, like when they hint some drivers about sections where they could or should push more or less during a GP.

  8. Nice rant. Spot the ‘pathological’ Hamilton fan….
    Both sides (Hammy fans or not) give as good as they get. That’s how being a sports fan works for many people.

    F1 is definitely too complex – track limits (mentioned in the article) are the perfect example. There should be no exceptions to the white line anywhere under normal conditions. Any space outside of those lines is there primarily for safety reasons, not for competitive advantage.
    It’s fair that reversing was questioned by many, because he was going against the traffic flow. Not really a ‘hatred’ thing, nor a ‘casual viewer’ thing. It’s an inconsistency that is allowed sometimes, but not other times – and F1 is full of those conflicting scenarios.
    As a long term viewer of F1 and many other motorsports, I am consistently baffled by F1’s approach to enforcement of sporting regulations. They are, by far, the hardest to understand and respect – most notably because they are the least consistent.

  9. Zach (@zakspeedf1team)
    26th April 2021, 13:45

    While I didn’t think reversing like Hamilton did was punishable there were enough comments on social media and on here that I actually started doubting myself. It was nice to get an article to finally explain this once and for all.

  10. My initial reaction was whether reversing back into the track on the outside of that corner on a damp track could be considered an unsafe way to rejoin the track or not. Section 27.3 third paragraph of the 2021 sporting regulations state that “Should a car leave the track the driver may re-join, however, this may only be done when it is safe to do so (…)”. Yes, Hamilton rejoined on the outside of the track, but on the other hand could potentially have posed a danger to other drivers arriving a the corner and making an error under braking, as Hamilton did.

    I do not think the rules necessarily should be any more explicit in this regard, because the issue of whether a particular way to rejoin the track is so judgemental and contextually dependent. The rules could either be “simpler” (i.e. more principle-based, which would require even greater judgement from stewards and likely more controversy), or the rules could be “clearer” and more specific (which could over-regulate the sport and result in a vast document that is impossible to apply in practice). On this occasion, the stewards obviously deemed that Hamilton’s actions were safe, so that means it’s a non-issue, really.

    While I am not a Hamilton fan myself (his personal style and demeanor simply do not appeal to me), I still have tremendous respect for his skill and achievements and general on-track conduct, so this is not a case of “hate”. Spectators booing at Hamilton or other drivers is “hate”. Fans trying to interpret the rules on a matter of judgement is not.

  11. Tommy Scragend
    26th April 2021, 13:46

    Sadly, there exists a wearisome few whose pathological hatred of Hamilton makes every lap he goes unpunished for some imagined grievance a travesty.

    There also exists a wearisome few who consider Hamilton to be the Messiah who can do no wrong. I’m not suggesting he did wrong in this case, he clearly didn’t, according to the rules. I’m also not suggesting that Keith is one of said few.

    I don’t have a pathological hatred of Hamilton. I appreciate his obvious skill as a racing driver, and I wanted to see him do well when he first came into F1 because he was a breath of fresh air to the sport, but these days he whinges too much on track and preaches too much off it for my liking.

  12. I was sure he was going to get a penalty for it at the time, I remember Panis getting punished in Hungary (96 / 97?) for driving the wrong way up the track after a spin and thinking he only drove about 4 metres in the wrong direction in order to gain enough momentum to spin back round again (what else was he supposed to do?). Equally with Lewis, cars have reverse for a reason, I didn’t realise Bono was on the radio trying to give him a gap to go into but it makes sense if done in a sensible way. (as I think Panis’ was, but he got punished for it).

  13. I’ve been watching F1 for the best part of 25 years and my initial reaction was that it was against the rules, possibly even a black-flag offence. From somewhere in the recesses of my memory, I thought the rule was that you could reverse when you were off the track, e.g. on an escape road or a runoff area, for the purpose of turning the car around so you could rejoin the track safely, but that actually reversing on (or onto) the track itself was a big no-no. I’m not sure where that interpretation came from but that was how I understood the rule.

    Possibly getting mixed up with the ‘no reversing in the pits’ rule, which always means instant disqualification, except when it doesn’t (as highlighted in the Bahrain 2016 incident linked in the article).

    1. @red-andy No, according to this article it just means you’re filled with hatred

  14. We’re not accustomed to seeing cars reverse onto the track, so surely it’s fair to ask the question?

    If “insert favourite driver here” did the same, we’d be asking the same question, wouldn’t we?

    1. Agreed. I think that many long-time F1 viewers were genuinely wondering if it was legal or not, myself included. Instead of a reasonable explanation we got an unsolicited lesson in how everyone that dislikes Lewis is racist.

      1. Instead of a reasonable explanation

        I think the article is a reasonable explanation of why Hamilton didn’t get penalized. If you felt attacked, well, maybe you should be less emotional reading articles about F1.

        1. You’re right, my wording was poor. What I meant is that the explanation is clearly not the point of the article.

        2. When the article includes statements such as “few whose pathological hatred of Hamilton” and has a slant of why it was (and is) wrong to question Hamilton’s actions – it sets a very specific tone.
          The headline (and indeed the article) isn’t “when and why you can reverse onto the track” is it? It’s somewhat more biased and hostile than that.

          1. Yup. I agree with you. There is no need to add such statements….unless you want to fan the flames intentionally. Please keep it objective and without using those cheap tricks.

          2. Please keep it objective and without using those cheap tricks.

            Good point there, @lucho19.

            It reminds me of the great article by Dieter a few days ago; you don’t need this type of writing to make a point and get a good discussion.

        3. Well said @lucho19 Such statements only promote division and hatred.

  15. ”Those drivers went unpunished because different track limits were in force at those corners.”
    – Indeed, as the other corners have gravel or grass at the exit.
    The infamous 2007 Nurburgring situation – 7+ years later, an incident occurred in Suzuka.

    1. And it was never the same again.

  16. The story should be about Hamilton making two clear mistakes in the last two races when driving under pressure… We will have a third mistake this upcoming weekend?

    1. Really, I thought the story should be about Max making two clear mistakes in the last two races; one where he was under little pressure…..and will we have a third mistake from him this upcoming weekend?

      1. I am confused: didn’t Max lead from the first corner to the finish without being aided by a very convenient red flag?
        What mistake are you referring to?
        (I can’t remember seeing his car parked in the wall.)

        And didn’t Lewis make 29 mistakes in Bahrain versus 1 for Max with the only difference that corrupt race control let Lewis get away with them opposed to Max?

        1. So Max going off track whilst acting as the safety car wasn’t a mistake? You think Max did that on purpose!?

        2. Waaaah waaaah the corrupt race control. Always helping big bad woke Hamilton. Sniff…

        3. LOL!! Max didn’t make one but TWO errors and laughed about one of them after.

          Take those orange tinted specs off. Both have made errors. Hamilton always does, early season.

  17. So…. he was informed about the incoming traffic and did rejoin the track safely. I guess it’s all OK then.

    1. someone or something
      26th April 2021, 16:19

      @mg1982

      I guess it’s all OK then.

      It is. The ‘debate’ was settled over a week ago, and that’s assuming it existed in the first place …

    2. That’s right. It was perfectly legal and perfectly safe. If Max had done it everyone would say how quick-thinking and clever he is.

    3. Presumably when other drivers reverse their cars away from a barrier so they can safely rejoin the race then they too won’t be penalised.

  18. someone or something
    26th April 2021, 15:34

    So the story here is “someone somewhere said something non-positive about Hamilton, and I took that personally”.
    A bit like the people who keep making acerbic remarks about “Bottas 2.0”, or “porridge”, which was a thing for like maybe 5 people worldwide, plus a zillion Hamilton fanatics who chose to be lastingly offended by that.
    In this case, the source of emotion was clearly Hamilton’s mistake, and the long, doubtful moments during which it seemed as though he had ruined his race and put himself on the back foot in the world championship. AND THEN, someone somewhere has the AUDACITY to question whether the manoeuvre that initiated his miraculous escape was really in compliance with the rules? Shame on them!

    The slightest slight (even implicit) can elicit the wordiest, angriest reactions. We’re in cult territory.

    1. How dare you ! haha

    2. While I think this was the wrong hill to die on, he has a very good point when applied to other incidents. There is a large group who will jump on anything Hamilton did and compassion about it. For either a Hamilton fan or a neutral, this can be infuriating.

      I have seen nobody with this many anti-fans since Schumacher, and yet even Schumacher’s anti-fans generally acknowledged his driving skill which many of Hamilton’s refuse to do.

      1. *complain about it

  19. “…or did it show F1’s rules are too complex?”

    Yes. Absolutely. F1’s rules are lengthy and often obtuse. The overly complex ruleset makes it difficult and downright intimidating to get into the sport as a new fan. Of course, F1 is a complex sport with a lot of nuance, but there is a line where the rules become overbearing. This isn’t even the first time this season that this is the case, and this has been a problem in past seasons. Max’s performance in Bahrain was artificially stunted by the FIA in Bahrain for exceeding the track limits in an area that Hamilton had exceeded two dozen times earlier. Of course, there is more nuance than that, hence the problem. There shouldn’t be so much nuance.

    It’s no wonder DTS had to “dumb” the sport down for the average fan. Just let the drivers race.

  20. I’ve heard Martin Brundle say at least half a dozen times over the years that it’s a huge no no to reverse on a race track. So it doesn’t surprise me that people think that, I did. But it isn’t actually in the rules that you can’t do it. It is in the rules that you’re not allowed to reverse under power in the pit lane however.

  21. The core problem as the article indicates is that the rules are too complicated, and often have been made so because of particular incidents or to effect particular teams or to regulate some obscure element of the engineering. The philosophy seems to be that the series owners have to regulate down to the smallest element to make it ….. what? A vanilla race series, all teams the same, all on the same level, innovation stifled, competition of the mediocre?

    Detailed rules give power and influence to the rule makers and the rule enforcers, and how do they use that increasing power? Not too well.

    When there is a cost cap do we really need detailed rules about testing, wind tunnels, floor design, engine functionality………..Why not fix the cap and let teams get on with it, without ‘handicap’ rules about wind tunnels use or computer aided design. If there is to be a handicap system make it the cap level itself. Less for successful teams. Then let them get on with it.

    If a team wants to spend its limited budget on track testing why stop them, if they want a brand new car design mid season, why not if its within the budget cap?

    Formula one has been captured by the rule makers and they will squeeze out the risk takers who make the sport what it is.

  22. Also the comical statement from the race director. Normally race control needs half a race or more to sort basic stuff, but here we are supposed to believe they were on it in real time. Yeah sure..

  23. I never thought he should get punished for that, as far as my understanding goes he’d only have deserved a penalty if he’d had a push from the marshals and rejoined the race.

    However, much like this article goes on about how some people never miss an opportunity to criticize him, there are also many who worship everything he does. ‘Hamilton reversing out of the gravel trap was one of the most brilliant pieces of driving I’ve ever seen in F1’ – that’s a comment I read online. There were other similar ones. Hyperbole like that breeds hyperbole in reaction from the other side.

    Look, any driver would have done the same in that situation. No criticism or praise needed.

    I can also understand why some people were frustrated after the crash, with the timing of the red flag, as it does seem like Hamilton gets the rub of the green more often than not in these situations, where his (rare) mistakes go more or less unpunished by fate.

  24. The story is spot on in that with success in F1 comes the haters and trolls. Name a driver that was very successful in F1 (won multiple and more importantly consecutive championships) and you’ll find people who will grasp onto anything they do as illegal, immoral, evil, wicked, mean, wrong or just not nice. It’s unfortunate that the price of success is jealousy and hatred and the haters find that they must speak out on the ills of the driver at every turn.

    Reply moderated
    1. @velocityboy You set me wondering why. Maybe it’s the mixture of watching the drivers for hours, visibly caught up in incidents we’re thinking and talking about but with helmets blocking their faces and expressions, and then the post-race situation where we get the close-up interviews and all the emotions spilling out (in most cases). It creates an aura around their personalities that somehow isn’t as intense in many other sports. Add to that all the team intrigues, media briefings, contract rumours and so on, in a fairly closed environment, it creates a real soap opera territory. And that’s the perfect setting for heroes and villains. Add social media ratcheting up every nuance and ‘controversial moment’ and it’s indeed ‘Netflix worthy’.

  25. The real challenge with most of these F1 rules is when Hamilton gets involved in some way and then the Hamilton detractors tend to invent a new penalty based on their bias. If he is Hamilton, he must be guilty.
    We’ve seen drivers reverse onto the race track countless times, even a few times, drive in the opposite direction briefly.
    The reality is that F1 mirrors real life with those same issues relating to bias and prejudice.
    When you add race, ethnicity and skin colour, the bias and prejudice takes all manner of permutations.
    It remains a human problem and will always remain a challenge that humanity will always have to live with.
    However the F1 rule book is just too complicated.

  26. The REAL injustice here is getting back on the lead lap because of the red flag. One of the WORST rules In F1; they could learn a lesson from NASCAR here.

    1. Just common sense would do

  27. I’d always assumed (correctly it seems) that the issue is rejoining the track safely, not what gear you select to do so. Indeed amazing that some people can find some Hamilton misdemeanour to whine on shrilly about virtually every race. The only vaguely interesting aspect of the incident is Craig Scarborough’s technical explanation about how selecting reverse safely is possible when it often used to cause the gearbox simply to explode in the past.

    1. And I’m sure there must be some technical explanations around that pulling yourself out of a gravel trap is easier than pushing yourself out.

      It reminds me of the snowy days in the mountains when driving up the mountain backwards (front wheel drive).
      (Of course this reverse story is the reverse of Hamilton reverse story).

      1. Maybe the torque is higher in reverse in the F1 car too? No idea. Definitely it was a good idea to keep going steadily in reverse until reaching the track, rather than pass into first while still in the gravel, which could well have caused him to dig into the gravel (ask Max about that one from last year).

  28. Those drivers went unpunished because different track limits were in force at those corners.

    I just can’t understand why the white lines that designate the track limits aren’t painted correctly. If drivers are going to be allowed to drive on that part of the track then why not paint the line that designates the track limits in a way that allows them to do that without breaking the rules? Drivers wouldn’t be using that part of the track if going there wasn’t to their advantage. Not having track limit lines in their correct place means the advantage a driver can gain is subjective, so a bolder driver might want to gain more and risk being noticed by the Stewards while a less bold driver might not be willing to take the risk. By putting the white lines in their correct place then all the drivers know exactly how much advantage they can gain without being “noticed”. Then F1 wouldn’t need to be defending drivers who appear to have blatantly broken the rules but haven’t because of someone’s discretion. This sort of thing just weakens the rules and discredits F1.

  29. Rules too complex.

    Was he doing something dangerous for others? Can he prove he did it with care?

    Good enough.

    Now when some driver reverses on to the track and causes real danger, go ahead punish them.

    Whatever passes eyetest of race officials.

  30. If I don’t recall bad, there is no rule about reversing, but there is a rule that mentions that you have to reenter the track without danger, and reversing onto the oncoming traffic, for me, it’s dangerous. But not for Masi. He interpreted that having a man on the radio telling what cars are approaching it’s OK. I think is not a problem of the complexity of the rules, I think that there are many rules that are subject to the race director subjectivity, and the same goes to the track limits rule.
    The rules should make it clear if you can use reverse to reenter the track or if you can cross the white line, and it should work for every turn in every circuit in the championship. But seems that they like to have controversy (controversy generates noise, noise generates profit) and the possibility to influence in race results. I find no other reason why these rules are written this way. There are other situations where a man decission is mandatory, like the Bottas-Russell crash for example, but in this two concrete things, is totally possible to get rid of the controversy just writing the rules well.

    1. So it’s dangerous even if the next car was a minute behind?

      Mercedes behaved perfectly. Waited for a gap. Not even a remote risk. No story

      1. @esmiz @banbrorace It’s still perfectly reasonable to suspect it might be. For example, Vettel got a massive penalty (grid drop + penalty points) for not completely abandoning his lap in Bahrain after a double waved yellow, despite slowing down for the incident and not even seeing the flags.

        There are many more instances of where there was no real risk, only breach of protocol. This incident might well have been too.

        After the race now, there was just a few questioning the rule about backing out against traffic, which, with all the weird rulings of F1 was perfectly legitimate, but this apparently outraged Hamilton fans so much that it’s still a sore point a week later. Quite bizarre really, but typical. One just should never question the holy one, and if one does, they must be attacked for lack of personal integrity in the worst way.

  31. When F1 requires cars to have a reverse gear, it should be obvious that a driver isn’t automatically breaking the rules by using it

    Well, depends, as you say, in the pitlane it’s illegal. I don’t blame people for not knowing all the little rules that form the enormous rulebook these days. I had to explain to my friends why Hamilton was penalized in Russia last year, when he performed a standing start at an illegal place. Same with both Grosjean and Magnussen last year at Hungary. There are a lot of rules that are like ghosts during weekends, they are there but you never get to see them.

    Social media aside (you can’t really use it as a reliable source of humans using logic and coming up with reasonable arguments), F1 is far from being an easy sport.

  32. I didn’t like it when he was reversing all the way back to the track. F1 cars aren’t designed to do that. They are clumsy at low speed, difficult to stear, it’s almost impossible to see where you’re going and being guided via radio isn’t really reliable. So there is potential for danger.
    But the drivers know that as well and it’s not really a common sight to see F1 cars cruising backwards on the racetrack. And a stranded car that isn’t allowed to use revers causes even more risks and it’s removal would always require a Safty Car. So after all no need for an other rule IMHO.

  33. The F1 rules are pretty complicated now. It’s a matter of “try it-see if we get a penalty and how severe it might be”.
    Thinking of Max last race and giving the spot back to Lewis.
    The Kimi penalty situation IS a perfect example.
    In this modern world of “internet content”, seemingly anything is a story and a cause for “conversation”

  34. https://www.formula1.com/en/latest/article.verstappen-escapes-penalty-after-reversing-to-rejoin.6bTFVrZe80oy22aymioyUA.html

    Seems its safe enough even when the other car has to go ‘off track’. I suppose the argument is if its done in a safe manner the approaching cars should be observing the yellow and acting accordingly/

  35. The least that someone would expect is the “noted” message on our screens after that incident. THIS is what should have been a story. Instead we get nonsense articles like this. But we get to see the phrases that the author uses, so it was nice to see that he wrote like a typical defender. We got a preview some days ago with RUS’s interview “before the crash”.

    Anyway, I wonder why this article on FIA’s site wasn’t published here. Maybe because it would question the “RBR is faster” fantasy?

    Keith, do a favor to everyone. Go back to a .co.uk domain, with a name like fanaticsofbritishF1drivers.co.uk.

    P.S. Who would expect that a track limits violation would be used as a “trait” for someone on Star of the Weekend award? Only the readers of the above new site I guess.

    1. Don’t think he will ever go back to having the “F1” name on this website again.

  36. This is kinda dumb. Other drivers have reversed and thise drivers were similarly criticized and rules questioned. It has nothing to do with Hamilton.

  37. Ah, the ardent Hamilton fan reveals himself where the default position is always that any criticism is just resentment from people with a ‘pathological hatred’. Then typically goes on to reveal the hatred of non-Hamilton fans. It’s a classic really. Hatred and other people is always the topic. This is a week ago, so must obviously have festered.

    Although it was obvious where the site’s loyalties are with the constant angled stories, I wasn’t quite expecting this. It’s like a regular commenter made the article.

  38. @balue yes that is true but when you consider the exchange between Bono and Lewis as is clearly shown you can see that he knew exactly who was going to be around him on the track while he was rejoining. Also note the race director himself clarifying that it would not be an incident worth reporting to the stewards as nothing untoward had taken place. Another point to note would be if it WAS as big of an issue as everyone seems to be making of it I’m pretty sure Red Bull would have jumped at the opportunity to get Hamilton and Mercedes penalized, they had ample time during red flags to review and submit a report to the stewards.

    Reply moderated
  39. Nothing going on, everything is within the rules. Should’t be a story and then the comments. Even mine. Funny. Then post comment…

  40. Ridiculous, obviously reversing is dangerous.
    I mean a crane nearby is a danger, a car does not?

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