Rules Ruin Racing

Sam ThompsonContributor ISeptember 10, 2008

Watching the closing laps of the Belgian Grand Prix, I could hardly watch as Lewis Hamilton tip-toed around the circuit, cringing every time he put foot to throttle.


Moments before though, I witnessed some of the most exciting laps of motor racing I have ever seen (I should state that I have only been watching F1 since 2007). Both Kimi Raikkonen's and Lewis Hamilton’s desperation to win was apparent; these guys wanted this badly.


So here we have it: Hamilton breathing down Kimi’s neck at the final chicane. Lewis tries to go around the outside, but Raikkonen won’t have it, and pushes Lewis toward the edge of the track. Lewis cuts the corner, gaining an advantage down the finish straight in the process.


At this point, Lewis must be thinking back to Magny Cours, where he earned himself a drive-through by pulling a similar move. Not this time though, as he backed off to a whole four miles-per-hour slower (not a massive deficit, I know) than Raikkonen, allowing him the lead over the start-finish line.


Okay, everyone though; he learned his lesson. Seconds later, Hamilton took the inside line up through La Source and was in the lead, which he kept to the chequered flag, albeit a with few hiccups on the way.


Now, I feel Lewis was robbed of his victory on Sunday. I think the FIA’s rules are ruining the racing side of F1. By this I mean that they don’t seem to realize that the drivers are not afforded the luxury of slow motion replays; they are there, in real time, as it happens.


They have a few split seconds to react to a situation and that sometimes you’ve just got to go with your gut instinct in order to stay in one piece.


This brings me to my take on the incident at Spa.

Lewis, who is undeniably a racer through and through, was taking his chance to overtake. Obviously, Raikkonen isn’t going to just let him past so puts a move on him—fair enough. This results in Lewis getting a little nudge from the Ferrari.


Now, Lewis could’ve done a few things at this point: He could brake and slot in behind Kimi. He could take the no-brake option, and cut the chicane to avoid any further collisions. Or he could take a leaf out of Kovalainen’s book and drive straight into Kimi.


What do you think a racer would do?


This is where the stewards (I think) need to be thinking along the lines of: "It’s difficult conditions, the driver’s are struggling to stay on track. Two cars have touched so the drivers want to avoid any further contact, and both drivers want to lose as little time as possible."


I think Lewis reacted very well to the situation: he avoided a potential crash. Now, he’s cut a chicane, this is a big no-no. So Lewis allowed Raikkonen to lead the pair over the start-finish line, with Charley Whiting’s blessing.


It just really infuriates me that a splendid piece of racing from both drivers has been over shadowed by a technicality.


Lewis didn’t have to risk an overtake (something encouraged more and more by the new regulations); he could’ve accepted second place and the safety that came with it. Or he could take the risk and go for the overtake.


Nobody knows what’s going to happen during an overtaking maneuver, so the drivers have to use instinct/experience to react INSTANTLY to whatever comes their way. I think the stewards need to take that into account when handing out fines.


As final thought, who thinks up these fines? One minute it’s a ten thousand euro fine, another it’s a five place grid penalty, sometimes it’s ten, or there’s a 25 second time penalty. It seems to me the stewards/FIA are just plucking numbers out of thin air.


I hope you have enjoyed my first report here for Bleacher. I would love to hear some constructive criticism for anyone who can be bothered, as it may well be apparent that I haven’t done anything like this before.


Cheers, Sam.