I have just read an interesting short article by Martin Brundle and I would like to share it with you.
Did the stewards reach the correct decision? From on-board footage, it is clear Hamilton didn’t make an initial overtaking manoeuvre into the chicane; it was a necessary avoidance, because Raikkonen was early on the brakes and only Hamilton’s lightning reactions prevented a huge shunt. Ever the opportunist, he converted this into an overtaking manoeuvre, at which point Raikkonen got off the brakes and reclaimed the apex, legitimately taking the Briton wide. There was a split second when the McLaren could have braked and slotted back in behind the Ferrari, but the man is a pure racer and there is a championship at stake here, after all.
Hamilton took as little of the run-off as possible, given the high concrete inner kerb, but still exited the corner ahead. He blended out of the throttle, allowed Raikkonen fully past, switched sides, travelling 4mph slower, then nailed him into La Source hairpin with the kind of braking superiority just witnessed into the chicane. Hamilton had been significantly faster during the previous lap too, so he had the tyre temperature and confidence to pass the now-struggling Finn easily.
And that is the critical point for me. It was speed superiority that saw him past the Ferrari, not the already given-up advantage from the final corner. The conditions weren’t factored in by the stewards. Hindsight says that Hamilton should have waited a corner, but what if a safety car had been deployed for another rainy incident?
There has NOW been a clarification that drivers cannot overtake into the next corner in such circumstances, rather confirming that it wasn’t a prior specific or unwritten agreement.
I am not pro-McLaren or pro-Lewis. Or anti-Ferrari. I’m pro-F1. I don’t care who wins, as long as it’s the best driver — and as long as it’s a level playing field. I have had my concerns about that since the illegal/legal Ferrari bargeboard in Malaysia 1999.
Critically, McLaren were apparently told twice by Spa race director Charlie Whiting, the only official line of communication they have during a race, that he was satisfied with the way Hamilton had given the place back. For the highly respected Whiting to have been overridden by the stewards is disturbing. Have these men ever driven or been involved in high-level motorsport? Have they been around Spa at speed? We all want consistency, transparency and speed in these matters, and something must change.
There is a precedent. In Japan in 2005 Fernando Alonso immediately repassed Christian Klien’s Jaguar in a similar manner. The race director forced him to let Klien past for a second time.On the other hand, Michael Schumacher was not penalised for maintaining position with a high-speed trip through the run-off area in Hungary 2006 because “he was ahead in the braking area”. So was Hamilton.
So what’s the solution? At Monza the first chicane run-off features sleeping policemen, a slalom and grass. The second chicane is much more open. There could be a safely located “penalty box” where the drivers must momentarily stop. The bottom line is that the track is clearly defined between two solid white lines, but you’ll see numerous transgressions today.
I suspect Hamilton will not get those points back !