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Bad calls by race control


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#1 wingwalker

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Posted 09 August 2009 - 19:03

You guessed right, it's yet another summer break thread.

In which cases race control (not stewards, who needs another 100 pages long thread?) got it wrong, and why?

Tragic and obvious one from 1978: Huge shunt caused by race starting too early. Ronnie Peterson dies later at the hospitalvideo


France 2007 or 08? Raikkonen does a couple of laps with exhaust pipe flapping around, which is picked up by cameras. He is not black flagged, exhaust eventually goes off without hitting anyone. Recent Surtees and Massa accidents show how optimistic it was not to bring him to the pits so mechanics could remove the exhaust there.

2004 Ralf Schumacher crashes heavily and stops on track. Martin Brundle points out that SC should have led the cars through the pitlane to avoid debries. I think there was a change in red flag policy at some point in early 00's: Burti crash at Spa caused a red flag even though car stopped a fair bit from the track while Schumacher and Kubica crashes also required a medical assistance and were far worse in terms of debries on track but still, it was decided SC is enough.

Talking about Kubica crash, I don't see much consistency in usage of SC there. Once it's out, the other time with a very similar accident it's only local yellows etc.

Edited by wingwalker, 09 August 2009 - 19:51.


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#2 Atreiu

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Posted 09 August 2009 - 19:16

- Not red flagging the start at Hockenheim 2003 or Albert Park 2002;
- SC at the start of the 2007 Japanese GP.

#3 ensign14

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Posted 09 August 2009 - 19:19

1957 Morocco Grand Prix. Jack Brabham's Cooper is repaired in the garages behind pit road, which is not allowed. Nevertheless Brabham goes back out for some testing.

Race director Toto Roche gets ready to black flag Brabham, but John Cooper taps him on the shoulder at just the right moment. And does it again the following lap, and the following.

An infuriated Roche blackflags the first car he sees.

Which just happens to be that of Juan Manuel Fangio.

#4 GrzegorzChyla

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Posted 09 August 2009 - 19:20

Talking about Kubica crash

... it begun when Kubica was standing at pitline exit, at red light and Trulli was approaching.
When the light turned green Trulli had a rolling start and overtook Kubica.
Then after race resumed, Kubica was (too) desperate to regain position and... we all saw what happened.
There was no action against Trulli.


#5 Ross Stonefeld

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Posted 09 August 2009 - 19:38

- Not red flagging the start at Hockenheim 2003 or Albert Park 2002;
- SC at the start of the 2007 Japanese GP.


These aren't incorrect or even controversial calls, they are just personal preference.

#6 FI-Addict

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Posted 09 August 2009 - 19:54

Imola 1999, Coulthard was held up for several laps by backmarkers, Panis and Fisichella if I remember correctly. Neither was punished and it arguably lost Coulthard the win or at least the chance to challenge for victory.

#7 Ross Stonefeld

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Posted 09 August 2009 - 19:58

That wasn't a bad call though, it was simply the rules at the time, which were amended shorty afterwards to the current blue flag procedure we have now.

#8 Atreiu

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Posted 09 August 2009 - 20:00

These aren't incorrect or even controversial calls, they are just personal preference.



I didn't know you were appointed as the judge for this.

#9 Ross Stonefeld

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Posted 09 August 2009 - 20:02

Well try coming up with a questionable call by race control rather than one you would have liked to see different. The two races you think should have been red flagged were fine using the SC instead, and starting wet races behind the safety car has been standard practice for years. It's not even a judgement call, it's just the way things are.

Though at the very least people aren't bringing up the actual questionable calls which will turn this thread into another no-go zone.

#10 Kucki

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Posted 09 August 2009 - 20:16


Edited by Kucki, 09 August 2009 - 20:17.


#11 OfficeLinebacker

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Posted 09 August 2009 - 20:20

I believe that was a stewards' decisions. Ridiculous and wrong, but not what this thread is about.

#12 ensign14

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Posted 09 August 2009 - 20:21

The Surfers' Paradise that Dominguez "won". Run the entire race behind the pace car so whoever stops first, wins. Genius.

#13 Ross Stonefeld

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Posted 09 August 2009 - 20:23

That was indeed one of the most baffling calls I've ever seen. The conditions were unchanged throughout the event so either you call it at minimum distance, maximum distance, or two hour time limit. Iirc Surfers 02 was ended almost at random.

#14 ashnathan

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Posted 09 August 2009 - 20:29

Hamilton's penalty last year in Spa.

Allowing Schumacher to win the 98 British grand prix.

Not penalising Massa in Valencia last year for the Pit lane exit with Sutil.

Allowing Ide to start another GP after his debut (lol)

#15 John B

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Posted 09 August 2009 - 20:53

Sterling Marlin won a NASCAR race in the early 2000s in part because he got a pit speed penalty but his team was never informed.

The tire-related wreckfest at the Charlotte night race in 2005.

The 'fueler's apparel' penalty this year that cost the Highcroft ALMS team Long Beach this year. A bunch overall from sports car racing for tic tac stuff recently, including Penske losing a win because their prototype bumped a GT2 car in the confines of Detroit last year.

Hard to beat the Dominguez win though....



#16 stevvy1986

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Posted 10 August 2009 - 00:05

- Not red flagging the start at Hockenheim 2003 or Albert Park 2002;
- SC at the start of the 2007 Japanese GP.


Hockenheim 2003 didn't need a red flag at all in my view, not by a long shot.
Melbourne 2002 I'm not sure about, but my first reaction when I saw all the cars all over the place was to shout out 'RED FLAG SURELY' (despite it being about 3am)
SC start at Fuji 07 (particularly being out for so long) didn't make sense because the conditions were no different at the end to how they were at the start

#17 Brawn BGP 001

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Posted 10 August 2009 - 00:18

The Surfers' Paradise that Dominguez "won". Run the entire race behind the pace car so whoever stops first, wins. Genius.

That was just bizzare.

#18 Tolyngee

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Posted 10 August 2009 - 00:53

Allowing Schumacher to win the 98 British grand prix.


Funny, I was going to mention the 1994 British GP...


#19 Brawn BGP 001

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Posted 10 August 2009 - 00:58

Allowing Schumacher to win the 98 British grand prix.

I think this is why Ferrari were so sucessful during the Schumacher years Todt, Brawn et al knew the rules well and they knew when to take full advantage of loopholes, if a team like Jordan or Sauber got the stop and go penalty I doubt they would have gone for Ferrari's approach.

Edited by Brawn BGP 001, 10 August 2009 - 00:58.


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#20 Ross Stonefeld

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Posted 10 August 2009 - 04:41

The thing about that situation was I still don't understand how the rule book allows you to finish the race without taking the penalty.

#21 lustigson

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Posted 10 August 2009 - 06:41

The thing about that situation was I still don't understand how the rule book allows you to finish the race without taking the penalty.

Well, the funny thing is that they won the race while taking the penalty. But there was more to it:

Two laps from the finish, Schumacher was issued with a stop-and-go penalty, meaning he had to drive through the pit lane obeying the speed limit, stop at his pit box and remain stationary for ten seconds before leaving the pits and continuing with the race. The penalty was given for passing Wurz under the safety car, as the safety car regulations continue to apply until the start/finish line is crossed. The penalty should have been issued within 25 minutes but Ferrari were informed 6 minutes after the limit had expired. The handwritten notification was also unclear as to which penalty was actually being issued: a 10s stop/go, or 10 seconds added to Schumacher's race time (a penalty which could only be used to punish an infraction in the last 12 laps). However on the final lap of the race, Schumacher came in to serve the penalty and in doing so crossed the finish line (which extends across the pit lane) before reaching his pit box and before Mika Häkkinen crossed the finish line on the race track. However, because the stewards had incorrectly issued the penalty Schumacher escaped punishment as the stewards later rescinded the penalty. A protest was lodged by McLaren-Mercedes who felt Ferrari cheated by not having Schumacher serve the penalty, was rejected by the FIA. As a result the three stewards involved handed in their licences at an extraordinary meeting of the FIA World Council


Edited by lustigson, 10 August 2009 - 06:43.


#22 ensign14

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Posted 10 August 2009 - 07:11

I can't help but think Ferrari were penalized at that race deliberately so that they were NOT penalized.

#23 Ross Stonefeld

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Posted 10 August 2009 - 08:07

So in effect he didn't serve the penalty anyways (the race ended before he did) but it was irrelevant because the penalty was later made void. In a sense the whole incident never happened.

#24 Snap Matt

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Posted 10 August 2009 - 08:17

Rosberg can't have believed his luck at the Singapore GP last year, being allowed to pull out all that time when his pitting penalty was inevitable. I know the stewards had bigger fish to fry at that particular moment, but it was an open and shut case for his penalty.

#25 Ross Stonefeld

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Posted 10 August 2009 - 08:19

There's always been a multi-lap buffer built into any penalty though, how often do we have immediate enforcement?

#26 Victor_RO

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Posted 10 August 2009 - 08:26

Bad calls by Race Control? Starting the 1989 and 1991 Australian GPs.

#27 aditya-now

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Posted 10 August 2009 - 08:39

1957 Morocco Grand Prix. Jack Brabham's Cooper is repaired in the garages behind pit road, which is not allowed. Nevertheless Brabham goes back out for some testing.

Race director Toto Roche gets ready to black flag Brabham, but John Cooper taps him on the shoulder at just the right moment. And does it again the following lap, and the following.

An infuriated Roche blackflags the first car he sees.

Which just happens to be that of Juan Manuel Fangio.


This is an unbelievable story!!!

What happened - Juan Manuel Fangio stopped? Who won the race, was Jack Brabham finally disqualified?


#28 wingwalker

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Posted 10 August 2009 - 08:49

There's always been a multi-lap buffer built into any penalty though, how often do we have immediate enforcement?




Right, which leads to bulk of 'will be investigated after the race' announcement at laps 8th-ish nonsense. But I think it's stewards, not RC call. Still total BS and obviously bad for F1.



The Kubica-Trulii in the pits is a good one, I remember being baffled about at that time. I guess stewards missed it and no haven't thought about later as Kubica crash a few minutes later. Trulli later crashed out too so everyone moved on.

In the last Silverstone GP, I think it was a mistake not to SC the race so marshals could clean up the debris after Bourdais-Kovalainen track. It stripped the track from one of potential overtaking spots as everyone needed to stick to the racing line after the accident, plus it really wasn't safe. As with Kimi in France, I guess it would have been a different call in post-Surtees/Massa accidents.

#29 Buttoneer

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Posted 10 August 2009 - 09:10

There's always been a multi-lap buffer built into any penalty though, how often do we have immediate enforcement?

This is true and expected for the serving of a penalty. However, in this case the stewards took far longer that necessary to take the decision to penalise.

#30 Ross Stonefeld

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Posted 10 August 2009 - 09:17

Not when you consider they had the safety car and its issues to deal with, plus the Massa fuel hose.

#31 Zippel

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Posted 10 August 2009 - 09:43

The Schumacher-Montoya incident at the start of the Malaysia GP 2002, which seem to start this whole 'avoidable incident' thing. Bad enough as that call was, it became worse when Schumacher caused an avoidable incident at the start of the very next race by clipping off Montoya's front wing as he moved to look up the inside but no penalty. Utterly confusiing rulings.

Edited by Zippel, 10 August 2009 - 22:03.


#32 Snap Matt

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Posted 10 August 2009 - 09:44

Not when you consider they had the safety car and its issues to deal with, plus the Massa fuel hose.

Safety car, sure, but shouldn't they deal with the other incidents chronologically? It smacks of interference in the race order.

#33 SpeedRacer`

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Posted 10 August 2009 - 10:25

That wasn't a bad call though, it was simply the rules at the time, which were amended shorty afterwards to the current blue flag procedure we have now.

No, the blue flag rules were already enforced well before 1999.

A 10 second stop-go penalty if you ignored more than 3 blue flags.

#34 Buttoneer

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Posted 10 August 2009 - 11:36

Not when you consider they had the safety car and its issues to deal with, plus the Massa fuel hose.

The imposition of a penalty for entering the pitlane when not allowed is such an easy one, it should have taken moments to impose and communicate to the teams. I guess we're not going to agree.

#35 Ross Stonefeld

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Posted 10 August 2009 - 11:40

No, becuase that's not how the F1 penalty system works and never has. Hell I'd love someone jump the start just to see how many laps it takes for them to run through the penalty procedures.

#36 Buttoneer

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Posted 10 August 2009 - 11:52

No, becuase that's not how the F1 penalty system works and never has.

So enlighten us.

#37 ensign14

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Posted 10 August 2009 - 12:38

This is an unbelievable story!!!

What happened - Juan Manuel Fangio stopped? Who won the race, was Jack Brabham finally disqualified?

It's believable when you consider Toto Roche was involved. His method of race-starting was to stand in front of the pole man, drop the flag, and THEN move out of the way.

Fangio was feeling a bit guilty because he had spun earlier and thought he might have been push-started, so he duly stopped, only to be ushered back on. Roche in the end told John Cooper to pull his own car out of the race or be banned sine die, so Cooper complied, although it didn't really matter as Brabham was so far behind. The race was won by Jean Behra in the end.

Another bad Race Control...Belgian GP 1985. F1 cars were banned from racing there after the resurfacing work broke up in practice. Yet somehow F3000 cars, being powered by the very same engines as were powering one F1 team, were allowed to race...

#38 Paul Taylor

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Posted 10 August 2009 - 12:49

Race Control and the Stewards have meddled way too much with the racing in the last 7 or 8 years and it's ruining it for everyone. It's almost like a zero-tolerance racing series - no incident goes unpunished, no matter what the cause, no matter who was involved, no matter what the implications will be. Drivers are just not allowed to make mistakes anymore without being punished for it.

Edited by Paul Taylor, 10 August 2009 - 12:51.


#39 Ross Stonefeld

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Posted 10 August 2009 - 13:24

So enlighten us.



Err, pay attention more in the races for a start.

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#40 Mat

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Posted 10 August 2009 - 13:30

So in effect he didn't serve the penalty anyways (the race ended before he did) but it was irrelevant because the penalty was later made void. In a sense the whole incident never happened.

exactly. The plan of taking the penalty after the race would never have worked in reality. The only reason they got away with it was due to technicality. From memory, it took the stewards too long to issue the penalty. I think it has to be issued within 25mins?








#41 Mat

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Posted 10 August 2009 - 13:34

Rosberg can't have believed his luck at the Singapore GP last year, being allowed to pull out all that time when his pitting penalty was inevitable. I know the stewards had bigger fish to fry at that particular moment, but it was an open and shut case for his penalty.


There's always been a multi-lap buffer built into any penalty though, how often do we have immediate enforcement?


Not when you consider they had the safety car and its issues to deal with, plus the Massa fuel hose.




Agreed that the above was a terrible decision. It totally altered the outcome of the race. Yes there has always been a multi lap buffer before a panelty is handed out (even though there is no reason why a call couldnt be made very quickly these days - see NASCAR races) but that Rosberg penalty came something like 14 laps after the incident! That is way way too long. 

I always thought it a bad call not penalising Lewis for his actions in Fuji 07 under SC. 

And also bad call by RC in Melbourne this year, not rectifiying the Lewis/Trulli incident immedietly. These are thngs RC should be well on top of. 



#42 Ross Stonefeld

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Posted 10 August 2009 - 13:41

But RC in F1 isn't just making a judgement call and issuing a penalty, you have to consult the entire process or like an actual legal case it's thrown out on a technicality (ie Silverstone 98). So everything takes 20-30minutes to decide.

#43 Henrik B

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Posted 10 August 2009 - 13:49

But RC in F1 isn't just making a judgement call and issuing a penalty, you have to consult the entire process or like an actual legal case it's thrown out on a technicality (ie Silverstone 98). So everything takes 20-30minutes to decide.


Not sure if you're talking about Trulli/Lewis here, but afaik one thing McLaren DIDN'T lie about is that they were trying to get RC to tell them who should be in front of who. They never answered, because they were "too busy" since the SC was out. That lead atleast me to reflect upon that RC is staffed by people that are approaching senior citizenship.

Has Spa been mentioned? RC DO have an opinion about if something is OK, then try to lie about it, and then their opinion is considered worth nothing by the FIA.

#44 Buttoneer

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Posted 10 August 2009 - 13:53

But RC in F1 isn't just making a judgement call and issuing a penalty, you have to consult the entire process or like an actual legal case it's thrown out on a technicality (ie Silverstone 98). So everything takes 20-30minutes to decide.

No they were not making a 'judgement call' at all. What Kubica and Rosberg did was insta-penalty stuff so no consideration required. Regardless of what else might be going on, there was really no excuse to take so much time and so many laps to impose the penalty.

#45 Ross Stonefeld

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Posted 10 August 2009 - 14:15

Unless you have the race control transcripts to hand that's just speculation. What we do know is there is almost never instant decisions on penalties in F1. That's not a reflection of the people but the system, which is intentionally complex so as to be thorough.

#46 Mat

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Posted 10 August 2009 - 14:52

But RC in F1 isn't just making a judgement call and issuing a penalty, you have to consult the entire process or like an actual legal case it's thrown out on a technicality (ie Silverstone 98). So everything takes 20-30minutes to decide.


If all penalty's took over 25 minutes for a decision, then all would be null and void.

The process is fine enough as it is, although can be much improved, the Rosberg case is a good example of the process taking too long. 



#47 simpson

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Posted 10 August 2009 - 14:57

Hamilton/Trulli:

It all happened because Hamilton knew the rules and his pit didn't. If a car goes completely off the track, you can pass. Letting Trulli back past was a big mistake as Hamilton communicated back, but he did it any way to follow instructions from the pits.

Imagine RC though. The initial pass happens and 30 seconds later Trulli repasses. Then 15 seconds later (all my rough estimates of time) McLaren ask if the original pass was correct. RC would have to 1) look at telemetry or camera footage (not readily available as it wasn't shown live) of whether Trulli left the track completely, or 2) ask Toyota to confirm through Trulli if he was completely off (I can imagine Trulli saying "You tell me if I was off!"), 3) establish exactly where Hamilton and Trulli are now and 4) decide if positions should be changed. All that to possibly rectify a driver's illegal or legal pass. I don't think that explaining the rules to the competitors is RC's job during the heat of the race.

It all went wrong when McLaren foolishly "fibbed" that they didn't intentionally let Trulli past. Actually, I wonder if Hamilton didn't intentionally let him by, but rather Trulli jumped at any hesitation because he mistakenly thought that Hamilton shouldn't have passed. The radio communication certainly made it look like McLaren had ordered the repass, though, and they should have known that they'd have to live with that impression.

Edited by simpson, 10 August 2009 - 14:59.


#48 Mat

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Posted 10 August 2009 - 14:58

Unless you have the race control transcripts to hand that's just speculation. What we do know is there is almost never instant decisions on penalties in F1. That's not a reflection of the people but the system, which is intentionally complex so as to be thorough.


So would you say they have been thorough in their decision making? 


Unfortunately, the inentionally complex system is hopelessly slow and inconsistant. 



#49 Snap Matt

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Posted 10 August 2009 - 14:59

Unless you have the race control transcripts to hand that's just speculation. What we do know is there is almost never instant decisions on penalties in F1. That's not a reflection of the people but the system, which is intentionally complex so as to be thorough.

I agree with what you're saying about the system needing to be robust. It's rarely as slow as it was in Singapore however and frequently decisions come through within a couple of laps.

In the Singapore case, it just amazed me that they shelved the obvious cases of Rosberg and Kubica while they debated what to do with the subsequent Massa incident, possibly slowed down by the poor precedent that had been set in Valencia a few weeks earlier. If people had continued to carry out infringements that were slightly out of the ordinary every few laps, would RC have ended up missing the cut-off point to give the stop-go penalties that everyone instantly knew were coming?

#50 Snap Matt

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Posted 10 August 2009 - 15:06

Hamilton/Trulli:

It all happened because Hamilton knew the rules and his pit didn't. If a car goes completely off the track, you can pass. Letting Trulli back past was a big mistake as Hamilton communicated back, but he did it any way to follow instructions from the pits.

Imagine RC though. The initial pass happens and 30 seconds later Trulli repasses. Then 15 seconds later (all my rough estimates of time) McLaren ask if the original pass was correct. RC would have to 1) look at telemetry or camera footage (not readily available as it wasn't shown live) of whether Trulli left the track completely, or 2) ask Toyota to confirm through Trulli if he was completely off (I can imagine Trulli saying "You tell me if I was off!"), 3) establish exactly where Hamilton and Trulli are now and 4) decide if positions should be changed. All that to possibly rectify a driver's illegal or legal pass. I don't think that explaining the rules to the competitors is RC's job during the heat of the race.

It all went wrong when McLaren foolishly "fibbed" that they didn't intentionally let Trulli past. Actually, I wonder if Hamilton didn't intentionally let him by, but rather Trulli jumped at any hesitation because he mistakenly thought that Hamilton shouldn't have passed. The radio communication certainly made it look like McLaren had ordered the repass, though, and they should have known that they'd have to live with that impression.

I think McLaren were a bit paranoid after Spa 2008 too. They'd asked for verification from RC in that instance and in Melbourne perhaps thought it better to rectify the position after the race instead of taking what they feared could be a gamble, particularly if they didn't have any pictures to back up the judgement required. Obviously it was the wrong decision, even before you look at how they conducted the meeting afterwards. Like you say, though, it isn't RC's job to explain the rules to competitors mid-race, but it does make you wonder why there is a "hot line" to RC from each pit wall in that case.