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Thursday, September 11, 2008

Harsh penalty, but the rules are clear

Lewis Hamilton has no doubt he did nothing wrong last weekend at Spa. If he’s looking for support, he’ll have to rely on the press and the fans, however, because he’s not going to find much from his fellow drivers.

Sebastien Bourdais (Toro Rosso), Giancarlo Fisichella (Force India), Felipe Massa (Ferrari), Nico Rosberg (Williams) and Jarno Trulli (Toyota) all had their say when asked from the floor at Thursday's Italian Grand Prix press conference about the penalty, and while most agreed it was harsh, the general consensus was Hamilton did gain an advantage.

Q: (Ian Parkes - The Press Association) Felipe, Lewis has just remarked at his McLaren press conference that despite what happened and the penalty in Spa, that he's coming here on a high, he feels like he's coming here as a race winner. I'm just wondering if, from your perspective, do you feel the same thing, that you're coming here as a race winner, even though the win was effectively handed to you by the stewards?

Felipe Massa: To be honest, I've given my ideas on this many times about what happened. What's happened is that he took an advantage by cutting the chicane. You can ask other drivers how many overtaking manoeuvres you see there: no overtaking. Going from the last corner to the first corner is such a small straight, so he took an advantage, that's clear, that's my opinion, so it doesn't change.

Q: (Dan Knutson - National Speed Sport News) Could I ask the other four drivers what they thought about that incident and Kimi, and as a follow-up, do you think you and other drivers might be afraid to fight for a position now that you might get a penalty?

Giancarlo Fisichella: I have just seen pictures, so it is difficult for me to say whether what happened was right or not. For sure, maybe, he took a small advantage, that's why he had the possibility, as Felipe said, to overtake him again in braking for turn one. But obviously, a 25s penalty was quite a strong penalty. As for the second question: when we get in the car and we're fighting to overtake a car, we don't think about that. We just try to do our best. Obviously we know if we cut a chicane or we take an advantage we need to back off and give the position back.

Sebastien Bourdais: Yes, I think the rules are very clear. Maybe the penalty was a bit hard, but I think he's made the same mistake twice: he's done it in Magny-Cours and he's done it again in Spa. I don't really understand why there's been such a mess around it. There's a rule book and everybody has to obey the same thing. The penalty is really rough but in the end it's up to you to give the position back or not. Pretty straightforward.

Nico Rosberg: Yeah, I definitely agree, because he did get an advantage, because he wouldn't have been that close behind Kimi had he not cut the chicane. But then again, I also think the penalty was a bit harsh as that did not have such a big effect on the actual race result in the end.

Jarno Trulli: Well, I agree completely with my colleagues. The penalty was quite big but I'm not a steward and I cannot decide what kind of penalty should be given. But on the other hand, it was very clear that he got an advantage out of it, so that's where it is. The rules are very clear. If you cut the chicane and you get an advantage, you just have to drop back and give back the position and in Lewis's case he shouldn't have attacked straight away at the next corner; that was it. On the other hand, with this new chicane, there is a lot of run-off, it gives you more chance to attack because in the case of a mistake, you wouldn't end up in a wall or in the gravel. If it was the case of Lewis in Spa, he wouldn't have gone much further than that. We have more chances to overtake.

Sebastien Bourdais: I think it was very clear and I agree as well. You have to be responsible for what you decide to do, and in this particular case, if you do gain an advantage like I said, you just give it back and make sure that you don't expose yourself to penalties. I think it's the easiest way to handle it. In my previous experience, my previous life in the States, it was actually a common thing. The stewards would not take action if you gave the position back, so I think it's only fair.

Nico Rosberg: I agree and I don't think it's going to stop us from trying to attack, definitely.

Q: (Ian Parkes - The Press Association) To any one of you: although it says in the rules you give a place back, does it say in the rules how much advantage you are supposed to give back? Because Lewis was effectively second both crossing the line - the time sheets prove that - and also going into the La Source hairpin. Just for clarification because we don't know the rules like you guys do.

Sebastien Bourdais: The rules are available for everybody to read I think and they are very clear. You gain an advantage, you gain an advantage. It doesn't matter how big it is, if you end up being in a position to pass at the next corner then you gain an advantage, because at that place, as everybody said, you are never going to be in a position to pass, if you exit the chicane normally behind the guy, because it stretches out, it's normal. It's very simple, I think.
-- Formula1.com

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Well, if that many drivers think there was an advantage gained, that's enough for me. Previously, I thought he had given enough back. Then again, I've never raced one of those cars. I'll take the opinion of the experts.

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