As the week goes on, we are given one reminder after another that the FIA prefers to rule F1 as a bloated parliamentary bureaucracy instead of as race directors. Flashback to the Australian GP during the last safety car period. Hamilton passed Jarno Trulli when his car went off course, despite a very respectable effort of starting from pitlane and bringing his car up to 3rd position. Hamilton passed him since he was off circuit, and then later slowed down so much that Jarno thought he was having problems, so Jarno retook the position while the safety car was still out.
After the race, Hamilton told Speed TV that he slowed because his team told him to let Jarno past. Apparently, later Hamilton told a different story to the race stewards.
The race stewards ruling was that Jarno had overtaken Lewis under safety car and was therefore given a 25 second penalty, dropping him from the third step on the podium to 12th allowing Lewis to score 6 points.
Toyota considered appealing the ruling, but decided that there would be little benefit in such action. Presumably because of a somewhat similar situation last year:
The International Court of Appeal’s decision in full:
At the Grand Prix of Belgium, run on 7 September 2008, and counting towards the 2008 FIA Formula One World Championship, the Stewards of the meeting imposed a drive-through penalty upon the driver of car No. 22, Lewis Hamilton, for a breach of Article 30.3 (a) of the 2008 FIA Formula One Sporting Regulations and Appendix L, Chapter 4, Article 2 (g) of the International Sporting Code.
As the drive-through penalty was imposed at the end of the race, 25 seconds were added to the driver’s elapsed race time in accordance with Article 16.3 of the FIA 2008 Formula One Sporting Regulations.
Article 152 of the International Sporting Code states that drive-through penalties are “not susceptible to appeal”.
The competitor Vodafone McLaren Mercedes appealed the Steward’s decision before the International Court of Appeal in a hearing in Paris on September 22nd.
Having heard the explanations of the parties the Court has concluded that the appeal is inadmissible.
However, this afternoon the FIA announced that Lewis Hamilton will be called to the stewards office in Malaysia to answer new questions. The FIA cites that they now have the full radio broadcasts between the driver and the team which have shed new light on the situation, further Hamilton’s own prolific orations to Speed TV also stand to accuse him.
If the FIA deems that Lewis Hamilton intentionally yielded the position back to Jarno on the track, despite his earlier testimony to the contrary, the arbitrary (and now retroactive) hand of FIA justice shall once again come down with unknown consequences from possibly giving Jarno his podium back to slapping Lewis with the same 25 second penalty or even worse.
Indeed this is a pretty silly situation since most racing governing bodies actually have this thing called race control where they monitor the entire race and levy penalties for illegalities almost immediately instead of going through a tedious and agonizing process of announcing that the stewards are reviewing such and such several laps after the incident happened and then again several laps later so and so is assessed a drive through penalty.
Not to be cynical, but F1 is the pinnacle of modern motorsport but most Saturday night short tracks here in the states have more consistent and immediate lawyering of the rules. Maybe it is time that the backwater bureaucracy of the FIA catches up with the sport they so desperately cling to for relevance and hires full time stewards for all races and improves their technical abilities to referee this sport.