Lewis Hamilton has yet again found himself in the middle of a row about his on-track actions. This time there are accusations that he blocked Kimi Räikkönen during qualifying.
When I watched it on television I felt that Hamilton did not do enough to get out of Räikkönen’s way, but to me there was no clear intention to block Kimi Räikkönen. So Hamilton wasn’t completely innocent, but he wasn’t completely guilty either.
The FIA have handed out draconian punishments for less obvious cases of “impeding” another driver, so once again it looks as though they are turning a blind eye to Hamilton’s transgressions. However, as I pointed out two days ago, the FIA’s rules often border on the ridiculous, and the “impeding” rule is one of them.
That is not to say that I think drivers should get away with deliberately blocking other drivers. But all too often we see drivers getting handed a five-position grid penalty for seemingly little reason at all. The most graphic example of this was when Fernando Alonso was penalised at last year’s Italian Grand Prix for “impeding” Felipe Massa, who was hundreds of metres behind.
In order to justify a punishment, surely it must be demonstrated that a driver deliberately intended to cost the other driver time. I know this is not what the FIA rule says, but this is how it should be in my view. And it looked to me as though Hamilton did not intend to cost Kimi Räikkönen time. Räikkönen was put off, for sure, but I didn’t think there was much else Hamilton could to about the situation.
That is what I used to think. However, having read some of his post-qualifying interviews, I am less than convinced that Hamilton is innocent here. This is because a lot of what Hamilton says appears to be steaming bullshit.
There’s no reason for me to do anything to Kimi…
Hah! We all know that that is completely false. Yeah, there’s no reason other than the fact that he is a Championship rival and this is the last race of the season!
…when you’re at that sort of speed your mirrors are vibrating and you can’t see too much.
Oh what a load of bum! It might be true that the mirrors are vibrating, but surely Hamilton is used to this by now. They must be usable — otherwise there would be no point in having them. He wasn’t even going at full speed, so they wouldn’t have been vibrating as much as normal.
And Hamilton would be among the first to complain when a back-marker doesn’t get out of his way quickly enough. I’ll be ready to pull out this quote the next time Hamilton complains about back-markers not looking in their mirrors.
This is what I mean when I call Hamilton smarmy and arrogant. He just cooks up these bad excuses all the time and expects to get away with it. What’s worse is that he actually does get away with it! He might as well smirk, say “it wisnae me” and run off.
Hamilton’s comments came during an exchange with a journalist for L’Equipe, Anne Giuntini. Giuntini came in for criticism for instigating a “ridiculous exchange”. It does indeed seem as though the journalist went way over the top.
But she made several good points. Her first question (not in perfect English, but the gist of the question is clear), “Is everything good to become a world champion?” is perfectly valid. As I have pointed out several times on this blog, Hamilton’s on-track actions have sometimes been downright ugly. And if you ask me there have been enough of these questionable actions to keep Michael Schumacher satisfied for three seasons, never mind one incomplete season.
Hamilton’s attempt to turn one of Giuntini’s questions back on the journalist showed that he completely missed the point of the question.
“Is that what you call the best job?” Giuntini continued.
Hamilton: “Yes. How are you at your job? Are you the best at your job? You never made mistakes….no?”
Giuntini asked Hamilton about his cheating. In reply, Hamilton sarcastically asked Giuntini about her mistakes — a complete strawman.
Giuntini’s final question is the best for me. And Hamilton’s response is the most revealing.
“Do you think you can do everything you want and then you just apologise – is that the way it works in Formula One?”
“I’m not going to answer that,” Hamilton finally snapped. “I just don’t want to talk to you, to be honest.”
Giuntini’s question is, for me, a sound interpretation of Hamilton’s behaviour this season. Hamilton refused to answer the question, which speaks volumes to me.
I can only think of two reasons for Hamilton’s reaction. Either Hamilton really does think he can do whatever he wants as long as he apologises later, or he simply does not accept the idea of being held to account for his actions.