I didn’t think that Hamilton blocked Räikkönen, but now I do

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.


  1. Whilst you make some interesting points, you are lacking some important info in making your assessment of Lewis’ response to the ‘blocking’ accusations. First, given the topography of the Interlagos circuit, there is every chance that, on first looking in his mirrors, Raikkonen was not visible. As for your “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.” comment, I’m sorry to say that it’s not as simple as that. Wing mirror vibration isn’t necessarily related directly to vehicle speed, it’s primarily related to resonant frequency. The mirrors will have a resonant frequency that causes them to vibrate if/when something on the car generates that exact frequency. It’s quite likely that the mirrors are designed so as not to vibrate during highspeed phases (i.e. they are tuned to avoid any frequencies generated at high speed) and this may mean that they do encounter their resonant frequency at other conditions (i.e. in the pits, idling, etc). Next time you’re on a bus, look at the mirrors and see if they vibrate….chances are they will when the bus is idling but will be perfectly stable once the engine is off idle.

    As for the L’Equipe interview, having made your feelings felt from the position of critic, perhaps you should consider how you would react if, for example, you were Lewis and you were accused by the media of childish behaviour (i.e. you can get away with it so long as you apologise) when in fact you are doing the best job you can in difficult and high-pressure circumstances? I think i would probably react the same way and just walk away from an ill-considered comment such as that.

    And don’t mistake ‘smarmy and arrogant’ for young and confident. Some people do have ultimate faith in their abilities and, for those of us that don’t, it’s all to easy to dismiss it as arrogance. Given Lewis’ age (21?), i’m in awe of his abilities and hope he raises the trophy today. There are drivers out there who are far less worthy of such an accolade and have conducted themselves in such an unprofessional manner that i’m surprised any team in the c’hip would consider them for a 2008 seat.

  2. Funnily enough Hamilton found his mirrors perfectly usable today as he tried to avoid someone rear-ending him.

    Let’s look at it a different way – if Hamilton was turning into that corner on a hot lap, and it was Alonso that “didn’t see him” and caused him to slide and lose time, you can be absolutely sure the view of the British media would be very different. It’s an incident that very much depends on the prejudices involved.

    Max Mosely described it last year as Alonso was penalised at Monza for “holding up” Massa – he said the rules are very clear, if the driver on an out or in lap affects a driver on a hot lap, he IS in the wrong. It’s up to the drivers on out or in laps not to affect the lap of anyone on a hot lap. Not merely to stay out the way, but to ensure they don’t affect the lap. As Raikonnen passed Hamilton was too close to the corner and not over to the side – it was certainly not clear to Raikonnen if he was going to be in a huge accident or not (as Kimi himself said). In such a case I think Hamilton was *extremely* lucky to escape without penalty.

    Still, perhaps if Hamilton hadn’t done that Kimi wouldn’t have brake-tested him into T2, allowing Alonso past. What goes around…

  3. The problem is Mosley was making things up when he described the rules – there has never been a rule to say the driver on an outlap must move over for the driver on a hotlap. The rules (since Monza) say a driver must not deliberately impede another. Nothing else.