I think yesterday was the darkest day for Formula 1 since the Indygate fiasco of 2005. We are used to the FIArrari stewards making ridiculous decisions, but even I was surprised that they did what they did yesterday.
For several hours I was extremely angry. I still am angry in fact. But for the first time since I originally fell in love with the sport in the 1990s, I have considered boycotting Formula 1. I almost shut down this blog. I am still not sure if I can be bothered to watch the Italian Grand Prix. For all I know, the race will be decided away from the race track, so maybe I will just read about it in the politics pages of my newspaper in Monday morning.
If you think I am wrong about the incident — and I am amazed to have seen that some people actually take the FIArrari side — just look at Clive’s thorough and methodial assessment, and Grandprix.com’s report.
A lot of people maintain that Hamilton could not have gained enough momentum to overtake Kimi Räikkönen at La Source unless he went through the escape road at the Bus Stop. But McLaren say that their data shows that Hamilton was 6 km/h slower than Räikkönen at the start / finish line. The FIA’s timing data — which records the speed of every car that passes the start / finish line — will verify this.
It is clear that Hamilton lifted off to let Räikkönen past. One minute Hamilton was on the right side of Räikkönen’s car. Later he found himself to the left after Räikkönen swerved to take the outside line going into the entry at La Source. He would have been unable to do this unless Hamilton was behind.
The reason Hamilton caught up with Räikkönen again so quickly was because Räikkönen was extremely slow at that point of the race anyway. As I recall, Räikkönen lost around a second per sector to Hamilton on the previous lap and it was pretty clear that Räikkönen was struggling badly while Hamilton felt more comfortable. I do not accept the notion that Hamilton should hold back from passing Räikkönen for a corner or two when Räikkönen is losing so much time.
Can you, with your hand on your heart, say that Felipe Massa deserved to win the race? Because that is what the stewards are asking us to swallow. Well, I will not swallow it. I will spit it straight out and stamp on it.
It’s not just the fact that the stewards got it so wrong in Belgium. It is partly the fact that the stewards have insulted the intelligence of F1 fans for the second race running. It is partly the fact that we had an excellent race absolutely ruined. It is partly the fact that the stewards — yet again — farcically amended the result after the race.
The absurd Hamilton penalty is just one of a run of dodgy decisions made by stewards in recent races. Bruno Senna was penalised for an unsafe exit in Saturday’s GP2 feature race in Belgium. The incident was curiously similar to Massa’s in Valencia, except that Senna had the excuse of having to deal with extra wheelspin due to a wet track. Senna made sure that he pointed out on television that Massa was let off for the same incident.
It is becoming far to blatant now. The Ferrari International Assistance simply must be stopped. I have a new project in mind. I am going to set up a new website that will aim to be a comprehensive guide to every single contentious decision made in Formula 1.
I hope to log every penalty decision that the stewards make in detail — the driver and the constructor, the grand prix, the rule that was broken and the penalty that was handed out. It will also cover contentious incidents that went unpunished. This way we can easily compare similar incidents
If the FIA really are not biased towards Ferrari, our logs will show it. This new website will not be a place for any partisan posturing or foot-stamping. It will simply detail the facts — and then the fans of motor sport can make up their own minds.
I still need to think about how I am going to implement this. To succeed, it will probably have to be a collaborative effort, but we need to be careful that no-one is able to abuse the website and distort its intentions. I think it might be best to make it a Wiki.
But first of all, I am going to sleep on it. I may as well gather some advice. Do you think it’s a good idea? What format should the new site take? And would anyone be willing to help?
It feels like the sort of thing that I will think is silly when I wake up in the morning. But I am fed up with this. I am deciding now we either need to push harder for F1’s power brokers to change their attitude, or I will just stop watching F1. I can’t take this seriously any more. It is no longer just the odd decision here or there. It is now happening on a race-by-race basis. It is time someone put the sport back into motor sport — and it may as well be us.