Several times on this blog I have recommended The Inside Line podcast with Maurice Hamilton and Ian Phillips. As always, it came up with the goods following the Belgian Grand Prix. Ian Phillips gave his opinion on the incident where Lewis Hamilton cut the chicane.
For those that don’t know, Ian Phillips is Director of Business Affairs at Force India. That team uses Ferrari engines, so Ian Phillips has no particular reason to express an anti-Ferrari viewpoint. Ian Phillips has been in the motor racing business for a long time and has probably seen more motor racing than I can ever hope to watch in my entire lifetime. So his opinion is always worth listening to.
I have transcribed what he said in the podcast below simply because, as it is in podcast form, it is not currently searchable and easy to find on the web. I would highly recommend that you subscribe to the podcast — here is an iTunes link, and here is a non-iTunes one.
The relevant part begins at 6:30. The podcast was recorded before they knew what the outcome of the stewards’ investigation was. According to Maurice Hamilton’s preamble at the beginning, they didn’t even know what the investigation was about, but they did know that there was an investigation. Here is what Ian Phillips had to say:
Lewis — again, this is what we have to state — was mature, because I think it was coming into, was it the last chicane? And he got squeezed by Räikkönen. He was right alongside him — actually… almost in front. Räikkönen squeezed him and made him take the short cut. And you’re not allowed to take that short cut. Well, you can, but you mustn’t gain position.
And of course he came out alongside Räikkönen. But he had the presence of mind straight away — because I don’t think anybody could have told him — he let Räikkönen come alongside. Then he actually let him go in front and pull in front of him. So they went nose to tail. But by the time they got to La Source, he was having another go at him! And it was extraordinary stuff.
But that moment was real maturity and professionalism when he was forced by Räikkönen to cut that chicane and I thought that was great presence of mind. Because he could have thought, “I’ve got this in the bag.” Now that would have been a stewards’ inquiry and that would have been a problem for him.
To my mind he behaved perfectly correctly and did the right thing. I think by then he knew he’d got the upper-hand. I think he’d been frightening Räikkönen. “I’m coming, I’m coming, I’m coming.” And the guy [Kimi Räikkönen] is saying, “Where’s he coming from?!”…
I think the view of the entire paddock is that Lewis is entirely innocent of anything that’s happened in that motor race. He was an absolute hero. Räikkönen was the man making mistakes and ultimately went and threw it in the wall anyway.
But, this is Formula 1. In seven days’ time we’ll be talking from Monza, the home of Ferrari, the reigning world champions. So I won’t predict the outcome of the stewards’ inquiry.