Interesting that Hamilton has been penalised for his move at the Belgian GP. I’m one of the dissenters Adam mentioned in his blog, by the way. I think it’s harsh and maybe not quite fair, but I’m not surprised. He did a naughty thing and I blame Senna and Schumacher as much as Hamilton.
But more on that later.
When I saw that incident live, I – like many others, no doubt – shouted at the TV “you’ve got to let him through, you’ve got to let him through”, directed at Hamilton because he hadn’t made the corner and shouldn’t take advantage.
I shouted that because I really wanted Hamilton to win and not get penalised – I liked the way he was hunting down Kimi. And I’m a Kimi fan. Then I noticed that he’d not backed off enough. That he’d used the extra momentum and his car’s position to give himself a better chance to attack Raikkonen at the hairpin. And at that point I thought ‘sneaky little b*****d’.
I haven’t done much racing but I’ve done enough to know that you can’t get on the throttle at the same time as the car in front of you, if you’re right behind him. Logic dictates that you’ll pass the point you can apply maximum throttle slightly after the guy in front does, that he will be able to get on the throttle earlier, and he will therefore accelerate at a greater rate as you head down the next straight. In this case, the straight wasn’t long enough to allow slipstreaming to negate such a disadvantage.
What Hamilton did, in the split seconds between being forced to cut the chicane and rejoining the track, was decide that he would get his car straight, get on the throttle early alongside Raikkonen, ease off JUST enough to make it look like he’d eased off enough, then use his momentum to attack Raikkonen more effectively at the next corner. If you’re being hard and not-quite-fair (maybe), Hamilton should be penalised for trying that on. It was a cynical, devious little piece of race craft.
I’ve looked at it time after time, and I can’t think any differently. Sorry, everyone. It was the move of a cheat. Hamilton used the fact that he’d missed the corner, and used the position of his car, to gain an advantage over Raikkonen that he wouldn’t have had if he’d exited the corner behind the Ferrari on the racing line.
Hamilton has learned this sort of cunning from the likes of Senna and Schumacher. Especially the latter, who pushed the rules to the very edge whenever he could, then waited to see whether anything would be done about it. In this case, maybe Hamilton will think twice about such unfair play in the future. I hope so. He’s too talented to have to resort to cheating like this. Because I have no doubt – none whatsoever – that Hamilton was being unfair coming out of that corner. And deep down, I reckon he knows it too.