Toyota boss John Howett is considering offering Kamui Kobayashi a race seat next year.
The 23-year-old filled in for the injured Timo Glock in Brazil last weekend and managed to finish a respectable 10th.
Not only that, he wasn’t afraid to go wheel to wheel against World Champion Jenson Button (who described him as “absolutely crazy.”)
There is a lot of uncertainty in the driver market at the moment and Toyota are waiting until a board meeting on 15 November to make the final decision on whether to keep racing in F1.
Apparently Jarno Trulli has promised Toyota chairman Tadashi Yamashina that he would not make any decisions on 2010 until after that meeting but I get the impression Jarno’s seat at Toyota is not as secure as he would like. Howett said of Trulli’s position:
We don’t exclude the possibility, but there need to be one or two issues that we get straight.
I’m a bit surprised at the cool reception Howett gave Kobayashi after Brazil, saying he was “a little bit off the pace,” but compared to the efforts of Grosjean and Alguersuari I think he did a great job in his first Grand Prix.
Personally, I would like to see Kobayashi given a drive next year. I was always a fan of Takuma Sato and I can see shades of Takuma’s Banzai spirit in Kamui.
The FIA have released a summary of key considerations in their decision to disqualify Lewis Hamilton from Sunday’s Australian Formula One Grand Prix. The press release also includes recordings of the radio transmissions between Lewis Hamilton and the McLaren team in the closing stages of the 2009 Australian Grand Prix.
There has been a lot of confusion about what exactly happened on Sunday, but here is the rough order of events.
During the final safety car period Jarno Trulli was in 3rd and Lewis Hamilton was in 4th.
Jarno Trulli ran off the track (probably because of cold tyres) and so Hamilton had no choice but to pass him. This is allowed under the rules.
McLaren weren’t sure if Lewis should have made the pass under the safety car and so they asked him to let Trulli take 3rd position back.
Hamilton seemed to think the pass was legal but slowed to let Trulli through anyway.
Trulli sees Hamilton slow down and thinks he has a problem so he passes the McLaren. This is allowed under the rules.
The race ends with Trulli in 3rd and Hamilton in 4th.
During a hearing after the race Lewis Hamilton and his team manager David Ryan are asked whether McLaren told Hamilton to let Trulli through. They denied this was the case.
Trulli is handed a 25 second penalty for passing under the safety car and so Hamilton is awarded 3rd place.
There were two reasons a second hearing was held in Malaysia. Firstly, after the Australian Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton told reporters that McLaren had in fact told him to let Trulli through and secondly, it seems the stewards did not listen to any of the radio transmissions before making their decision to penalise Trulli.
Here is the recording of the radio transmission between Lewis Hamilton and the McLaren team:
McLaren team boss Martin Whitmarsh doesn’t think the team did anything wrong:
We, the team, made a mistake. We did not provide a full account of a radio conversation which we believe was being listened to in any case, and we dont believe was material to the decisions being made by the stewards. At that time, we did not know that Trulli was right off the circuit and Lewis was asked to give back the place to Trulli. That was a team view, having not seen it, and we thought it was the safest thing to do.
Hamilton did not agree but attempts to get an answer from Race Control failed and the the race ended under the Safety Car. McLaren assumed in the hearing that the stewards were aware of the radio exchanges that had taken place but it seems they were not.
The whole thing has been a huge fuckup and it is ridiculous it has taken the FIA so long to come to a definitive decision on the controversy. Speaking to German broadcaster RTL, Former World Champion Niki Lauder called it “the biggest joke of all time”.
The stewards made a mistake in Australia and the statement that Hamilton “acted in a manner prejudicial to the conduct of the event by providing evidence deliberately misleading to the Stewards” just sounds like they are trying to weasel out of a complete failure of the sport’s adminstration.
Why couldn’t McLaren get an answer from race control? Why didn’t the stewards listen to all pertinant evidence before making a decision? And why has it taken so long for the matter to be decided?
A spokesman for the FIA has stated:
Given the seriousness of this matter, we cannot rule out further action at this stage.
Good grief! What could the further action be? Suspension from races or even the rest of the 2009 season?
The Formula One circus continued today with the FIA stripping Lewis Hamilton of all the points he earned in Australia because he “acted in a manner prejudicial to the conduct of the event by providing evidence deliberately misleading to the Stewards.” Toyota’s Jarno Trulli has had his third place finish reinstated.
Confusion has surrounded the result of Sunday’s Australian Grand Prix when Lewis Hamilton passed Jarno Trull under the safety car after Trulli ran off the track. Trulli later passed Hamilton to reclaim third place but was later penalised 25 seconds for passing under the safety car and so dropped to 12th place.
The stewards original ruling suggested that while Hamilton’s pass was legal, Trulli’s was not but the Toyota driver has always claimed that Lewis Hamilton slowed to let him retake third position. Toyota had planned to appeal the decision but later decided the appeal was unlikely to succeed.
A recording of the Toyota radio communications shows how confusing the situation was for trulli:
The statement from the stewards reads:
The Stewards having considered the new elements presented to them from the 2009 Australian Formula One Grand Prix, consider that driver No 1 Lewis Hamilton and the competitor Vodafone McLaren Mercedes acted in a manner prejudicial to the conduct of the event by providing evidence deliberately misleading to the Stewards at the hearing on Sunday 29th March 2009, a breach of Article 151c of the International Sporting Code. Under Article 158 of the International Sporting Code the driver No 1 Lewis Hamilton and the competitor Vodafone McLaren Mercedes are excluded from the race classification for the 2009 Australian Grand Prix and the classification is amended accordingly.
This is a bad start to the season and is only going to encourage the conspiracy theorists who think the FIA have it in for McLaren. Thank god Ferrari aren’t involved.
As I said before, what we need to see now are the “new elements presented” to the stewards. It has been nearly a week and we haven’t seen a post-race report from the stewards explaining their decisions. We have seen video of Hamilton passing Trulli and now we have Toyota’s radio transmissions but what we still haven’t seen is Trulli’s pass of Hamilton and, perhaps most importantly, McLaren’s radio transmissions.
I really hope we get to see all the evidence the stewards had when making their decisions. What is needed is openness and clarity regarding the rules and the stewards interpretation. Is it any wonder that McLaren were worried about Hamilton’s pass on Trulli after being so harshly dealt with at Spa last year?
It just wouldn’t be Formula One without race stewards applying controversial penalties and last weekend’s Australian Grand Prix started the season in fine form.
Hanging over the whole weekend was the question of the legality of the Brawn, Williams and Toyota diffusers. While Rubens Barrichello thinks his car would be quick even without the fancy diffuser and the race stewards declared it legal, Ferrari, Renault and Red Bull are taking their appeal to court on 14 April. Williams made a point by lodging a counter-protest against Ferrari and Red Bull only to withdraw it “in the interests of the sport.” I really hope the case is rejected but until then the results of the Australian Grand Prix and possibly Malaysia will be provisional.
The race itself was subject to some controversial decisions, too. In the final laps, Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel put his car where Robert Kubica’s BMW was and a promising race ended badly for them both.
Vettel was quick to offer his appologies to Kubica and team boss Mario Theissen and was duly handed a 10 place penalty for causing the accident. But was it really his fault? It looked like a racing incident to me. Michael Schumacher seems to think so too, telling Germany’s Bild newspaper:
He (Vettel) was on the inside – he couldn’t make his car dissolve into thin air.
And Kubica himself isn’t too sure either:
It’s difficult to say who is at fault. I think he was a bit optimistic. If that was the last corner of the last lap it’s OK, but in the first race it’s important to score the points. It’s important you understand what position you are in.
Could it be that Vettel was penalised for being too honest? If he had just kept his mouth shut and not been so apologetic perhaps the stewards would have let the incident pass.
Jarno Trulli was another disappointed driver. Before the race even started, Toyota had been found guilty of having a flexible rear wing but after some hasty modifications they were allowed to start from the pits. After a great drive from Trulli we again had the situation where one of the drivers on the podium later has his trophy taken away by the stewards. Ironically it was all caused by the Vettel – Kubica shenanigans. Trulli’s Toyota slipped off the track under the safety car and Lewis Hamilton had no choice but to pass him. According to the rules, overtaking under the safety car is permitted “if any car slows with an obvious problem”, like running off the track.
The problem seems to be that McLaren, understandably nervous about illegal passing manouvers after the 2008 Belgian Grand Prix where Hamilton was deemed to have passed Räikkönen illegally, thought they should hand third place back to Trulli so Lewis slowed and allowed him to pass. Here is a video showing Trulli slipping off the track and Hamilton (legally) going past:
Unfortunately I haven’t found any video of Trulli taking the place back but Jarno clearly felt he had little choice:
I thought he had a problem so I overtook him as there was nothing else I could do.
The 25 second penalty handed down destroyed a great drive by Trulli and Toyota announced their intentions to appeal the decision:
There are circumstances surrounding the incident that we feel have not been taken into consideration. On Sunday, we announced our intention to appeal the ruling to the International Sporting Court of Appeals. We are currently undertaking procedures to formally appeal the ruling within 48 hours, collecting data to be used as proof of our position.
It’s all very confusing. Last year the stewards came in for some criticism over their decisions and according to an FIA meeting back in November of 2008, a number of new stewarding arrangements were to be put in place in 2009, in particular the following:
Following the race, a short written explanation of stewards decisions will be published on the FIA website. This will supplement the formal stewards decision which largely defines the breach of the rules.
The FIA have an awful lot of documentation on their website about lap times and scrutineering checks but the Stewards’ Report is conspicuously absent.
I do hope this information is posted soon as it is important to see how the race stewards arrived at their decisions. At least a Ferrari wasn’t involved so there are no conspiracy theories. Yet.
Brawn GP continued their fairytale first race weekend with a 1-2 finish in the Australian Grand Prix on Sunday. Jenson Button took the chequered flag after leading from the start while team mate Rubens Barrichello finished second despite a poor start and trading paint several times during the race.
Button had driven away to a 47.7s lead only for it to be reduced to nothing when Kazuki Nakajima spun into the wall, drawing out the safety car, but the Brit managed to keep his lead under the restart. Rubens’s chances of a podium looked unlikely until the final laps when Sebastian Vettel and Robert Kubica found themselves in the same place at the same time. Their crash took both cars out of the race and Vettel was later handed a 10-place grid penalty for Malaysia for causing the accident. The Red Bull driver was also fined $50,000 for continuing to drive a damaged car. Although Vettel appologised for the accident, BMW’s Mario Theissen thinks that without the crash Kubica could have reeled in Button and won the race. Whether that is true, we’ll never know, but the BMW was certainly quick.
Toyota’s Jarno Trulli was originally awarded third but continuing the theme of penalties and protests he was later handed a stop-go penalty for passing under the safety car. As this occurred in the final laps of the race this was translated into a 25 second penalty, promoting reigning World Champion Lewis Hamilton to an unexpected third place finish. After going from starting in the pit lane to finishing third, Trulli wasn’t happy:
I can’t say how disappointed I am to finish third but have the result questioned. When the safety car came out towards the end of the race Lewis passed me but soon after he suddenly slowed down and pulled over to the side of the road. I thought he had a problem so I overtook him as there was nothing else I could do.
Neither of the Ferraris finished the race and Aussie Mark Webber continued his tradition of bad luck, especially in his home Grand Prix, by finishing last.
The BBC’s coverage was pretty good; no ads and it was good to hear more radio traffic, especially from Ferrari and McLaren but what is with all the Bernie love? I know the BBC must be happy to have taken F1 from ITV but does their contract include a clause where Eddie Jordan has to praise Ecclestone every chance he gets?
Overall, though, It was a great start to the new season. The racing was close and there were some fantastic drives. Jenson drove a perfect race from lights to flag, rookie Sebastien Buemi scored two points for Toro Rosso on his debut, the Toyotas started from the pit lane but (almost) finished third and fourth and Barichello gave Brawn GP a perfect 1-2 finish despite driving into everyone he could see. The BGP 001 is a tough car and seems to be fast even with bits of its front wing on the track.
But almost as amazing as the first 1-2 finish from a new team for fifty years was Hamilton’s third place. Lewis wrung all he could from the struggling MP4-24 and his drive reminded me of Schumacher who could always somehow salvage a good finish from what seemed an impossible position. Lewis was lucky, though, and his 6 points will only give him and the McLaren engineers a little breathing room until they can find the downforce they are lacking.