Your View: Hamilton ‘Swerve’ was penalty worthy

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The FIA announced that it had met with drivers Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel and McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton regarding some on-track actions that warranted a warning from the governing body of F1. What I would like to discuss is the warning to Hamilton.

I was perusing the Times story about the race in which the title of the article (about the race) was “Lewis Hamilton wings in behind Red Bulls”. Now, don’t get me wrong on this one. Local media should always find a local angle on a world event if possible. Kevin Eason has the dubious task of answering the reader’s question which is; “why the heck do I care?”. Well, Mr. Reader, there was a local boy in the race named Lewis Hamilton and he did well given his starting position. That’s all very well and good Mr. Eason, I know the angle you face in mainstream media.

Let me hit you with this statement and get your feedback on it:

He may play fast and loose — with his trademark Schumacher chop — but the fact is that the bigger the mountain his team give Schumacher to climb, the faster he climbs it. And it is fantastic to watch.

To all the Hamilton fans out there, you would tar and feather me for even suggesting such a thing. but here is the actual quote:

He may play fast and loose — yesterday earning a black-and-white flag, a warning for ungentlemanly conduct after weaving to keep Vitaly Petrov’s Renault behind him — but the fact is that the bigger the mountain his team give Hamilton to climb, the faster he climbs it. And it is fantastic to watch.

I appreciate Mr. Eason’s “appreciation” for Hamilton (let’s face it…the guy absolutely loves Hamilton) because the young man had an incredibly good driver Sunday. No questions about it. I also understand why Hamilton’s name is in the header of the article about a race won by Vettel. No harm, no foul…just good local-centric journalism.

What I don’t understand is how anyone could see no less than four (4) swerves to prevent Petrov from passing him as anything other than blocking and penalty worthy. Mr. Eason considers it just “fast and loose” but last weekend Fernando Alonso was accused of brake checking Hamilton when he clearly was trying to do the opposite and out braking him–that is fast and loose.

What if Kimi Raikkonen had done the same thing at Spa Francorchamps in 2008? What if he had swerved multiple times to keep Hamilton from getting a tow down the front straight preventing him from passing? I suspect Hamilton fans would be calling for Raikkonen’s head.

And what of Schumacher’s famous “chop” at the start of the race? Are Hamilton fans now unreservedly fine with that move? I recall having several discussions about it with a few Hamilton fans who thought it was base behavior and should not be allowed and that Hamilton would not have to do something like that because he was more talented than the cheat Schumacher. Well, maybe…I’m just not so sure now.

I have read the argument that the penalty fit the crime because Hamilton was swerving to keep Petrov from gaining a “tow” (benefit from the slipstream) of Hamilton’s car. That Petrov wasn’t actually passing him and therefore it was not blocking. Unless I am missing something, getting a tow and setting the car in front of you up to pass him is all part of…well, passing.

Petrov was seeking the tow in order to pass and a driver is allowed one defensive maneuver. In my mind that should include keeping the bloke on your tail off of your tow because you are being set up to be passed. I may be entirely wrong here and that wouldn’t be the first time but swerving 4 or 5 times to prevent someone from stalking you for a tow and passing you is a bit much folks. Hamilton knew Petrov had to the tow and pace and very likely chance of passing him–otherwise he wouldn’t have bothered swerving.

A drive through penalty would have sufficed, in my opinion. Also, let me be clear–Hamilton had an incredible race today and showed yet again just how talented and massive his skill is. He is a great bloke and a terrific driver so please save hate emails for a real Hamilton hater…I’m not one of them. Don’t get me wrong, I am not in favor of the current trend toward a nanny state that F1 has become so while the moves were exciting from my point of view in racing, it is a rule and rules must apply to all or they are not rules. No, I am not talking about the “Red Rule” here so save the pithy quips. ;)

I feel that swerving 4-5 times to prevent people from setting up their pass on you is blocking. Do you? Remember, keep your discussions civil; we’re just sharing our opinion.

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