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NEXT RACE - 14th September

Grand Prix of Italy


Whiting's role in Hamilton investigation thrust into the spotlight

Thursday 11th September 2008

Charlie Whiting's role in the stewards' investigation of Lewis Hamilton's move past Kimi Raikkonen during the Belgian GP has been thrust back into the spotlight amid reports that the Race Director advised the stewards to study Hamilton's driving despite previously advising McLaren he had driven within the rules.

In their press release that announced their intention to appeal Hamilton's demotion from first to third, McLaren stressed that they had twice received assurances from race control that Hamilton's manoeuvre was 'okay'. Speaking immediately after the race, team boss Ron Dennis specifically named Whiting as providing those assurances.

Yet while Whiting's approval of Hamilton's move may prove integral to McLaren's defence if their appeal is heard, fresh reports claim that Whiting was also pivotal in the stewards deciding to launch their investigation.

In his blog, The Times F1 correspondent Ed Gorman claims that I have established that, despite having appeared to convey to McLaren that Lewis had done nothing wrong, Whiting himself then played a key role in instigating the formal investigation of the incident by the stewards.

'After every race it is normal procedure, apparently, for the stewards to enquire of the race director if there is anything that should be looked at. Whiting is thought to have said to them that, although he had been in touch with McLaren about the exchange between Lewis and Kimi on lap 42, the stewards may still want to have a look at it themselves.'

It remains unclear - and apparently unknown - whether Whiting specifically advised the three stewards that he had assured the McLaren pitwall that he felt Hamilton's move was legitimate.

At the very least, the confusion over Whiting's role in the process adds to the sense of unease that the stewards' decision was essentially subjective and Hamilton was punished on account of their own opinion in the absence of any hard evidence. McLaren's press release stressed that Hamilton had slowed by 6kph along the straight to allow Raikkonen to re-pass - a fact that they seemingly believe was ignored or not taken into account by the stewards.

The apparent ambiguity of Whiting's position - and his subsequent failure to provide any clarity as to how and why the stewards launched their investigation - has also had the unfortunate, but inevitable, side-affect of allowing conspiracy theories to flourish.

In his own blog on the investigation, ITV reporter Ted Kravitz has questioned whether there may have been a sinister influence that caused the three stewards to probe Hamilton's actions.

'But if Charlie thought what Lewis did was okay at the time, why was the incident put under investigation at all?' he asks pointedly.

'Did Whiting change his mind? Did the stewards instigate the investigation? (They are allowed to do this, by the way.) Or did someone else in the FIA advise Whiting to have another look at the incident in detail?'

So many loaded questions and, as yet, so few answers.

Your Comments

Macca_mass

"Liquidbruin, it is not about the team you support or who your favourite driver is, it is about the best interests of the sport and the fans perception that somthing stinks within the FIA and it's handling of these incidents. I fully agree with stuart49, Ferrari have gotten away with nothing more that a piddling fine in the last 3 races whilst McLaren get a potentially championship losing decision against them. As far as I am concerned, there have been precendents set earlier in the season which are now not being applied. One question - WHY!!!!! "

PeterBfree

"F1_FREAK_666: The rule CLEARLY leaves the decision of involving the stewards, or not, to Whiting! OR do you have another rule to refer to that shows Whiting being obliged to "report" McLaren's query to the stewards? Why did he at least not inform McLaren he was going to do so at the time? If they knew he was going to do so, with the MASSIVE grip advantage Hamilton had, why would they not have dropped him back a second time? Any way you look at it, IT STINKS!"

TonyW

"Something's rotten in the state of the FIA but it's Mosley/Donnelly not Whiting. Media data suggests Mosley's vendetta against Mclaren continues ... 1) Mosley changed how race officials take decisions for 2008 by appointing close friend Allan Donnelly his official representative to liaise between race stewards & FIA Race Director Whiting & to speed up & assure consistent race decision making (sic). 2) Ex-politician & now PR man, Donnelly chairs Sovereign Strategy, a UK Gov lobbying coy that advises the FIA & FOM Ltd & listed Ferrari as a client! 3) 2008 decisions by Donnelly supervised stewards have been hugely controversial e.g.: - Monaco: no penalty for KR after crash into Sutil. - Magny-Cours: i. "LH given drive-through penalty that neutral observers deem unjust. Donnelly 'led' the stewards review of footage of the incident. ITV say the only footage provided by FOM TV was on-board shots from LH's car that showed he past Vettel before the chicane; & claims 'No exterior shot of the incident was offered'. Yet the FIA reports that its Donnelly led stewards decided based on CCTV film which was never made available." ii. No penalty against Raikkonen for his dangerous hanging exhaust. - Valencia: "Donnelly defended the decision made by stewards on FM's pit-lane incident with Sutil. FM almost collided with Sutil, prompting an investigation by the stewards who initially announced an 'unsafe release'. Donnelly argued the after the race fine was sufficient. We watched the incident from every angle, & I'm perfectly happy - FM didn't gain any sporting advantage." - Spa: Whiting, respected F1 professional Race Director twice told Mclaren that LH overtook KR fairly after cutting the chicane then conceding the lead. After the race, the Donnelly supervised FIA stewards penalise winner LH 25 secs thereby dropping him to 3rd place & handing the race to Ferrari's FM."

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