Sunday, August 5, 2007

Alonso stripped of the Hungarian Pole - Update 4

Lewis Hamilton will replace Fernando Alonso on pole position for Sunday's Hungarian Grand Prix after a stewards' investigation into a qualifying incident between the McLaren teammates.

McLaren have also been pre-emptively stripped of any constructors championship points they might earn from the race.

FIA officials were moved to investigate the chain of events which saw Alonso claim pole position after waiting in front of Hamilton in the pits for 30 seconds ahead of the pair's final qualifying runs.

The delay meant that when Hamilton returned to the track he did not have enough time to respond to Alonso's final quick lap.

After a marathon deliberation, the FIA stewards found Alonso and McLaren guilty of acting improperly in holding up Hamilton.

McLaren explained that they held Alonso in the pits for twenty seconds with Hamilton waiting behind because they were waiting for Alonso to have an opportunity of a traffic-free lap.

Mindful of the fact that there was only one car on the track at the time in question the FIA stewards dismissed the explanation.

"The actions of the team in the final minutes of qualifying are deemed prejudicial to the interests of the competition and to the interests of motor sport generally," said the stewards in a statement addressed to McLaren boss Ron Dennis.

Also swept aside was Alonso's feeble excuse that he waited in front of Hamilton for a further ten seconds because he was checking whether the correct tyres had been fitted to his car.

"The stewards find that he (Alonso) unnecessarily impeded another driver, Hamilton, and as a result he will be penalised by a loss of five grid positions," added the statement.

Alonso's punishment cannot be reversed but McLaren have made it known that they plan to appeal against their constructors points penalty. They have until Tuesday to state their case.

Championship leader Hamilton will now be joined on the front row of the grid by BMW Sauber's Nick Heidfeld with Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen moving up to third place. Nico Rosberg will now be fourth on the grid for Williams with Ralf Schumacher of Toyota fifth ahead of Alonso.

Earlier Saturday, Dennis had blamed Hamilton for the controversy and claimed the Briton defied team orders. Dennis had said that Alonso was held back by team engineers because of Hamilton upsetting a pre-arranged strategy.

"It's extremely difficult to deal with two such competitive drivers," said Dennis. "There are definite pressures within the team. We make no secret of it. They are both very competitive, and they both want to win, and we are trying our very hardest to balance those pressures."

On Saturday, it had been agreed that Alonso would make the final pit stop before Hamilton, but the 22-year-old championship leader disobeyed team orders by not letting the Spaniard pass him. According to Dennis, the resulting confusion led to the situation where Hamilton did not exit the pits in time to challenge Alonso's late fastest lap.

"They were out of sequence because Lewis should have slowed and let Fernando past. And he didn't. He charged off," said the McLaren chief. "In this instance, it was Fernando's time to get the advantage of the longer fuel burn. The arrangement was, okay, we're down at the end of the pitlane, we reverse positions in the first lap. That didn't occur as arranged. That was somewhat disappointing and caused some tensions on the pitwall."

"We were, from that moment on, out of sequence because the cars were in the wrong place on the circuit and that unfolded into the pit stops. It complicated the situation into the result, which was Lewis not getting his final timed lap."

Hamilton admitted that he did disobey the team orders but he felt that there had still been enough time for both he and Alonso to squeeze in the extra lap.

"I didn't want to mess up my opportunity by changing places or whatever there was to do, and be open to being overtaken by Kimi and losing my place," said the Briton. "Then it would have not allowed me to get an extra lap. So that's why we had the disagreement, because I didn't agree with it and I didn't do what they wanted me to do."

The facts

With 2 minutes 14 seconds remaining of the session, Alonso pulls his McLaren to a halt in the pit lane.

The car is serviced and is dropped off the jacks with 2m 08s remaining. The lollipop is turned to signal ‘get ready’ with 1m 50 sec remaining. Hamilton is now waiting behind. Two seconds later the lollipop is raised to signal to Alonso it is time to go.

After a further 11 seconds, Alonso leaved the pit (1 min 37 sec) allowing Hamilton to take service. Hamilton leaves the pits with 1m 26 remaining and it is too late...

Source AFP

taken from


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