Hamilton and Alonso hit with 20-second penalties

Hamilton drops from 7th to 8th after his penalty

Hamilton drops from 7th to 8th after his penalty

Both Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton have been dealt 20-second time penalties after the Malaysian Grand Prix.

The stewards ruled that both drivers acted illegaly while battling for position near the end of the race.

Onboard with Hamilton as Alonso clips his front wing off the McLaren

Onboard with Hamilton as Alonso clips his front wing off the McLaren

Alonso drew close to Hamilton with his KERS system, but not DRS. Lewis moved twice off his line to defend, and Fernando clipped the back of the McLaren, taking off part of his front wing, but Hamilton’s car emerged unscathed.

However, the stewards believe that Hamilton moving off his line twice, and Alonso making contact with the McLaren, both deserved penalties.

Alonso stays 6th, while Hamilton drops from 7th to 8th, behind Kamui Kobayashi.

The ruling was explained as follows:

    Facts: The Driver of car 3 made more than one change of direction to defend a position
    Offence: Breach of Article 20.2 of the 2011 FIA Formula One Sporting Regulations
    Penalty: Drive through penalty, imposed after the race in accordance with Article 16.3 
    (20 seconds added to elapsed time).
    Stewards’ decision 51 (Lewis Hamilton)

    Fact: Caused a collision with car 3.
    Offence: Involved in an incident as defined by Article 16.1 of the 2011 FIA Formula 
    One Sporting Regulations
    Penalty: Drive through penalty, imposed after the race in accordance with Article 
    16.3 (20 seconds added to elapsed time).
    Stewards’ decision 52 (Fernando Alonso)

It is worth noting that Hamilton was not weaving at the time of the accident, rather a lap beforehand. This video shows how, on the main straight, Lewis moved twice:

However, I can’t see how either of these penalties are justified. Lewis had received a warning for the same (but more erratic) move a year ago in Malaysia, but it seems slightly harsh.

Alonso, meanwhile, had already lost out hugely by losing his front wing, so what’s the point of penalising him? The introduction of KERS and DRS was designed for drivers to properly race each other, and slapping drivers’ wrists for the slightest offence or mistake is not the way to carry forward this message.

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