Defending Formula 1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton has been disqualified from last weekend's Australian Grand Prix after the FIA ruled he and his McLaren-Mercedes team had provided 'deliberately misleading' information to race stewards in Melbourne – meaning Jarno Trulli has been re-instated in third place.
As reported earlier [see separate story – click here
], Hamilton was today summoned before the sport's governing body in Sepang ahead of this weekend's Malaysian Grand Prix to explain his version of events that four days ago saw Toyota star Trulli handed a 25-second penalty in Albert Park for having re-passed his McLaren rival under a late-race safety car period, dropping him well outside the points to twelfth in the final reckoning.
The experienced Italian had skated off-piste after hitting debris from the Sebastian Vettel/Robert Kubica accident, enabling Hamilton to pass him for third place, but claimed the Briton subsequently slowed dramatically – as if he had a problem – leaving him no choice but to re-take the position.
Trulli has remained adamant that he did nothing wrong, and Hamilton himself admitted that he had received team instructions over the radio to let the Toyota back past him again. Following a second stewards' meeting with both drivers in Malaysia after new evidence came to light, the FIA has now disqualified Hamilton from the results altogether and reversed Trulli's penalty, meaning Toyota end up classified third (Trulli) and fourth (Timo Glock).
'The Stewards, having considered the new elements presented to them from the 2009 Australian Formula 1 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,' read a statement issued by the governing body.
'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.'
'The FIA Stewards have reviewed their decision of Sunday 29th March 2009, and have excluded Vodafone McLaren Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton from the results of the 2009 Australian Grand Prix,' responded a McLaren statement.
'Vodafone McLaren Mercedes understands that the Stewards made their decision on the basis of reviewing radio transmissions between the driver and the team.
'The team mistakenly believed that the radio transmissions had been reviewed by the FIA on Sunday 29th March 2009, and consequently did not believe it was necessary to discuss them with the Stewards on that date.