The FIA has released a statement explaining why it decided to strip Lewis Hamilton of his third place in the Australian Grand Prix - with a McLaren-Mercedes radio recording betraying what both team and driver had told the Melbourne stewards...
SUMMARY OF KEY CONSIDERATIONS:
At the first hearing following the Australian Grand Prix the Stewards did not have the benefit of the radio exchanges between driver No 1 Lewis Hamilton and his team Vodafone McLaren Mercedes, nor did they have access to the comments to the media given by Lewis Hamilton immediately after the end of the race.
From the video recordings available to the Stewards during the hearing it appeared that Jarno Trulli's car left the track and car No 1 moved into third place. It then appeared that Trulli overtook Hamilton to regain third place, which at the time was prohibited as it was during the Safety Car period.
During the hearing, held approximately one hour after the end of the race, the Stewards and the Race Director questioned Lewis Hamilton and his Team Manager David Ryan specifically about whether there had been an instruction given to Hamilton to allow Trulli to overtake.
Both the driver and the Team Manager stated that no such instruction had been given. The Race Director specifically asked Hamilton whether he had consciously allowed Trulli to overtake. Hamilton insisted that he had not done so.
The new elements presented to the Stewards several days after the 2009 Australian Grand Prix which led to the reconvened Stewards Meeting clearly show that:
• Immediately after the race and before Lewis Hamilton attended the Stewards Meeting, he gave an interview to the media where he clearly stated that the team had told him to let Trulli pass
• Furthermore, the radio exchanges between the driver and the team contain two explicit orders from the team to let the Toyota pass
The Stewards, having learned about the radio exchanges and the media interview, felt strongly that they had been misled by the driver and his Team Manager, which led to Jarno Trulli being unfairly penalised and Lewis Hamilton gaining third place.
To read the transcript of the Hamilton-McLaren radio communication, click here