Hello, welcome to Day 13 of Sidepodcast's F1 Advent Calendar 2010, an extended mini-series looking back at all the key events from the season just gone. We are into the second half of the series now, and are moving on to the Canadian GP. Day 13 - Get out and push.
After a year off the calendar in 2009, everyone was excited to get back to Montreal and experience the joys of the atmosphere across the pond. Red Bull were busy trying to keep peace and harmony in their fractured team, and that had allowed McLaren to creep up into contention. A 1-2 victory for the team in Turkey, with Hamilton ahead of Button had provided a big boost for the Woking team.
The cars were shipped off to Canada, then, with few featuring any major upgrades. By this time, most teams were tinkering with their own version of the fabled F-Duct, but waiting for their return to Europe before throwing themselves into any major updates.
Free Practice and Qualifying were mostly uneventful, but that was until the very last moments of Q3. Lewis Hamilton, who had been quick for both days of running so far, was looking strong to be on pole position, and as he crossed the line, he was informed over the radio that he'd done it. P1 was his. He was also told that he would have to stop on the circuit, otherwise the car would run out of fuel, leaving none for the FIA to sample.
On the cool-down lap, Hamilton slowed his car to a crawl, hoisting himself out of the seat to perch on the side and wave at fans. Eventually the car stopped, so he jumped out and started pushing the car himself, continuing to wave at the very enthusiastic fans. It's not so often you see a former champion pushing his own car around these days.
Eventually, some marshals came and finished the job off for him, whilst Lewis was whisked back to the paddock for the top three press conference. This seemed particularly cheeky behaviour from McLaren, who whilst not specifically breaking any rules, were clearly hoping to run their car as light as possible and never mind the slowing down lap.
The stewards looked into the incident, and decided that a reprimand would be sufficient, plus a $10,000 fine for exceeding the lap limit to return to the pitlane. The FIA were keen to clarify the rules afterwards, and point out that if a car could not get back to the pits in a reasonable time, they would have some serious explaining to do. Charlie Whiting wrote a note to the teams to confirm that in the future, more severe action would be taken. Hamilton, though, was allowed to keep his pole position, and he went on to win the race.
This was not the first, or last time, that we would see some leniency from the stewards, particularly in the case of a regulation that is perhaps not explicit enough or has leeway for being bent. The FIA stewards for 2010 were accompanied by a former driver at each Grand Prix, and this was showing some very promising signs of being a good move. Instead of punishing every little thing, there was more flow over a weekend, whilst the regulations were still upheld. Significantly, the number of crashes that were ruled a "racing incident" far outweighed the number that were punished, and this seemed a blessing on the back of years of calling for a more fair and unbiased stewarding system.
Let's be clear, the stewards in 2010 were not perfect, there still were plenty of contentious issues, and there were some that should have been handled a lot harder than they were. The 2010 stewarding system, though, was a brilliant step in the right direction.
That's all for this episode of the F1 Advent Calendar 2010. This could have been unlucky 13, but it all seems to have worked out okay for everyone involved. I hope you will join me again for Day 14, where things may be about to get tricky again.
All content in the series F1 Advent Calendar 2010
Filed under Mini Series
References Charlie Whiting, Lewis Hamilton
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