The more things change, the more they stay the same. Last weekend’s Australian Grand Prix, the season opener to the 2009 Formula One season, may have ushered in a new era in on-track competition, but the off-track politics are already back up to full swing.
Following the race, officials from the FIA convened to decide whether Toyota’s Jarno Trulli had illegally passed McLaren’s defending champion Lewis Hamilton behind the safety car. McLaren and Hamilton insisted the pass was illegal, but new evidence – namely radio transmissions between the two drivers and their pit crews – reportedly demonstrated indicated that Hamilton deliberately let Trulli by.
The new evidence was confirmed by a meeting of the FIA stewards in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, where the second race of the season is scheduled to take place this coming weekend. Their decision? To take away Hamilton’s and McLaren’s points altogether, which may seem like a harsh punishment, but the stewards determined that Hamilton and McLaren had intentionally deceived the officials.
The adjusted rankings therefore bump Trulli up to third (in both the race results and the drivers’ championship standings, since it was the first race of the season) and Toyota up to second in the constructors’ championship, while McLaren remains outside the standings altogether as both their drivers were deemed not to have been classified in the race. Tune in on Sunday for our recap of the Malaysian Grand Prix, where hopefully the finishing order will actually be determined on the track and not in boardroom.