Hamilton stripped of points
World champion excluded from Australian GP following FIA inquiry
Last Updated: 03/04/09 5:27am
Hamilton: Paying the penalty
Lewis Hamilton and his McLaren team have been disqualified from the Australian Grand Prix for giving "deliberately misleading" evidence to investigating race stewards.
The sport's world governing body FIA reopened an investigation on Thursday into the circumstances which saw Toyota's Jarno Trulli pass Hamilton during a safety car period in Melbourne.
A post-race stewards' probe in Australia adjudged Trulli at fault and handed the Italian a 25-second penalty, dropping him from third to 12th.
But after hearing team radio transmissions from the Australian GP, the decision has been reversed with Hamilton and McLaren now punished for providing intentionally disingenuous information to the Melbourne hearing.
Hamilton, who was originally listed in fourth place in Melbourne, has therefore been excluded from any points for the race while Trulli has been reinstated to third.
In a statement, the stewards declared: "The Stewards having considered the new elements presented to them from the 2009 Australian Formula One 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.
"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."
McLaren team principle Martin Whitmarsh revealed they will not appeal, although they are from satisfied with the decision.
"Obviously we are disappointed by what happened but in the circumstances, we are not going to appeal," he said.
"As we see it, during the closing stages of the race under difficult
conditions, there was a safety car incident where Trulli fell off the circuit and Lewis legitimately passed.
"Lewis didn't do anything abnormal and it was clear Trulli shouldn't have passed him.
"But we have to accept the decision. As you would imagine Lewis is extremely disappointed.
"It's a harsh decision but I think that experience has told us that you have to accept these decisions and these things that come along and you focus on this weekend and the races beyond that."
However, given that the situation contravenes the FIA's International Sporting Code, it could be the case that the matter is pursued further.
This means that Hamilton faces the possibility of suspension from a further race or races, or even disqualification from the entire championship.
A FIA spokesperson confirmed: "Given the seriousness of this matter, we cannot rule out further action at this stage."
Click here for the FIA's statement of key considerations in reaching their decision.