Felipe Massa, Lewis Hamilton. Nick Heidfeld, Spa-Francorchamps, 2008

Hamilton: FIA screwed me out of Spa 2008 win

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Lewis Hamilton’s lost victory in the 2008 Belgian Grand Prix at Spa still rankles with him 10 years on.

Hamilton, who was driving for McLaren at the time, finished first on the track but fell to third place in the final classification when the stewards penalised him for an incident involving Kimi Raikkonen.

The pair were disputing the lead when Hamilton went off at the chicane and rejoined in front Raikkonen. Hamilton allowed the Ferrari driver to overtake him, then re-passed Raikkonen at the next corner.

Hamilton was given a 25-second time penalty for “cutting the chicane and gaining an advantage”, according to the stewards. His penalty promoted Felipe Massa to first place ahead of Nick Heidfeld. Raikkonen crashed out with two laps to go.

Speaking in a video for the official F1 website titled “A Letter to my Younger Self”, Hamilton made it clear he still feels the penalty was unjust.

“Don’t let the FIA screw you in Spa,” he said. “You’ve got to be careful.

“They will say it’s OK for you to let Kimi by and that you’ve done enough. And at the end of the race they will not let you keep that win.

“So you have to do double, you have to do more. Let Kimi by and give him a good margin so they can’t use it as an excuse.”

The FIA rejected McLaren’s attempt to overturn the penalty on the grounds that it could not be appealed against.

Hamilton announced a new two-year deal to continue driving for Mercedes earlier today.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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129 comments on “Hamilton: FIA screwed me out of Spa 2008 win”

  1. Matteo (@m-bagattini)
    19th July 2018, 12:43

    Pretty sure he forgot about this but the fact recently emerged after the collision with Kimi at Silverstone.

    1. 25s penalty though? One was a collision the other one was potentially a marginal advantage. There is plenty to dislike about Hamilton, including the way in which he complained about this. But I still think that penalty was absurd.

      1. Nooo there’s no plenty to dislike abt Hamilton. There’s actually plenty to like abt him……. A legend in the making, multiple records that your favourites will never break, an exceptional F1 racer. The 25 secs was to make sure he doesn’t win and become the legend that he is. I bet in 2008 you probably supported the decision

  2. I can’t believe he still hasn’t gotten over it. He should’ve allowed a bigger margin for Kimi before attempting to re-overtake. He barely let Kimi pass, kept the momentum, had a slipstream and immediately re-passed. In all other similar incidents the driver who gained an advantage has let the other car through with wide enough margin before trying to re-take the position. A penalty Hamilton received was a no-brainer and still is to this day.

    1. Damn that was still with Kimi? i thought it was after Kimis crash with Massa. my bad.

      1. You should check Wiki before….

        1. … you speaki.

    2. Why should he have allowed for a bigger margin when he rule at that time clearly stated that all he had to do was give the position back? So by the letter of the law, he did exactly what it said.

      Also, let’s not forget that it was this incident that saw them alter the rule. And to make it worse, Kimi then binned it and retired from the race. You’re probably the only person who thought that the penalty was a ‘no-brainer’

      Did you think Seb’ or Kimi’ penalty was a ‘no-brainer’?

    3. @huhhii I disagree, but it’s nice of you to confirm Lewis can literally defy the physical laws of the universe. In allowing Kimi to pass while maintaining 100% momentum?

      I dare say Lewis may have the secret to perpetual motion locked away somewhere in his abilities…

      1. You are putting words in @huhhii‘s mouth; the original comment did not say “100% momentum”.

        I won’t comment on whether the penalty was correct or not, but “he barely let Kimi pass, kept the momentum, had a slipstream and immediately re-passed” is an accurate description of the events in my opinion.

        1. The rule should not be worded left open to this level of “advantage” interpretation.

          As written, the judgment could go either way legitimately.

          It should be re written to be that if you cut the track you have to yield positions gained and not re overtake until going through a following decel/accel cycle (a legitimate corner).

          Even that is not perfect, since it still leaves open slight probability cases where one might retain a slight advantage via scissoring a complex…but it is good enough. Certainly better than the eexisting rule.

          Longer term, an even better rule would be that the stewards could simply apply a performance penalty via a command to the standardized ECU.

        2. @barnstable1 I’ve never been able to comprehend how Lewis allowed Kimi past, without himself losing momentum to a level at least the same as that of Kimi. At the very least, Lewis had to come of the throttle, pass around the back of Kimi, to be on Kimi’s right for La Source.

          Where in that movement does Lewis maintain a momentum advantage (before they brake for La Source)?

          To this day I still think it was a superb instinctive manoeuvre, fully compliant with the regulations (giving the position back).

          1. Lewis should never had had that much momentum down the straight to begin with. If he had backed off to make the corner, his apex speed, and then exit speed, would have been much worse.

            Further, in sports, penalties are not to bring things back to break-even. They are supposed to have a punitive factor.

    4. The FIA had to change the rules retrospectively to apply the penalty having said it ok at the time!

    5. Whether he gave up sufficient advantage is the stewards’ decision and I won’t argue either way.

      The part I found annoying is that the stewards could have made their decision immediately and told him to do it properly instead of waiting 20-odd more laps to think about it and deciding after the race was over.

      1. @squaregoldfish They didn’t wait 20 odd laps, It happened 2 laps from the end of the race, On the next lap both Lewis & Kimi went off 2-3 times more as it started to rain heavier & Kimi crashed at the end of the lap so even if they had wanted to tell Lewis to let Kimi back past they couldn’t have.

        1. Oh yes, my mistake. For some reason I’d got it into my head that Spa had a lot more laps.

        2. 25s for arguably a marginal overtaking advantage (even though he did let Kimi by) but 5s or 10s for crashing into someone… I am not saying the 5s or 10s penalties Kimi and Sebastian have received were wrong. I’m saying that the 25s penalty was absurd. It’s not even clear that a penalty was warranted. Lewis was cheeky that’s for sure.

          1. @ajpennypacker there was no 5s or 10s penalties back then. Then smallest one was a drive through which is equivalent to 20-25s so that was the penalty he got.

          2. @ajpennypacker: The stewarding guidelines have changed since then, it has been clearly stated that the stewards are expected to be much more lenient now. Therefore, there’s no point in comparing the penalties of 2008 with the penalties of 2018.

        3. The thing with the whole Spa 2008 incident was that Kimi crashed out so and any advantage gained was of no importance once Kimi crashed out. The advantage gained would be marginal due to hsmiton having to lift to allow Kimi back through but Lewis was a little to instinctive to pick up the slipstream and pass Kimi as fast as he did.
          Lewis was miles faster than Kimi at that point in the race anyway and Lewis overtaking Kimi was bound to happen at some point and then the rain nullified everything.
          After Kimi crashed out the whole incident was nullified anyway but the FIA found the perfect excuse to keep the title race alive a little longer and did do.

          1. It should not matter if the advantage was lasting a race long. He gained an advantage. Period

          2. For the advantage he gained it would’ve had to be a 3 sec penalty max!

    6. Tony Mansell
      19th July 2018, 13:22

      There was no rule then, they hadn’t thought of it. Lewis had and he used it to his full advantage. The rule needed tweaking not where he finished,

    7. FreddyVictor
      19th July 2018, 14:57


      A penalty Hamilton received was a no-brainer and still is to this day.

      totally agree
      I think the thing was that it was the first time this was considered as a penalty when there was no clear rule to prohibit it
      Funny how things rankle, still remember HAM shortcutting the track @ Mexico a year or so back & subsequently winning, so these things do even themselves out …
      eventually …

    8. A penalty Hamilton received was a no-brainer and still is to this day.

      He was level coming into the corner, Raikkonen left no room, Hamilton returned the position, when he went past Raikkonen even had a little dab at him into the corner, then Raikkonen, when he was unable to keep the car on track, decided to use the higher friction run off to catch up with Hamilton again, he overtook under yellows, before binning the car. All in all, Raikkonen was fairly trounced by a far superior driver in wet conditions. But Ferrari-Moseley controlled FIA decided the useless Massa had to be given the race victory after an iconic battle in which he played no part, ruining what would have been a epic race by the absurdity of altering the race result hours later. Some of the calls against Hamilton were marginal but this was very clearly political during the FIA/Ferrari vs. McLaren cold war.

    9. HUHHII…..What was Lewis supposed to do when he let Kimi by. Count to 10 before getting back on the throttle, before continuing his attack on Raikkonen, which is an absurd idea.

    10. A lot of grey area with all that. To my knowledge i didn’t think either of them knew the proper protocol a part from giving the position back. They should of just let the result be

    11. Precisely.

  3. You had to yield the position for blatantly corner cutting and you did this in a way that had you immediately get the run on Massa again. That is not what is meant by giving back your advantage and you know it.

    1. The rule at the time did not clearly define what, “giving back the position” meant.

      Get what run on Massa? Massa was a distant 3rd when the incident happened.

    2. @mrboerns You mean Raikkonen.

      1. It’s been over 85 years…… ……. and i still smell the fresh paint

    3. @mrboerns Nowhere did a rule state that Hamilton was not allowed to immediately get the run on Kimi again, the rule stated that he had to let Kimi by which Hamilton did. So stop it already

      1. There exists such a thing as the spirit of the rules. Also there are wobly terms in there such as ‘lasting advantage’

        1. Watched the video it’s not just the part about FIA screwing him over. Rather he goes on to say give Kimi more space before trying to overtake again.

      2. Have you watched Suzuka 2007, where the FIA’s indecision about a situation just like this ruined FA’s race (he should have won, nice win for Kimi instead. And anyway FA already was WDC).
        Well, after Suzuka 2007 it would have been blatantly unjust to leave any other driver get away with it. So they didn’t even let the guy who was used to get away with everything get away with this one too.

        1. The exact opposite of what you are saying actually happened at Suxuka 2005 and Kieth did an article on it ages ago


          Charlie Whiting rescinded the order for Alonso to let Klien re-pass. A precedent was set At Suzuka 2005 that proves Hamilton didn’t have to let Raikkonen repass after the next corner.

          1. Yep the order rescission by Charlie Whiting was terrific, it came after FA’s race was already ruined, nobody gave him back the lost time.

  4. Neil (@neilosjames)
    19th July 2018, 12:50

    Fair point. I always thought the problem was that Raikkonen was being overly cautious on the damp track, rather than anything Hamilton did wrong…

    That aside, I’d recommend fans watch the video if they haven’t already. Not for this particular thing, which will obviously draw out all the bores and give them something fresh to have digs about, but it comes off as pretty honest and interesting to a neutral. Hope we get plenty more (and a Verstappen version in 10 years or so!).

    1. Completely agree. Despite the ink spilled on the topic, Hamilton clearly says it slightly tongue-in-cheek.

  5. And the FIA gifted your first WDC. I’m referring to the Suzuka race when you caused Vettel and Webber to crash under the safety car because of a stupid move by you. You should have penalized points or positions for it but you weren’t. Not to mention the 5 place penalty Alonso unjustly received in Hungary for an incident you instigated by refusing to follow team orders during qualy.

    1. Atleast get the race right. They didn’t race at Suzuka in 2008.

    2. Ah, you mean all the events that happened in 2007? The year before Hamilton won his first WDC?…

      Might be worth visiting Wikipedia or something to back up your ludicrous arguments before you put them here.

      1. You are correct. He screwed Alonso out of a championship. My mistake.

        1. @Jim The move was not illegal so stop your moaning, i can clearly feel you hate Hamilton no matter what. How did Hamilton screw Alonso out of the championship ? Hamilton outclassed Alonso as a No2 driver, McLaren even gifted Alonso the Monaco win despite Hamilton was faster the whole weekend. Stop your nonsense already

        2. Jim the DimWit

    3. You mean were Vettel crashed into Webber because he couldn’t stop his car and immediately tried to blame somebody else for his mistakes just like baku 2017

      1. +1 Vettel even admitted he was busy watching Hamilton rather than Webber in front of him.

    4. If Massa had won the title that year, it would have been permanently tainted by the points given to him by the FIA in this race.

      1. Yeah? Crashgate at singapure doesn’t count? a race that should not be counted? that had results manipulated? right….

        1. Crashgate didn’t cost Massa, driving off with the refuelling hose still attached to his car did.

    5. Actually the Webber/Vettel crash won the title for Kimi Raikkonen. Had Webber and Vettel finished 2nd and 3rd, Raikkonen would have been 5th, and Hamilton would have won the title.

  6. Never watched the race, but seeing a clip of it now, I’m wondering shouldn’t have Kimi given room to Lewis when they entered the chicane? So that Lewis didn’t have to cut it.

    1. @carbon_fibre No cause Kimi had the racing line.

  7. Vettel fan 17 (@)
    19th July 2018, 13:04

    I’m no expert but isn’t there a rule after you let a driver through you cannot pass them at the next corner?

    1. That rule was added after Spa to clarify such issues for the future. His Spa punishment was based on a “Spirit of the law” ruling, which is why I agree with him that it was absolutely unjust. “Spirit of the law” is a pathetic excuse for badly written laws/rules.

      1. The thing is, he barely allowed Raikkonen back in front. Hamilton wouldn’t be so close to Raikkonen had he slowed down and followed Kimi through the chicane. Therefore he maintained some of the advantage he gained by cutting chicane.
        It’s as simple now as it was ten years ago.

        1. @torrit Did you even saw the race ? Hamilton was next to Kimi but on the outside. And barely doesn’t count, Hamilton gave the place back which he had to do and that’s what he did.

          1. @noname
            Yes, I did see the race. You should see it too.

        2. @torrit ‘barely’ is ‘enough’, that’s the whole point of racing.