Home - The Official Formula 1 Website Skip to content

Penalties put Hamilton and Massa out of contention at Fuji 12 Oct 2008

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren Mercedes MP4/23 and Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Ferrari F2008 at the start.
Formula One World Championship, Rd16, Japanese Grand Prix, Race Day, Fuji Speedway, Japan, Sunday, 12 October 2008 There's contact between Massa and Hamilton, after the Brazilian runs wide, spinning the McLaren Bourdais exits the pit as Massa comes past, the Brazilian tagging the Toro Rosso and spinning

The two main rivals for the 2008 drivers’ title scored just one point between them in Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix, as both were hit by penalties early in the race. Ferrari’s Felipe Massa finished eighth, while championship leader Lewis Hamilton managed only 12th for McLaren.

Polesitter Hamilton was penalised for forcing Kimi Raikkonen wide into Turn One at the start. The Ferrari got a better getaway and was in front when Hamilton jinked right, almost hitting team mate Heikki Kovalainen in the process, and then locked up under braking. He understeered wide, flat-spotting his front tyres and leaving Raikkonen nowhere to go, dropping the Finn to seventh place.

Hamilton also lost places, but quickly resumed his Ferrari battle, this time with Massa for P5. That ended in tears on lap 2, when the Brazilian dived down the inside at the chicane, running over the kerbs and tipping his rival into a spin. Stewards deemed Massa to have caused an avoidable collision and both men subsequently received drive-through penalties for their respective misdemeanours.

That wasn’t the end of the controversy for Massa. He also made contact late in the race with Sebastian Bourdais, just after the Toro Rosso driver had exited the pitlane. The pair went side by side around Turn One, making contact and and putting Massa into a spin, from which he quickly recovered. Stewards decided to investigate the incident after the race.

Speaking to reporters, Hamilton admitted he had been at fault at the start. Coupled with retirement for Kovalainen after suspected engine problems, it meant McLaren failed to score for only the second time this season, handing the constructors’ championship lead back to Ferrari - who saw Raikkonen recover to come home third - and allowing third-placed BMW Sauber to close to within eight points.