McLaren need to race in mistake-free arena

When McLaren Mercedes loses a second consecutive FIA Formula One world championship, they will have their mistakes to blame, not, as passionate if delusional fans would have it, an FIA conspiracy to promote Ferrari. For a company with 1,000 ...

When McLaren Mercedes loses a second consecutive FIA Formula One world championship, they will have their mistakes to blame, not, as passionate if delusional fans would have it, an FIA conspiracy to promote Ferrari.

For a company with 1,000 employees devoted to putting two cars on track and masterminding them through 18 races, McLaren has made an interesting number of mistakes in recent months, including those that lost constructors' and drivers' titles last year.

Whoever makes the decisions, the most visible team member in any racing outfit is the driver. He faces the music for most on-track mistakes. It's his feedback and expertise that drive tire decisions. It's his choices about pit-lane red lights and passing attempts that make or break a result.

McLaren's Lewis Hamilton finds himself on the bad end of a decision to cut a chicane in Belgium. He gained an advantage and was penalized. Poor timing -- the events happened in the final two laps of the race -- cost him victory.

That his team sought the opinion of race director Charlie Whiting about Hamilton's ctions before the end of the race indicated they sensed they were in the wrong. Whiting, of course, could tell him he thought the move was all right, as he did. Problem was, it wasn't his call to make. Race stewards were charged with seeing that racing regulations were followed and they determined the advantage Hamilton gained was not conceded as the spirit of the regs would have it, so Hamilton was penalized.

The rule in question says the driver's job is to keep the car on the track during a race. Might seem vague but does it need to say more?

In the swing of things, a few points as comfort zone in the drivers' title chase were lost. The Englishman stands one point ahead of Brazilian Felipe Massa of Ferrari for the final four races of the season, all flyaway events in exotic locales. While Hamilton says he must not make any more mistakes -- an interesting trick of consciousness that tends to help us make more mistakes -- and he says he is confident he can win a championship this year.

Perhaps he can. Perhaps he can't.

But if his team take the position they shouldn't be held accountable for mistakes then go to the expense and the distraction of attempting to reverse stewards decisions that are not subject to appeal, they make another, more harmful mistake indeed.

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About this article
Series General , Formula 1
Drivers Lewis Hamilton , Felipe Massa