MAURICE HAMILTON

You can't start from there!


In India, 71 per cent of the grid was out of qualifying position. The following official bulletin explains why the well-meaning action of a cloakroom attendant, Mahatma Coat, had unexpected consequences for the starting grid.

A compensation request from a Mrs Coat - claiming her husband, a volunteer flag marshal, had purloined the family's detergent supply and taken it to the track for the purpose of washing a grubby yellow flag - has led to the discovery that the yellow flag in question had been hung out to dry in all innocence at Post 25 on Saturday afternoon.

The yellow was therefore technically 'showing' during qualifying and, as such, has been ignored by all competitors. Having considered the matter, the following penalties have been imposed:

Driver No 24, Mr Glock, was first to pass the flag at the start of Q1 and receives a drop of three grid positions. Since Mr Glock is already at the back of the grid, the penalty has been deferred until such time as he qualifies at least three rows further forward. A limit of five years has been placed on the application of this penalty.

Driver No 3, Mr Hamilton, was next to pass Post 25. Mr Hamilton, already being in possession of a three-place penalty, has had that doubled for a second offence, plus three additional places for this offence, minus five for good behaviour when speaking politely to the stewards on Friday. Another five grid places have been refunded in recognition of Mr. Hamilton's personal circumstances and his tribute to Mr Bob Marley, a favourite of steward, Mr Herbert. Mr. Hamilton therefore moves onto pole position and receives a free three-month trial with FOM (the dating agency, Formula One Match.com).

Driver No 22, Mr Karthikeyan, was next to pass the scene and receives a three place penalty. However, with reference to a previous bulletin in which Mr Karthikeyan was handed a five-place penalty for impeding another driver at this very spot, Mr Karthikeyan argued successfully that he must therefore have been going slowly. The three-place penalty has been rescinded and passed on to the impeded competitor for trying to go too quickly and complaining too much.

Driver No 6, Mr Massa, claimed immunity because he was crashing at the time and could not slow down. Mr Massa has been excused the charge of ignoring the yellow flag but demoted 10 grid places for not having all four wheels properly attached to his vehicle. (A call by Mr Massa to have the heavy orange lump inside the kerb removed has been filed with a previous request from Mr Ralf Schumacher in 2004 to have the Indianapolis banking flattened and the Monte Carlo Casino moved back 50 metres.)

Anxious not to let a take-away curry go cold, the stewards issued a blanket penalty of 10 grid positions per driver for the rest of the field on the basis that everyone must have been involved and 10 is a nice round number and easy to add up.

An exception has been granted to Mr Chandhok, who has no car, never left the pits at all on Saturday and therefore did not contravene any regulation. Given Mr Chandhok's previous good behaviour when parking his hire car neatly and pointing the right way in the official car park, he will start the race from the front of the grid in a Lotus confiscated from Mr Trulli, who is on his first warning for being in contempt of the Trade Descriptions Act covering the term 'Racing Driver'.

With every competitor (with the exception of Messrs Hamilton and Chandhok) having been moved back several places, plus addition penalties too numerous to mention, the rear of the grid is calculated to be somewhere between Turns 14 and 15.

It has been noted that, due to the rise on the approach to Turn 15, those competitors would be at an additional disadvantage having to make a hill start without a handbrake. They may therefore start between Turns 12 and 13.

It has also been noted that the starter, Mr Whiting, will no longer be able to see the rear of the grid. An FIA runner will be positioned at this point to inform Mr Whiting by radio when the last row is safely in position, whereupon Mr Whiting will start the race and, in the process, send a signal advising the runner to release the back quarter of the grid.

In the likely event of the pole position car of Mr Hamilton catching the last car before it reaches the start line proper, Mr Hamilton will be directed to take a drive-through - a situation with which he is entirely familiar - because the computer programme cannot cope with a back marker becoming minus 1 lap before he has officially gone anywhere.

Should the last car be, for whatever reason, Mr Massa, a yellow flag will appear automatically since a collision with Mr Hamilton will be inevitable. Mr Hamilton will be given counselling and Mr Massa will be ordered to pay damages, including a fine of $10 to defray the cost of a replacement packet of detergent returned, with thanks, to Mrs Mahatma Coat.

Maurice Hamilton , a freelance motor sport writer and broadcaster since 1977, is the author of more than twenty books and contributes to websites and magazines worldwide.

His weekly column for Grandprix.com was Highly Commended in the 2011 Newspress New Media Awards.

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