Charlie Whiting, Hockenheimring, 2018

Whiting explains three-hour wait for Hamilton verdict

2018 German Grand Prix

Posted on

| Written by and

FIA race director Charlie Whiting has explained why there was a delay in announcing the investigation into Hamilton’s pit lane infraction during the German Grand Prix.

Over three hours passed between Hamilton cutting the pit lane entry line and the stewards issuing their verdict on the incident. It did not become known that Hamilton was under investigation until he was summoned to the stewards after the podium ceremony.

Other penalties have been handed down more quickly, such as in the United States Grand Prix last year, where Max Verstappen received a penalty before the podium ceremony for an illegal overtaking move on the final lap.

Whiting said the stewards felt that in this case they needed to hear from the team.

“It just takes a little bit of time to make sure that, if you’re going to call a team, you have good reason for calling them,” Whiting told media including RaceFans.

“We wanted to wait until after the race to take a look at it because we were getting quite close to the end of it. Then there was all the rain and thunderstorms and everything like that.

“By the time everything had calmed down we needed to have a good look at it and the stewards decided they should discuss it with the team.”

Whiting also confirmed Ferrari did not protest Hamilton’s driving.

The stewards gave Hamilton a reprimand for the incident but decided against issuing a time penalty, which would have cost him victory. They took into account the confusion on the team’s radio channel at the time of the incident.

Hamilton said the hearing allowed him to explain this to the stewards.

“They ask you to explain what happened. I was 100% open with them. I’ve been [there] many times in the past, I was there a lot, but hardly ever see them now. I respect the rules and respect the job that they have to do.

“I was open, this was how it was. They could see and hear how confusing it was. I left and had to go back and went and they said ‘we’ll tell you shortly’.”

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

Don't miss anything new from RaceFans

Follow RaceFans on social media:

2018 F1 season

Browse all 2018 F1 season articles

Author information

Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
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...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

42 comments on “Whiting explains three-hour wait for Hamilton verdict”

  1. “They took into account the confusion on the team’s radio channel at the time of the incident.”

    They responded like its Super Mario Kart. Emotionaly speaking I don’t want Hamilton to be penalised since he drove magnificently today. But there should be concrete reasons why not. “Its allowed for everyone to change their mind X meters after entering the pit lane, if they don’t enter directly in the racing line”.

    1. So what are they saying, that had there not been confusion on the radio Hamilton would have been penalised?

      What exactly would they have done, and what would have been the grounds for that action?


      Is the driver obligued to follow a daft team instruction?

      1. “So what are they saying, that had there not been confusion on the radio Hamilton would have been penalised?”

        There’s a difference between playing the system, attempting to gain an advantage and just making an understandable error.
        In this case, Hamilton will have lost a few seconds, made his tyres dirty, not gained any positions and been responding to chaotic radio chatter. Thus the reprimand without time penalty.

    2. Rules are rules. We all know that going the wrong side of the entry bollard is against the rules. I’m sure I remember someone getting done in Spain once for pitting after the bollard.

      If the mistake is made and you go the wrong side of the bollard, you should just drive thru the pit lane without stopping. Or take the penalty. By all means, play gamesmanship that the penalty is less than the drive thru.

      Doesn’t matter if it wasn’t your mistake. Whatever happened to “win as a team, lose as a team”?

      He probably would still have won thanks to the botched pit stop for Bottas.

      As for the stewards, I’m fine if it takes 3hrs to make a decision, but i’m not fine that it takes an hour to announce that an investigation will happen, especially when I can see the infringement as it happens.
      And people say VAR ruins football!

      1. Nicholas Kieasa from Danish TV and former formula 1 test driver analyzed this exact statement.

        He brought this up and claims that it is the exact opposite situation.
        You cannot pit from the wrong side of the Bollard.
        The fact that Hamilton didn’t pit put him in a grey area. There are simply no written rules covering the pit entry before the pit line.

        So you can treat the entry as a racetrack. This is why Vettel was able to overtake in the pit entry and not get penalized for it.

        I think the reason Hamilton was called to FIA was because they had no previous cases with the current rule set for this situation.

  2. I’m more than fine with the decision, but I don’t like the fact that the stewards “took into account the confusion on the team’s radio channel at the time of the incident”.

    That’s the responsability of the team, and if they were overwhelmed with the amount of information they were managing or whatever, they should pay the price if found guilty of something. Teams gather so much information these days and have so many softwares running and engineers discussing that it’s obvious some race situations can produce some sort of mayhem inside the team when decisions need to be made. It’s not a “mitigating factor”, it’s part of the sport.

    1. Any other driver would have been handed a real penalty. The fact that he won the race should not be a detriment to issuing the appropriate penalty. A reprimand is not a penalty!

      1. @Greg Can you explain then Vettel was not penalized for overtaking in the pit lane entrance before the speed limiter last year if you think Hamilton should have been penalized?

    2. Wonder how it would have been if Verstappen had done something like this. Instant penalty – dangerous, life-threatening driving!

      1. No doubt there would be a deafening clamour from the non Verstappen sections of the planet, also no doubt that he would’ve certainly have been let off by the Stewards.

  3. There was no good reason for the delay. Thanks for confirming that, Charlie.

    1. And please don’t come like stupid excuses like:

      Then there was all the rain and thunderstorms and everything like that.

      They should have announced ‘under investigation’ during the race, and ruled consistent with prior infractions (which probably no penalty) as quickly as possible (preferably during the race).

      1. Then there was all the rain and thunderstorms and everything like that.

        @coldfly – Maybe it wasn’t easy to get the appropriate members of staff together. Maybe they were dealing with more immediate problems. Did you see the water gushing through parts of the support areas? It was monsoon-level rain.
        On the other hand it did sound like the old British Rail excuse of “the wrong kind of leaves on the [train] track”.

        1. the wrong kind of leaves on the [train] track

          @tribaltalker ;-)

  4. Whiting can sometimes venture into ‘Ronspeak’. I don’t think Hamilton should have been penalised, but surely rules around pit entry are there for safety primarily and possibly gaining an advantage (dummying another team whilst pretending to pit).

    But “took into account the confusion on the team’s radio channel at the time of the incident” negates neither of those, it’s irrelevant, if anything, if you can’t do it because of safety, then the fact you’re confused and barking different orders within seconds of one another surely you fall foul of it rather than it being mitigating.

    They changed their minds, just in time, it was exciting, end of. But don’t start debating it an hour later.

  5. Charlie underlining why he’s important once again

    1. I’ve said a few gimes now that I think its time for Charlie to move on.
      Maybe a new ‘executive’ or ‘ambassadorial’ role upstairs with Berny.

  6. It’s typical FIA, unclear rule, which isn’t enforced most of the time.

    They should use this as a chance to clarify the rules but of course they never do.

  7. HAM gifted the race win thrice in one afternoon. Surely a record:
    1. VET retires
    2. Merc orders BOT to hold station behind HAM
    3. FIA fail to impose required 5 s sanction

    1. @andreww Plus the fact that Kimi pitted from the lead under the safety car. I wonder why the hell that was necessary with just a few laps remaining and Hamilton already on used tyres. Was this Kimi’s way of telling the team ” If you take away victory from me, I will not win when the time comes” ?

      1. @nimba they pitted kimi cause china 2018 was about to be repeated.

  8. 10 second penalty would have been fitting. Just shows the FIA dish out penalties depending on the circumstances, which is the opposite of what an organised body would do with rules!

    1. I think 25 secs would have been more fitting with FIA given their historical love for Hamilton… Lol people love Hamilton so much.
      If it was Vettel, it would be cleared within seconds, if it was Rai, noone even would mention about it!

      1. u r suppose 2 love people whatswrong with U

    2. If Hamilton had any inclination he might have been penalised, he would have driven harder and won by an even geater margin. In other words the stewards should have informed the drivers at the earlist opportunity. Not deliberately waited until after the race.

      That said, given the conditions any announcement during the ract might have forced the drivers, Raikenen included, to drive that much harder.

      If Hamilton had been penalised, he would have had grounds to protest. I have the feeling the stewards weighed the effects of their own procrastination, when they came to their decision.

      1. Ajaxn, that is nonsense. It is the driver’s responsibility not to transgress the rules, which Hamilton did, a fact that was acknowledged and confirmed by the stewards. Whether they decide to apply any penalty during or after the race are not grounds for an appeal against any sanction.

  9. The problem, I think, is that Whiting and the steward verdict make it sound like they were being generous. The point is application of the rules and, as Keith has pointed out and as Brundle etc. stated during the race, there does seem to be no rule or precedent against crossing the line unless explicitly stated to drivers for the race concerned – which it wasn’t. If so, there wasn’t really anything for them to check with the team or driver, and no reason for the delay or any prolonged investigation.

    1. There is an explicit rule. It’s mentioned in Appendix L which states that you may not cross the white line on the pit entry
      when entering the pitlane (which was clearly his intention) from any direction except for some Force Majeure.
      It’s also the rule mentioned in the stewards verdict. Probably the miscommunication is seen as a Force Majeure for Hamilton.

      If he would have entered the pits he should also have had a penalty since he crossed the white line twice. Uopn entry and exit of the pitlane entry.

      1. An explicit rule that has never been applied in the past unless it was made doubly explicit then. As Keith Collantine verified earlier:

        I’ve had a look at the other instances of drivers being investigated for crossing the white line at pit entry I’ve been able to find between 2011 and 2017. There are 22 of them.
        Of those, four attracted penalties:
        Felipe Massa, 2013 Brazilian Grand Prix
        Carlos Sainz Jnr, 2015 Russian Grand Prix
        Kimi Raikkonen, 2016 European Grand Prix
        Pascal Wehrlein, 2017 Spanish Grand Prix
        In each of those cases, drivers had been specifically warned in the Event Notes not to cross the pit entry line. In the case of this weekend, there is no such warning in the Event Notes.

        That confirms what Brundle and others remembered. So the point is that FIA was merely following it’s past precedent of allowing such incidents, unless drivers were explicitly briefed prior to the race.

        1. No you are nitpicking, this is Ham we are talking about, 25s was min he should have received, and make up the rule after the race like they used to in the past :)

          1. Stop it, you’re making me nostalgic for the Moseley era! How are Ferrari supposed to win championships without some decent FIA backup?? Extra money isn’t enough!

  10. This doesn’t explain at all why it took so incredibly long before they finally called Hamilton in. In fact it explains nothing. Like, why they didn’t they mention a pending investigation already during the race?

    Also, yet again, Whiting would better have said nothing rather than come out with some half truth which only makes matters more conspicuous.

    They (or perhaps Whiting on his own) bring the whole sport into disrepute with this amateurish stuff.

    For the people above redoing the discussion on penalizing or not, we have two threads with discussion on that topic already. I have to say Keith very thoroughly investigated all incidents like this and concluded that this case was a consistent verdict with the 18 times that didn’t get penalized before.

    Not sure why the stewards or Whiting didn’t refer to that as they usually do, but seeing how poorly they handled the whole thing that probably explains it.

    1. @patrickl

      i think they were voting for 25s or nothing, so it took them sometime to make up a rule, but then realized 18 times it was ignored and not penalized, people would question the decision :)

      1. Why do you keep banging on a about 25s penalty @mysticus That would never have been the punishment. As mentioned several times there has been several cases of drivers doing exactly the same as Hamilton today. All of those went unpunished. It was only where extra notifications were in place for safety reasons where drivers were punished, as no extra notices were in place this weekend Hamilton was never going to receive a penalty. If you look at the punishments for other drivers they were 10 seconds at worst. So why moan on about 25s when that would never be the case ?

  11. Clive Grainger
    22nd July 2018, 22:19

    It is F1 it does what it likes as it think it above and beyond all. It is the most self centred sport
    in the world. The drivers are little robots that get plugged in the cars, then told what to do.

  12. I wonder what the stewards would have done had Hamilton simply driven through the pitlane without stopping?

    Would that have been seen as an unfair advantage with the SC also present. eg its actually faster to do that with the SC out. Can you imagine if the other drivers had cotton on to that rouse ;-)

    1. It’s not faster to pit due to the pit lane speed limit. The safetycar is still quicker so Hamilton would have lost around 10 seconds just driving through the pitlane.

  13. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
    22nd July 2018, 23:09

    It would have been crazy to take the victory away after the podium… This was a fantastic moment for the German crowd to have Mercedes finish 1-2. I think that weighed more on the stewards’ minds than anything else.

    If Ferrari had won at Monza, you can’t take their victory away over a technicality.

  14. It takes three hours for the funds to clear, right me old Charlie??

  15. So in the future can everyone cut the pit lane entry line without penalty? Come on. Rules are not clear and stewards are not consistent. Do different drivers get different penalties?

  16. Whiting as usual a hypocrite buffoon.

Comments are closed.