Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Hockenheimring, 2019

Hamilton cleared following Safety Car investigation

2019 German Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton has been cleared after the German Grand Prix stewards investigated whether he had driven too slowly during a Safety Car period.

The stewards determined Hamilton had obeyed the speed limit, and had only appeared not to because of his slow pit stop to replace a broken front wing.

“Car 44 [Hamilton] appeared to be going unnecessarily slowly during the Safety Car period, relative to the cars in front of and behind him,” the stewards explained. “However, the stewards determined that because car 44 pitted due to his own incident during the VSC/Safety Car period, and the subsequent long pit stop, he had completed one less lap under the safety car than the cars around him.

“This meant that he was obliged to drive to the delta time, while the cars around him were attempting to safely catch the Safety Car. This gave the appearance that he was driving unnecessarily slowly, however in the view of the stewards he was following the regulation.”

Hamilton had already been given a five-second time penalty in the race for entering the pit lane incorrectly following the crash by driving on the wrong side of the bollard. The stewards also gave him one penalty point on his licence for this incident, putting him on a total of two.

The stewards also confirmed Pierre Gasly and Alexander Albon will face no action for their collision at the end of the race.

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Keith Collantine
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35 comments on “Hamilton cleared following Safety Car investigation”

  1. The stewards also gave him one penalty point on his licence for this incident, putting him on a total of two.

    When did he earn the first penalty point? I’d always thought he was clean on penalty points.

    1. The first penalty point for Lewis was at Austria for blocking.

      1. @bulgarian – thank you, I’d forgotten that.

  2. I thought that was immediately obvious and was wondering why Brundle can co didn’t catch that.
    Very hard to keep to a delta when you run off track and break your wings and come into the pits at a 90 degree angle without front downforce.

    1. Can’t really blame them after the all action etc. It’s by far not their (or TBF Crofty’s) biggest miss.

      1. I’m not sure which season Crofty will finally use the phrase “Racing Point”. Maybe for the new 2021 regs?

      2. Thats true.
        Armchair commentators don’t miss any detail.

  3. Well, glad to know what this was about, I wasn’t able to discern exactly when/where the slow driving was happening, though once he made that mistake, he wasn’t any more flying today!

    1. Mike Barrett
      29th July 2019, 2:15

      The 5 second penalty should be removed. There was no way he could have gone through the cone, without driving towards on coming cars, just to not infringe the regulations. Adding to the fact that Mercedes completely botched his pit stop. I think a pit stop taking a staggering 1 minute there was no need to add insult to injury. That 5 seconds would have moved him up several places. F1 stewards are ruining the sport

      1. I can’t blame Mercedes too much for the slow stop.
        They were expecting to wave him by at the start finish line and were expecting Bottas. And then suddenly saw him in the pits with no front wings. They had no tyres prepared, then of course they have to match the tyre sets(stupid rule that wastes tyres and driving time) and the rest is his story.

      2. Totally agree. What do they expect him to do? Drive back round the track to the cone? Having said that, I had a similar race penalty last year for the same thing and our race director told me he did indeed expect me to drive 100 yards the wrong way round the track. Can’t wait for the same event this year so I can demonstrate the foolishness of that decision!

  4. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
    28th July 2019, 18:22

    Struggling to understand the bollard penalty. Surely some common sense can be applied when a car has been crashed and the pit bollard already passed. Are the stewards saying he should done a lap with a potentially damaged car or retired on the spot?

    1. Today stewards were desperate to penalise Hamilton and let Ferrari drivers escape even more obvious penalties.

      1. I think the stewards were quite lenient toward Hamilton….as they were last year at this race.

    2. Other teams could have reported it, basically forcing them to “investigate”, because he DID break a rule.

    3. Following the rules HAM would have to do another lap with his damaged wing which would have cost him a significant amount of time. We’ve seen plenty of cars limp back to the pits with a damaged wing, it doesn’t matter if its 5 meters after the pit lane entrance or 500, past is past.

      By entering the pit the way he did, he saved himself considerably more time than another full lap around the circuit with a damaged front wing would have cost him, so a 5 second time penalty is extremely mild in my opinion.

      1. Under normal race conditions, going round the track would cost significant time. But this was under the safety car. There would have been some risk, but doing the lap, pitting with the crew ready to service him, and not collecting a penalty would probably have saved Lewis a lot of race time.

        But you have the question of how much debris would have been left / risk of crashing causing further disruption to other racers. Look at Leclerc in Monaco – similar in terms of being involved in an incident right next to the pit entrance. Doing a full lap with what turned out to be a puncture resulted in a lot of debris being left all over the track. It would have been better for everyone if he could have recognised the situation and pitted immediately.

        Imo, the bollard on pit entry rule is rather pointless. But if you have it, I would rather see the penalty based on minimum pitstop time – on the basis that drivers would/should only do it in emergency situations, in which case the team wouldn’t be ready for the stop. A 50 second stop for what otherwise might have been 20-30 seconds seems penalty enough.

    4. @rdotquestionmark I understand your sentiment. I don’t like these penalties at all, but if you have to choose between another lap on the slicks with a broken wing or 5 seconds penalty is a easy one. So he kind of chose to miss the bollard.

      1. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
        28th July 2019, 19:44

        It’s the safety aspect I can’t understand though. Are the stewards suggesting doing another lap was the ‘right’ thing to do. Potentially spreading debris driving an unsafe vehicle. The car would have been in a black flag condition. @matthijs

        1. The car would have been in a black flag condition.

          nope, it would have been the black flag with the orange ball (also known as the meatball) flag: signaling the driver has to pit due to serious mechanical problems or loose bodywork that presents a risk to other competitors. Which LH was fully aware of and was going to the pit anyway.

          It’s not the first time we’ve seen a car with a broken front wing, a puncture or a broken suspension drive at a safe speed around the track and making it to the pit. So driving another lap is exactly what he should have done to escape the penalty (and it would take him far more then 5 seconds extra to do so). So by going into the pit after the bollard he gained a massive advantage.

          All in all LH made the correct decision from Mercedes point of view, a penalty is justified and 5 seconds is justifiable as well (given the actual infringement) even though he would have lost more time by playing by the rules.

          One can only wonder how the hell I got back to Rotterdam (500 km drive) at 22.30 (under 7.5 hours after the race started). It was great to be there.

    5. Struggling to understand the bollard penalty.
      He should have been given way more.
      If he would have adhered to the rule it would meant way more loss of time. With a lenient penalty as this, the FIA basically says that this is a rule meant to be broken, as you lose way less time by breaking it than sticking to the rules. It would have been a stop&go at minimum.
      Also at this point it would be way more straightforward to include an article saying Hamilton or any other people whose marketability is important for the profiting parties of thr sport.

      1. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
        28th July 2019, 19:38

        We are discussing safety not time.

        1. We are discussing rules. And the breaking of said rules.

      2. The bollard penalty is already defined.
        A driver over shooting the entry point still gains time by not going an extra lap. Likewise a very late call to pit for tyres.
        Why give a harsher penalty than the rules already lists.

    6. Surely he can’t get away with the same infringement 2 year’s running?! :)

      1. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
        28th July 2019, 19:37

        The point I’m making about doing another lap isn’t anything to do with time lost, my point is that forcing him to do another lap in a damaged car which would be black flagged in its state eventually anyway is extremely stupid. There could be debris spread everywhere or other potential dangers. Coming into the pits when he did was the second safest option, behind retiring on the spot (which is obviously never going to happen).

        1. Well tough luck. Past pit entrance is past pit entrance. Doing another lap with half a front wing means driving carefully. Would he drive to agressive causing more debris, he should be penalised for that too. Like Leclerc should be punished for spreading debris accross the track by shredding his tyres a few races ago.

          1. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
            29th July 2019, 7:08

            Just seems a little dangerous to me. Spreading debris is not clever in those conditions.

        2. Couldn’t agree more! This was the safest option for all involved

      2. You get last year he went on the correct side of the bollard right? 🤔

        1. After going the wrong side of the Bollard, did Ham then enter the pits?

          1. Not sure how that is in any way relevant to last year

  5. I thought Hamilton corrected his mistake of last year.
    All square now and all happy.

  6. Mike Barrett
    29th July 2019, 2:12

    The 5 second penalty should be removed. There was no way he could have gone through the cone, without driving towards on coming cars, just to not infringe the regulations. Adding to the fact that Mercedes completely botched his pit stop. I think a pit stop taking a minute. There was no need to add insult to injury. That 5 seconds would have moved him up several places. F1 stewards are ruining the sport

  7. The polarisation of positions on this matter here is pretty crazy. Why so much hate towards Hamilton?

    I get that the stewards applied the rules strictly as they have been; and that the 5-second penalty was the most lenient available; but even still… felt it was pretty rough given it was the safest thing to do.

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