Lewis Hamilton, Charles Leclerc, Hockenheimring, 2019

No need to penalise Hamilton for crashing at Leclerc accident scene – Masi

2019 German Grand Prix

Posted on

| Written by and

FIA race director Michael Masi said the possibility of penalising Lewis Hamilton for crashing while the field was running behind the Safety Car wasn’t considered.

Hamilton hit the barrier at turn 16, where Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari was being recovered following his crash, while the Safety Car was deployed.

Masi felt this did not need to be regarded as a driving infringement. “I think it’s one of those ones [where] basically you just look at the conditions the way it was,” he said.

“It was tricky conditions all afternoon for everyone. So that wasn’t even part of the equation so to speak.”

Hamilton was penalised for failing to follow the correct route into the pit lane, receiving a five-second time penalty. He was also investigation for driving too slowly behind the Safety Car, but was cleared following an investigation.

Masi explained this was due to an “anomaly” with the Safety Car procedure arising from the fact Hamilton had spent almost a lap entering the pits and waiting there following his crash. This meant that while other drivers were allowed to begin catching the Safety Car, he still had to follow the ‘delta’ lap time target.

“Effectively your first two laps under the Safety Car, you’ve got to respect the delta time and then effectively catch up,” said Masi.

“The anomaly was everyone else was on the third lap so was able to catch up but Lewis was on his second lap so he was having to effectively respect the delta, but everyone else around him was racing to catch the back of the line.

“Speaking to a couple of these sporting directors since, it’s an anomaly that we have not seen before. So it’s something for us to look at generally.”

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

2019 F1 season

Browse all 2019 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.

47 comments on “No need to penalise Hamilton for crashing at Leclerc accident scene – Masi”

  1. How if there is somebody working on CL car during LW crashing there?

    1. LW…?

      I’ve never heard of a driver being penalized for having a solo crash under the safety car. Who even asked this question?

  2. Its not that a 5 time wdc goes off intentionally. On a different note, why penalise for wrong pit lane entry after someone has crashed and has damage?

    1. Because he saved time be not having to drive a full lap under wet conditions with a damaged car.

      1. That doesn’t make sense. If he drives the lap with bits falling off his vehicle on the track in the rain, that’s dangerous. A stsntially more dangerous than entering the its after the bollard.

        The penalty makes no sense.

        1. Lewis entered the pits illegally gaining an advantage.

          1. And the keystone-capped pit crew took that advantage and stuffed in the back of the garage never to be seen again

          2. @phylyp And the funny outfits perfectly match the video clip too

        2. Andrew (@bombinaround)
          29th July 2019, 13:50

          There weren’t parts falling off the car, they’d already fallen off in the accident with the wall. And equally if he’d done the lap, told the team over the radio he’d been off and there was damage; he could have then entered the pits correctly and the team would have been prepared and they would have avoided the keystone cops routine.

    2. Cause of safety, that’s why. Maybe another driver or the entire field suddenly decides to enter the pits in the same lap. If the 1st driver decides in the last moment to enter the pit, there might be a crash. It’s the same thing why they’re penalised if they cross the white line when they exit the pit lane.

      1. Maybe HAM should have entered the pitlane from the exit side.
        It’s less dangerous as other drivers would see him coming and he doesn’t need to do the full lap when parts could fall off.

      2. I agree that Hamilton’s penalty was a clear ‘safety’ related incident and deservedly given. However, Leclerc should of received a 5 second penalty as his release was very dangerous. Especially as it occurred in a very busy pit lane with loads of mechanics around.

        1. Leclerc didnt gain anything from it however it was just a brainmelt from the team. Had Leclerc gained anything from it you can bet there would have been a penalty on him aswell making sure you can not gain anything from an unsafe release.

          1. Leclerc clearly gained time from the unsafe release. If he’d been released safely he would have had to sit in the pit box for at least a couple of seconds longer.

          2. He lost position to an HAAS car behind the safetycar? Yeh in theory he lost time but not actually.

    3. It has always been a penalty, to drive the wrong side of the bollard, effectively Lewis cut across the racing line and the track in order to pit, that is why this has always been a penalty regardless of intention. That said in Hungary we’ve seen that some drivers can do things that others can’t relative to that pit entry.

    4. The problem is that since that passing of Charlie Whiting the rules are interpreted very literally. The idea is to punish drivers who create dangerous situations or try to gain an unfair advantage. Lewis crashed an had bits falling of left and right, continuing to drive would create a dangerous situation and he already lost a lot of time by going off and slowly driving back to the pits. He didnt cause a dangerous situation because of the way he entered the pits, what else could he have done? As a Verstappen fan it was an absolutely amazing race but some of these punishments make no sense.

      1. @neviathan if I have to play devil’s advocate, he should’ve done the same thing any other car in those conditions would’ve done: retire if he can’t get back to the pits safely. He made the obvious choice, which was to get into the pit lane driving the wrong side of the bollard and take the penalty.

      2. To be honest I think a fine would have been more appropriate in the circumstances. However as long as the same punishment is handed to all in the same way then that is okay. It was not the 5 second penalty that buggered Hamiltons race it was the 1 minute waiting for his mechanics to get some tyres onto his car!

    5. Thanks for the replies all. I understand the different views and argumentation on this one.

    6. The rule makes no distinction. The rule is supposed to protect drivers entering the pit lane, frequently at high speed. They don’t want a driver making a late entry and potentially crashing with someone else.

      At the other end, Hamilton escaped penalty last year when he aborted his pit lane entry and rejoined the track after the bollard, because he wasn’t placing anyone else at risk.

      It’s a case of the rules being mildly complicated, but in favor of common sense.

  3. I really hope they would have looked at this incident differently if marshalls had been at work on Leclerc’s car at the time of Lewis’ off. But I’m not in any way certain they would have, especially after that dangerous joke of a Leclerc unsafe release penalty.

    There are still people around who haven’t forgotten what can happen when drivers don’t take the necessary precautions under VSC / SC. I for one don’t want to see that ever again.

    1. @proesterchen I don’t know what leclerc pit stop has to do with Lewis having an off. On that subject watch it again, it wasn’t an unsafe release, for some reason, maybe conditions, romain was really slow reacting, it’s not like we don’t see 5 or more pitstops like that one every race. For instance Horner said that verstappen’s pitstop at monaco was not warranted a penalty due to the unsafe release, in fact he said that even in monaco cars can go side by side on the pit lane, Horner said it was the contact that won mercedes the penalty.

      1. It was an unsafe release. Even the stewards agreed on that before imposing a dangerously misguided penalty.

      2. @peartree The issue, for me, is both speak of a complacency creeping into F1 stewarding that hasn’t been there for a while. There’s a difference between “let them race” and “leave them to do what they will”. In motorsport, complacency in stewarding tends to be followed, sooner or later, by disaster.

        The issue is, for me, only partly to do with those two specific risk points. It’s about the entire risk profile F1 stewards are adopting. One can talk about the consequences of competitor risk all day, but if the entity responsible for managing risks says it’s all OK or near enough OK, that’s how it will be treated. Until the next nightmare. That’s human nature.

    2. They spoke about the conditions.
      Then you also realise the drivers have to drive at a certain speed or they are penalised for driving too slowly.

      1. @OOliver Exactly. Threading the eye of a needle is not easy in wet conditions.

    3. @proesterchen Agreed. “I think it’s one of those ones [where] basically you just look at the conditions the way it was,” says Masi. Lewis should have been prepared to stop when approaching that scene. Bianchi wasn’t that long ago.

      1. You do know how F1 tyres work don’t you? It was clear that he was struggling for grip on the wrong tyres for the track conditions. The problem is that if you drive too slow then all temperature goes from the tyres and you’ll be spinning trying to drive in a straight line.

        Marshalls shouldn’t work on cars in the rain unless a driver needs assistance or the car is bursting into flames. There is an argument to be made that even with the safety car there was a risk that other drivers could have had an accident at that scene when the tractor was around so we should be looking at a red flag in these conditions imo. The Bianchi incident happened because a tractor similar to the one used in Hockenheim was in a run off area in the wet, it absolutely should be a red flag in those conditions as that’s the only safe option until they come up with a lifter that has some sort of barrier to protect against cars wedging underneath them.

        1. On one hand the driver must be be prepared to slow down and avoid accidents and causing danger when driving behind sc. Hamilton clearly broke the rule 39.5. That rule specifically mentions words like “potentially dangerous”, pitlane and pitlane entry. It is totally bonkers how this is not clear cut penalty considering it was waved yellow flags in the corner of the accident that was the cause of the sc where hamilton went off and crashed. At that moment there was no worse place on the track to crash! It is as clear cut penalty as it gets.

          Whether the tire pressures go down or the driver is struggling for grip are not valid excuses. Just like you can’t speed because you are late for work neither can f1 drivers drive dangerously fast behind sc just because otherwise they’d lose an advantage. The driver needs to drive safely and that is more important than his tire pressures. If you don’t have enough grip in the tires and you crash out it only means you were driving dangerously behind the safety car. You broke the rules. I’m willing to bet had it been any other driver other than hamilton it would have been a more serious penalty. Had it been grosjean who crashed out we would be talking about race bans I’m sure.

          39.5 No car may be driven unnecessarily slowly, erratically or in a manner which could be deemed
          potentially dangerous to other drivers or any other person at any time whilst the safety car is
          deployed. This will apply whether any such car is being driven on the track, the pit entry or the
          pit lane.

          1. @socksolid but the interpretation is that the drivers dictate what is safe and if they make a misjudgement then an accident can occur. You could argue that if no marshall was on track and Leclerc was in the safe zone then he didn’t pose a risk to another driver or person. The tyres being undrivable is absolutely a valid excuse plus as your quote shows, you cannot drive too slow or too fast but the driver decides that. This is clearly something drivers should not be responsible for controlling.

            In all my years of watching F1, I can’t recall one time a driver was penalised for having an accident under yellow flags, it just isn’t done as the only time it occurs is in extenuating circumstances. That being said though there is clearly a safety issue with bringing tractors onto the track in wet races and that needs addressing. Its time to look at slowzones with the pit lane limiter in effect for these sorts of incidents.

            I’d love to take the High ground and say the stewards agreed with my viewpoint but its not saying much when they let the Leclerc penalty slide.

  4. Jayden Kelly
    29th July 2019, 10:01

    On Lap 29 of the German GP Lewis Hamilton lost control of his Mercedes with some understeer on the Soft tires on a, still, wet track where everyone else was pitting for Intermediate tires. He went into the barriers and sustained front wing damage from it and needed to go into the pits to fix his car. But because he was too far from entering the pitlane properly, plus with a damaged car it was difficult to turn the car and at that point drive the reverse track just so he could go through the bollard but that would be very dangerous. So instead he rejoined back on the track and went straight on to not lose time or block the track and because he had a damaged car that would have been a safety issue if he had stayed out on track.

    SO HIM GETTING A PENALTY WAS UNFAIR AND UNNECESSARY AND IT RUINED HIS RACE FROM A POTENCIAL TOP 5! As he could have been 3rd or 4th or even 5th (where he actually was) when he came out of the pits and not have had to serve his penalty in the next stop that dropped him down to 12th which inevitably ruined his race. He then stopped again to be 14th and climbed his way back up to 11th before being promoted to 9th because of the two Alfa-Romeo’s 30-second time penalties.

    But overall Hamilton did not deserve a penalty as it wasn’t gaining anything and he didn’t do anything wrong. Plus a very similar thing happened last year in Germany where he went into the pits and then cut across the track to stay out and he didn’t get a penalty. And yes, I know they are quite different, that’s why I said similar, just wanted to throw that in there.

    Also in Turn 16 lots of drivers, teams and race directors did talk about how the corner is very dangerous in the wet as the track is usually used for drag racing and not usually for Formula One. We saw drivers like Carlos Sainz, Charles Leclerc, Kimi Raikkonen and Nico Hulkenberg lose control or spin in that turn.

    I don’t know what the stewards can do now as if they remove 5 seconds from his time as he was +19.667s of the lead so it would be down to 14.667s which would promote him ahead of the two Haas’ and into 7th to get 4 more points to make him be on 229 points. But I don’t think that is allowed or will even happen but I’m just wanting to state that is was totally uncalled for and a very harsh penalty to give.

    1. he didn’t do anything wrong

      In the rules, if you enter the pits the wrong side of the bollard, it’s a slam dunk penalty. No matter what.

      Also in Turn 16 lots of drivers, teams and race directors did talk about how the corner is very dangerous in the wet

      Surely this makes the fact that he drove straight across the track over the racing line at this dangerous corner in wet conditions even worse? Rather than rejoining the track safely and doing another lap then entering in the correct way, which is what the rules expect of you.

    2. Hes not allowed to reverse and hes not allowed to enter beyond the bollard the rules are very clear. If staying on the track is a safety issue he should retire the car that is also very clear.

      The 5sec penalty is pathetic compared to what he gained by breaking the rules and its pathetic compared to what he lost in that clown pitstop anyway.

      How can this even be an issue?

      1. @rethla He is allowed to reverse

        1. @f1osaurus Technically true, insofaras one is only completely banned from reversing in the pit lane (which Lewis hadn’t reached – reversing to reach a pit lane one is already in would be just plain silly). However, there is a rule that reversing is only allowed to the minimum extent necessary and if it does not endanger others.

          So, reversing out of the predicament might have worked… …until it came to rejoining the track. The rules wouldn’t allow reversing past the point needed to get to whichever piece of track was most convenient, and by that point Lewis was well past the pit entry. Limping round the track or retiring were the only permitted options.

        2. @f1osaurus
          He is allowed to reverse to get unstuck not to go backwards into the pitentry. Dont be a smartass.

          1. @rethla He wasn’t going backwards in the pitentry. Dont be a smartass

    3. It’s pretty simple: if you drive right of the bollard, you drive through the pitlane. If you drive left of the bollard, you take another lap. Ironically enough it was announce that rules regarding pit lane entry would be enforced more strictly after Hamilton’s last year “in in in, out out out” debacle.
      Touch luck he wasn’t able to finish top 5 by his own mistakes.

      1. Nope, it seems the rule is if you drive left of the bollard you take a 5 second penalty but can enter the pits. Ironically he probably would have lost less time doing the extra lap although it cannot be proved either way.

        1. 100% correct on the rule. Stay out and no penalty. Cut in and take a penalty.

  5. Jockey Ewing
    29th July 2019, 13:00

    I like Lewis, but there is a third option too:
    You dont cut at the wrong side of the buoy, drive around a lap with the wreck.
    If it falls apart so much that it endangers other racers or it ll likely become unfixable while doing this
    they you can go off the track and retire in a safe position.

  6. They should penalise the person who turned that drag strip into an ice skating ring. I completely agree with Leclerc and Hulkenberg that that strip there is just insane. How are the driver supposed to expect that?

    1. @f1osaurus That would be whoever neglected to clear the rubber off it. However, as the track inspection team cleared it for use (in the dry, the same rubber that caused the ice rink would have helped slow cars down, and dry races happen more often than wet ones), it would be impossible for the FIA to penalise the circuit. Also, as far as I know, the FIA has only penalised its own staff once in the history of its entire existence, and that wasn’t in F1.

  7. So did the fact he was driving to a delta under the SC on slicks, on a wet track contribute to the crash I wonder. He was having to drive faster than he wanted to under the conditions.

    Had he driven the lap and not pitted with the damage he arguable wouldn’t have lost much time as it was under the SC in any case. Wouldn’t have lost the 50 seconds he lost due to the Benny Hill pitstop anyway.

    Anyone know a lap time for a car minus a front wing vs the SC?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

All comments are moderated. See the Comment Policy and FAQ for more.
If the person you're replying to is a registered user you can notify them of your reply using '@username'.