Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Interlagos, 2019

Why Hamilton’s penalty wasn’t decided in time for Sainz to go on the podium

2019 F1 season

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Carlos Sainz Jnr scored his first podium finish in yesterday’s Brazilian Grand Prix. But the McLaren driver wasn’t able to celebrate on the podium as his third place wasn’t confirmed until after the ceremony.

The stewards’ decision to give Lewis Hamilton a five-second time penalty for his collision with Alexander Albon, which promoted Sainz to third, was confirmed an hour after the chequered flag.

Other penalty decisions in recent races have taken much less time. In Mexico the stewards took less than 10 minutes to penalise Daniil Kvyat for his collision with Nico Hulkenberg on the last lap.

In Kvyat’s case the stewards decided they did not need to hear from the drivers involved in the incident before issuing a penalty. However Hamilton and Albon were summoned over their collision. This meant the decision could not be made before the podium ceremony.

FIA race director Michael Masi said the stewards decided the Hamilton-Albon collision needed to be investigated after the race. “With everything that had happened in that last period of the race, and obviously a very late call for the Safety Car to come in, it was something that they determined because it was so close they were going to do a post-race investigation.”

However in his post-race interview immediately after the race Hamilton accepted blame for the crash and apologised to Albon. Mercedes sporting director Ron Meadows told the stewards they accepted responsibility for the collision.

This meant the investigation itself took little time, said Masi. “When you’ve got a team that comes down and says ‘we made a mistake’ it becomes a very simple investigation from the other side.”

There have been cases of the top three finishing positions being changed by a penalty which was decided between the chequered flag and the podium ceremony. At the Circuit of the Americas in 2017 Max Verstappen was replaced on the podium by Kimi Raikkonen after he was given a penalty.

Masi said he understood the desire for penalties to be decided quickly enough that the podium can reflect the final classified finishing order. But he said the stewards also need to take their time to come to a correct decision. “It’s a catch 22,” he said.

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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
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62 comments on “Why Hamilton’s penalty wasn’t decided in time for Sainz to go on the podium”

  1. It wasn’t Interlagos 2017?
    Mexico 2016 had Verstappen shuffled down for Vettel who then got demoted for Ricciardo
    Austin 2017 Verstappen was penalized before they could leave the ready room to get Raikonnen on the podium

  2. the delay was total BS. i really hate when F1 gets the podium celebration/attendance wrong. How many podiums has Lewis had compared to Sainz? How much would that mean to Sainz? Just look at Gasly. F1 needs VAR

    1. @sterling Some things require more time than others.

      1. @sterling you’re right @jerejj, but I think F1 needs to take a global vision of the sport into account: maybe penalizing Hamilton was the wrong decision, but the that decision needed to be take right away and Sainz sent to the podium. You have all the time later to fix this decision but there’s no way to give back that ceremony to Carlos and to the fans. A third place for Hamilton makes absolutely no difference.
        I’m confident Carlos will have more opportunities but imagine if it was Hulkenberg to get his first and only podium this way.

        1. If it had been Hulkenberg in that position he would have been overtaken by Raikonnen behind him on the last lap and finished 4th anyway. The Hulk never misses the chance to choke on a podium chance.

      2. @jerejj

        Fixed:
        Some faces require more time than others.

      3. This meant the investigation itself took little time, said Masi. “When you’ve got a team that comes down and says ‘we made a mistake’ it becomes a very simple investigation from the other side.”

        By the time the interviews were done and the drivers finally made it to the podium, the incident was more than 15 mins ago. The we accept blame comments were almost 10 mins old. I’m not sure how much more simple it could be. Surely you would expedite this kind of thing as well. Baffling.
        Not as baffling as Brazil 2003, mind!

    2. Um F1 has VAR. Literally they only use videos to judge stuff.

      1. w VAR, play stops. obv this isnt poss during a race. but a slight delay in proceedings to have the stewards chat to both drivers would be worthwhile in these scenarios. it wouldnt have taken long

  3. I first didn’t get the Catch 22-reference until I found out after a little google-search that it’s ”a paradoxical situation from which an individual cannot escape because of contradictory rules or limitations.”

    1. The problem is that it wasn’t a Catch 22, @jerejj.
      The reason given (With everything that had happened in that last period of the race, and obviously a very late call for the Safety Car to come in) is a Crap 22 though “a crystal clear situation from which an individual cannot escape without bringing up lame excuses”. The safety car was long back in its bay and it was simply to investigate what happened in that single corner between only 2 cars.
      I’m not sure if it was a penalty, but waiting for the drivers to give their view was not needed IMO.

      1. Exactly, well put @coldfly

      2. @coldfly Totally.

        I honestly feel this is putting the sport in disrepute. Putting the wrong guy on the podium when the whole world knows it shouldn’t be like that makes the sport looks amateurish.

        Add that to ‘unable to recover a car that’s perfectly parked near an emergency exit’ and it’s almost farcical.

        1. Happened before. Even for winners!

          1. Brazil again lol, 2003

        2. Well, that part has an explanation, one that actually explains it, in another article @balue, but indeed this ‘explains’ only that they just didn’t do the simple, seemingly right thing, and does nothing to actually explain why the stewards felt that was needed. Leaves them quite open to think it was ‘because Hamilton was involved’, ie. ‘class’ justice.

  4. “When you’ve got a team that comes down and says ‘we made a mistake’ it becomes a very simple investigation from the other side.”

    Well, Hamilton already said he ‘made a mistake’ before the podium ceremony so the stewards should have made the ‘very simple’ decision right then. I am all for following procedures; F1 should not ignore the rule of the law just for the sake of the show. But yesterday it was just unnecessary bureaucracy and lack of effectiveness.

    1. > F1 should not ignore the rule of the law just for the sake of the show

      @girts no, but they must factor the show in the equation

    2. Umm the rule of law is to investigate it.

  5. Why would the stewards be listening to post race interviews when they should and would have been reviewing the various possibly infractions involving a number of incidents and drivers?
    And if they had picked up on Albons remarks instead of Hamiltons they may have decided on what he said ‘left a gap, didn’t realise Ham was there, would have got me anyway’ as reasons to label it a racing incident.
    Not forgetting if they had of reacted to the Ham quotes you would have had the same podium situation. Sainz would also have been up there whilst under investigation. And who knew a slam dunk DRS infringement is now considered a grey area up for debate?

    1. If they aren’t going to make decisions in time to put the right people on the podium, then why are they wasting time reviewing things instead of listening to the driver interviews for relevant information?

      It was clear that Lewis COULD have gotten a penalty and that would affect the podium; because of that, they should be doing everything they can to make their decision quickly so the podium can be correct.

  6. I am so tired of all the usual BS from Masi. Besides, he kept silent on why there was no penalty for Vettel. Mr. Masi has become a real joke.

    1. Why should Vettel have a penalty?

      1. Vettel should receive a sizeable penalty… FROM HIS EMPLOYERS! No need for the fia to get involved.

      2. For hitting his teammate presumably.

    2. Disagree completely. I reckon Mr Masi has been pretty thorough since he has stepped up in the top job. No one is perfect, we just want them to get the decision right and thats what they did

  7. So if they accept responsibility, then the stewards automatically issue a penalty?

    What if they don’t accept responsibility like Magnussen and Maldonado? Do you not give them a penalty?

    What if Lewis thinks that the penalty issued to another driver is too lenient? Remember his comments to Charlie at Baku? Do they reopen the investigation?

    It’s a slippery slope to use the driver’s comments when deciding to give a penalty.

    1. Agreed, while I do think the delay is bad I don’t think its necessarily wrong to just go through your standard procedure.

    2. @freelittlebirds

      One can image a Bottas being prompted by the team to “be good sports” and accept responsibility for a collision. It would, of course, be purely sportsmanship, and have nothing to do with their teammate being 4.5 seconds behind them.

      Actually, I’m pretty sure I didn’t image Riccairdo being thrown under the bus by Red Bull in Baku. That helped keep Verstappen from getting a penalty, which was a net win for the team.

    3. @freelittlebirds
      Have you never seen a television crime drama? Lewis pleaded guilty… and accepted his punishment like an adult…

      Why would you get into a million differant what-ifs?

      If nobody pleads guilty, you investigate as normal. What if Lewis doesn’t like another drivers penalty? What? What are you talking about man???

      I swear this comment section gets worse and worse everyday! All while my comments get denied!

      1. That’s the whole point but it seems to have flown over your head. The FIA should not accept responsibility from drivers. They should make independent decisions. If you think this was Lewis’ fault, then you can state your opinion and explain why you feel that way. This was clearly a racing incident and in my opinion Albon left the door wide open and then closed it too quickly. I wouldn’t penalize him because of the outcome of the incident but if he had taken out Lewis, Albon probably should have gotten a penalty unless they applied the racing incident rule a bit loosely.

  8. More to the point, Ferrari International Assistance, rules a deliberate collision by Vettel, again, on a team mate. A ‘racing incident’, maybe. A safe move, 9 times out of 10 not, and this one was an 11!!

    FIA Stewards, despite the claims are obviously scared of the comments of inconsistency and lacking in tranparency, and quite rightly as we’re turning the clock back years.

    What’s happened to a database of SD decisions, with explainations of why rules were broken and why given a choice of penalties, a certain level was chosen.
    There use to be a page on the FIA website for SDs (though empty) rather than under each event. Its probably in use as its now restricted.

  9. Hamilton apologized because it cost Albon his first podium. That was a classic racing incident. Albon left a gap, he went for it, then Albon closed the door, but he was already there.

    The only reason he got a penalty was because Albon came worse off it. That’s what they’ve been doing for years. If one guy cames worse than the other after some contact, they go and penalize the other, so both can lose time.

    Hamilton got 150 podiums, was racing for fun and this doesn’t make any difference for him, but had Albon not spun, regardless of contact, he probably would not be penalized.

    1. Thats why they needed to investigate it and just accept a driver’s word just becuas he accepted responsibility.

    2. was racing for fun

      So was Albon!
      This is going to be the new excuse from HAM fans isn’t it.
      Same as the previous race weekend. Beaten and out qually by team mate because he was ‘playing it safe’. Yet the WDC was easier to win than it was lose.

  10. I think there needs to be a change to the procedure.

    Where an investigation is open involving one of the top 3, they should be called in immediately and the podium ceremony delayed. There should be a time limit on the delay (5-10mins?) but this would allow most of these incidents to be investigated and resolved before the podium ceremony.

    1. @drmouse

      they should be called in immediately and the podium ceremony delayed.

      Delaying the podium isn’t going to be an option due to commitments with broadcasters & other media.

      Most broadcasters are committed to airing the podium but most of them also don’t have time to extend the program block to wait around for the podium should it get delayed. There are deals & guarantee’s in place on both sides & a lot of the pre/post race procedure works around those.

      1. They could just get Barrichello to do all the post race interviews. That would buy an extra 5 minutes every week! Was a bit cringe lol

      2. @gt-racer

        most of them also don’t have time to extend the program block

        Most races come in well under the 2 hour limit, let alone the 4 hour limit. That would suggest that the majority of them would have an extra 5-10 minutes to wait for the podium ceremony (and most would probably appreciate the extra time for an additional ad break).

  11. Find it amusing that Ham is given 2 penalty points for a genuine attempt even when Albon admitted he left a gap and didnt know exactly where Ham was, yet Vettel escapes with not a one?

    1. @riptide Yep it’s crazy. I even argue what Hamilton did doesn’t deserve a penalty. Shouldn’t happen of course, but Albon himself giving very wide open invitation. As it is 5s penalty is acceptable, but 2 penalty points on top of it is just crazy when it’s not dangerous and very understandable contact at all and Hamilton himself slowing down a lot after the contact.

      1. Aren’t the two penalty points a requirement of giving the time penalty in the rules? I thought they are.

    2. Leclerc did nothing to avoid the contact. So i think they are both wrong.

      1. Last time I got punched in the face, it was my fault for not ducking fast enough.

        #victim_blaming

        1. @eurobrun if you said that about ham/Albon, you might have a point, but leclerc was in total control of his car, he could’ve given way. I’m not saying it’s 50/50, but it sure as hell aint100/0!

          Furthermore, you are being disengenuinous, implying leclerc is the helpless female victim of spousal abuse, when in reality he was an equal party in a fist fight that took both people out.

          I can understand why people see certain stuff, certain ways, but be honest!8

          1. Or you are being sexist by implying that all victims are female?

      2. Leclerc did nothing to avoid the contact. So i think they are both wrong.

        Except move to the left of course but lets not talk about that because we dont want to face the fact Vettel was at fault right?

    3. @riptide did they seriously give him 2 penalty points? I think they’re just kidding – they’ll take them away.

      They are probably just messing with Hamilton and Mercedes – obviously it can’t be real points…

  12. The only defence that was acceptable here was them saying it was marginal so they wanted to review with the drivers and full data before coming to a decision or that they need further information from the drivers in order to decide exactly which penalty should apply. It could have been more than 5 seconds after all if they deemed it serious enough. Every time they’ve announced why they acted a certain way this year sit’s sounded like an excuse instead of a true justification. The stewarding has been awful this year.

  13. I agree with you, Sainz may be promoted to third but he missed out on the podium celebrations

  14. All credit to Hamilton for being gracious about it, but I don’t think he had anything to apologise for, and I’m not sure the stewards should jump to conclusions based on these kinds of confessions until the drivers have a chance to review the replays themselves. Drivers’ impressions of incidents in real time aren’t always the most reliable. Just look at how Norris initially responded to Albon’s late lunge on him at Suzuka, essentially exonerating him, when in fact, Albon was coming from quite a long ways back—which he realised after he saw the replay.

    I’m not saying that that should have been a penalty, but it was significantly more questionable than Norris first thought.

  15. When there is a stewards inquiry into an event that is likely to effect the podium they should delay it for up to maybe 5-10 mins. No point if the inquiry relates to 4th place or below. Such a shame for sainz and McLaren not to be on the podium.

    On another note, hats off to Hamilton for taking responsibility. (Surely another reason to delay the podium !)

  16. After viewing & reviewing the incident I thought Albon gave Hamilton too much space and should have realised Hamilton would go for the gap. Which, for me, made the delay in the decision a logical one in the end.
    But it surely s*cks for Sainz to be withheld the celebration of his first podium place on the podium.

  17. Need more time? Seriously Masi is not fit for this job.

    This could have been decided in minutes. Often when a driver is told to hand a place back like Hulk, they don’t take 3 hours over it.

    It was obvious ham punted him off, not deliberately but it was clumsy. There’s no excuse for the stewards not working this out in seconds unless they are, quite frankly, idiots.

  18. I’m struggling to think of other sports that celebrate the top 3 (or winner) before the result has been finalised. Can’t think of any. I feel bad for McLaren, they missed out on historically great PR and marketing photographs of Carlos on the podium with the other drivers. Something needs to change.

  19. Masi went bonkers with such hogwash investigations. Sherlock frigging Holmes. Just see him playing violin and smoking a pipe at Baker Street 221b.

  20. I don’t think it was a catch-22 so much as it was just pure incompetence as the stewards have demonstrated that throughout the season.

  21. Would it hurt to have a ten minute deliberation time (or twenty minutes) to resolve any penalty disputes after the race has finished? I think some of us would be happy to wait. Maybe not everyone – but I would. TV time allocations could cater for this if needed and it would add to the show. The anticipation of a decision could be quite exciting after all. How long does it take to make a decision? Yes it depends on the incident but how long is too long? If a driver does not admit fault, which would make the decision easier, then perhaps the penalty could be made harsher? Just pondering here. Perhaps it would stop some drivers from being petulant. With all due respect who could that be? Televise the stewards interrogation. :-) That would be fun? Maybe going too far. :-) Have the drivers vote on any decision that is not so clear cut. There are opportunities here for even more entertainment. :-)

  22. I get why Hamilton took the blame. I don’t think it should have been a penalty though. Albon pulled out wide to angle into the corner, leaving space for Hamilton to take the inside. It’s racing, not a supermarket queue. Once he’d left space and knew Hamilton was inside, he should have continued to leave space, not cut across. It was similar to the Verstappen-Ocon incident in Brazil last year. If you cut into the corner like that, you have to be sure there’s nobody there, or leave space.

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