Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Monza, 2020

Hamilton visited stewards during red flag period to make his case against penalty

2020 Italian Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton visited the Italian Grand Prix stewards in person during the race to object to his 10-second stop-and-go penalty.

The Mercedes driver went to race control during the red flag period to discuss the penalty he was given for entering the pit lane while the pits were closed during a Safety Car period.

Hamilton insisted he didn’t see a signal indicating the pits were closed, said team principal Toto Wolff. “We discussed it because he said he didn’t see it, which is certainly true. He would never say something that wasn’t true.”

Hamilton told his team on the radio “there was no light on the entry to the pit lane”.

After the race Wolff said: “Those yellow crosses were on the outside of the corner. Nothing on the inside. No red light on the pit lane entry. And this is why he went to see Michael and told him ‘I didn’t see it’.”

According to the stewards the teams had been notified the pit lane entrance was closed via a notice on timing page three. Two light panels on the circuit also displayed ‘pit lane closed’ warnings.

“It was a weird sequence of events, I must say, that maybe we could have spotted earlier,” Wolff admitted. “The decisions that were taken were highly unusual, but they were absolutely within the rules.”

The situation was triggered by Kevin Magnussen parking his Haas at the exit of Parabolica. This led to the Safety Car being deployed, which Wolff said Mercedes did not understand.

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“A Haas was parked to the right, almost near the pit entry behind the rail, inside of Parabolica,” said Wolff. “There was a single yellow.

“Then 11 seconds later the Safety Car was deployed. I don’t know why. This is what we couldn’t understand.

“Once the Safety Car was deployed, they put the entry to the pit lane on red. But it wasn’t exactly red, it was two yellow crosses on the outside and red light on the inside – and we spotted that last-minute.”

A team member in Mercedes’ virtual race control centre alerted them to the mistake. “Back home, one of the strategists just shouted into the radio whilst we were entering the pit lane.

“There was confusion because you prepare yourself for a pit stop to make it good. Everybody on the pit lane, including myself, we were looking at that at this situation. Nobody looks at page four that the plane is closed. We can’t see the signs.

“And this is just a sequence of events that screwed Lewis’s race. And I’m not happy.”

Hamilton clarified it was the stewards of the meeting he spoke to, rather than Masi.

“It wasn’t to see Michael, it was to see the other stewards, who make the decisions with penalties,” he said. “They just quickly showed me the onboard and those two signs that had an ‘X’ on it. I didn’t see them because I was looking elsewhere.

“But then there was not really much more for me to do so I just left and went back to get changed and that’s ultimately why I was a little bit late to the grid.”

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2020 Italian Grand Prix

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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
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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51 comments on “Hamilton visited stewards during red flag period to make his case against penalty”

  1. Not a good look to be trying to intimidate race officials during a race.

    If not trying to intimidate officials into overturning a penalty, I don’t know why you’d be visiting them during a red flag.

    Especially when it was a clear cut mistake on Hamilton and Mercedes part.

    Everyone but two drivers were able to follow the rules.

    1. You should hVe spared ur comment and dug into more details before. First the pit lane was closed just 11 seconds before his entry, second the screens were on his left on the parabolica, while the incident was ti the right, third the whole safety car was not needed because MAG stopped just 1 meter in front of an exit and should have been pushed backwards not forwards and finally the penalty was harsh to ensure Mercedes do not win in Italy, after seeing that the party mode banning backfired. This is dirty to say the least

      1. Do the lights get brighter after 11 seconds or something? Because 17 other drivers managed to notice them.

        1. Maybe the drivers didn’t know and were told over radio. Even Button said he never saw these lights before so it’s unusual. I feel he has the right to question the penalty if he isn’t sure what happened.

        2. Well every other team, were at least 12 seconds behind Hamilton and that was probably worth double that at safety car speed. That has way more time to react. Even Mercedes say they spotted it but it was simply too late by that point.

      2. All that doesn’t change a thing, it was a throwing-weight-around visit, not cricket

        1. So… given that the stewards often summon drivers to speak to them, presumably they do that to indulge masochism rather than face to face chats being really important in deciding a penalty?

          1. So, if you are sued against, going to visit the judge is the same as is the judge summons you, good logic.

      3. So, you’re saying he’s that stupid (his team too!!) that they check/know where the warning panels are placed over the track?! Come on, Ferrari never got so low.

        1. ……they DON’T check/know……

          1. Didn’t you check/know that your post made no sense before you posted it?

        2. No, Ferrari just cheated, got caught, and now had their worst home GP in memory.

      4. Ridiculous and typical defense of Merc and Lewis. They admitted they made a mistake and could have warned earlier. It literally says so

      5. https://www.formula1.com/en/video/2020/9/2020_Italian_Grand_Prix__Hamilton_pit_lane_penalty_puts_race_win_in_doubt.html

        look at the 1st frame…. red cross on the left hand side of the track, but due to parabolica, it actually swerves from right to left. 3 seconds later… the same… due to the corner it’s more likely that accidents are on the left-hand side (like Leclerc’s), so it makes more sense to put the signs on the left-hand side as well. By putting the signs on the left-hand side it makes them longer visible as well

      6. Yet another petulant Hamilton moment. Sorry (not sorry) that you didn’t look to the outside of the parabolica to see the lights which were clearly visible from the onboard footage and sorry your team didn’t tell you LOL

    2. You really have a hard-on against Hamilton, don’t you?

      Maybe you should try paying attention to what actually happened, instead of what you think happened.

      1. That’s a very good way of putting it, Grat.

      2. Some are just incapable of that. as far as Lewis is concerned.

    3. Inyimidate – ha ha ha ha ha – what are you thinking pal

    4. Not a good look to be trying to intimidate race officials during a race.

      I don’t see anything on the article saying he was

  2. I doubt it was very intimidating. The race was suspended, he went to stewards, they showed him he was at fault, he took responsibility. End of story.

    1. +1.
      And he is the only driver that 0p result wouldn’t hurt his championship standings.

      Still why wouldn’t you go there if there is a chance

  3. “We discussed it because he said he didn’t see it, which is certainly true. He would never say something that wasn’t true.”

    https://www.racefans.net/2009/04/02/lewis-hamilton-thrown-out-of-australian-grand-prix/

    1. @marcusbreese – bet you drive a clown car too

  4. First issue: Magnussen clearly parked where he did because it looked like a gate allowing extraction of his car. But it wasn’t an extraction point. Could he have got to the pits? Who knows. But that’s bad track design. Second issue: as Wolff says, the whole thing escalated massively from a single yellow flag incident and a car apparently safely out of the way, to a full SC (when a VSC had been expected at most) and a closed pit lane. Obviously given the marshals had to push the car all the way to the pits, that made sense. Clearly the rapid escalation left no time for Mercedes to react. The penalty was justified, not because Hamilton was risking the marshals, they hadn’t started pushing then, but because if the pit lane is closed, you can’t enter. It could have been an accident, fire etc. and there are just too many people about for any situation not to be highly dangerous. But that being the case, yes, they need a big light at the entry itself saying it’s blocked. And any car entering, like Hamilton’s, either sees the sign in the distance or comes to a stand still before entering.

    I’ve no issue with drivers questioning their penalties. They’re the ones out their on track and deserve to hear and discuss decisions face-to-face.

    1. If the light was at the pit entry, then by the time you get there it’s too late to do anything about it. In a situation where the pit lane has to be closed, you can’t have drivers veering back onto the racing line at the last minute.

      1. @red-andy Sure, I realize that, so that’s why I said they should come to a stand still rather than go back on track after a certain point. Also potentially dangerous too, but I’m focusing on the fact that a closed pit lane would usually be due to an accident or other serious issue in the pit lane itself, precisely where a lot of people are rushing about and there’s little space to take evasive action. The point is that Hamilton missed the sign not to enter, and the team didn’t have time to cancel its instruction. So what would have happened had there been an incident in the actual pit lane? After the signs on the left of the track, there was nothing else (a big red light say) telling him to stop.

      2. But every other track has the light at the entrance as far as I’m aware and it’s never caused any problems, so what makes you think this? If this were correct, is every other circuit doing it wrong?

  5. I’m surprised there isn’t some kind of “parc ferme” type rule to prevent drivers leaving their garage whilst the race in in progress

    1. the race wasn’t in progress – it was suspended

      1. Good point!
        cheers

  6. He would never say something that wasn’t true

    Melbourne 2009 notwithstanding

  7. Why was the penalty so harsh? A NASCAR style tail end (of the longest line) penalty would have been fair.

    If they didn’t pit him and he drove on through without servicing the car, would he still receive the same penalty?

    1. A 10sec stop/go penalty is the standard penalty for entering the pit lane while it’s closed. We used to see it fairly regularly towards the end of the refuelling era, when the pit lane was routinely closed in the first few laps of an SC period.

      1. Exactly – this wasn’t harsh, it was made harsh by circumstances of the whole pack being bundled together. That’s just luck, and not a reason to start playing with set penalties to try to adapt in advance to assumed circumstance.

    2. Closing the pitlane is only done for safety reasons, therefore its considered in breach of safety rules and therefore a 10 second stop go is the minimum they can give I believe

  8. Doesn’t sound like he was “making his case” but clarifying what signs he’d missed.

  9. Doubt the stewards were bothered about this little pipsqueak. Bet they had the door locked and he had to shout through the letterbox! Lol

    1. Grow up, Johnny boy.

    2. Except for the part where the stewards showed him the video?

    3. Oh dear – where did the bad man hurt you

  10. Yes I am a Hardcore Lewis Hamilton & Mercedes fanatic.
    However this is what I saw on Sky F1.
    LH pitting. His Focus & Eyes would have been looking to the right at the pit lane entrance.
    Immediately before the pit lane entrance a marshal was showing a single yellow.
    The never seen before 2 Pit lane Closed screens were both on the far left of the track.
    Once he had consulted Mercs pit wall crew. He then hot tailed it to stewards room.
    There he was shown his error. Team admitted they missed the monitor showing the pit lane closed.
    Only Brackley noticed it. They alerted trackside. Too late LH was already turned in at pit lane entrance.
    LH accepted his error. LH accepted his penalty. Team accepted the penalty.
    His error was in no way dangerous or any way life threatening.
    The 10 second Stop Go penalty was unduly harsh in my opinion.
    Way worse transgressions have been resulted in 5 seconds, added to final race time penalties.
    Yes the final result was interesting. But this penalty punishment was no way to enhance F1.

  11. Maybe if Hamilton would do a grid walk instead of riding around on his toy, listen to pre-race briefing, pay attention to the racing maybe?

    It is high time somebody comes within 2 tenths of Mercedes, so he has to pay attention.

    It sounded on the radio, like he was bored as hell.

  12. Very unlucky for Hamilton, he was in a class of his own this weekend, but in the end a slam dunk penalty. Pit lane was closed at the same time the safety car was deployed, which someone at the team should have noticed and informed him. It’s not surprising Hamilton missed the lights on the outside of the parabolica, how often have we seen drivers missing their pit boards even though they should be looking out for them every lap (well less so these days with team radio). Overall though, that’s racing, drove a great race, was unlucky and the stewards were left with no option but to impose the penalty they did.

    Still it was nice to see some other people fighting for the win for a change, it’s a sad reflection on the state of Formula 1 that this is the first time since 2013 that a driver from a team other than Mercedes, Ferrari and Redbull have won.

  13. Any driver can ask to speak to the stewards and they, of course, often ask the drivers to do so about incidents on the track. When called by the stewards the driver is usually accompanied by a team member. Teams often contact the stewards in the race raising issues, and of course drivers complain on the radio to the team but are really speaking to the stewards and Race Director who monitor radio coms.

    Both drivers who were penalised were almost certainly concentrating on the right side waved yellows and the Haas stopped by the side of the road rather on the left side where the light was showing the pitlane was closed. This is not a common signal ( Button, I think it was, said he had never come across it) and is probably placed over on the left side on the assumption that drivers coming round that bend would be looking to the curve outside not inside line.

    Lastly the closure notice on the FIA messaging system was on page 3 at the end not at the top of page one as other urgent instructions usually are.

    So while the penalty was right the track and the FIA need to sort out the signalling system so any closure of the pitlane is clearly visible whatever is happening on the track and the messages are flashing in clear view on the coms system and preferably on the car dashboard as are signals for yellows and blues, for example.

  14. It was not like he couldn’t know where those lights were in the first place. It is more than clearly stated in the Race Directors Notes. This is a document that drivers and teams have to read and study before every single race, because this type of information is in there. There is even a drawn map AND a picture on where these lights are and what they look like:

    https://www.fia.com/sites/default/files/decision-document/2020%20Italian%20Grand%20Prix%20-%20Race%20Directors'%20Event%20Notes%20.pdf

    1. @cdfemke Thanks for sharing that, very interesting.

    2. Thank you, @cdfemke.
      Always good to see factual contributions rather than the testosterone fuelled preconceived opinions.

  15. Indycar and Nascar have race control notifications which override the display in the cars. Why not F1?

  16. @keithcollantine @deiter
    I could swear I heard a radio transmission from Lewis immediately after he’d entered the pit lane but before he stopped in his box saying something along the lines of “There was a light, does that mean the pit lane is closed?”, because if so, then both Toto and Lewis claiming “he didn’t see the panels” and particularly Toto saying “he said he didn’t see it, which is certainly true. He would never say something that wasn’t true.”

    I’m pretty sure it was said by Lewis immediately before (as mentioned in article above) Hamilton told his team on the radio “there was no light on the entry to the pit lane”.

    Do you have the radio transcript?
    Did I hear what I think I heard?
    And if so, what are we to do with Toto’s and Lewis’ disingenuous claims that Lewis didn’t see the sign, and Lewis wouldn’t tell lies about it if he had???

    (First comment since becoming RaceFans supporter at the beginning of the year, LOVE your work, thank you).

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