Analysis: Mercedes warned Hamilton not to come into the pits four seconds too late

2020 Italian Grand Prix

Posted on

| Written by

Mercedes almost warned Lewis Hamilton not to come into the pits in time to avoid the 10-second stop-go penalty which ruined his Italian Grand Prix.

But the message not to enter the pits came moments too late: Hamilton had already come in.

The 10-second stop-and-go penalty he received – along with Antonio Giovinazzi, who committed the same error – is the toughest sanction short of outright disqualification which the rules permit.

Here’s why the stewards closed the pit lane and how Hamilton and Mercedes missed the vital detail which cost them victory.

Magnussen stoppage leads to Safety Car

On lap 19, approaching the Parabolica, Kevin Magnussen’s car shut down unexpectedly. “Something broke,” he said. As he came out of the corner the team told him to stop the car. He pulled over by the first gap in the barrier on his right-hand side, before the pit lane entrance.

Kevin Magnussen, Haas, Monza, 2020
Magnussen’s car had to be pushed into the pits
However the marshals did not have room to bring Magnussen’s car behind the barrier to a position of safety. “It’s actually not a gap in the fence,” explained FIA F1 race director Michael Masi.

“As the drivers and teams are all made aware, some of the openings are vehicle openings, some of them are just marshals posts. The ones that have the shorter orange band are actually only a marshal post and the car would not fit at that area. So the only safe place to remove that was to push it down into pit lane because there was no other opening available.”

That meant the pit lane entrance had to be closed. It took around a lap for race control to make this decision. Hamilton passed Magnussen while the Haas was pulling to a stop, and was approaching the Parabolica again when the Safety Car was deployed.

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

How teams and drivers were told the pit lane was closed

The teams and drivers were given multiple signs the pit lane was closed as soon as the Safety Car was deployed.

“There’s two parts to it,” explained Masi. “One is for the driver. The light panels actually have a big red ‘X’ on it.

“Depending on the circuit there are either two panels or one panel. The light panels are normally displayed, the Safety Car and all the other flag signals, have a big red cross on it.

“At this circuit we have two panels that display that cross to signify that pit lane is closed.” These panels with the illuminated red cross can be seen from Hamilton’s onboard camera (above). Masi pointed out that “the map indicating those is distributed to all the teams in my event notes”.

Go ad-free for just £1 per month

>> Find out more and sign up

The teams were given other notifications that they could not come into the pits, Masi added. “The software that the teams use has the pit lane shown as red with ‘pit lane closed’.

“And on the timing page, that actually has all of the incident notifications pop up, that actually says ‘pit lane closed’ on page three.”

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff pointed out there was “no pit lane light” at the entrance to the pit lane. “And obviously from the from the pit wall you can’t see these yellow [red] crosses.

“If the driver doesn’t spot them, which I believe is absolutely the truth, the only way you can see that the pit lane was closed was on page four of the FIA communication system. And nobody looks at that page when a Safety Car is deployed – the driver is just about to come into the pits, everything is concentrated around the pit stop.

“So it’s unlucky, I would say. And a very unusual decision to just close the pit lane.”

How Hamilton failed to see the signal

This diagram issued by Masi showed the location of the pit entry status lights
This diagram issued by Masi showed the location of the pit entry status lights

Hamilton was approaching the Parabolica again when the Safety Car was deployed. He was immediately told to pit and the team began discussing which tyre they would fit.

Both the team and driver overlooked the signals indicating the pit lane entrance was closed. Hamilton’s race engineer Pete Bonnington did tell him not to pit before Hamilton reached his pit box, but this message was too late, as he had entered the pit lane four seconds earlier.

BonningtonHamilton approaches an ‘SC’ board on the straight before Parabolica
Safety Car, Safety Car. Box box, Box box.
HamiltonGo hard tyre, hard tyre.
HamiltonHamilton passes the first red cross
Hard tyre, hard tyre.
BonningtonHamilton passes the second red cross
Copy Lewis, too late to change. We’ll be going to the medium.
BonningtonHamilton enter the pits
So stay out, pit lane entry should be closed.
HamiltonHamilton makes his pit stop and leaves
I don’t understand what you just said there.
BonningtonCopy Lewis it was a late message. It was pit lane entry was closed.
BonningtonHamilton rejoins the track
Back onto your delta.
HamiltonWas it closed?
BonningtonJust checking, we’re just checking when the message came up.
BonningtonSo just stay on that delta. People will be picking up the Safety Car now.
HamiltonThis is ridiculous. Is this for the car pulled over on the right that was completely out of the way?
BonningtonCopy Lewis, that’s the only incident on the track at the moment. Looks like they’re going to try to push it into the pit lane.
HamiltonI don’t think we’re on the right tyre.
BonningtonUnderstand Lewis. It should be OK. We think it should be pretty good.
HamiltonIs the pit lane closed?
BonningtonWe got the message on the screen but yes, it was. We’re just discussing.
BonningtonOK Lewis the pit entry is now open to expect a lot of cars to pit.
Hamilton[Unclear] So I have come in with the light on?
BonningtonAffirm, Lewis. We are under investigation but we’ll see what they come back with.
BonningtonSo when the race gets underway we’ll just have to get on with it and build as big a gap as possible.
HamiltonWatch the replay because I didn’t see any light.
BonningtonCopy Lewis, we are investigating.
BonningtonSo Safety Car is in this lap. Stroll is the car behind.
BonningtonStroll stayed out, he’s on 22-lap used soft tyres.

When the race was red-flagged, Hamilton asked Mercedes to show him a video replay of him entering the pits. They didn’t have one, so he went to see the stewards.

“They quickly showed me the onboard and there was two signs that had an ‘X’ on it,” said Hamilton. “But I actually didn’t see them because I was looking elsewhere.”

Hamilton’s 10-second stop-go penalty ruined his race
“You rely a lot on the team to tell you things,” he explained. “When you’re approaching a corner it’s generally relatively easy to see but when you’re cornering you’re looking, if you’re going through a right, you’re not looking left, you’re looking over to the right and you’re gauging the gap between you and the white line. So your view is kind of centre to the right, you’re not necessarily looking to the left.

“Also, when there’s a car that’s pulled over on the right-hand side, you’re conscious of the people, the marshals, generally that’s the area you look to. You don’t look to the left.

“But generally I don’t remember actually any time coming here that that was the indication for the pit lane closing. I’ve never actually known that would be the left. So that was a new experience.”

Masi – who Hamilton didn’t speak to during the hiatus – said he thought Hamilton “came across fairly content” after watching the footage. “Well, as content as you can be,” he added.

Quotes: Dieter Rencken

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

2020 F1 season

Browse all 2020 F1 season articles

Author information

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.

102 comments on “Analysis: Mercedes warned Hamilton not to come into the pits four seconds too late”

  1. So first of all it seems that not everyone within the Mercedes team (including Hamilton himself and Wolff) was aware of those panels that show a red X to inform of a closed pitlante, despite that being part of the notes. And then it seems the issue was just that they did not quite manage to relay the info to Hamilton on time, because he was the first one on track.

    Off course what Hamilton mentions about lookint towards the end of the corner, and then keeping an eye on the marshalls on track makes sense.

    I guess a “shame we missed this” is the best response. And then be glad Verstappen didn’t fare well either, so really nothing lost for the championship.

    1. Shouldnt all these potential warning lights be tested as part of their race weekend preparations. I thought they did this on every circuit as part of the buildup to that weekend’s testing and qualifications.

      These warning lights are at differnt points, on the different circuits. Those lights are subject to repairs, upgrades, they may even be moved etc , so why isn’t it procedural to test the various states of those lights ..

      In this particular situation there was no time to ask the pitwall what is going on. Those two lights right at that juncture didn’t allow time. Were the other teams advised that the pit was closed? Also, about the other driver to come in, did he do so under instructions too?

      Once again this information should have been available immediately to all the teams on the pit wall, who could then have said “ABORT”

      Instead one team benifits and the rest pay a penalty.

      1. Well, I am sure those lights are installed there for quite a few seasons by now Ajaxn, one would presume that teams actually go through that kind of stuff once in a while in the simulator, no? Or point them out during track walks.

        That is not a responsibility of the FIA/track though, they inform the teams in an appropriate and timely manner of how things work and the teams take preparations, can ask for more information, request changes etc. as they feel are needed.

      2. The problem is they did get a message. Toto just admitts that once they said pit, they had never seen the pitlane be closed and all their attention was behind making sure the pit crew was ready and to watch Lewis and the stop, then one of the engineers in the garage or Brackley called them and told them the lane was closed and then they said stay out. I agree and disagree it makes sense. Yes the lights are on the left but that also means they’re in the apex of the turn as well and they didn’t say SC which they shouldve and he knew it was a safety car he didn’t need to push and shouldve been able to react better when he knew the incident was just around the last corner approaching the pitlane

      3. I said it on a previous article, but the real issue here seemed to be the safety car being deployed was a much clearer message that all teams and drivers got instantly, whereas the pit lane closing was reliant on some lights out of a driver’s eye line, and a slightly buried message on the team’s screens.

        I don’t think the incident is anyone’s fault, and the penalty was simply something that had to be issued based on the rules. If they can improve the way in which a “pit lane closed” message is given to teams and drivers, to be on par with the safety car notification, then the issue disappears.

        It’s not something that happens very often, so it’s understandable the message wasn’t conveyed quite as well as the safety car being deployed, nor that the team/driver didn’t pick up immediately on the messages that were given (“its in the notes” that the poorly placed lights gave an indication isn’t good enough for matters of safety). Race control simply need to review how messages like that one can be better conveyed.

        1. I also wonder if the pit lane should be closed during Safety car periods to avoid this. I know there has been a debate about closing the pitlane during VSC or SC periods to avoid others from gaining an advantage. A simple SC or VSC can just make your race…

          1. @krichelle This just hands a huge advantage to anyone fortunate enough to have pitted just before the Safety Car is deployed (see Singapore 2008 for the most notorious example).

        2. @simon999 nothing buried (as Toto implied) its on the timing screen that everyone sees and even more importantly it’s on the track screen. On of the most important screens for the team to see all positions. The pitlane turned red there.

      4. The information Is inmediatly available to the teams. The timing sheet showed a banner and the track ( where the teams follow the positions) turned red ( the pitlane).
        In Brackley they noticed it and tried to warn the pit wall, but no one was paying attention.
        Big mistake by the team.

    2. @bascb

      Damn it. You know, when Magnussen parked his car, I thought that a VSC or a SC would be deployed immediately. It took quite long for them to bring out either one of then, and I was already nervous because I saw Hamilton just starting sector 3, which would mean that he could miss the chance to pit for new tyres, while the others behind would pit for new tyres.

      Hamilton and Mercedes could also argue, although it looks pointless, that the X lights on the left side panels could indicate SC (Safety car), as from our point view, it looks like either X or SC. Not the first time, Hamilton has been caught out by the lights. Mercedes will need to be wary because Safety cars and VSCs have been deployed a lot this year compared to last year, and we saw, that all it takes is just one wrong timed of either two of those to make your race.

      This could have been a lot easier if a way to display or transmit the messages clearer to the teams was enforced.

      Ajaxn, the drivers’ visions are a lot better than ours, and Mercedes have no excuse, unless they try to use the lights causing confusion among X and SC. But it appears quite silly to do so.

      By the way, the last time I remember the pitlane being closed, was in 2008 in Canada. Was this the first time since then this occurred?

      1. @krichelle according to this article, it was closed in Brazil a few years ago. The article says back then the rules allowed the stewards to choose a penalty, so they gave Ricciardo 5 seconds, but since then the rules have changed and now mandate a stop-go penalty to be awarded

      2. Yeah, it is pretty rare that they have to close the pitlane, I think there was one, maybe in Monaco? in between, but am not sure about it @krichelle.

        I also think that it would be good to review whether the singage used can be improved upon or find a better way to immediately inform the teams of such a relatively urgent message.

    3. Apparently, the half of the strategy team back at the factory realised early enough, but couldn’t get through all the team communications to tell them, so in a sense it’s simply a technical communication issue that I bet Mercedes will close!

  2. It is to be expected. Everytime Lewis gets to a land mark something always goes wrong at the first attempt !

    There is still 9 races left, more then enough time to get another 3 wins this year and stops the Tiffosi crying at their home grounds with MS being matched.

    1. Matched for titles and overtaken for win count. Next year it will be even the titles count gone for good.

    2. Iskandar Mazlan
      7th September 2020, 15:59

      Exactly. Lewis miss WIN no 90 and xtra 19 points. He could match MSc WIN in Mugello to coincide with Ferrari 1000th celebration.

    3. Crying what? The car is more important than the driver in f1 and no driver ever had as good a car as hamilton on average, and now there’s also more races per season on average and drivers can race till they’re older.

      There’s no way you can say hamilton is better than schumacher, fangio or clark based on non % statistics, and even those aren’t perfect cause they over-reward drivers who raced for a short time.

      1. Maybe watch the 1988 championship

      2. Hamilton is better than Schumacher because he makes less mistakes and crashes into less competitors on purpose.

      3. I can absolutely say statistically Hamilton is THE best driver in the history of F1, or he will be in a few more weeks. Anything else is purely opinion.

        “no driver ever had as good a car as hamilton on average” – I think if you look at it properly, Hamilton has probably had THE best car for 5 seasons of his career. (2014 – 2016, 2019 and 2020). I’m sure other drivers would have comparable levels to that.

        And then WHY has he had the best car? Answer, the top teams want the top drivers, always been the case.

  3. I guess all those looking for an excuse to stick one into Lewis over this issue will have to keep quiet now.

    As is now obvious, he didn’t spit any dummy out, he didn’t behave entitled with the stewards, he wasn’t a prima donna, and the mistake wasn’t even his fault.


    1. Jelle van der Meer (@)
      7th September 2020, 13:14

      I agree with all your comments except it not being Hamilton’s mistake.
      It is the driver’s responsibility to see the flags and the signs and react to those – Hamilton failed to check the Pit Entry signs so that is his fault not the teams.
      Yes Mercedes should have been awake and coach/warn him accordingly and yes it is an understandable mistake to make given the circumstances and the speed that he travels through that corner but still it remains a driver mistake.

      1. That’s a good point.

        The placement of those lights are from a time when the cars were so much slower.

        Hamilton set an all time record for the track and average speed when he took pole. These car are going so much faster. It makes sense to reconsider the placement of these lights and the amount of perepheral information these drivers can take onboard whilst managing all those other systems in their cars.

        its not enough to say there a still image, or a slowed down image showing the light in view of the camera.
        You also need to consider what is humanly feasible, particularly when the drivers aren’t conditioned for those lights.

        The next time this happens it could actually mean something.

        1. Anyway, this happened along a SC period, meaning it was at a reduced pace.

      2. Yes Hamilton should just suck it up and try to learn more about circuits and the security work that is going on.

        1. He did that. What’s next?

      3. @jelle-van-der-meer – It is the team’s mistake. They told him to pit. Drivers very rarely make the decision to pit themselves.
        We have seen many track incidents/errors (blocking, debris, oil, etc) when teams do not adequately inform their drivers what is going on the race track. The teams have access to far more information than the driver could ever have

        1. Jelle van der Meer (@)
          7th September 2020, 18:12

          Understand the point you make but disagree. Mercedes certainly made a mistake as well but you can’t say if wasn’t Hamilton’s fault. Also I am not sure if the pitlane closed before or after Mercedes pit call.

          This is safety related and Hamilton at all times is end responsible to follow flags and signs. I am fairly sure Hamilton would have ignored his team’s order to pit if he had seen the closed pitlane signs.

          Same as when his team orders “Hammertime” Lewis is still responsible to slow down if a yellow flag is waved.

      4. It wasn’t a singular mistake is the point, just an unfortunate set of circumstances

        1. Did ANY other driver get told to pit and then didn’t because they saw the signs? Signs that have never been used at any other Grand Prix in the history of the sport?

  4. Hamilton did break the rules and deserved the penalty, there is something here that should be looked at.

    F1 is too reliant on these small light panels. With the technology F1 has available, it would be really easy to have an automated system installed in all cars where the driver gets an automated message in his ear telling him “pit entry closed”, “drive-through penalty”, etc., rather than relying on light panels (which can be missed, as happened here) or the team to relay messages (which takes time, as also happened here). I believe they already have an automated noise for the safety car being deployed, so it wouldn’t be difficult to just expand the system.

    1. I was thinking of the exact same suggestion u made @jamie B. Why are those critical messages not relayed straight to the driver while also utilizing the boards, flags etc.

    2. I ask the same questions. Other series do it – race control broadcasts vital messages to all cars directly – no middlemen and no guessing.
      Believe it or not, many people don’t want such a direct system.

      1. And the thing is as well, if they did that then there would be a legitimate case for reducing team radio and driver coaching

    3. So what if you have a malfunctioning radio? or other com system?

    4. But then you will get discussions like “it did not show on my dash” or “I did not get the be beep”. Try to solve those discussions in a steward’s room (during a race)!

      There can only be one leading system which all can see and check. I guess only trackside lights fulfill that purpose.
      And then FIA should make it crystal clear where these lights are in their briefing notes (which they did).

      Also don’t forget that drivers only have to check it only once or twice during a race, when they intend to enter the pitlane.

    1. @hunocsi I agree it could be serious. But if it’s SO serious, why isn’t there a big sign at the pit entry saying ‘closed’ and why are the instructions put on page 4 and not announced to the teams more directly?! Because FIA don’t actually take it that seriously. See the problem?

      1. @david-br

        why isn’t there a big sign at the pit entry saying ‘closed’

        Imagine if there was train of car following, like it was with Norris case and there is suddenly “closed” sign at pit entry. It would result in pileup.

      2. and why are the instructions put on page 4 and not announced to the teams more directly?

        I think the ‘page 4’ reference is just to make them look less stupid.
        All fans using the F1 timing app (as I did) saw it large on their screens as one of only three clear concise messages during lap 20. First ‘Yellow sector 17’ when the Haas stopped, and a bit later ‘SC deployed’ followed by ‘Pitlane Closed’.
        When the last message came up for all us fans Hamilton was just entering Parabolica. The team could have sent him a carrier pigeon and still be on time :P
        The team was clearly asleep at the wheel.

        1. The app runs waaaaay ahead of the TV.

      3. but if it’s SO serious, why isn’t there a big sign at the pit entry saying ‘closed’ and why are the instructions put on page 4 and not announced to the teams more directly?!

        I was actually pretty surprised that it wasn’t, personally

      4. @tonyeprincewill
        8th September 2020, 7:04

        Glad to see and read all the very well thought out positions. My sympathies lie with Hamilton, but beyond personal loyalties, this could have happened to anyone. It’s sloppy, unbecoming of F1 and with the eyes of the world on you, it simply isn’t good enough.

        Aside from the impact on a driver’s race, let us focus on the safety aspect. If a pit lane needs to be closed (presumably to protect marshals), are their lives not worthy of more caution? I’ve seen huge boards saying “Go Hamilton” or for whoever wins a race in the background. Is it a hurdle for them and a host of other props incl. direct radio or dashboard communication to do the opposite and say STOP?

        In the end Hamilton took the lemons and made lemonade, we had a more exciting race and a new winner emerged to cap it all. A not so expensive lesson then.

    2. @hunocsi That was too keep cars joining from the pit lane away from of the horde of passing cars behind the safety car.

  5. This doesn’t make sense – the pit lane being closed is on page 4 of a message?? The pit lane being closed should be the first thing on the main telemetry screen of every team and teh driver’s steering wheel as there is when there is an yellow flag. Crosses on a screen miles off the racing line are not sufficient.

    1. Well said david

    2. Which begs the question – have any of the teams or drivers ever questioned this?
      Surely this would come up in the drivers meetings at some point?
      If not, why not?

    3. I think they have enough screens to be able to show all 4 pages at any time. The problem is that the strategists are not looking on page 4 when they are deciding what their cars should do.
      Still, the penalty was right, and he’s lucky he has such an enormous championship lead that it probably isn’t going to make any difference to him winning the title.

    4. The page 4 reference is probably a reference to the rolling total of Race Control messages.

      In reality the message came straight after the ‘SC deployed’ message (probably also on page 3 or 4), which nobody seemed to have missed.
      As mentioned above, the message came through loud and clear for all the fans using the F1 data stream app.

      1. @coldfly I think the safety car message also displays at the top of the timing screens, so it’s pretty hard to miss.

        Something as important as pit lane closure should probably also be displayed as such.

  6. why would the circuit put such vital signs on the outside of a corner is beyond me. everybody knows that drivers look on the inside of corners. just put them on both sides to avoid doubt maybe? I don’t get it.

    1. @alfa145 yeah I agree, if he’s looking over to the left he’s literally not watching where he’s going. It’s not really even in the field of view.

      These light panels should be installed where the driver can see them in their peripheral without taking their eyes away from assessing potential dangers in front.

  7. “The important message is on page 3 of the communications stream”.
    Guess what, its a problem that’s existed in many other industries with computer notification of faults and instructions.
    Aircraft pilots, railway signalling system and chemical plant operators, when an alarm klaxon goes of don’t want tens of messages on a screen(s) in an order decided by the system. They need them in importance of action order.

    Part of the system design is to prioritise ‘alarms’ in order of importance. This should be reviewed in a formal process such as HAZOP.

    As usual, FIA take the attitude of ancient methods rather than looking at other industry and activities for relevant lessons learnt over decades before.

    1. Interesting, thanks for the insight.

    2. Yeah exactly. The safety car message appears on the timing screens, so it’s hard to miss. This one seems too important to be buried along with other incident notifications and DRS enabled/disabled messages.

    3. Totally agree and I work in the airline industry and we have many things that cannot be overlooked for safe operation and lots of redundancy measures to prevent the worst. It could be a lot worse if there was a very serious life threatening situation in the pit lane.. Apart from a racing point of view, I think everyone involved in this got lucky in a safety point of view.

      For everyone’s safety, should the pit lane be closed, there must be a better warning system to all the drivers and teams. F1 seems to be investing a lot of time in the graphics for the race on tv (showing tire wear, etc) and a simple red and yellow sign on the monitors about SC and pit lane status can be easily displayed. Also, radio could be used by race control to send the message to all the drivers such as “Safety Car Pit Lane Closed/Open”.. takes 1.5 seconds to say it slowly and clearly.

      Considering the amount of people in the pits, this must not happen again. Forget about racing, safety always comes first and counter measures must be implemented before disaster happens.. this is something that a stop and go penalty will not be sufficient should anyone in the pits be killed because an overlook.

      The signs on the track were missed by 2 drivers, so it is a fact that the message delivery failed. This message has to be delivered 100% of the times to every single driver to avoid a fatality which matters more than any racing.

  8. The more interesting timing would be to know if race control decided to shut pit lane after hearing Mercedes say “Box, box” on the radio.

    If FIA wants to make things more interesting the pits should be closed immediately after every retirement on the track and then they can open pit lane at strategic times such as after the top 3 cars have passed the entrance.

    1. TBH I was expecting Massi to throw a SC right after Hamilton passed the pits.

    2. F. Rari is an experienced and well-repected warning sign activation guy. Nothing suspicious there ;-)

  9. “As the drivers and teams are all made aware, some of the openings are vehicle openings, some of them are just marshals posts. The ones that have the shorter orange band are actually only a marshal post and the car would not fit at that area.

    Mmm OK so they are gambling on cars not stopping at the Marshals post? Masa coming from Australia where we have strong OH&S regulations should be well aware of how to work out risks. So I hope he will set about addressing this failure and ensure the racing facilities are up to a reasonable standard.

    1. Masi worked with Aussie V8 Supercars prior to moving in with F1.
      However, the F1 system and structure does not bend or change easily. There is resistance to change in every direction, and this is probably one of the many things that need to be changed that simply hasn’t as a result of that resistance.

    2. they have JCBs and tractors on other posts. here it is close to the pit. what more should they do? and someone mentioned there were not as many marshals as usual. no need for overreaction. Imagine if one of the marshals was hit by a tennis ball!

  10. I think it was just an oversight from the Mercedes team including LH. This adds onto the list of LH’s illustrious mishaps in pit-stops since 2007(07 CHN, 08 CAN, 20 ITA).

  11. for a team that seems to dot all “I”s and cross all “t”s, this was a big ball drop.
    I know its not as common in F1 as it is in Ovals to have pit lane closed – but at no point have Mercedes added a quick check of this to their protocols on the pit wall, or to their driver breifings. Quite poor!
    It will never happen again tho, everyone will be looking for this, AND almost certainly when a safety car message gets sent to pit walls it will be changed to have pit open or closed clearly marked near the top of page one.
    It ultimately is the drivers responsibility, but not really nowadays as they rightly expect to be briefed by their myriad of management especially on a £300m budget.
    What we seem to have learned this weekend is that Hamilton knuckled down and got on with making the best of a bad situation – that Bottas is crap if everything isn’t going his way, and still possesses no elbows to make a pass, and never will. – that Ferrari were beyond terrible, and someone is exercising great control to resist the temptation and sack most of the senior management – that good drivers in supportive well run teams can flourish, yet in tricky teams can perish! Well done Gasly, watch your back Albon.

    1. Well said, fully agreed.

  12. Why don’t the FIA recommend that a member of each team run in front of their car with a red flag?

    No driver should be looking to the left, when he is driving at high speed into a right hand corner. In any sensible driving instructor would consider this a highly dangerous.

  13. i bet most of the other drivers only stayed out because they had more time to get the instruction. Impossible to be aware of this so many years after this ‘pit closed’ rule was over.
    And i’m yet to understand that if the car was close to be safe behind a barrier there, why they chose to push it back to the pits instead of reversing it to behind the barrier.

    This is no Indycar and Safety Cars shouldn’t be used mainly for entertainment.

    1. It says in the article why they didn’t try to get it behind the barrier.

      1. This.

        The gap in the barrier isn’t big enough for an F1 car.

        1. incredible, absolutely …. Is it just Monza?

  14. Not the first time that Hamilton has missed the pit lane red lights

    1. Not even the first time this season that he’s ignored trackside lights and claimed not to have seen them.

  15. The penalty was fair and it made for a thrilling race. But the whole situation was an unnecessary and potential very dangerous safety infringement and should not have happend. Imagine Hamilton or Giovanizzi came steaming into the pits while Marshalls were pushing the car on that very bit of track.
    Some points I want to mention to prevent it from happening again.

    1. Magnusson decided against cruising in the pit lane and parked his car where he thought it could be removed quite easily.
    It turned out it didn’t fit through the gap even without with the little picknick table in the middle 😉
    –> Show drivers better places to stop and/or create gaps in the barrier that take into account that the cars are now 2 m wide.

    2. Recently Race Control is very trigger happy with safety cars (though I prefer them over VSC which wouldn’t have made a different today anyway). In a way I can understand the policy that safety always has to come first especially after what happend in the last years. But this time it was counterproductive because the incident was close to the pit lane and a SC or VSC would trigger pit stops so an additional and unusual sign needed to be shown.
    –> Couldn’t they just lift the car over the barrier under double waved yellows? In case there is no recovery vehicle: Put one there. It’s not uncommon that cars end up on the inside of a corner either by spinning or by trying to get out of the way.

    3. Hamilton/Giovanni and Mercedes/Alfa didn’t know where unusual but important and safety related signs on a racetrack are located, how they look and what they mean. Presumably it’s the same with most other driver/teams.
    –> Immediate action needs to be taken by FIA and GPDA regarding knowledge of flags and signs. Place signs at prominent and more visible places like the entry of Parabolica. I’m not so sure about a light at pit entry though that could lead to cars taking avoiding action in a probably even more dangerous way.

    4. Obviously a flaw in operation by Mercedes if they really don’t have anybody observing Race Control messages during critical phases of the race. But also the message was transmitted not particularly clear.
    –> Safety related notifications should be displayed in a way that even sleepy Teams don’t have the chance to miss them. And the TV viewers would be happy to see them appear on their screens too

    1. @roadrunner comprehensive post, well put.

  16. Seems to me the Formula E protocol where the race director talks directly to the drivers (and is broadcast) would be a better way of doing this. For those defending the unusual light signals on the outside of a corner where a driver would clearly look to the inside, surely the point is maximum safety?
    Final comment, for those saying Mercedes dropped the ball as all other teams complied, seems as if Mercedes did notice just 4 seconds too late. Seeing everyone else was more than 10 seconds behind they simply had more time to react.
    Anyway, that aside a great race (even as a Hamilton fan) and great to see a different winner other than the big three.

    1. Seems to me the Formula E protocol where the race director talks directly to the drivers (and is broadcast) would be a better way of doing this.

      That would means some kind of advanced technology whereby the race director could talk to drivers without using boards at the side of the track, telegraph cables or smoke signals. We have to be realistic! It’s only the 21st century.

      1. @david-b Maybe a cup with a very long string?

  17. The most obvious take away from all this is that the notification system for pit lane closure was inadequate.
    The transcripts show that Mercedes needed more time. Only four more seconds it seems.

    So I would say race control needs to revisit their procedures to ensure if they rely on pit lane closures for Marshall’s safety that they can reasonably expect cars won’t go down the pit lane.

    Mercedes made an honest mistake and they received the same penalty anyone else would have. Hamilton lost an almost sure victory. But it didn’t really impact the championship too much, and he overtook enough cars to prove why he’s driving the Mercedes. On to the next race.

    It’s good it was not any other team though. Can you imagine if this had been Gastly, Sainz or Albon’s maiden victory that got taken away? I think the discussion would be different.

  18. The lights were clearly on showing the pit lane was closed, so I’m not sure Hamilton still went into the pits.

    We can’t have the pit wall doing all the thinking for the driver.

  19. So your view is kind of centre to the right, you’re not necessarily looking to the left.

    Technically first sign is to his right in that first image.
    Also some argue that these signs are too small for these “fast” cars. Why was he going so fast in the first place, in yellow flagged sector?

    1. Because it wasn’t double waved yellows. Actually it’s still a mystery why they weren’t double waved if it was enough for a safety car.

      Lots of dodgy stuff going on by the race director.

    2. @geekracer2000 Hamilton wasn’t going “fast”, he was driving to the given “delta”.

    3. Yes, he should ignore the delta and slow right down. What could possibly go wrong?

  20. A camera doesn’t wear a helmet or has its view obscured by the halo.
    Then you also factor in speed and exposure time and suddenly a static picture isn’t a true representation of reality.

  21. Hamilton seem to be the victim of his own success and speed. If he was slower in the race and not 10-12 seconds in front, the team would’ve had time to warn him, as it was for the next drivers excl. Gio (Alfa must be literally napping because he went in a whole minute later after Lewis). Also race control notifications should be short and clear on single page, not “SC deployed” on first page and highly unusual “pit closed” at the same time on page 3.

  22. I like how many people are saying he should have seen the flashing “X” pit lane closed sign, whilst driving a 100mph. These are the same people who miss road signs and get lost in a 40mph zone driving in the city.

    Makes a lot of sense.

    1. +1 I was just thinking this. I miss signs while driving my family bus and with better vision. Also, I think the location of the signs on a fast right hander isn’t that helpful.

  23. The FIA puts alot of time and effort showing us big screens of fans at home cheering on their favourite teams and drivers. Would it really be that difficult to have safety messages on these large boards for all to see- drivers and teams especially, as well as some automated system for a seldom event like the pit lane closing? Its clear HAM/Merc could have been more vigilant. But it’s also clear given the speeds (even at reduced speeds under the SC) meant that about 4 seconds isn’t that much of a long time. If Sainz, Gasly, Bottas etc were right on HAM’s tail at that very moment HAM was headed for the pits I have no doubt they all would have been sheep going to meet their demise- it’s just everyone else had more time to react.

  24. I read that same lights which showed pit being closed are used to signal when all drivers have to take pit lane behind safety car.

  25. I was shocked that a safety car was even deployed to recover Magnussen’s car. They could have pushed it back 20m so it was behind the barriers and be done with it. No disruption to the race required. That would have been safer than having cars lap the track as some marshalls push the car all the way to the pits even under a safety car.

    1. Did you read the article?

    2. @ryanoceros

      They could have pushed it back 20m so it was behind the barriers and be done with it.

      As Masi explained in the article, they couldn’t.

      1. But they could have left the Haas where it was out of the firing line next to a Marshall post safe enough to be equipped with umbrella and deck chairs. It was fairly tightly tucked in a curve in the barrier.

        There should have been a cherry picker to lift the car rather than trundle it down the edge of the pit lane.

        And how much does it cost to have the signs on both sides of the track?

        But most annoying is that despite all the tech spin the FIA haven’t caught up with the coms systems of other series which are more effective and provide greater safety. This includes direct radio contact with drivers and signage suitable for 2020 rather than 1980.

        Race direction and FIA failures are being hidden under cover of the incident. And that is disturbing as at the core of all this is real safety, you know, what Brawn and Masi and Todt keep chuntering about while looking for ways to punish excellence in others.

  26. Hamilton and Giovinazzi made this mistake because of all the coaching being done be the teams nowadays. It is like those people who follow the sat nav instructions blindly and drives into a lake or down some stairs. The drivers rely on the team radio more than the signals they are shown.

  27. I think given the potential for serious injuries if cars fail to respect the pit lane closed, they need to make a change to prevent this from happening again. Why don’t they give the race director the ability to talk directly to the drivers. It should be possible for the race director to then send a message to all the drivers, and pit wall staff, at the same time. Something like “Race control to all cars. Pit lane closed till further notice. Repeat pit lane closed till further notice”.

  28. It would be interesting to learn from this, and close the pitlane everytime there is a SC.
    For two reasons:
    – safety: if a safety car is deployed, it’s important that the cars slow down imediatelly to a safe speed, and not to the “maximum allowed speed in the delta to run to the pits”. Also, 17 or 18 cars in the pits at the same time racing eachother are an enormous risk.
    – racing: right now everytime a safety car is deployed between 20 and 30% of the race, what happens is that everybody pits and stays on the same tyre for the rest of the race. This way, everybody stays with exactly the same tyre, with exactly the same number of laps, and any strategical option taken before the race is completely voided.

  29. Reading some of the Hamilton fanclub excuses on here, I’d suggest the FIA immediately evaluate the status of Lewis’ super license.

    If we are to believe that he;
    a) doesn’t know the meaning & the position of the circuit signs & / or flags (which are clearly outlined in the event documentation or are universally used throughout motorsport),
    b) doesn’t possess the peripheral vision to spot a lit warning light next to the circuit,
    c) cannot react in the time we clearly see he has available to him,

    Then he certainly shouldn’t be anywhere near a F1 car where all of those points are critical to the safety of himself and his competitors.

    So which is it Hammifans … did he mess up and deserve to be penalised, or is he incompetent?

    1. Both he and the team messed up.
      As for his incompetence, I think that 89 victories, six world championships, 94 poles, 157 podiums, 6 grand chelems (and I could go on) give me a more direct and precise answer than any I can formulate. If he is incompetent, what should one think of the rest of the field?
      Do you think he is incompetent?

    2. LOL, haters gonna hate.

      His team TOLD him to pit, that is all.

  30. Most of the other cars wanted to pit but didn’t as the pit lane was closed – a lot stopped on the next lap when it was ok. They all managed to see the lights and understand the protocol – as did Bottas and Raikkonen. How come they didn’t miss the lights and pit? This was just a careless slip up by both drivers and both teams.

Comments are closed.