Hamilton accepts “severe” stop-go penalty for pit lane violation

2020 Italian Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton accepted the penalty decision which went against him in the Italian Grand Prix, but said it feels “severe”.

The Mercedes driver, along with Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi, was given a 10-second stop-go penalty for entering the pits despite it being closed during a Safety Car period. He served the penalty on the first lap after the race restarted and rejoined in last place, almost half a minute off the lead.

“It feels severe,” Hamilton admitted after the race. “I spoke to the team and I think they said that this is the penalty that they had agreed or something like that.”

The sporting regulations states that if the pit lane entry is closed “drivers may only enter the pit lane in order for essential and entirely evident repairs to be carried out to the car” and a stop-go penalty will be issued to any drivers that enter for another reason.

Hamilton feels the penalty should be used for more serious violations. “I think ultimately a stop and go penalty often, I would imagine, would come if you’ve done something intentional,” he said. “If you’ve driving dramatically and you put someone in danger, maybe.

“Ultimately it almost put you out of the race, 30 seconds behind the last car. So it’s not the greatest thing for racing.”

However he accepted that the penalty needed to cancel out the potential advantage gained from him making a ‘free’ pit stop.

“There is the other side of things where we could have had a free stop, which no one else got to do. So I do understand it. I don’t know if they can refine it and make it better for the future.

“Because you have to take it after the race starts, within two laps, you can’t get a gap from anybody and you’re always going to be coming out 30 seconds or whatever behind. So I reckon they could do maybe a better job but I’d have to look back at it. But I accept it.”

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Hamilton’s team radio before the restart

Hamilton debated the timing of his stop-go penalty with race engineer Peter Bonnington and strategist James Vowles prior to the restart:

HamiltonRadio check.
BonningtonRadio’s loud and clear, Lewis.
HamiltonHow many laps are left now?
Bonnington27 laps.
HamiltonAnd how soon do I have to take this penalty?
BonningtonWe will be taking it straight away. Do it within two laps.
HamiltonThe law is that you have to take it in two laps?
BonningtonYes, that’s right, we’ll take it straight away in case there’s another Safety Car as we can’t serve it under the Safety Car.
HamiltonAre you sure that’s the best? We might as well just risk it, no?
BonningtonYeah we’re not going to be getting that gap anyway in two laps. We’re just going to have to suck it up and just get on with the task in hands.
HamiltonIn two laps I can get at least a five-second gap.
VowlesHi Lewis. You’ll still be in free air when you top. I completely understand. Trust me on this one. If another Safety Car comes out, we’re completely toast. I need to get this stop in.
HamiltonWe’re generally toast anyways.
VowlesI don’t think so.
HamiltonYou’re going to put me further back.
VowlesI promise you I don’t think so. Trust me on it. When the race restarts we’ll bring you in straight away. You’ll still be in free air when you come back out.
HamiltonJust repeat that so do the start, come straight in from there.
VowlesAffirm.

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73 comments on “Hamilton accepts “severe” stop-go penalty for pit lane violation”

  1. The thing that niggles me most about this whole penalty and surrounding discussion is that it is done for the purpose of safety but seemingly the information is not made immediately obvious to the teams. I understand the need for severe penalties to deter unsafe actions and safety of track personnel is of paramount importance. But if there was a a clear safety issue, which warrants a stop go penalty, why was this only displayed on the 4th page of the timing screen and not immediately announced to all teams and drivers via radio communication?

    1. As Toto pointed out just put a red light at Pit entry. This complication of life for “advancement” needs to stop.

      1. And what would a driver do then when they are parked at the pit entry. They are not allowed to reverse, and since they’d be reversing into a fast corner that would be hugely dangerous anyway. And there is no other way they could get “out” of the pitlane entry by the time they would see such a light.

        1. Yeah, it does seem like they need to look at ways do to this better @bascb @jowen7448

        2. @bascb The idea is that the drivers would not go into the pit entry if they see it’s closed.

          1. Sigh. Look at the Monza pitlane entry @f1osaurus. By the time they are in a position to actually see the pitlane entry, they are already commited to enter it and cannot go back out. So even if they see it there, it would be of no use for them anymore.

            They would have do dig up the track to put in a new pit entry with a longer entry lane if you want the driver to be able to see it before entering. However given the place on the track it would probably have to be a lot earlier (a bit like the exit in Brazil for example), making a pitstop take ages, because you can’t have it in the middle/entry of a quick corner.

            That is why they probably went for the clearny not great solution they have. I doubt there is anything new about this solution, but since it doesn’t come up that often, obviously not all drivers and team members were much aware of it, despite this being noted in the track information they get ahead of the weekend.

          2. @bascb Yes SIGH indeed. Don’t pretend the light can only be in one place and then make sure it’s only the most stupid place you can think of to ridicule people who don’t follow your dumb reasoning.

            There is plenty of space to put a light BEFORE being stuck in the actual pitlane.

          3. Oh, you think there is plenty of space there? Look at the graphics and propose one. You are the one assuming that everyone at the FIA and Monza organisation are stupid for not noticing a glaringly obvious thing you feel should be done. How presumptious is that?

          4. @bascb The drivers are the ones calling the Monza organisation stupid for putting the lights (signs actually) on the wrong side. How presumptuous of you to go against that?

            Normal tracks have lights before the pit entry (which is the length of track before the pit lane) on the inside of the corner (where the actual pitlane can be found).

            At that point the driver can easily still decide to go straight instead of entering the pit entry.

      2. As soon as the SC sign starts to flash in the panels around the circuit, drivers know the pitlane is automatically closed, except for much needed car repairs or DNF’s .

        A red light sign at the pit entry is not really necessary.

        1. Are you suggesting that should be the regulation? As far as I understand that is not currently the case.

        2. @elio OMG no! We had endless complaining in the past when this practice was standard. Maybe it would be less of an issue with no refueling, but still it would completely mess up the order in many situations.

        3. But currently the pitlane is not automatically closed under SC @elio. As @f1osaurus mentions whe’ve had this rule in the past and it was a mess. Off course at the time they also had refuelling which made it even more complicated (cars running out of fuel on track, anyone?), but still that is not an easy and well working solution for every SC situation.

    2. Pretty obvious to the 18 other drivers and 8 of their teams, wasn’t it?

      Or was it just a fluke that all 18 of those didn’t pit under the safety car and decided to wait a few laps instead? I highly doubt it.

      This isn’t the first time this season that Lewis “didn’t see” the trackside signalling, it’s likely something he needs to work on for the future, rather than an error of the FIA for not making it clear enough.

      1. I would imagine those teams radioed their drivers as they had more time, don’t you think?

      2. @aiii Other drivers and teams had more time. Joyeln Palmer (former F1 driver) summed it up. The pit lane had never been closed before in that situation and a driver told to pit would never look at those signs on the left. In fact Hamilton did catch sight of the second (the first he missed from a combination of looking out for the marshals to the right and making the adjustments necessary for pit entry). So he had two seconds to decide who was wrong in a situation that had literally never happened before. He did query the lights in fact. Blaming Hamilton is fairly ludicrous. Added to the fact is, as @jowen7448 points out, if this is such a serious infringement – and it could be a dangerous situation – why do FIA put the warning tucked away on a page the teams might not see in time? (The seconds demanded of them to see that instruction.) That makes zero sense. It almost seems designed to catch someone out.

        1. If I know where the panels are from PDF documents published on the FIA website on a Thursday, it astounds me the drivers don’t. When there is a Safety Car, there is always the chance it shows an arrow (use the pitlane, not the straight) or a cross. They are there for all to see!

          And people saying they haven’t been used before, the were used at Interlagos 2016 when the lane was closed then.

      3. If i had to guess i would say this is unique to this track, something the locals are more likely to be aware of. those pit close lights are out on the periphery of the track, drivers coming in at pace, and preparing for the pit entry, aren’t looking to the outside of the track, eg the racing line, they are looking to the inside. They sould have those pit close lights on the inside of the trace on the pit entry line. better yet those lights should be in shade.

        The question i’ve not seen asked is why isn’t the pit wall informed immediately. Changes made to the lights could be flagged immediately to all the pit walls, so they can brief their drivers.

        There’s also the question of why the nearest exit wasn’t used to remove the Haas? Why did the marshals chose to push the car 100 meters into the pit lane, when they had an exit just 5 meters behind them? What are the rules for marshals removing cars from the track?

        1. It is LH’s mistake and his team’s mistake period. Don’t try to blame others fot it. Pit lane was closed as marshals were pushing the car into the pit lane. Also the argument about missing the signs at racing speed is moot as the SC was deployed and they were not at racing speed.

        2. @ajaxn the gap that KMAG parked at was a marshal post and not big enough to push the cat into.

      4. I was intentionally trying to keep the driver aspect out of my original comment, my line of thought is that other tools used in circumstances where continuing to drive the circuit at race speed is deemed unsafe, such as a red flag, is immediately obvious to all teams and drivers through timing screens, and the cars dash. The pit lane closure information was clearly not immediately obvious in the few seconds between safety car call and a driver appearing around the final corner. Since a lot of incidents are caused on the basis of misunderstandings in time intervals shorter than this I would have thought that immediacy of the information should be high priority.

        The fact that it was Lewis and Antonio who were penalised here is immaterial in my opinion, although arguably a little more sloppy on alfa romeos part as many drivers had neglected to come into the pits prior to Antonio’s arrival. My main point was that if this is a safety concern, then the information delivery should be more impactful than it is now.

    3. Mercedes are a team that pride themselves on being super prepared for every possibility and unfortunately they dropped the ball on this occasion. They should know where the lights are positioned as to whether the pits are open or closed and also where this information is located on their timing screen. If they feel the system is not good enough, they should raise these concerns with the FIA prior to the race – not once they get punished for not following the rules. It’s too late then.

      In the event of a safetycar, they should check if the pits are open as it appears the other teams all did. Sure, the other teams had a bit more time to react but that’s just how it works – if you’re in the right/wrong place on the track when a safetycar comes out, you have to react very quickly. They could have been just past the pits when it came out and the others would have pitted whilst Lewis had to do another lap – that’s the lottery of a safetycar.

      They have to take this one on the chin and accept they made a mistake – Lewis didn’t look at the lights that clearly displayed that the pits were closed and the team didn’t look at the correct part of the timing screen which showed the same. I’m sure they won’t make this mistake again so it’s an opportunity for them to improve as a team.

    4. Coventry Climax
      7th September 2020, 12:43

      To my opinion, the FIA just is not very good with software – or userinterfaces. Hence they hire a company to build these things for them.
      But I also think that unfortunately, and not only here, the FIA is also not very good in hiring the right company.
      Putting things like this on page 4 is rather equal to issuing pieces of paper with decisions – preferably after the race. And then needing directives -on paper- to clarify on that first piece of paper.
      No surprise as ‘after the race’ seems to be the FIA’s favourite moment. Which also explains why racing is being destroyed.
      The favourite moment of the fans generally is the race itself, but the FIA just can’t see that, they’re too busy being important with their rule-bible.

      1. After the race judgements are used when the offence is not clear cut. They would like to speak to the drivers before making their decision.

  2. Hamilton is still arguing the toss?

    The alternative was giving him a 5 second penalty which would mean he would have been advantaged by pitting illegally.

    A 5 second penalty for such an serious breach of the rules would have been inadequate anyway.

    Giovinazzi took his punishment gracefully without complaint.

    Hamilton needs to pay attention more. He’s made similar mistakes like this throughout his career.

    1. And yet he is a six-time Formula One champion and arguably the best driver alive. I’d argue your standards for attention seem a little bit exaggerated, don’t you think?

      Perhaps you should have paid more attention instead to the fact you typed in “toss” instead of “loss”…

  3. Penalties are not served based on intention, but on facts. The severity should, and is, based on the level of danger involved.

    Imho the 10s penalty was justified, as marshals were intending to be on track right near or in the pitlane entrance.

    1. Problem here is those boards indicating closed pit are on far left of the track and not red and the usual red lights on pit entry were non existent and messaging from FIA to teams it was burried on 4th page about pit lane closed.

      1. The red lights on the pit entry would be wholly nonsensical, since you cannot get OUT of the pitlane here once you are at its entrance where you would be able to see them @chaitanya.

        I agree that this does show that the FIA should find a way to highlight the information for the teams, maybe give them a quick message or something, instead of the default of it beign noted on the 4th page of the timing screens, but on track there is a good reason why there are panels on the outside of the fast corner, because there drivers can see them before they go into the pitlane.

        1. This particlar fast corner drivers who are planning to enter pits wont be looking on the fence left side of track rather will have vision set to right side of track. There needs to be a message or light(similar to flag notification) on steering wheel so drivers can have it in their sight or have teams notified better(like you mentioned) so such mistakes dont happen again. Also it wasnt just Lewis but Giovinazzi who fell prey to this system.

          1. Exactly!

            This situation is unique to Monza.

            Note: if the Ferrari powered Haas had parked anywhere else on the track there would have been no penality, no misunderstanding. Any where else on the track and the leading car would have finshed as he started. The timing here was sublime, the same that timing for pit stops plays are crucial.

            Gasley from 10th to 2nd to 1st. You could not make this up.

            Or could you?

          2. Another point missed, is the redflag had the effect of bunching up the field, more so than a rolling start. This would also contribute to Gasley’s lucky win, and ofcourse the playing of the Italian national anthem for the Toro Rosso team.

          3. They were not at racing speed rather SC speed as SC was deployed. So it is Baby LH throwing his tantrums for receiving a penalty. The 10 sec stop go penalty was for the safety issue and not for gaining “free stop” as baby LH claims. I am amused that he still doesn’t get it. He tried to intimidate the race Stewarts. He should have been thrown out of the race like a player gets red carded when they argue with the referee.

        2. Coventry Climax
          7th September 2020, 12:52

          OK, red lights might make no sense, but don’t complicate things unnecessarily please. There’s a million more colours than just red. Ehh, orange, maybe?

        3. @bascb You seem to be confusing “pit lane” and “pit entry”

          1. look at the track map. Where would you put that light? By the time you round the corner and actually see the entry where that light would be you are already commited to entering the pitlane @f1osaurus

          2. @bascb It can be on the right, 50 meters before the pit entry. Or directly at the pit entry. Also people can see ahead. So even it was just a bit before the pitlane then it would be fine.

            I drive that track often enough on ACC and when the pit lane is closed I manage to avoid the entry quite easily.

    2. Yeah, the severity of the penalty is there to take away any incentive to give it a go anyways, since we’re talking about safety @cdfemke. If it was only a time penalty of 5 or 10 seconds, I am sure Hamilton would have been happy to just drive a tad faster and eke out that gap in no time today.

  4. Well obviously those who think Hamilton and Mercedes should have known exactly what was going on will not agree with me; but when the likes of Button and others say they have never seen this light sequence before, and others still don’t know if it was a red, yellow or had crosses on it, I would give the benefit of the doubt to all those involved. And that would include Race Director and stewards. As you indicate urgent safety advice should be clear and immediately available to all, not tucked away on page 3 or 4. So I would expect some changes to this procedure.

  5. I don’t understand why they chose not to let him race for two laps before bringing him in. Surely he can serve the 10s stop and go under the safety car if the pit-lane is open?

    1. That is exactly what they were debating on the radio (see the article) @paeschli. They feared another SC might come out and would completely ruin things since it would mean they might not be able to serve the penalty within 3 laps as is required. And that would mean automatically being disqualified.

      1. no, that wouldn’t have meant disqualification (As the rule states 3 racing laps). However, Vowles was right that he would have been completely toast. Imagine the SC comes with 26 laps to go and stays for 3-4 laps, Lewis takes penalty with 21 laps to go he will be left with only 21 laps to make some points back.

        On the other hand, he takes the penalty immediately, there is a SC; he gains back all the time and joins at the back of the queue and has a real chance of getting high points.

        1. Great explanation there

        2. Would it have made any difference, he was was in loads of clean air before and after the penalty – he was never going to be able to get a big enough gap to the last cars in the pack to overtake them. Indeed the bigger risk was to miss the chance to back up to the pack again after another safety car if it happened immediately.

    2. If hamilton had raced for 2 laps, the field is likely to be more strung out, which depending on how you look could be a bad thing. He would have encounter the back markers sooner, slowing his persuit as he then starts to overtake. His tires would have been older by 2 laps making it harder to overtake.

      If he pits early, the field are still bunched. He’s racing flat out in clear air up to that point. so in theory he is closer to the leaders, as he then tries to over take.

      On the flip side there’s DRS, its easier to pass a car if that car isn’t in DRS with the car in front of it. eg ‘slipstreaming’ Bottas.

  6. I do not think that the penalty was to severe, Hamilton like all of the other drivers is trained in the types of flags and warning lights and there meanings. Having said that He was told to pit and was likely not paying attention to the other side of the track as he approached and entered the pits. I believe Race Control have radio communications with all drivers as well as the teams? May be in such rare events they could communicate directly with the teams or drivers to tell them the pits are closed.

    1. @johnrkh as Jenson Button stated, he had no clue what X light meant and no other driver did either.

      1. @freelittlebirds Button hasn’t raced in how long? You’re saying they are introducing new signalling equipment and they are not telling the drivers? Pull the other one.

        1. Well, we’ll probably find out from the radio transcripts who knew what. It’s possible a young driver may have known about it.

        2. No other driver or team knew, yet they didn’t pit?

        3. @johnrkh Did you see the “The Best Team Radio” video? Sainz is arguing with the team that he doesn’t think the pitlane is closed. While just driving past those crosses.

          1. @f1osaurus No I didn’t wow I hear that I’m shaking my head now.

          2. @johnrkh I wonder how many (few) drivers did know to look at those signs.

  7. I think the main thing to take from this is to ensure better clarity for drivers and teams as soon as the decision to close the pit-lane is made. As an example, when a safety car is deployed, a light automatically comes on on the driver’s steering wheel and marshalls wave yellow flags and hold SC boards. The teams and drivers all know within a couple of seconds.

    A similar procedure for the pit-lane being closed might be beneficial, along with well-positioned red lights just before pit-lane entry (so they can be seen before you’re committed to entering). The key is to get the message to the teams and drivers as quickly and clearly as possible. The reason the two drivers got caught out is because the safety car procedure is much clearer than the pit-lane close procedure, and so there was a period of time the former was known whilst the latter was not.

    As for the severity of the penalty, it was on the harsh side, but at least its a consistent rule. Enter the pit-lane when its closed for any non-critical reason, get 10 second stop-go. I’d rather they concentrate on clarity of messaging than changing penalty rules, since prevention is better than a cure.

    1. Completely agree, I have no issue with severity of penalty, just with information delivery of a considered safety issue

  8. And why is it the rule to serve it within 3 laps? That doesnt make sense

    It’s more rational for Mercedes to decide when to do it, even if it’s on the last couple of laps.

    1. I think it’s because it potentially can have a big impact on the race if a driver is in a particular position that they shouldn’t be for an extended period of time in due to doing something they shouldn’t have done. E.g. Let’s say Ham was told he didn’t have to serve the penalty until the end of the race. Well then he would have had the last 26/27 laps to just drive off into the sunset in completely free air, probably building up a huge advantage in the process and probably just coming out of the pit lane after this penalty still ahead and never having to pass anyone (you saw how quickly he caught up to the pack when he was in free air after his penalty). And then the driver in 2nd place who has done nothing wrong, would be stuck in Ham’s dirty air for a while and be at a disadvantage. Sure that still happens with the 3 lap rule, but not for very long.

      1. @t1redmonkey Yeah, and also in a different situation if it was a slower car who gained places due to breaking a rule, he could continue to drive out front and hold up the drivers behind for as many laps as he wanted before serving his penalty – potentially disrupting the race and/or benefiting his teammate for example.

        It is better if the teams cannot control when they take the penalties so they have less chance of minimising their losses – it is a penalty after all. There are practical reasons why sometimes this is not possible – like the time penalties which are applied at pitstops or at the end of the race, but these are not ideal for that reason. Quite often a driver has performed an illegal overtake, been given a 5 second penalty, but pulled out enough of a gap in free air to negate their penalty therefore benefiting from their illegal manoeuvre.

    2. Because it’s a penalty for breaking the rules – if you can take the penalty whenever you like, it reduces the weight of the penalty. It’s like saying “why is the rule to stop for 10 seconds. It would make more sense to stop for 5 seconds”

      1. @petebaldwin Time penalties can be taken whenever the team feels like it though.

  9. The only argument for me is that not enough attention has been paid to pit lane closed signs, so the drivers were not looking for it (remember they should look for this before ALL pit-stops, not just under safety car conditions) – but the penalty is correct.
    I assume whichever page it is shown on is still displayed on the pit-wall, but still it sounds important enough to be put more obviously, and shouldn’t we have seen it immediately on the FOM feed?

  10. Radio chatter between Ham and Merc during red flag:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pMDAV7jX4Vg

  11. Seems a simple answer if the FIA close the pits a light appears on the drivers wheel at exactly the same time wouldnt take rocket science to sort out.

  12. I would have thought entering an area closed for danger would have been even worthy of disqualification, so saying it was severe is a bit surprising to me. I know it’s not a fresh example, but Massa and Fisichella were DQ’d in Canada ’07 exiting a closed pit lane, and that wasn’t even the part of track where the danger was. I think the only mitigating factor for LH and AG that there were no obvious red lights signaling the closed pit lane, but the teams still should have noticed it in time.

    1. @hunocsi The pit lane was exactly closed for Massa during a short while because of the “danger” of a train of cars going past. So that was exactly the “danger” it was closed for.

    2. There were at least two very visible red crosses on the left side to indicate the pitlane was closed. Ham missed them both ( looking to the right where the incident was)

  13. If they could place the lights to the extreme left of the drivers, it follows they could also place the lights to the right of the drivers in their line of sight.
    When you have a flag you are automatically conscious of the track itself quaking out for debris and Marshalls.
    If the FIA is concerned about safety, they must act in the interest of safety and not to make sprinkler laws to slice up the show.
    Of course they will never admit that hiding crucial safety information in very “small print ” constitute negligence.
    It should not matter if it is Mercedes or Ferrari caught up by this stupidity.
    Imagine it SAS Vettel coming to the pits with good failed brakes and didn’t know the pits had been closed and you had people there.
    I have a feeling Masi isn’t really good at this job. Good old Charlie seemed better in such situations.

  14. That was a pretty severe penalty – it pretty much ruins the race of the driver in question. Sure, Mercedes and Lewis are to blame mostly but they were in front of all the other cars so the likelihood of making the mistake is much, much higher.

    This was the most unrewarding podium of all time probably in F1.

    1. but they were in front of all the other cars so the likelihood of making the mistake is much, much higher.

      That was by choice ;)
      So to use that as a excuse is a bit strange.. the pitlane was closed for 12 seconds when HAM entered it. The team should have paid attention.

  15. “I think ultimately a stop and go penalty often, I would imagine, would come if you’ve done something intentional,

    Intentional or not is would be impossible to prove by stewards. Stewards can only judge if a rule is broken or not and if so issue the penalty.

  16. Thought it was a penalty for talking on the lap out to a restart?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vYiI1UsYagQ&ab_channel=F1Fun4u

  17. Considering hamilton’s comment, which I find reasonable, I think a drive through would’ve made more sense, cause he potentially gained 10 sec with the SC pit stop, and a drive through makes you lose around 20 sec, so you don’t really gain an advantage from it, but you don’t lose that much, it’s fair.

    I know there are predecents ofc, I’m just saying I think the penalty for this should be reduced to a drive through.

  18. 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 when the pit lane is closed. 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.

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