Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Sochi Autodrom, 2020

Mercedes will not appeal “far fetched” penalties against Hamilton

2020 Russian Grand Prix

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Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff strongly disagrees with Lewis Hamilton’s Russian Grand Prix penalties but says the team will not appeal against them.

Wolff and the team’s sporting director Ron Meadows attended the stewards’ hearing where Hamilton was given two five-second time penalties for performing his pre-race practice starts from incorrect positions.

While Wolff made it clear he disagreed both with decision and the application of two penalties, he said the team will accept them.

“The verdict was he wasn’t in the right place,” said Wolff. “There is no mention what the right place is in the director’s note, nor is it in the regulations. So we agree to disagree on that one.

“The other [point] was ‘not driving at constant speed in the reconnaissance laps’. And there, it’s debatable.

“But the race has happened, he received the 10 seconds penalty. For a reconnaissance lap infringement an in-race penalty can be debated, also, but you have to take it on the chin and move on.”

Mercedes “won’t appeal” the decisions, Wolff confirmed. “I think things are not always black and white and it has room for interpretation,” he said.

“There is rules, there is things that can be interpreted in two ways,” he said. “There is common sense.

“There is the fact that two in-race penalties were given for an infringement that happened before the race. There was an argument that he gained an advantage by making the [practice starts] there – I think it was not an advantage because there was no grip, so much less grip than you would have on your starting positions.

“But it is what it is. At the end of the day obviously we are all emotional about that. But the emotion should be geared towards Valtteri [Bottas] who deserved a race win since a long time. And that is fundamentally what makes me happy.

“Finishing one and three is all reason to make us cheer and fly home and say we can be satisfied how it went and now we need to learn from the incident, we need to look at the procedures and the communications. And, as every time, we will not blame the person, we will target the problem.”

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2020 Russian 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
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42 comments on “Mercedes will not appeal “far fetched” penalties against Hamilton”

  1. Most journalists and pundits were reporting Lewis was indeed at the wrong place to do these starts. If so, I find the penalty severe but not unfair (the 2 penalty points on Lewis “license” seems maybe a bit harsh). But my real question for Toto would be “what is happening, at Mercedes with all these infringements ?”. I mean, between Monza and here, it feels they should all, including Lewis, be paying at bit more attention to Massi’s instructions that are reportedly communicated ahead of all GP’s.

    1. @HAL Yes, the race director’s notes are issued ahead of each event, although for the most part, they’re copy-paste from one event to another.

    2. But isn’t Wolff’s point here that they had fully read and understood both the sporting regulations and the race director’s notes? It doesn’t look to be the same as Monza, where they seemed unaware of the lights on the left hand side of the track showing when the pit-lane was closed. I had a look at both of those documents just now, and he is correct than in neither one does it state anything more than practice starts must be done after the pit-exit lights, on the right-hand side to leave room for other drivers.

      The only potentially relevant reference I found was in relation to “not stopping in the fast lane”, but it also states in the sporting regulations that the fast line is defined as an area in the “pit-lane”, which is defined separately from both pit-entry and pit-exit (where there is no mention of fast-lane).

      I guess it left me wondering what is it that has defined where the “right place” is? As you mentioned, most journalists said they thought Hamilton was in the wrong place, so is it simply an unwritten convention, or is it an actual written definition that exists somewhere?

  2. Oddily enough, the real target of the FIA probably is to make Hamilton skip a race.
    He now has 10 points on his driving license, another pointless penalty and they would succeed, finally.

    1. @liko41 “Pointless” penalties don’t exist. There are rules in F1 and everyone needs to obey them.
      The backlash towards stewards makes zero sense.

      1. But I am getting this feeling that there are too many rules and too many penalties. It wasn’t like this when I started watching in 1995

        1. 1995? Isnt that the year Schumacher got disqualified after a race for the plank being to worn (from kerb use).

          1. @asanator That was Spa 1994. That gifted Verstappen’s dad a podium. I think his first even.

            Either way, a device specifically installed to detect cars being set up too low to the ground detected that Schumacher’s car was too low. How is that a pointless penalty? Of course Benetton tried some lame defense that it was worn because of a spin over a kerb, but the stewards were clear that that was not the issue since that damage showed as a scratch across.

      2. So where was Leclercs penalty for taking out Stoltz or not wearing his seat belt?

        The bias is clearly coming out from the stewards, it’s not even hidden.

      3. @huhhii
        They do exist for sure.
        But you are probably one of those who would be EXTREMELY happy to see Hamilton skipping a race.

        1. @liko41 Yeah I’d be super happy for Hamilton to receive a race ban, but only if it happens according to rules. Lewis is doing his outmost best to break the rules and to make that happen. You really can’t blame the rules, the stwards or anti-Hamilton fans if that happens.

          1. @huhhii
            ROTFL.
            I think the most appropriate response to your delirium is “h@ters gonna h@te”.

    2. By mind controlling Lewis to disregard the rules? It’s all on him and his team.

      1. @passingisoverrated
        I do know there are a lot of people who h@te him and would be happy to see a race without him.
        You are probably going to see your wish come true, don’t worry.
        Hope that would make you feel better.

        1. I don’t see how you making these things up about me changes the facts that they are all avoidable things, done by Lewis and Mercedes. Keep on the subject and don’t pretend you know anything about me.

          1. @passingisoverrated
            I think your h@te prevents you to see the gigantic disproportion between the supposed “infringements” Lewis did and the hefty penalties he got.
            But that’s part of your bias against him, no surprise.
            THe last five years must have taken their toll on your capacity of judgement.

          2. *prevents you from
            (Damn, we need an “edit comment” button!)

    3. @liko41 Having ten means that he has to be careful not to pick up two or more over the next four events as he won’t lose any of the ten he currently has until the Tuesday after the Turkish GP.

      1. @jerejj
        Being careful means “not winning the race” I guess.
        If he tries too hard, they will handle him a penalty.
        Clearly, they don’t want him to beat the Schumacher’s record..

        1. If they didn’t want him to beat schumacher’s record they’d have cripped the mercedes dominance in a decisive way years ago, like they did in 2005 to ferrari, car dominance is a big factor in records.

  3. Someone should steward the stewards. Recently, they´re too busy watching each of Lewis´s movements closely. Meanwhile, Leclerc were putting Stroll out of the race and they don´t even bother to investigate.

  4. FIA must introduce penalties also for sweating, coughing, breathing etc… Pathetic!

    1. Yeah, right…. it wasn’t pathetic when it was about VET or some other driver.

  5. My understanding of the race notes regarding practice starts location was…
    After the pit lane exit lights, on the right.

    Which is exactly what Lewis did. OK, he was a long way after the lights, but he was in the pit lane and after the lights.

    I find the penalties surprising, given that the direction was unclear.

    I actually think that they’re trying to close up the championship – which goes along with the suspicious second red flag at Mugello and some other slightly questionable safety car decisions.
    It is what it is, but I would love to see a full explanation of this particular one.

  6. Another race, another botch job by the stewards. F1 is a complete mess.

  7. Reading the article, I have to say that this was just the most stupid penalty to award. Usually in previous years, they tell you if you could do a practice start or not at the end of a pitlane. The FIA only gave an ambiguous definition of where to practice a start without establishing boundaries. Its a frightening prospect for a driver when he doesn’t know when he is breaking the rules as the rules are not specified.

  8. These stewards are ridiculous

  9. Lewis had a “protest race” today.
    He felt unfairly penalised to improve “the show”.
    After his pitstop he drove slowly, using conserving tyres as a reason.
    The gap to Perez behind being small around 10sec all the time.
    He never tried to close on Max.
    Revealing his first sector of his final lap was purple, and significantly faster than he or anyone else went the entire race. I think about 0.3sec quicker.
    This shows. He had pace and life in the tyres but for his own reasons didnt show it.
    I suspect this was his protest to the FIA, if you treat me unfairly I will not give you the show you want.

    1. I think you might have a point tbh, he seemed pretty uninspired to catch up to verstappen.

      1. And indeed, I’m one of those who thought a hamilton penalty would’ve made a more interesting race but aside from the start nothing at all happened in the top 3 places, they were at huge distances from each other.

    2. Then why did he ask to stay out for an extra 5 laps o the softs? And the laps he did stay out for he blitzed everyone else? The pit call from Mercedes was a clear indication that they were going for a safe third, rather than try for a risky second. As for his last lap of the race. Hasnt he done this a number of times to try for the fastest lap?
      Sounds to me like you have decided on what Hamilton was thinking and then looked for ‘evidence’ to prove it.

      1. If you read my original post again you will see I said AFTER his pitstop.
        I agree he pushed on the softs.
        His response to Bono, his engineer, after the stop was to question the decision. He then told Bono to stop giving him lap time targets re Verstappen saying he was conserving tyres.
        He had plenty of pace in both car and tyres on the final lap, way more than he showed at any other time on the hard tyre. His tyres had loads of pace left in them that he seemingly chose not to exploit.
        I have wactched Lewis with admiration for years, but his achilles heal is when he feels he is being treated unfairly or badly. He becomes inward and sulky. Happened with Nico and Jenson as teammates.
        I think we saw a glimpse of this today.
        If not why did he drive so slowly on the hards? He clearly had a lot of pace in hand from the evidence of that one sector.
        He didn’t try for fastest lap. He backed off the rest of the final lap.

        1. Slowly on the hards? He started on the wrong tyre, had a 10s penalty and was putting in plenty of green sectors at half and three quarter distance. As for the gap to Max, despite being on older tyres about the same as the gap from Max to Bottas. So are you going to tell me Bottas wasnt trying? Or was it just Bottas who was managing the race.
          No idea why you have mention about not wanting the Max times from Bono. You do realise that Max said the same to his engineer. Or are you still applying different criteria depending on which driver you are talking about?
          But you stick to your story that he gave up , cruised round, then went a bit faster in one sector near the end for some illogical reason. And that his older hards were faster than the newer ones on both Max and Bottas cars.

          1. Lol, of course Bottas was managing the gap, do you think he was going flat out???
            Max had nothing, he couldn’t catch Bottas if he pushed and knew it. Strange though when Max was on old mediums he was still pullng away from Lewis on new tyres.
            Strange he was faster than Lewis on the same tyre with only a handful of laps difference in age.
            Your explanation seems to be Lewis was pushing but Max was faster, mine is Lewis’s head went down with frustration at his unfair penalty and what he perceived to be a strategical error by Merc.

  10. Lewis didn’t want to practice his starts at the spot where the other drivers did them because there was a lot of rubber. What advantage could there be in starting in a spot with less rubber and (if there isn’t an advantage) why comment on the amount of rubber and starting somewhere else?

    Not meant to cause any flack but an honest question

    1. There are different types of rubber left on track. There is the sort that is laid down and sticks to the surface of the race track which is good for grip. And there is the sort that isn’t stuck to the track that reduces grip.
      The practice starts are carried out to get a feel for the clutch bite point. The best way would be a practice start from your grid box but that isn’t possible (or legal) so they look for a location that’s the most similar to their grid box.
      As Lewis was starting P1 he would be on the ‘clean’ side of the track so was looking for a clean location for his practice start.
      Hope that answers it for you.

    2. @mcbosch Exactly. This is Wolff lying again. Hamilton already said he did it to simulate the starting grid (gain an advantage).

  11. F1 cannot be proud anytime the main talking point after a race is a stewarding decision.

    How can this have the same magnitude of penalty as Vettel deliberately ramming Hamilton under safety car conditions in Azerbijan 2017, which remains the most dangerous driving I have ever seen in 25 years of watching F1.

    1. Go back 26yrs and you see Schumacher in his broken Benneton ram Hill as he overtook. Senna and Ratzenberger had both died in crashes that year so the deliberate nature of colliding was abhorrent in that context. That remains the amongst the worst I have seen, especially given the safety concerns of that year.

  12. It was an in-race penalty, so Mercedes wouldn’t have been able to appeal anyway.

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