Why did the stewards make their second U-turn this year on a Hamilton penalty call?

2020 Russian Grand Prix

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Stoffel Vandoorne’s eyes must have widened when stewards’ documents number 47 was issued early in Sunday’s Russian Grand Prix.

It confirmed that, following his second penalty for performing a pre-race practice start in an unapproved location, Lewis Hamilton had been given a second penalty point, giving him “a total of 10 points in the 12-month period”.

Vandoorne, Mercedes’ only reserve driver who is currently eligible to race in Formula 1, would have been well aware those 10 points meant Hamilton was only two away from incurring an automatic one-race ban. He may also have known that Hamilton will not have any expired points struck from his licence until the Turkish Grand Prix, three races from now.

The chances of Hamilton therefore triggering the ban, and Vandoorne get a call back to F1, had therefore increased significantly. “It’s ridiculous,” fumed Hamilton in the press conference after the race, vowing his driving would be “squeaky-clean moving forwards”.

However, almost four hours after the original decision was issued, Vandoorne’s hopes suffered a blow. Two further documents were issued by the stewards, announcing that both Hamilton’s penalty points had been rescinded.

He was therefore back down to a total of eight. That’s still on the high side, and more than any other driver has at the moment. But as F1 has never issued more than three penalty points for an individual incident, his chances of inadvertently triggering a ban had therefore being significantly reduced.

(F1 may not have done, but other series have. In F2 last year Nikita Mazepin was given four penalty points for causing a crash in Sochi, while at Paul Ricard earlier in the season Mahaveer Raghunathan received a trio of three-point penalties – a total of nine points – for a Virtual Safety Car infringement.)

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In previous seasons it has been highly unusual for the stewards to revise one of their decisions. Even more so in a case such as this, where there was no formal protest from a team.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Red Bull Ring, 2020
Hamilton was cleared, then penalised, in Austria
But this is the second time this year the stewards have changed a decision, both of which concerned Hamilton.

At the season-opening race in Austria he was investigated for failing to slow for yellow flags during qualifying. He was originally cleared over the incident on Saturday. But the following morning Red Bull petitioned the stewards to review the decision, which was upheld, and Hamilton was given a three-place grid penalty.

In Russia no formal review was submitted. However after Hamilton’s strong words about the penalty decision, in which he claimed the stewards were “trying to stop me”, he spoke to them about the decision, as he had done during the race stoppage at Monza when he was penalised for a pit entry violation.

Hamilton, Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff and the team’s sporting director Ron Meadows met with the stewards in person after the race. What was discussed and, most significantly, whether any new evidence was presented, is not clear.

There is a formal review process in place for teams to submit new evidence. This was how Red Bull succeeded in gaining a penalty for Hamilton in Austria, by drawing the stewards’ attention to recently-published footage which showed Hamilton had indeed passed a yellow flag without slowing.

This formal review process was not used in Sochi. So if Mercedes did not present any new evidence, why did the stewards decide to rescind those crucial two penalty points?

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When the stewards announced the revised decision, they stated they had “received information from the team that the driver of car 44 had received a team instruction to perform the practice start in the incorrect place.” But this detail was publicly known before the original verdict was issued.

The following exchange between Hamilton and race engineer Peter Bonnington was broadcast and reported here while the investigation was ongoing:

HamiltonThere’s all rubber here, can I go further out?
HamiltonTo the end of the pit wall?
BonningtonYeah, copy. Leave enough room for cars to pass.

Did the stewards overlook this seemingly crucial exchange when they made their original decision? If so, it begs the question whether they should have penalised Hamilton at all, and he should not have been docked 10 seconds in the race, which potentially cost him a victory.

That damage can’t be undone. But if he picks up two more penalty points in the next two races, that little chat with the stewards will have spared him a race ban.

Unless, of course, he gets a further two penalty points…

Quotes: Dieter Rencken

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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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117 comments on “Why did the stewards make their second U-turn this year on a Hamilton penalty call?”

  1. I think the stewards were probably looking for a way to back out of issuing the penalty points altogether, given how close it brought Hamilton to a race ban (which probably also explains the slightly strange original decision to issue one penalty point, rather than two, for each breach). Any port in a storm, as the saying goes.

    On the one hand we have the seemingly accepted (by the stewards) explanation that Mercedes gave permission for Hamilton to do his practice start at that spot, which means it’s their fault. Separately we have Mercedes saying that they didn’t realise exactly where Hamilton meant to perform his practice starts, which suggests that it was Hamilton rather than the Mercedes pit wall who were at fault. Both can’t be true – otherwise, by the same logic, Hamilton shouldn’t have been given any penalty points for entering a closed pit lane at Monza, since the team told him to come in. In fact any incident where the driver can point to a team instruction would mean that no penalty points were awarded – which is open to obvious abuse.

    1. I think your analysis is spot-on. I think the stewards regretted their decision but couldn’t bail out of it completely since the race was already over, so this was as good as it got

      1. I absolutely agree here. One rule for one one rule for another. Monza penalty points should be recindered immediately as this was a team order, perhaps the racing incident with Alex A, should also be removed too. Lewis is one of the most experience drivers out there and one of the fairest. Stewards get your act together.

    2. Didn’t I read on this site that the stewards assigned that discrepancy between HAM being told okay by team, but still doing it in wrong location to miscommunication @red-andy? Pretty sure that’s what they went with, and it works well with the rest of your post too.

    3. @red-andy If the stewards were looking for a way to not issue any penalty points, that would have been easier than this reduction, because Lewis was in compliance with the Articles identified in the original decision, according to the video shown. As such, upholding any part of the penalty is a breach of the FIA Statutes. For that matter, precedent says that five-second penalties get 1 penalty point each (2 penalty points are for ten-second penalties and 3 penalty points are for things more serious than that).

      1. @alianora-la-canta I don’t think that’s true. Hamilton got a five-second penalty and two penalty points for both his collisions with Albon (in Brazil and Austria). Furthermore he only got two penalty points for his pit lane violation at Monza despite the penalty being much more serious (10sec stop/go).

        Seems like the ‘precedent,’ if there do be one, is that two points is the standard amount to go along with a penalty, with the stewards having discretion to issue more or fewer points if there are particular aggravating or mitigating factors (as per the F2 examples given in the article).

        1. Leclec not no points for similar accident when he pushed Stohll off the track today

          1. nothing similar in that accident.. Lewis did not caused an accident.

          2. valerir, no penalty points attached to a zero-second “penalty” is standard practise.

        2. @red-andy Fair point, thank you for correcting me :)

    4. I dont know if this is possible, but these stewards have access to million cameras, do teams have access to decision room? I would very much like to see the stewards and race director’s conversation and see/hear who/what influenced, what kind of controversial conversation happened, esp would love to hear this Mika Salo’s side of events…

    5. According to team mate Bottas, the team did discuss all the specifics of the track pre race, like they do every GP weekend.
      One of the specific things is where to make the practice starts… Bottas was very clear about, the team did point out where to make the practice starts during the briefings.

      Lewis knew… why question the stewards original decision?

    6. Just love all these comments. But we all know why the stewards reversed their decision whether you want to admit it publicly or not – the colour of his skin.

      They were terrified that the woke little privileged boy Hamilton would slag them off for being racist.

      It’s as simple as that.

  2. It was quite an odd situation. There’s no denying that he/Mercedes broke the rules. The rear facing camera showing cars flying out of the pit-lane towards him, blind, was quite damning.

    I felt that the penalty points were wrong and I’m glad they U-turned. Hamilton clearly asked (to paraphrase) “can I do it here?” and was clearly told “yes”. To me this means it should be a team penalty and not a dangerous driving penalty, which should be the only thing (along with flagrant disregard of a rule) contributing to penalty points on a license.

    1. @ben-n Article 19.1 and 19.2 specifically say that’s the part where practise starts are meant to be done. Also, penalty points are connected with time penalties, so removing the penalty points requires removal of the time penalty also.

      1. Nope that is not true.

        4.2 With the exception of a reprimand or fine, when a penalty is applied under the International Sporting Code or Article 38.3 the stewards **may** impose penalty points on a driver’s Super Licence.

      2. No they don’t. The EV do not specify a ‘designated PS zone’. They make 3 requirements within the pit exit (which runs up to where the pit exit reaches the track):

        “PS may only be carried out on the right-hand side” (HAM was on the RH side)
        “after the pit exit lights” (as HAM clearly was!)
        “Leave adequate room on the left for drivers to pass” (HAM did, as you saw others go past)

        The penalties were wrong.

        My guess is Mercedes stated this after the race, and Masi realised he got it wrong.

        1. Its not allowed in the pit lane exit and that’s exactly where he did his starts..

            28.1 The section of track between the first safety car line and the beginning of the pit lane will be
            designated the “pit entry”.
            28.2 The section of track between the end of the pit lane and the second safety car line will be
            designated the “pit exit”.
            28.3 At no time may a car be reversed in the pit lane under its own power.
            28.4 The pit lane will be divided into two lanes, the lane closest to the pit wall will be designated
            the “fast lane” and may be no more than 3.5 metres wide, the lane closest to the garages will
            be designated the “inner lane”.

            If you consult the map that comes with the Event Notes, the Pit Exit goes from the line adjacent to the Pit Lane Exit lights to the track. In short, everyone did their practice starts in the pit exit. Hamilton just further down.

      3. That rule doesn’t specify a designated practice starts area, if it did Lewis would have broken the rules, but it just says “after the pit lane exit” (terms and conditions apply)! Event Note 19.1, as Gav above has stated, says “Practice starts may only be carried out on the right-hand side after the pit exit lights and, for the avoidance of doubt, this includes any time the pit exit is open for the race.” (My thanks to Joff81 for showing me this). Since it doesn’t specify where “after the pit lane exit” finishes, one has to assume it finishes at some logical place, like the pit lane entrance. Therefore Lewis didn’t break the rules because he did it “after the pit exit lights” and before the pit lane entrance. The rule should say some phrasing restricting where someone can do their practice starts such as “within 200 metres of the pit lane exit” or “in the designated practice start area”. They should at least hand back the fine they gave to Mercedes!

    2. I’m not convinced that in the designated area that the driver can see other drivers exiting the pit lane.

    3. @ben-n there might be some complaining about inconsistent stewarding because, during the Belgian Grand Prix, it has been confirmed that Leclerc committed exactly the same offence as Hamilton, only for the stewards to issue no penalty to Leclerc for it. In the case of Leclerc, it seems that there wasn’t even the justification that the team told him to do the practice start from there – he seems to have decided upon it himself.

      If you go to the official documents for the 2020 Belgian GP on the FIA’s website, you will find that there was an investigation into Leclerc for driving unnecessarily slowly to the grid on the reconnaissance lap.

      The stewards would clear Leclerc for his slow lap to the grid on the following grounds:
      The Stewards heard from the driver of Car 16 (Charles Leclerc) and team representative and noted the report from the Race Director.

      The Race Director’s Note to Teams (document 16) specified a maximum time of 2:04.0 between the Safety Car lines and car 16 recorded a time of 2:06.087.

      However, the Team advised that the driver had crossed SC2 line hence triggering the timing for the lap, then stopped for approximately 12 seconds to perform a practice start, then completed the Reconnaissance Lap. This was independently verified by the Stewards from the on board video of Car 16. Accordingly, no breach was determined to have occurred.

      However, according to the event notes for the Belgian Grand Prix, practice starts could only be undertaken in the following areas:
      18) Practice starts
      18.1) During each practice session, practice starts may only be carried out on the right-hand side after leaving the pit lane. These must be done prior to the SC2 line and with all four wheels between the white line on the right-hand edge of the pit exit and the wall.

      18.2) During the time the pit exit is open for the race, practice starts may be carried out on the track after the pit exit before the SC2 line. Drivers wishing to carry out a practice start should stop wholly within the pit exit in order to allow other cars to pass on their left (the area bordered by red in the photograph on page 5). During this time any driver passing a car which has stopped to carry out a practice start may cross the white line that is referred to in 19.1 below.

      The statement by the stewards explicitly confirms that Leclerc stopped after Safety Car Line 2 in order to undertake a practice start. According to the event notes, drivers were supposed to stop in an explicitly defined zone before Safety Car Line 2 to undertake practice starts.

      However, even though their own investigation provided explicit confirmation that Leclerc was undertaking a practice start outside of the designated area, the stewards took no action against Leclerc. You can see why there might be some wondering why, if Leclerc was not penalised for that offence only a couple of races earlier, why Hamilton was then given penalties during the race and faced a threat of being given penalty points as well.

      1. This is the kind of quality sleuthing that I come to the comments section hoping to find. Thank you!

        1. Yes, very good, Anon

      2. It also proves that the quality of stewarding is deteriorating rapidly under the current leadership. Maybe the job of running this is too much for one person.

      3. If you can break the rules without being penalized, why bother with rules at all?

        If anything, this proves they were wrong about Leclerc in Belgium, not that the current decision is wrong.

      4. Leclerc got a penalty for a slow laptime though. Which was rescinded because he wasn’t actually slow, but simply started later than the timing (triggered by leaving the pit exit) would suggest.

      5. @anon I take it ‘committed exactly the same offence’ is your wording/opinion, not that of any F1 officials?

        Since it is unlikely that there is some conspiracy to somehow penalize LH if at all possible, I think it is much more likely that Leclerc’s ‘indiscretion’ in Belgium was different, and I would suggest far less dangerous. I suggest the differences were that in Belgium CL did the practice start in question at the beginning of his reconnaissance lap prior to the race start, ie. not during a practice session. So, were there cars behind CL that were surprised to see him there doing a practice start? Did they suddenly see him and jink their wheel to assure themselves in case he suddenly moved toward them, because they were passing the line and stomping on it? On their reconnaissance lap? Was CL fairly far past the SC2 line? Far enough past such that his own team had a ‘yikes’ moment where they thought the stewards would not like his position? Where CL stopped to do his recon lap practice start, was he perhaps visible to cars behind him moreso than LH was in Russia?

        No, I say CL in Belgium was far from the exact same offence as LH. LH (the team) did his offence twice, and it was during a practice session when cars could naturally be expected to be coming out of the pits behind LH and stomping on it past the line. It was also about his position which was far enough past the line that once the team clued in to how far past LH was going and then stopping, they knew the stewards wouldn’t like it. They knew that during a practice session (compared to a recon lap) cars would be flying out of the pit exit past LH and that he was stopping unusually far down the road and taking drivers by surprise in doing so.

        Not the same as CL in Belgium whatsoever, so the stewards were indeed not inconsistent between Belgium with CL and Russia with LH.

        1. @robbie – did you just seriously say that LH committed the offence during a practice session?

          1. @sebsronnie Yeah my bad, they’re actually called warm-up laps. Doesn’t change my argument.

        2. @robbie I am not saying that there is a conspiracy theory – that is you putting words into my mouth – but rather a question of inconsistency in the stewarding (the old dictum of “be careful of ascribing to malice what can be explained by incompetence”).

          I have put forward my opinion that stewarding standards have declined in recent years, with the inconsistent application of rules and some stewards even admitting that they have held different drivers to different standards, but feel that the case of Leclerc in Spa was more a case of sloppiness on the part of the stewards for not noticing that Leclerc had stopped to undertake a practice start in an area where the event rules explicitly stated he should not be doing so.

          Your argument seems to be to try and find mitigating circumstances for Leclerc’s actions, but that does not change the fundamental aspect that the event notes explicitly stated a location where a practice start could be undertaken and the documentation clearly shows his practice start took place outside of that designated zone.

          None of the factors which you list in your argument were mentioned in the judgement by the stewards in Sochi – the only question considered was “did Hamilton undertake his practice start in the permitted area or not?” and, in that case, they decided that he did not and therefore they penalised him.

          If the sole criteria that the stewards have applied was “did driver X undertake their practice start in the permitted area or not”, then it is unequivocal that Leclerc did not undertake his practice start in the correct location and thus there should have been a consistent application of penalties.

          1. @anon thank you for greatly explaining this non-sense penalties applied left and right inconsistently based on individuals, and some coach potatoes defending non-consistent penalties when it suits certain individual grudges… i wish/hope mercedes find this and provide a ground for appealing the penalty if not even harsly sue the stewards as well… this is a perfect example of double standards… first fia allowed ferrari to keep their points despite it is super duper obvious that they were cheating in their engine, and let them get away with it with points/price money and worst hiding it and become accomplice of the crime… then these silly in consistent penalties that never been issues before or not without warning/reprimanding first! I have a strong opinion that there is some conflict of interest among fia/personnel… fia: trying to spice things up, they issue controversial penalties, personnel: leaking official info before it has been released esp not confirming/talking with drivers/teams first! esp second one has huge repercussions….

          2. @anon Could have worded that better, as I wasn’t trying to portray you as a conspiracy theorist, but rather was making a comment that I personally don’t subscribe to the concept that there is a movement to ‘stop’ LH. I can see how that looks like I was accusing you, nonetheless.

            I think we can agree there has always been shades of grey in countless situations in F1, there’s been skewing, and yeah sometimes they get it wrong, or miss something, and often their ‘correctness’ is simply depending on who one roots for, though, and I generally just cede, like I have a choice, that whatever happens happens, and it’s part of the story of F1, as imperfect as it can be, like all entities in life.

            For sure CL started where he did and it wasn’t in the right position, we now know that only from Ferrari’s admission to the stewards. It doesn’t seem like there is footage, is there? Other than of course from his car, which was only reviewed after the fact. In other words, they (the stewards or anyone who would normally care and have power to report a concern) could have missed the actual occurrence, ie. presumably did miss it.

            If you look at the chronology, CL did his recon lap at 14:38, the stewards request to meet over a too slow lap they’d observed was formalized about an hour later during the race at 15:42, and it is to see Ferrari after the race at 17:30.

            I would suggest that what was different here is that yes CL did the wrong thing, but all the stewards had to go by initially was the slow lap time by 2 secs, hardly a high crime, yet investigate they would. An infraction it is. Hardly anything that would stand out to them as something dangerous having occurred to cause a mere 2 second error. They’ll discuss it with the team afterwards. Small potatoes.

            So as I see it, they only discovered the erroneous practice start after the race, only by Ferrari’s own admission through the slow lap investigation at which point what were they to do? Yeah they then looked at the on-board footage and had their proof, like Ferrari admitting it wasn’t enough. What penalty though at this point? CL had a miserable day. Out of the points. They had proof of a badly positioned start, but it went under the radar through nobodies fault, stuff happens. No doubt CL was sternly made aware of his indiscretion.

            I suggest that either through footage or from one of the drivers that were a bit surprised at seeing LH sitting there and perhaps making a comment on the radio, the stewards had immediate eyes on his actions, or attention drawn to them by someone, and that became the investigation, eyes that never were on CL in Belgium at that moment of his error.

          3. @robbie glad to clear up some of that confusion then.

            With regards to Leclerc, the issue is that, even if they initially missed Leclerc undertaking a practice start in the wrong place, I am of the opinion that it should have been properly investigated once it was brought to their attention. We have seen that the stewards have taken the decision in some races to reopen investigations if new information comes to light that indicates an initial breach of the rules was missed, so that shouldn’t really have been a limiting factor.

            The fact that Leclerc had a miserable day and finished out of the points really shouldn’t be a factor in ignoring a penalty – as a principle of governance, the rules should be applied consistently irrespective of how good or bad the race has been for that driver (and besides, we’ve seen teams that have finished outside of the points being penalised for similar infractions).

            Equally, whilst you say that “No doubt CL was sternly made aware of his indiscretion.”, actually, it appears that nobody bothered telling him. There is feedback that the stewards seem to have spotted that he was out of position for that practice start, but decided that it wasn’t worth the hassle of investigating it – basically, it was more convenient for them and the other parties involved to just let it slip. The indication is that the stewards probably didn’t even raise the issue with Ferrari or Leclerc, so it’s quite likely that Leclerc was never made aware of his indiscretion.

            The issue is that it gives an impression of poor and lazy management on the part of the stewards and, if anything, it seems to be that the more common complaint is that Leclerc is being given overly lenient treatment by the stewards – and the apparent conflict in interests that Jean Todt has, due to his son being Leclerc’s manager, only worsens that impression.

            Even if the breach was minor, it should have at least been acknowledged, not just brushed to one side because it was a nuisance to investigate it. As it is, it is now causing problems because we are now getting the arguments over why there was no attempt to even investigate the issue.

            It is why there are an increasing number of calls for the FIA to make being a race steward a professional occupation, with increased standards to become a steward, and for further transparency into the process – to introduce a greater degree of consistency in interpretation and as a quality control measure (as, unfortunately, some of the driver stewards in particular have indicated they have been biased or inconsistent in their interpretation of the rules).

          4. @anon Not sure quite where to go with your new assertion that the stewards saw CL’s practice start taking place and ignored it. That would have meant that they would not have had to investigate him for a too-slow recon lap, for they would have seen why he was too slow while it was happening and would have penalized him much more immediately like they did LH. I understand your issue with stewarding inconsistency, and acknowledge sometimes that exists and sometimes that depends on the driver or the circumstances, but I think overwhelmingly they are quite unbiased and consistent.

            I can only go by the stewards’ letter from 15:42 while the race was on that they wanted to see CL/Ferrari after the race at 17:30 for his too-slow lap at 14:38. One would think that if they were looking to avoid bothering CL or Ferrari they would have just thought any investigation at all would have not been worth the hassle as you put it. ie. it allegedly wasn’t worth the hassle to penalize him for the incorrectly placed practice start that they witnessed, so they ignored that, but still called on them after the race to explain why the too-slow recon lap? Doesn’t add up to me.

            No, I’m convinced by the time the stewards got to do their investigation at which point they were told CL did a practice start after SC2 line, the race was done, he was out of the points, and so what penalty were they to apply by then? A fine I suppose? Or something that would affect him for the next race? That wouldn’t seem fair to me either. For LH it was 5 seconds twice, so it should have been 5 seconds for CL. I suggest all they could do was remind him not to do that again.

            Anyway, bottom line for me is that you initially asserted that CL got away with the exact same crime as LH was penalized for, and I remain firm that the two incidence were not exactly the same in how the stewards received the information for their investigations, and so this was not so much about intentional inconsistencies with the stewards but rather just a different set of circumstances. It wasn’t sloppiness nor Ferrari favouritism. They didn’t miss the too-slow lap, just the reason why, and chose to investigate (did their jobs) and I guess it would appear they don’t have external eyes on all cars at all times, so if nobody points out an indiscretion such that they can then go to the on-boards, is it their fault that F1 doesn’t have cameras on every car at all times?

          5. @to whom it may concern:
            “at which point they were told CL did a practice start after SC2 line, the race was done,he was out of the points, and so what penalty were they to apply by then?”

            it further proves that someone people cant put 2+2 together… it is either they only follow person/people of interest? or they are doing a very lousy job of stewarding! Because when it is some person of interest, oh boy they are burning the midnight oil and some… i would love to believe it is latter, like some whoever is concerned, must quite likely to be so ignorant to think that way! since a person of interest is being investigated so frequently and punished left and right, it cant be blatantly ignored… just because someone is so ignorant of the facts, doesnt mean everyone else cant see it…

      6. Bravo. Nice sleuthing– I didn’t catch the bit at Spa with LeClerc.

        The whole investigation at Sochi seemed rushed– the director’s notes were unclear, the decision invoked article 36.1 which doesn’t apply to that section of the pit exit and someone (whether or not it was Salo) tipped off the press that Hamilton was getting two separate penalties at 5 seconds each.

        The whole thing stinks like rotten fish, and whether there is a conspiracy or not, the FIA should be trying to avoid the appearance of one.

    4. In a way, the race directorsnnotes fornthis event are open for multiple explanations…

      Practice starts
      19.1 Practice starts may only be carried out on the right-hand side after the pit exit lights and, for the
      avoidance of doubt, this includes any time the pit exit is open for the race.
      Drivers must leave adequate room on their left for another driver to pass.

      The map shows this area extends to where the white pit exit line stops. He was on the right side and located after the pitnexit lights, so far obeying thenrules…. the only debatable issue is, was there enough room for other drivers?

      Where everybody else, including botas, did there practice starts, there is a bit of space to the side of the fast lane. It appears that this isnt true for the spot where hamilton did his practice starts

      1. It appears that this isnt true for the spot where hamilton did his practice starts

        Except that from the video broadcast, a couple of cars passed by while he was stationary and there was definitely enough room in his left for them.

      2. No, Hamilton did his starts in the only other safe space to do a practice start on the pit exit– which is why it’s odd that the team said “OK” to “going to the end of the pit wall”.

    5. There’s no denying that he/Mercedes broke the rules.

      Actually, there’s a very strong case to be made that they did not break the rules as argued here: https://www.reddit.com/r/formula1/comments/j1b2il/why_hamiltons_penalty_was_incorrect/. The rear facing camera view that you refer to really has no relevance to this case.

      1. @sebsronnie I don’t think your link exonerates LH as the Event Notes say one can do a practice ‘after the pit lights’ on the right hand side. After the pit lights does not mean so far down the pit exit that cars coming from behind are caught by surprise seeing a car stopped there.

        1. @robbie – I’m sorry but saying:

          After the pit lights does not mean so far down the pit exit that cars coming from behind are caught by surprise seeing a car stopped there

          is your opinion and is not supported by the Race Director’s notes:
          19.1 Practice starts may only be carried out on the right-hand side after the pit exit lights and, for the avoidance of doubt, this includes any time the pit exit is open for the race. Drivers must leave adequate room on their left for another driver to pass.
          There are only two issues: Did he do his practice start after the pit exit lights and did he leave adequate room on his left for other drivers to pass? The answer is a clear Yes to each of them. Any “but” means you’re moving into subjective territory which is a clear sign that the notes/rules as written are not fit for purpose – at least for the purpose of doling out penalties.

          1. @sebsronnie Yet penalized he was, and even the team admitted where he was stopping was not going to be liked by F1. That indicates to me they understand that after the lights does not mean way way after the lights such that upcoming drivers will be surprised there’s a cars stopped there.

          2. @robbie: “where he was stopping was not going to be liked by F1.” noone has to like anything, rule states wording that is open to interpretation, everything ham did fits into the wording since Massi himself said: they dont paint a location/line! Since it is not defined specifically, they cant penalize definitively… as anon pointed out about same situation by leclerc in spa race, you are still barking up personal grudge while excluding/ignoring the very facts of the matter…

          3. @mysticus I’m not ignoring the facts of the matter whatsoever given that LH/the team was penalized, nor given that Mercedes weren’t surprised to get what they at least expected to be a stern dressing down ie. they didn’t initially know LH went where he did (lack of communication?) and once they found out they had a bit of an ‘uh oh’ moment.

            So for me the bottom line is that it is taking some licence to claim on a technicality they didn’t do anything wrong, when the fact is nobody else was doing this, not even VB, nor do drivers commonly go all the way down to the pit lane exit to practice starts. There’s danger in doing that. Perhaps saying ‘after the lights’ as is the case for all the tracks, should have been sufficient by Masi’s thinking, as it meant to him, or whoever is in charge of the wording of the event notes, ‘not all the way down at the pit exit, because after all, you don’t do that normally anywhere, anyway.’

            I doubt LH, if he wanted to, would have much luck with the drivers if he tried to get them to all agree from now on they should be able to do what he did. I’d say the majority would say ‘no thanks it’s better we do starts just after the exit lights where the guy behind can see the car ahead and what he is doing and we aren’t approaching him at speed. We like it the way it is, thanks. There are reasons we do it the way we do it.’

          4. @robbie again nonsense danger/safety… he was penalized for ignoring the note, and gaining racing advantage, none of the official report said anything about safety nor dangerous driving…

            explain why leclerc for the same breach of the article went unpunished? dont come up with the same rubbish massi came up with, saying these are decided race by race etc… rule requires proper definition, doesnt invite interpretation, and applies consistently… doesnt change by team/driver!

            same rubbish inconsistent ruling happened in austria too! explain why albon went unpunished/or warned for doing the same thing twice by pushing hamilton off the circuit? does one need to be crashed out of the race to trigger a warning/penalty? ham avoided both incidents by using his mind, yet albon is applauded for brave diving without thinking… ham tyre was cold and also old, it was expected to slide out… not considered… albon on the other hand did the same on cold tyres but ham took avoiding action, yet ham is at fault?

            stop that tinfoil hat, and be objective once… organizers are really trying to stir things up by playing with ham’s races by following his every move while ignoring many others… to me this looks more like trying to create entertainment/talk points for the sports that has been getting less and less attention… and has huge losses involved too…

          5. @mysticus Incredibly misguided rubbish. Explaining anything to you would obviously be futile.

          6. @robbie I m sorry it my fault trying to reason with an ignorant person, who blatantly ignores everyone else, focuses ham only, and goes all lengths to justify evertg he receives… My bad, I ll pass on ignorants…

  3. I don’t understand, the rule about the practice starts are there on grounds of SAFETY. FIA says that safety is above all, and then the stewards are lenient on TWO (2) safety violations? The one in Austria (oops, we didn’t saw the footage) and this one now. And the merc and ham are getting away with what? Pointing on what someone else said (pitwall) or didn’t said (race director’s instruction not clear?). Come on. This is ridiculous. The driver is very much responsible to know the rules, on what he can and cannot do in the track. I now understand that a driver can violate the rules, blame it on the pitwall and the team will think, no big deal, pay a few thousands (pocket change for them) and get away with it. Congratulations.

  4. Why did the stewards do a u turn?
    Ive no idea, shall we ask Finnish TV?

    Or maybe Ron Meadows pointed out the inconsistency in the event note and Mercedes offered to pay a big fine.

  5. I think HAM has a valid point that F1 is after him. How does the driver that is in the front row of almost every grid have the most points even after getting 2 deleted this past weekend?

    1. Hitting Albon twice, ignoring yellows and entering pits when closed. All gave him 2 points. No one is after him.

      1. There has been numerous incidents similar to the earlier contact this year between Hamilton and Albon that have not resulted in ANY penalty. Along with the fact noted above that LeClerc brok the rule in the same manner as Hamilton a few races ago and got no penalty. Evidence would seem to point to him being penalised for incidents where others get away with them.

        1. @slowmo See my response to anon regarding CL’s non-penalty in Belgium.

          1. @robbie I think the offense is the same albeit different track and position but not a million miles apart. To argue over semantics is pointless though. I certainly think it merits an explanation on why they took a different view on both incidents from the stewards as it would seem to indicate something between the two suddenly warranted a penalty.

          2. @slowmo Pretty sure the difference would be that where CL stopped for his practice start was right after the lights, more visible to upcoming drivers, and not all the way down to the end of the pit exit like LH did. Since the team acknowledged that would be frowned upon by the stewards I would say that’s the difference there. LH was in a dangerous spot where nobody else was doing practice starts. Everyone else interpreted that they were to do practice starts after the lights, but nobody but LH took that to mean so far after that drivers were caught by surprise seeing him there. They wouldn’t have expected anyone there as practice starts are not done there.

      2. @rvg013 Well exactly. Two other racing incidents that he got a penalty and points for while most others don’t. Leclerc didn’t for taking out Stroll. Although he did get it for Japan 2019.

        The pitlane thing was dumb, but mostly bad luck because of the ridiculous way this got passed on to drivers and team.

      3. @slowmo @f1osaurus I agree on some things. But taking someone out who is going for a podium twice, is a bit worse imo.

        1. @rvg013 That’s not how it works though. At least the stewards (or Masi) claim it’s not. It’s supposed to be based on whether there was an incident and then on if one of the drivers was (predominantly) to blame.

          Although agreed it’s all very vague. Sometimes they do hand out a penalty even if no crash happened.

          Still, they claim the penalty is not related to the consequences of the incident.

        2. @rvg013 to the letter of the regulations they should be metering out penalties based on the incident itself and not the outcome. A lot of people didn’t think there was enough there for the penalty and it seems when viewing other incidents that are worse or similar this year that the stewards have now thought the same too.

          Can I also add the caveat that Albon seems to have a knack for putting himself in awkward/vanishing positions frequently this year during overtakes so while I thought Brazil last year was 100% Hamilton’s fault I think more and more of his incidents this year have been poor positioning and overly optimistic on the expectations of others to concede.

    2. One reason is that Ham and Max will always get the most because they are looking for any little advantage. How often have we heard after they overtake someone; ‘thats not a usual overtaking spot.’ So they will both push the envelope wherever they can, and in some cases explore areas where none have before and have to be reigned back.
      As someone else pointed out, Hams only chance this race was to get to the second corner first. Only he; and probably Max, would look for that extra inch by finding a bit of the slow lane that replicates the rubber level on the starting grid for a practice.

    3. I don’t agree with him getting penalty points for hitting Albon (twice a racing incident), but if he or the team is being stupid (entering the pitlane when closed, doing practice starts in a place that is forbidden), then he should get penalized.

  6. Maybe I’m too cynical but I think F1 are uncomfortable of giving the reigning world champion and current points leader a race ban and then seeing him win the title anyway.

    I don’t think F1 ‘has it in for him’. He’s been on the recieving end of some dodgy choices and he’s benefitted from some too. Consistent stewarding is a different argument and something that needs looking at though.

    1. For every case of the stewards being harsh on him, you could find examples of the stewards being lenient (2017 British QP qualifying, 2018 German GP pit-lane incident…)

  7. A chief sporting umpire needs first and foremost a large and healthy pair. Does Masi ?

    Because otherwise he keeps running scared of his own decisions and changing tack every time he is visited by the offending party against whom he ruled.
    In all fairness, visits to the stewards room by offending parties should not happen. Discussion should be pointless. The stewards should rule on the data and facts, both of which should be constantly at their fingertips. This is 2020, not 1920.

    1. @Rodber Since the stewards demonstrably do not rule on data and facts, even on completely objective rules like this one, visits to the stewards’ office are necessary – even if, in this case, the wrong wasn’t fully righted.

  8. To be honest, after looking at the steward’s decision, I’m not sure Hamilton committed an offence.

    The steward’s document says:

    Art 36.1 requires drivers to use constant throttle and constant speed in the pit exit other than in the place designated for practice starts in the Event Notes item 19.1., which is defined as the place ”on the right hand side” after the pit exit lights (and is not part of the track as defined by lines) which has been known to all competitors and used without exception.

    However Art 36.1 of the sporting regulations doesn’t say that. It says to use constant throttle in the pit lane, not the pit exit. This is obviously the case as all other cars did their practice starts in the pit exit too, meaning they also did not use constant throttle and constant speed in the pit exit.

    Item 19.1 in the race director’s notes only say that practice starts must be done in the pit exit. Item 19.2 applies to the fast lane, which is part of the pit lane, not the pit exit.

    Article 12.1.1 (i) of the International Sporting Code says:

    Failure to follow the instructions of the relevant officials for the safe and orderly conduct of the Event.

    Which Hamilton did because he followed the regulations and race director’s notes.

    Perhaps the stewards realised the original decision made claims that were simply false. Perhaps they reviewed the team radio which everyone else had listened to ages before. Either way, it’s not a good look for them.

    This reddit thread has more details: https://www.reddit.com/r/formula1/comments/j1b2il/why_hamiltons_penalty_was_incorrect/

    1. @carbron Especially as the new penalty still isn’t in compliance with the FIA regulations.

    2. @carbron Exactly. All these people who say that Hamilton should know the rules and then you look at the rules and it is nowhere clear that he actually did something wrong.

      Sure he was not in the position they wanted him to be, but according to the actual rules he didn’t do anything wrong.

      1. @f1osaurus It was in the Event Notes which it would seem is the same as it being in the rules, tailored for the specific event. Where LH was stopping to do his practice starts was too dangerous. The team acknowledged that once they realized how far down the pit exit he was going. Perhaps if they had realized it sooner, or had asked F1 ahead of time if that position would be ok, then the penalty could have been avoided. When one sees the cars coming out of the pits and jinking their wheel a bit out of surprise to see LH sitting there, one can understand the penalty. They (F1) had already covered this eventuality off by emphasizing in the Event Notes the appropriate behaviour for practice starts. That they included this in the Event Notes gave all teams ample opportunity to clarify how far down the pit exit they could go and then stop.

        1. I linked to the event notes in my comment; they don’t appear to forbid what Hamilton did.

          19) Practice starts
          19.1 Practice starts may only be carried out on the right-hand side after the pit exit lights and, for the
          avoidance of doubt, this includes any time the pit exit is open for the race.
          Drivers must leave adequate room on their left for another driver to pass.
          19.2 For reasons of safety and sporting equity, cars may not stop in the fast lane at any time the pit exit
          is open without a justifiable reason (a practice start is not considered a justifiable reason).

          Hamilton did his practice start in the pit exit, after the pit exit lights. Of course, the race director probably intended for drivers to do their practice starts in a specific area just in front of where the safety car is parked, but this isn’t mentioned in the notes, so Hamilton didn’t break 19.1. 19.2 also doesn’t apply, as it’s talking about the fast lane, which is in the pits.

          Compare this to the event notes for Belgium:

          18) Practice starts
          18.1 During each practice session, practice starts may only be carried out on the right-hand side after
          leaving the pit lane. These must be done prior to the SC2 line and with all four wheels between the
          white line on the right-hand edge of the pit exit and the wall. (the area bordered by black in the
          photograph on page 6).
          18.2 During the time the pit exit is open for the race, practice starts may be carried out on the track after
          the pit exit before the SC2 line. Drivers wishing to carry out a practice start should stop wholly within
          the pit exit in order to allow other cars to pass on their left (the area bordered by red in the photograph
          on page 6). During this time any driver passing a car which has stopped to carry out a practice start
          may cross the white line that is referred to in 19.1 below.
          18.3 For reasons of safety and sporting equity, cars may not stop in the fast lane at any time the pit exit
          is open without a justifiable reason (a practice start is not considered a justifiable reason).

          In these notes, a picture is actually provided given an exact boundary in which practice starts can take place. Leclerc clearly did a practice start outside this boundary (beyond SC2) according to the investigation for driving too slowly by the FIA. But there was no penalty. I would actually consider Leclerc’s offence much clearer than Hamilton’s.

          1. However, cars are not allowed to stop on track to do practice starts (this is written within the rules) and the pit exit is well declared as part of the track. So he did do something illegal, even with the notes.

          2. Tim Lemmens – That may be, but the stewards did not mention that. The stewards specifically only mentioned notes and regulations (Article 36.1 of the sporting regulations, Item 19.1 of the event notes, Article 12.1.1 (i) of the sporting code) which do not appear to show Hamilton did anything wrong.

            It’s also therefore reasonable to ask why Leclerc wasn’t penalised for a practice start in Belgium when he stopped on the track (after the pit exit and 2nd safety car line).

          3. I’m not saying the stewards ruled consistently or that there notes are correct, I’m just stating a fact that Hamilton did break obvious written rules, so he should be penalised.

          4. Tim Lemmens, He stopped in the exact same pit exit lane where all cars do their practice starts. Just a bit further down that pit exit lane.

          5. Tim Lemmens – That’s clearly not true, the the Event Notices specifically say that the pit exit is to be used for practise starts.

            It’s perfectly legitimate to say that where LH did his practise starts wasn’t safe, but if they intended the rules to restrict practise starts to immediately after the pit exist lights, they should say so.

            To me this looks like the stewards punished LH for breaking the intention of the rules, but then afterwards realising he hadn’t actually broken the rules as written, so backtracked as best as they could (considering they can’t take a pair of 5-second penalties back once served).

        2. @robbie Wow, did you get schooled again. ROFL. Joe really ripped you a new one.

          Just to add:

          The team acknowledged that once they realized how far down the pit exit he was going.

          The team also realized that the rules did not explicitly forbid what Hamilton did. It’s perhaps not what the rule makers intended to say, but Hamilton didn’t break the actual rules. So the team expected a warning would be given and the actual rules fixed for the next time to prevent confusion.

          1. @f1osaurus You call repeating the verbiage from the stewards schooling? Meanwhile I’ve posted a response to anon above that I think you should read. Nobody is disputing that CL did a practice start in the wrong spot. What is also obvious from the chronology of events is that the stewards didn’t even know about his offence until the team admitted it to them in the post-race investigation into his too-slow recon lap. He finished 14th, 75 seconds back of the winner, and when all was said and done, the only offence they were aware of all during the race was a 2 second too slow recon lap, hardly a major crime, only needing investigating after the race, and then they find out it was because of doing a practice start in the wrong place that nobody saw until Ferrari admitted it and they were then able to prove the indiscretion by reviewing his on-board footage. Like Ferrari admitting it wasn’t enough I’m sure they had to confirm it officially with the on-boards.

            As I ask anon et al, what punishment then for CL in this circumstance? Should have been the same as LH if the stewards are to be consistent? Ok so CL should have had 5 seconds deducted from his 14th place and 75 second deficit to the leader, after the fact.

            LH got caught, and perhaps doing what he did twice offered twice the opportunity for someone to draw it to the stewards attention such that they were able to investigate and confirm his offence starting ahead of the race. Cameras had a visual on him. Perhaps it was one of the drivers that was surprised by LH stopped where he was who made a comment on his radio. Perhaps the stewards saw it on their own. CL’s similar offence took Ferrari’s admission after the race to reveal it to the stewards, after the fact, while questioning them on why his recon lap was 2 seconds too slow. Obviously no cameras were pointing at CL when he did his poorly timed practice start, nor did anyone who might have noticed protest it to the stewards.

            Consider yourself schooled.

          2. @robbie Well, you come all clever stating that it is not the “rules” but the “director notes” and then pretend there is some magical wording in the directors notes explaining it all (implying that we are so dumb we missed those). When these notes were actually posted in the post I replied to and the whoel discussion was that those are really not clear at all.

            So yes you look like a total nincompoop again missing the whole discussion, pretending to be smart and in the process showing how dumb you are.

            I feel sorry for you man, but seriously, stop pretending you are smart.

          3. Trumposaurus. What a weak and empty response.

          4. @robbie Well I didn’t bother reading your drivel. if you expected a response on that.

            I understood from the first line that again you didn’t understand the texts posted and I just wanted to express the hope that you try to think before you post nonsense.

            Or just stay under your bridge.

  9. Why did it take 35 minutes to issue the penalty notice for Hamilton. That took him 16 minutes into the race and after the safety car which, if the penalty had been issued in a timely fashion, would have given Hamilton an opportunity to pit and take hard tyres and do what Rosberg did.

    The TV cameras showed him doing a practice start at the end of the pitlane and commented on it. Surely with all their media resources the stewards did too.

    That is an unconscionably long time with relatively little for the stewards to do until the formation lap.

    1. Why did it take 35 minutes to issue the penalty notice for Hamilton.

      They had to inform Finnish TV first ;)

    2. “Why did it take 35 minutes to issue the penalty notice for Hamilton.”

      And yet Finnish TV announced it during pre race build up. Curious, hey.

      1. I don’t watch finnish tv or speak finnish but if what you are saying is true, then that Salo guy should be banned from ever being a race steward again!
        He clearly seemed instrumental in the issuance of the penalty, leaked it to finnish tv, possibly for a fee… to give a leg-up for his country-man, surely!?
        FIA corrupt to the core; sad really.
        I miss Charlie!!!

  10. The stewards award these points, almost as procedure. I think someone higher up in F1 / FOM has quietly pointed out that if the current champion and most influential driver of the present day gets a race ban, this will become MASSIVE news, the kind that casual and barely casual followers will hear about.
    People will assume he did something massively bad, but will then hear something about practice starts and the whole “the sport is a joke” argument will be spat out by the people with least idea what is actually going on in F1.
    Clearly F1 doesn’t need that. Disciplinary points were designed to keep frequent “trouble makers” in check. The fact that no one yet (in F1) has triggered the ban, suggests that the deterrent against dangerous driving is working.
    For Hamilton, who 90% of the time is nowhere near anyone on track, to be the 1st to take the ban would suggest that the system is broken and would probably create more fallout than anyone wants.

    1. I thought its weird that penalty points are announced in race. Seems like something that they should wait until the race ends (and maybe even get driver POV) before announcing.

      The time penalty I get.

    2. Whatever one thinks about the penalties, to me it’s almost a scandal to make out that a driver shouldn’t be punished for team mistakes when that’s a basic principle of the F1 rules to begin with. The reason for the illogical backtracking could well be political like you say @eurobrun in that this is such a high profile sporting case and there could be a real threat of a protest and hate from the BLM crowd which FOM doesn’t want.

  11. Three points over this incident. 1. Why practice a start where nobody else is and in a place where you have to ask your team if it’s OK? That’s obviously asking for unwanted attention (potential steward trouble). Bad decision, full stop. 2. Why not have a race director/stewards who can quickly say, don’t do that again, to the driver and team? Nothing happened, they found it questionable, so immediately tell the team then (I’m sure Whiting would have done) and resolve the issue right away, including for safety reasons. If the driver and/or team continue against this advice, then penalize. FIA stewards needed to recognize the rules were vague and could be interpreted in a way they didn’t like, fir enough, while teams should recognize that erring on the side of caution, and respecting safety advice, are essential if an issue is pointed out to them. 3. If the stories are true, is it correct that FIA stewards or Masi can interact with the media right before or during an event? Or even after? Surely that detracts from concentration on the work they’ve been asked (and paid) to do, and potentially compromises their impartiality and judgment?

    1. Well, on the first point the goal was to find a spot where there was not much rubber on the track, so a spot where other cars were not making their practice start. That because he was on the slippery side of the grid (of course the question remains why no other team would go there). The others points, I can’t help you with :-)

  12. Ferrari run an illegal engine for much of last year and get no penalty; Hamilton comits a minor pre-race infringement and gets three race penalties. Go figure.

    1. Ferrari didnt get a penalty because FIA couldn’t figure out how they were cheating, thus they asked to settle. I mean even some at Mercedes admitted that stewards were going to have an issue with the practice start. The miscommunication is mostly their fault.

      I love Hamilton and can’t wait for him to get his 7th but I thought the final decision was fair. Punished the car for committing the infringement (much like an early release) but no long term punishment for the driver in terms of penalty points.

      1. @yaru The FIA could have figured out how Ferrari did it, but they were not prepared to go for a lengthy procedure to find it out because that would have been much more damaging to F1.

        They actually did get a penalty though

    2. Some would argue that Ferrari have been penalised; albeit voluntarily. Imagine how bad the offence was for them to settle on a punishment of a minimum of 2 years to be spent at the head of the backmarkers.

  13. Still no mention of Salo’s dubious actions in that stewarding room…

    1. The media protecting their own? Clearly there was a leak.

      1. Don’t you believe it @riptide . I’ve worked in the media and they love nothing more than getting one up on their competitors. Drives sales / ad revenue / subscriptions.

        The other issue is proving it. We have a good set of evidence and a supposition that very neatly fits the facts, but is there an actual smoking gun? Being sued for libel is no joke.

  14. Both the driver and the team were wrong, and bot got penalized. The final decision is fair.

    1. No it’s not. Driver did nothing wrong.

      1. Drivers don’t do anything wrong with early pit release either, but the car’s time must be punished since that decentivises team much more than any fine.

    2. Except Hamilton didnt actually break the rules they penalised for. So infact neither the driver or team were wrong.

  15. Did the stewards overlook this seemingly crucial exchange when they made their original decision? If so, it begs the question whether they should have penalised Hamilton at all, and he should not have been docked 10 seconds in the raced, which potentially cost him a victory.

    It’s sort of like early release to me, where the car did something dangerous due to team giving them wrong advice and have to be punished, but not the fault of the driver.

    The time penalty is issued as a deterrent (since that incentivises the team to not repeat the error) but the driver is not given a long term punishment.

  16. Did the stewards overlook this seemingly crucial exchange when they made their original decision? If so, it begs the question whether they should have penalised Hamilton at all, and he should not have been docked 10 seconds in the raced, which potentially cost him a victory. That damage can’t be undone. But if he picks up two more penalty points in the next two races, that little chat with the stewards will have spared him a race ban.

    I think I posted this earlier and it got deleted, not sure why. But the Mika Salo question is out there: was he too busy feeding Finnish TV the juicy news of Hamilton’s penalty to actually evaluate the situation properly? It’s a very pertinent question. It suggests a lack of proper attention to investigating the issue, a precipitous decision, a consequent reluctance to backtrack on a dubious decision, and a basic lack of professionalism – not to say ethcis – to mix a stewarding role and a media role.

    In addition to the fact the team may again have been more at fault than Hamilton, there’s also another point. This wasn’t during the race. So was a race penalty (10 seconds) even valid?

    1. @david-br There is plenty of precedent for drivers getting in-race penalties for things that happened before the start. I think the best recent example is Robert Kubica at Baku last year, who got a drive-through penalty for leaving his garage too early before the pit lane opened prior to the start of the race.

  17. The only good thing about the mess the FIA and it’s stewards create is that nobody died that we yet know of.
    Unfortunately, the manner in which they conduct themselves, that is the stewards, leaves room for people to assume they are trying to influence the outcome of the race by the timing of the penalties.
    If an infraction is seriously jeopadising the safety of others on track, isn’t it something to be addressed immediately preventing others from doing the very same thing. However failure to address any breach immediately implies there was really no risk involved to other drivers on track.
    I will say that Hamilton and Mercedes can do many daft things, but the FIA and the stewards are waiting to award penalty points for potentially dangerous situations. Unless the situations are not dangerous and they just want to make a lot of noise over nothing.

  18. Any comment on CL doing the same thing in Spa and not a word from the stewards or this website?

  19. What a mess. Mika Salo texting his mates at Finnish TV, Leclerc having no investigation, Masi not reviewing SC procedures.

    Shambles. Pleased we have the internet to call this out, not that it will make any difference.

  20. Not talking of a particular driver, team or action here. But what I don’t get is why a driver must be exonerated from a penalty if their team says (wrongly) that they can do a particular (illegal) action.

    I am certainly no expert in the rules, but the way I see it is: If a driver commits an illegal action, they must be penalized, whatever the team has told them. If the team told them they could do it, then the team is also responsible, and must be penalized too. But this does not (or should not IMO) exonerate the driver at all.

    1. I mean, i’m no expert either, but why wasn’t Leclerc punished in Belgium for doing a practice start, without asking, beyond the designated area? In Belgium, they specified a defined area you couldn’t do practice starts beyond (SC2 line), Leclerc did that. In Russia there was no actual specified area where Hamilton could do it, only that it had to be beyond the pit exit, which it was.

      So, i mean, isnt it odd how one driver got no further action, and the other got 2 time penalties ruining his race, and was almost given enough point on his licence to deem him unfit to race against other people.


      1. The penalties might be inconsistent but that’s quite a different matter. My point is that if you commit an illegal action, you cannot be excused just because the team said you can do it. If your ask your uncle if you can shoot me, he says yes and then you do it, you are certainly not innocent in a court of law.

  21. Mercedes Lawyers must be really good.

    Also some regulations are not really good.

    Penalty points on liscence because of unlawful practice start?

  22. Anyone has any idea from where he actually did his practice start? Cause if i see the youtube videos, it does look like he went wayyy outside almost on the race track on the right hand side of the white lines to practice his start.

    1. The FIA stewards are cheating. They must be fired!

  23. The special instructions were not precise.

    They designated a starting point: after the lights of the pit lane.

    They specify a side: on the right side, leaving space for other cars.

    No specific end of practice start area were set in the instructions at Sochi.

    Whereas at other races they specified the end of the the practice start: the SC line.

    In a court of Law, Hamilton would have been absolved of any wrongdoing.

    Simply because the instructions were not correctly worded.

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