Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Sochi Autodrom, 2020

F1 drivers given new instructions for practice starts after Hamilton penalty

2020 Eifel Grand Prix

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Formula 1 drivers have been given specific instructions regarding practice starts this weekend following the penalty Lewis Hamilton received at the Russian Grand Prix.

The Mercedes driver was given two five-second penalties during the race for performing his practice starts at an incorrect location on the track. During the pre-race reconnaissance laps Hamilton drove out of the pits and stopped near the end of the pit lane exit.

For this weekend’s Eifel Grand Prix at the Nurburgring, where F1 is racing for the first time since 2013, drivers have been told they must perform their practice starts in a precise location before driving to the grid.

“During the time the pit exit is open for the race, practice starts may be carried out after the end of the pit wall and adjacent to the orange band on the right-hand side barrier,” said a notice issued by Formula 1 race director Michael Masi.

“Drivers wishing to carry out a practice start should stop on the right in order to allow other cars to pass on their left.

“During this time any driver passing a car which has stopped to carry out a practice start may cross the white [pit lane exit] line. Any driver crossing this line must move back to the right of it as quickly as possible.”

Hamilton was originally given two penalty points for the infractions, but these were later rescinded by the stewards.

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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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  • 45 comments on “F1 drivers given new instructions for practice starts after Hamilton penalty”

    1. Be easier just to say, no practice starts on race day.

      1. Errr, surely they might need practice starts on race day if the weather conditions have changed since the last practice.

        1. Certain tracks have practice starts banned for race day anyway. Red Bull Ring and Silverstone come to my mind, only practice starts are done after each free practice.

          1. @bleu Red Bull Ring, Silverstone, Monaco, and Yas Marina. In a normal season, these are the four exceptions where all practice starts have to be made on the grid after each practice session.

        2. Yes mustn’t have any unknowns

          1. tony mansell, to many, it would be a question of competence on the part of the governing body to issue clear instructions to the competitors about how the race weekend is meant to be organised.

            Your sarcastic response gives the impression you seem to think it is a bad idea for the governing body to be issuing clear instructions on how to run the race weekend. Why do you seem to think that it is a bad thing to issue clear instructions to competitors?

            1. Told you twice anonce. Don’t speak to me till you have a name. Preferably not then either. Shoo

            2. Tony Mansell, no, you have not said that before – and frankly, given how old you have indicated you are, you really should be acting in a more mature manner and not acting so rudely and arrogantly because you don’t like being asked a simple question.

              Why did you post a flippant comment which indicated you think it is a bad thing for the race director to be issuing clear instructions on how to run the race weekend?

            3. anon/tony mansell – I won’t take either of you seriously until you both create an account – right now, both of you can view my post history as I (and many others) have created an account to post, so you can judge me on my past comments.

              Both of you hide behind anonymous accounts, so I can’t view your post history and therefore cannot judge as to whether your posts are worthy of my time or not. The mismatch of users here has and continues to put me off visiting and leaving more comments than I do because the comment quality is extremely variable and (anecdotally speaking) tends to be worse from anonymous accounts.
              Both of you, please do the decent thing and create an account.

          2. Precisely. There shouldn’t be any unknowns. Clear instructions with no ambiguity is exactly what is required for a race to be run efficiently and safely.

        3. No! No practice starts! The Driver Must Drive Alone and Unaided! And with NO information whatsoever as to grip, wind, traction, or anything else! We must make it impossible for the drivers to compete fairly, because only then will it be fair!

          … at least, I think that’s what Crofty said.

    2. Isn’t this just admitting that their previous instructions weren’t exactly clear enough?

      1. Exactly. We were supposed to believe that a veteran racer went rogue and decided to practice wherever he wanted on the track and endangered drivers, crews, marshals, fans, and local wildlife. The points penalties that were tacked on were absurd.
        This race HAM will be penalized for some other nuance in the code.

      2. My thoughts exactly. If Masi was so convinced that his notes in Sochi were so clear, then he’d be confident enough to state things in the same way for Nürburgring. But we all know they were ambiguous and that there was a potential loophole depending on interpretation. It’s not enough to say “everyone else did it right” or “that’s how it’s always done”, it has to be explicitly written or it’s not enforceable.

        (For what it’s worth, I don’t think Hamilton should have done the starts where he did, but I’m far from convinced the rules and notes on that occasion actually forbade it)

        1. The director’s notes were very clear at Spa. And they were ignored, and LeClerc received no penalty.

          Of course, they only found out about the practice start when they investigated him for being too slow on his out-lap. So his practice start, outside the practice start area, was OK, and was used as the justification for his slow lap time.

        2. What happens on race day when the rain stopped at 45 mins before the race start time and the track is drying but the designated marked space for practice starts is still a deep puddle?

      3. Is it? A sign in a bathroom asking to pee inside the bowl is put there because it wasn’t previously clear enough where to pee, or because someone is stupid enough to think they can pee wherever they want?

        1. If pee’ing in bathrooms was a competitive sport and the rules where you could pee were open to interpretation, i’m sure you’d find people pee’ing where it could gain them an advantage.

          …but, y’know, its not, so…

          1. Clearly you’ve never been in a truck-stop bathroom. The evidence suggests that truckers are *extremely* competitive creatures by nature.

        2. Have you ever entered a NFL stadium men’s room at halftime?

      4. @Pete @kartguy07 @jimfromus
        What was unclear about the notes? For me, it war crystal clear where to do practice starts and more or less the same wording has been used for every event (not only every previous Russian GP) except for Austria, Britain, Monaco, and Abu Dhabi.

        1. Well, since the notes for Spa and Sochi were different, that kind of undermines your whole argument.

          Spa:

          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)

          Sochi:

          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.

        2. @jerejj Well they added

          prior to the derestriction line indicated by the white grid marking

          . Which makes sense because it was abundantly clear that it was unclear how far after the pit exit sign the start needed to be performed. This has now been made clear.

          Plus a whole new section with a different location for practice starts on race day.

    3. Cause everybody “out to get” latifi

    4. Let’s hope the “ orange stripe” is visible and there is no odd interpretation of “adjacent” from the stewards.

      1. Or a certain driver

    5. That’s at least 2 rule changes/clarifications attributable to Ham. The ‘giving back a place being the other one post Spa 2008. I think MS was always looking for an edge in this respect and I think it was Rosberg who said Ham always knows exactly how much he can push a rule without getting unstuck. Not always obviously.

      1. I thought of this as well. If the rule has to be “clarified” afterwards, I don’t understand how a punishment can be given.

      2. If the powers that be insist on implementing the rules suddenly then they must ensure that the rule has not been broken earlier in that year and if it has, only ensure clarification to all teams and drivers without punishment for that instance or somehow punish the previous event and if necessary change the results. But that is never going to happen under the present rules.

        Vettel had committed the same “crime” in Canada a few races earlier.

    6. Not really anything different. Still after the pit exit on the right-hand side.

      1. Jere – “Still after the pit exit on the right-hand side” – really? Exactly how far around the circuit does your “after the pit exit” extend? All the way?

      2. @jerejj The instructions for practice starts on race day are actually completely different.

        1. @f1osaurus Yes.
          ”During each practice session, practice starts may only be carried out on the right-hand side prior to
          the derestriction line indicated by the white grid marking. Drivers wishing to carry out a practice start
          should stop on the right in order to allow other cars to pass on their left.”
          ”During the time the pit exit is open for the race, practice starts may be carried out after the end of
          the pit wall and adjacent to the orange band on the right-hand side barrier. Drivers wishing to carry
          out a practice start should stop on the right in order to allow other cars to pass on their left.”

    7. Here is a crazy idea. No practice starts in the race weekend.
      That would make people more prone to errors at the start and mix up the field a bit more.
      Discuss.

      1. Has been discussed before. Along with all the various suggestions around the driver having more control and less info. Always rejected by the majority of fans as the top drivers; with their experience and skill, will come out on top.
        And I would suspect it is not of interest to those who run the sport either; for the same reason.

      2. Why limit the ban to starts? No practice at all (and just one lap for quallie, just in case anyone gets ideas about sneaking some practice laps in before the big one)

    8. So the new notes are:

      18) Practice starts
      18.1 During each practice session, practice starts may only be carried out on the right-hand side prior to the derestriction line indicated by the white grid marking. Drivers wishing to carry out a practice start should stop on the right in order to allow other cars to pass on their left.

      18.2 During the time the pit exit is open for the race, practice starts may be carried out after the end of the pit wall and adjacent to the orange band on the right-hand side barrier. Drivers wishing to carry out a practice start should stop on the right in order to allow other cars to pass on their left.
      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. Any driver crossing this line must move back to the right of it as quickly as possible.

      18.1 is amended to add what was missing in the notes in Sochi. ie it mentions a maximum distance from the pit exit sign.

      Plus 18.2 gives them a completely different location for practice starts on race day. Pretty much where Hamilton went.

      All this confirms that Hamilton at worst should have gotten a warning or a stern speaking to and then the rules fixed to prevent a repeat misunderstanding.

      1. @f1osaurus no, you can’t not apply a penalty because what he did actually made sense even though it contravened the rules.

        This is pretty logical, recognising the change isn’t a bad idea and making it clear in the notes.

        But also, the notes are different at every race.

        1. @justrhysism What Hamilton did did NOT contravene the written rules. It contravened the INTENTION of the rules. The rules did not say how far after the pit exit sign the practice start needed to happen.

          That’s what they added now with “prior to the derestriction line indicated by the white grid marking”

          1. +1
            & does he get his 10 secs back?

    9. Now the powers-that-be just need to make sure they actually follow the instructions, as they failed to do last race.

    10. I think it’s positive they recognised the rule was unclear and updated before the next race, to avoid similar incidents in the future. Rules will never cover all eventualities, so it’s reasonable to expect they are updated when unclear or incomplete.

      It could be debated all day whether Hamilton “deserved” the two 5 second penalties, given the lack of clarity in the rules, but its done with now. The one thing I would like to see going forward is a standard employed whereby if the rules don’t clearly cover the infringement (as was the case in this scenario) and the stewards cannot point to specific wording in either the regulations or the director’s notes that show a clear breach, that they stick to clarifications and warnings as much as possible. They massively impacted the race last weekend, based on a rule that was unclear and incomplete.

    11. Those penalties were the equivalent of being ticketed for going too slow in a 70 MPH zone.

      1. Be careful going to the Eifel, there are some stretches of the autobahn with minimum speed limits.

        1. I’m sure those minimums are clearly posted for all to see.

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