Hamilton and Russell avoid penalty for first-corner crash, Alonso reprimanded

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Lewis Hamilton and George Russell avoided penalties after colliding with each other at the first corner as the Qatar Grand Prix began.

The stewards examined the incidents involving the two Mercedes drivers but ruled it was a lap one racing incident and neither of them should be considered responsible.

Hamilton, who started the race from third place on soft tyres, was trying to pass Russell and pole winner Max Verstappen, both on the medium tyre compound, on the outside of turn one. However the two Mercedes cars made contact, Hamilton’s right-rear wheel to Russell’s left-front, pitching both off the track. Russell was able to continue but Hamilton retired on the spot.

After reviewing footage of the incident, and considering whether Hamilton should be considered chiefly to blame, the stewards decided to punish neither driver.

“Whilst the argument can be made that car 44 [Hamilton] was predominantly at fault, the stewards, taking into account that the incident happened in lap one and several cars were involved, determine that the incident is considered as a typical ‘lap one, turn one’ incident and no driver is wholly at fault,” they noted. “Therefore no further action is taken.”

Hamilton initially blamed Russell for the collision, then accepted responsibility after viewing a replay of it. “I definitely appreciate him apologising for that, for sure,” said Russell. “As I said on the radio in every incident it involves two people and definitely appreciate what he said.”

The stewards issued a reprimand for Fernando Alonso for a separate incident in which he left the track at turn two and came back onto it close to Charles Leclerc. This was deemed an unsafe manouevre.

“Car 14 [Alonso] went off track in turn two, continued on the run-off and rejoined at high speed
right in front of car 16 [Leclerc],” the stewards noted. “Although car 16 did not have to take any evasive measures, the stewards determine that given the speed and the angle in which car 14 came
back on track, he rejoined in an unsafe manner.”

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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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26 comments on “Hamilton and Russell avoid penalty for first-corner crash, Alonso reprimanded”

  1. That incident with Hamilton and Russell was just amateur hour stuff. If you’re on the outside, even if ahead, you give the inside driver room. Did Lewis forget what happened to Max in Silverstone? Did he forget that staying wide in turn 1 would give him the inside line for turn 2? Did he forget there were 57 more laps? Or did he forget that above all you don’t collide with your teammate? Perez is handing him 2nd in the championship on a silver platter and he turns it away just like that…

  2. I can only assume the stewards had run out of penalty forms after using them all up on track limit offences. Both incidents clearly merited penalties, although I’m unsurprised that Hamilton got away without one as “causing a collision” incidents are often overlooked if the culpable driver is the one to retire.

  3. Hamilton was 100% at fault for that incident and I refuse to accept any explanation that somehow makes it seem that Russell was even slightly at fault here, that is a ridiculous conclusion to have. I think it’s fine to still end it with a conclusion of “lap 1 incident, no further action,” but come on, when apportioning blame like the Stewards always do, how was this not a “wholly on the guy that turns in on the other guy that has nowhere else to go” incident?

    1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
      9th October 2023, 8:23

      I think the only reason Hamilton doesn’t have a grid penalty for next race is because it is a team mate collision. They just don’t get penalties.

      Hamilton & Rosberg – Spa 2014, Spain 2016, Austria 2016.

      Ricciardo & Verstappen – Baku 2018. Although in Hungary, this year, verstappen actually did get a penalty for knocking ricciardo out. Very rare.

      Vettel & Leclerc – Brazil 2019

      Perez & Ocon – Baku 2017, Spa 2017 and I don’t think these were the only occasions between these two.

      Basically, they virtually never penalise team mate clashes.

      1. This is it, they don’t. There is no reason for this though, as the sporting regulations make no exceptions for incidents involving teammates. It’s just the usual ‘make it up as we go along’ silliness from the FIA.

        1. It’s just the usual ‘make it up as we go along’ silliness from the FIA.

          In this case, it’s the usual “we’ll just keep doing what we’ve always done, even though the rules specifically say otherwise.”

        2. Lest we forget VER impeding another team, that is actually the junior team, a few races ago. The other team didn’t show up to complain about impeding.

      2. @thegianthogweed Gasly & Ocon in Australia this year too. I agree with MichaelN – there is no reason teammate collisions should be treated any differently to incidents involving other teams. An incident is dangerous or not, and it is poor driving standards or not, regardless of who is involved. It is especially silly in seasons where the only competition for the drivers’ championship is between two teammates in the best car, but since the teams are happy the way it is, this is the way it will stay.

        1. There is a very relevant reason.

          Punishing the offender hurts the team, its not a collective punishment. Also FIA/stewards for all there massive incompetence grasp that fact most of the times.

          The stewards considered it a racing accident. Mitigating factors in play was first lap status and same team. Whether you agree or not excluding personal bias.

      3. I disagree that it’s only, or even mainly, because they were teammates. L1T1 incidents are looked on very leniently in general, plus where the driver at fault retires due to the incident they rarely impose additional penalties (especially where they are the only one unable to continue). It would have been abnormal for a driver to receive a penalty with both of these being the case, even if they’d been from different teams.

        1. On the other hand, Russell would have likely ended the race P2 had Hamilton not punted him off of the track. And it was very close and Verstappen would have had an off/retirement too. I’m kind of done with the FIA judging incidents based on outcome and who’s involved and who is teammates and who isn’t. You can judge lap 1 incidents less harshly, bit of wheel banging here and there isn’t going to hurt. But straight up crashes should be judged for what they are, race wrecking events.

          Black and white stewarding might be hard to do, but these simple things don’t fall under that as far as I’m concerned.

          1. I don’t actually disagree with you at all. I don’t think that lap 1 incidents, or incidents between teammates, should be judged differently at all. I’m all for black-and-white, strictly-defined rules, and hate the amount of discretion the stewards have in deciding whether someone gained an advantage etc.

            I also think that who is “predominantly to blame” should make no difference. If both share some blame, penalise each according to their own actions. The same goes for a “racing incident” where both are equally to blame. They shouldn’t both be let off just because the other driver was just as much at fault as them. Punish both according to their individual actions.

            Finally, I don’t think drivers should be let off when they were at fault just because they crashed out. That’s their own fault, and is a consequence of their own actions, not a punishment.

            However, my comment was about the way things are, not how I would like them to be. This is how the stewards apply the rules right now, and so it is normal and in line with previous precedents that Hamilton wouldn’t get penalised for this. It would have been very strange had an additional punishment been handed down for this.

    2. I agree on both counts. It was 100% Lewis fault and it doesn’t need to be penalised. These things happen, especially on a first lap. No big, just very unfortunate.

  4. Hamilton’s behaviour here and in Japan where he pushed Russell off the road, the radio whinges, the misjudged lunges, all suggests desperation from a failing talent who has a self belief which is a past reality. He still demonstrates his previous brilliance but increasingly frequently delivers merely average* performances.

    He should retire while we remember the brilliance not the fading which can only get worse.

    * His average is still better than most of the grid.

    1. I don’t draw the same conclusions as you but it’s a worry, the number of clumsy accidents he’s got himself into recently. Add what he did to Piastri at Monza, and the Singapore first corner, and it’s reminding me of Michael Schumacher near the end of his comeback.

    2. I feared for this when he decided to enter the 2022 season, which imho he should have never done. He should have retired right then. It was clear that even with better material he couldn’t beat the new kid on the block anymore, which also holds a huge age advantage over him. It was very predictable how the next seasons would unfold. And on top of that he would no longer have Bottas by his side, but George. He now runs the risk of being perceived ‘exposed’ as Vettel was. However unjust, since I believe Vettel truly is not very talented and has never been and Hamilton is. Vettel just (or ‘only’) had a stellar car and couldn’t win anything if not starting from the front row which is totally different to Lewis. While Lewis tally of 7 titles present a distorted view of his level (the car dominance was just way out the window) it does not diminish his results as much as it did with Vettel. I think Lewis is a very gifted and talented driver and one of the better ones out there. I just fear he and his fans got fooled slightly by the total package he got delivered by Mercedes which disproportionally influenced the number of WDCs he achieved.

  5. Classic Hamilton. Fear he might be doing a career Vettel.

  6. More FIA silliness as others have said. ALO joined the track in an unsafe manner, period, regardless of if he caused a collision or another driver had to take evasive action. He came out of the runoff and went across the track in an uncontrolled fashion. Penalty.

  7. Not sure who really is to blame for Lewis/george…as they had talked about it earlier in the team briefing, so George knew they were on different stratagies. and tyres, so would have expected Lewis to come past, so should have been watching….

    1. Not sure where that changes the outcome tho? Or blame?

      Or are you saying they crashed because George didnt see Lewis?

    2. I’m sure George knew and I’m sure he saw Lewis coming. There was plenty of room for Lewis on the outside. He just misjudged it and turned in on George.

  8. This whas a massive misses opportunity for Mercedes. First in its simplicity, it was predomintly Hamiltons fault. With that out of the way i believe it was 98% Russels fault. (Russell fan here:)

    As soon as i saw Hamilton on reds i thought Mercedes have plan! Based on the sprint start (Russels mega start on softs)

    Hamiltons tries to get Max in the start and Russell and Ham force Redbull to adapt strategy according to Mercedes. Thats what i think the plan whas.

    Bonuses are if George gets ahead of Max. Not lightly since Russell is on the slower side on a very dirty track. But Russel is on the optimal tire (better than Hamilton) and a chance to grab spoils of the table.

    Which is totaly baffling to me why Russell swerved left!!! Why did he not stay tucked in behind Max? By swerving towards Hamilton, forcing Hamilton to focus less ahead he compromises Hamiltons corner approach and the overtake on Max who is hugging the inner line (wrong side). I also think Hamilton expected George to yield because of the strategy. To me he should have dummied Max as to the right over the whiteline! Taking as much of Max´s attention as possible. Maximizing Hamilton overtake on Max, was to Russels benifit since he had the better tire strategy. And had that happened Redbull would have a very complicated time managing the race because multiple factors to account, not least the Mclarens. For that reason Russel messed up 100% in my book.
    The red tire only lasted 5-6 laps before overheating. Russell was looking at p2 finish.

    Hamilton has taken 100% blame and apologized the stewards cited racing incident.
    To me Russel disregarded the plan and thats why i feel he is at fault. Even if Mercedes didnt plan the start which is highly unlikely the soft tire grip was so great that Russel should have smarter about with his first hand experience.

    1. This 100%

    2. common sense at last, 100%

  9. It just about looked like Hammie was on a ’21 Silverstone trip.

  10. I am sure that Hamilton will still disappoint his haters

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