Logan Sargeant, Lewis Hamilton, Jeddah Corniche Circuit, 2024

Mercedes fined, Hamilton warned after “serious” near-miss with Sargeant

Formula 1

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Mercedes have been fined by the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix stewards after a near-miss between Lewis Hamilton and Logan Sargeant in second practice.

The team were told to pay €15,000 (£12,812) after committing a “serious failure” while Hamilton has received a formal warning.

Early on in the second practice session in Jeddah, Hamilton had backed off after completing his first flying lap of the session and attempted to allow Carlos Sainz Jnr behind him to overtake him. Hamilton slowed through the fast sequence of turns ten, 11, 12 at the end of the first sector as Sargeant approached behind them.

Sargeant was pushing after abandoning his previous attempt to set a quick time. When he moved to overtake the pair, he had to take to the outside of turn 11 over the outside kerb to avoid colliding with Hamilton.

Sainz, who observed the incident in front of him, reported the incident to Ferrari over team radio. “What Hamilton did there was super-dangerous,” he said.

After speaking to both drivers and teams, the stewards determined Hamilton impeded Sargeant and forced the Williams driver to take evasive action.

“Had that not been done,” the stewards said, “there would have been a serious, high-speed crash.”

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The stewards said Mercedes “failed to warn their driver of the fact car two [Sargeant] was arriving on a fast lap”.

“That was a serious failure on the part of the team particularly given the speeds on this circuit and the nature of turn 11, which is at the end of a series of high speed corners where driver visibility is impaired.”

Unlike reprimands, warnings do not accumulate over the course of the season, so Hamilton is not at risk of incurring a penalty if he collects more of them.

Mercedes’ €15,000 fine is less than they received for another near-miss involving Hamilton at the same circuit three years ago. The stewards fined the team €25,000 on that occasion and reprimanded Hamilton after Haas driver Nikita Mazepin was forced to avoid his Mercedes at turn eight.

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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38 comments on “Mercedes fined, Hamilton warned after “serious” near-miss with Sargeant”

  1. I do not quite understand f1 rules sometimes. What makes it likely one would receive a grid penalty when one impedes?

    1. In general grip penalties are only given when impedances occur during qualifying or the race. During practice they’re generally dismissed or given a financial penalty at most. Practice is treated more leniently because it’s practice, and impeding a driver doesn’t generally have any lasting effect beyond a ruined practice lap (notwithstanding a car being damaged, perhaps).

    2. In general their chances to be top 6. Weird but historically true

  2. this is why we don’t need another 2 cars, just saying

    1. This is why we don’t need any more street circuits imho.

      1. Or at least this sort of street circuit, more or less designed to generate issues like this.

      2. Amd ots not even a true street circuot as this one is a permanent circuit

        1. It is shocking that someone signed off on this circuit design from a safety point of view, it looks like it is designed to be deliberately dangerous.

    2. This happened on a grid with 20 cars. Therefore, this is why the grid should be only 10 cars.

  3. Another reason why we shouldn’t have street circuits like this one. Because of all the silly little corners with walled sides the drivers cannot see any distance behind them. And the engineers have other things to do besides monitoring the position of every other car on the track.

    1. Au contrairie mon ami, one of the responsibilities of the race engineer is to warn a driver of an approaching fast car so that they can move over and avoid situations like this. If you listen to team radios you will hear the engineer advising that a car is 15 seconds (or whatever) from catching the slower car; that’s how the drivers know to pull over even though, as especially on this course, they might not be able to see the faster car coming.

      Per Section 37.5 of the Sporting Regulations any driver who unnecessarily impedes another driver can be subjected to penalties.

  4. A driver always also has responsibility rather than only race engineer.

    1. But he can’t look through Sainz’ car. Hamilton has his moments, but it seems a bit of a stretch to blame him for this.

      1. MichaelN @oweng
        Maybe, but he should’ve simply avoided slow-driving on the racing line, which is something drivers should generally avoid, especially in blind corners or at the end of a high-speed section.

    2. No way Hamilton could have seen him coming in that part of the circuit.

      1. Good points about the walls on street circcuits. It makes me wonder, if the engineer has a duty to tell his driver of a faster car coming from behind, why doesn’t he also have a duty to warn the drivers of slower cars ahead?

    3. unless its max, right?

  5. 2nd thought. Shouldn’t it be the FIA that warns drivers that a car is approaching at high speed. They are the ones with all the GPS data and I would have thought it could be automated and a suitable warning given to the drivers ahead.

    And let the engineers, engineer.

    1. No, they have the event to run. It’s the participants’ job to do so in accordance with the rules.

    2. The engineer’s (who was onboard the race car) original job, in addition to applying oil and monitoring systems during the race, was to explicitly look out for oncoming traffic.

      Ray Harroun, in the 1911 Indianapolis 500, was unable to find someone to ride with him as a spotter, so he slapped a mirror on a couple of struts, and promptly won the race.

      He afterwards admitted the mirror was largely useless as it vibrated too much to be useful.

    3. @w-k The FIA already provides GPS on a best-effort basis to assist teams in warning the drivers. It is the teams’ job to determine which situations need the warning, and which ones they believe their driver is already aware of or otherwise doesn’t need to be informed about.

  6. The cars have GPS so just like we find in most family cars, during practice and qualifying, have a tone in the driver’s ear piece indicate that a car is approaching. I don’t see why F1 runs away from the use of technology to make the events safe and to enforce the rules.

    1. Ah yes, and let’s install airbags and stay in your lane technology too…

    2. The cars don’t have car-to-car communication, first, so car #44 has no way of knowing car #2 is about to come rocketing out of a blind corner behind it.

      Secondly, as combat pilots will tell you, it’s very easy to wind up with “information overload” with multiple tones and beeps. Add to that an engineer talking in your ear, and it gets a bit chaotic.

    3. @velocityboy There’s already a tone system for gear changes, which might by why there’s reluctance to use the same system for other elements – there’s only so many simultaneous tones a non-musician can track simultaneously.

    4. The cars have GPS so just like we find in most family cars,

      I’m pretty sure they don’t. Many family cars have satnav, and tell the driver which way to turn to an accuracy of up to about 30c at best, but they don’t transmit that information to anyone. F1 cars have a GPS sensor which relays the car’s approximate position to the engineer, but it also makes use of the sensor loops approx 100 to 200 meters apart all the way around the circuit and position augentation systems. GPS works at one packet per second and an F1 car can travel a long way in one second, so the way you derive position of an F1 car on a circuit is quite a bit different to the way you locate a car on a country lane.

  7. Best drivers in the world have a near miss, nobody hurt, nobody died, move on.

    1. I disagree,
      Best engineers and designers in the world, who should also be setting world standards for safety, surely there is a solution of some type? If my civic can work out when I’m at risk of not being able to stop for a car in front, then with all the data and know how in F1 it should be a no brainer.
      Either way, drivers know that is a blind section of track, maybe don’t go through there so slow on a cool down lap?

    2. Those “best drivers in the world” are intentionally creating hazards for each other and disobeying the rules.
      Nobody hurt – this time…. But not learning anything from it is a massive missed opportunity. Again.

  8. The track is like something from F-Zero GX. Wouldn’t it be cool if the cars could drive upside-down on the walls of a tunnel and there were powerups? No.

  9. some racing fan
    8th March 2024, 4:09

    Is it any wonder incidents like this happen at this shockingly dangerous track? Also the Saudi GP is a total abomination and should not be held

    1. I totally agree. Blame Hamilton all you want but the fact is this circuit should not be on the calendar. Something serious will happen here eventually. But the organisers and circus owner do not care, just as they won’t care when that moment comes. They will, in nice PR statements, but behind doors they will love the audience the stir brings.

    2. I dont get it either, suddenly track safety doesnt matter anymore (while many real racing tracks cant get approval for F1 anymore), for example all the fuss about eau rouge and how dangerous it is, half this track is blind high speed corners with nowhere to escape if someone suddenly crashes in front. I think it will just go on if/until something really serious happens.

      1. +1 totally agree with this. Not a fan of double standards for track safety.
        Spa/Eau Rouge is a good example. It has been redesigned and improved quite a bit, but this track with zero runoff is fine? Beats me how that can be the case.

  10. Funny seeing the disconnect between who is actually responsible for this type of (near) incident and why, and what some people instead attribute it to.

    The track can not be responsible in any way, shape or form for how fast or slow the driver travels along it.
    F1 drivers are regularly moaning – sorry, advising – that their competitors are driving too slowly, often on or near the racing line, and yet consistently do exactly the same thing themselves.
    It happens at every event, every year, without fail.

    I’m looking forward to the day it finally unravels on them with a truly enormous crash, since that’s clearly what it will take for them to realise that rules aren’t just created to only be words in a book that is largely ignored. They can’t rely on competitors being decent sportspeople – or even just decent people – anymore.

  11. The penalty is a joke, the warning means nothing and 15k is nothing to these folk.

  12. with all the telemetry you figure the geniuses on these teams could give the race engineers a break and write some software that throws up a warning or caution when ever someone is coming up behind you or in front of you at slow speed.

  13. The car driving upside down on the walls of a tunnel has already been done. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AvpSYrXdmio

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