Hamilton's Italian GP "screwed" by "weird sequence of events" - Wolff
Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff believes Lewis Hamilton's Italian Grand Prix was "screwed" by what he claims was "a weird sequence of events"
Hamilton was cruising to what would have been the 90th Formula 1 victory of his career when the safety car was deployed on lap 21 at Monza after Kevin Magnussen sustained a power unit issue with his Haas.
With Magnussen parking his car close to the entry of the pitlane, FIA race director Michael Masi was forced to close it, only for Hamilton to dive into the pits to take on a fresh set of tyres.
Hamilton had missed two warning light panels on the outside of the Parabolica, while his team had also failed to spot a notification on one of the FIA communication screens notifying them of the pitlane closure.
The upshot was a 10-second stop-go penalty that dropped Hamilton to the back of the pack, sparking a charge through the field and a seventh-place finish.
Explaining what unfolded, Wolff said: "It was a weird sequence of events, I must say, that maybe we could’ve spotted earlier.
"The decisions that were taken were highly unusual, but they were absolutely within the rules. What happened was one of the Haas’ was parked to the right near the entry behind the rail on the inside of Parabolica.
"There was a single yellow and 11 seconds later a safety car was deployed. I don’t know why. This is what we couldn’t understand, why was the safety car deployed?
"They blocked the entry to the pitlane on red but it wasn’t exactly red, it was two yellow crosses on the outside [light panel] and no light on the inside, and we spotted it last minute.
"Back home [at Mercedes' Brackley headquarters], one of the strategists shouted into the radio [as to] why we were entering the pitlane. There was confusion because you prepare yourself for the pitstop to make it good.
"Everybody on the pitlane, including myself, were looking at the situation. Nobody looks at page four [of the timing screens] that the pitlane is closed. We can’t see the signs.
"This is just the sequence of events that screwed Lewis’ race. Not happy but you have to take it on the chin."
Wolff further added that there is no pitlane light at Monza that would have indicated it was closed, while the light panels were not visible from the pit wall.
"Lewis said ‘I didn’t see the lights’, and we didn’t see the lights," insisted Wolff.
"The only way of knowing the pitlane was closed was looking into this famous page of the [FIA] internet communications system where it said that.
"And nobody looks at that page when the safety car is deployed, the driver is just about to come into the pits, everything is concentrated around the pit stop.
"One of our guys back at the factory spotted that but it was too late. So unlucky, I would say, and a very unusual decision to just close the pitlane."
I know that the marshal's flags are displayed in the drivers displays, so isn't the 'Pit Lane Closed' warning also displayed on the .... er.. display..?
Er...there is no specific (waved) flag for a closed pit lane. Only a yellow cross on the (electronic) flag board, which can be tricky to see when it's on the outside of a 150mph corner. As the safety car had been deployed, Hamilton's display would only be showing SC (for safety car).
Watch the replay. Even in HD, I couldn't tell that the board was showing a yellow cross, instead of a solid yellow!
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