FIA explain why Russian GP stewards rescinded Hamilton penalty
FIA race director Michael Masi has explained radio messages from Mercedes to Lewis Hamilton were at the heart of the stewards' decision to rescind the penalty points handed to the six-time Formula 1 champion.
Hamilton was hit with two five-second time penalties for conducting practice starts in an incorrect location in the pit lane ahead of the Russian Grand Prix.
The championship leader was also hit with two penalty points on his super licence, one per infringement, taking his total to 10 for the rolling 12-month period, leaving him just two shy from a race ban.
“The stewards, after the race, heard from the team and from the driver of car 44, so Lewis and Mercedes spoke to the stewards, at which point it was actually a team instruction to Lewis of where he could perform the practice starts," explained Masi.
"On that basis, the stewards have rescinded the penalty points on both of those decisions because they thought it was inappropriate and, as a result, have fined the team €25,000 for that instruction."
Clarifying the decision was changed as a direct reaction to the instruction coming from the team, Masi added: “Correct.
"That Lewis followed his team's instruction and effectively yes, it was him driving the car, but a contributing factor was that his team instructed him to do so at that point and therefore they saw it fit to revise their decision accordingly.”
The radio exchange between Hamilton and race engineer Pete Bonnington was as follows:
Hamilton: “Can I go out further [from the pits] or not?”
Hamilton: “To the end of the pit wall?”
Bonnington: “Yes, copy. Leave enough room for cars to pass.”
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff claimed there to be no specific position for completing practice starts as Masi's event notes state that practice starts must be performed after the pit exit lights and to the right.
Masi, however, has pushed away the notion of there being ambiguity in the wording.
“I suggest there was probably a miscommunication between the team and the driver of car 44, because obviously Valtteri and all the other drivers used the exact practice start location where it was, immediately on the right after the pit exit lights,” insisted Masi.
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