Hamilton penalty points rescinded by Russian GP stewards!
The Russian GP stewards have annulled their previous decision to add two penalty points to Lewis Hamilton’s superlicence for conducting pre-race practice starts out of their designated zone.
Hamilton conducted two practice starts on his out-lap to the grid, in an area far beyond the pitlane exit. The move was frowned upon by the officials who hit the Mercedes driver with two 5-second penalties, one for each violation, and two penalty points.
The six-time world champion was baffled by the 10-second penalty decision, saying after the event that the race officials were “trying to stop me”.
Earlier radio communication between the Mercedes pitwall and its driver revealed that Hamilton had asked his team as he exited the pits if he could make the practice starts in the specific zone, a query to which his team answered affirmatively.
Hamilton says race officials ‘are trying to stop me!’
However, a post-race clarification from Mercedes during a meeting between the team, Lewis Hamilton and the FIA stewards compelled the latter to rescind their decision and replace the punishment with a fine of €25,000 levied upon the Brackley squad for allowing the Briton to conduct a practice start in the wrong place.
“The stewards after the race heard from the team and the driver of car 44,” explained FIA director Michael Masi.
“Lewis and Mercedes spoke to the stewards, at which point it was actually a team instruction to Lewis where he could perform the practice starts.
“On that basis the stewards have just now rescinded the penalty points on both those decisions, because they thought it was inappropriate – and as a result, have fined the team €25,000 for that instruction.
“Lewis followed his team’s instruction and effectively, yes, it was him driving the car, however a contributing factor was that his team instructed him to do so at that point and therefore they saw fit to revise their decision accordingly.”
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The FIA stewards’ U-turn, while highly unusual, was welcomed and can only be perceived as fair.
But one wonders in hindsight why the team/driver radio communication, which was publicly disseminated minutes after the official notification of the FIA’s investigation before the start of the race, was not relied upon at that moment by the stewards to absolve Hamilton of any wrongdoing directly.
Hamilton’s penalty tally for the rolling 12-month period now sits once again at 8 points, or four points short of a one-race ban.
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