Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Sochi Autodrom, 2016

Hamilton avoids penalty for qualifying error

2016 Russian Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton has been reprimanded by the stewards after failing to obey the rules regarding turn two during qualifying.

The Mercedes driver did not follow the instructions given to drivers for leaving the track at turn two. New rules were issued on Saturday morning requiring them to drive around a polystyrene block which had been positioned at the corner.

Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, Sochi Autodrom, 2016
Russian Grand Prix grid
This is Hamilton’s second reprimand of the year so far. If he collects another he will be given a ten place grid penalty. His first reprimand was for reversing in the pit lane in Bahrain.

The world champion will to line up tenth on the grid for tomorrow’s race, pending any further penalties. He said it will be difficult to make up places in tomorrow’s Russian Grand Prix following his power unit failure in qualifying.

“It’s not an easy track for overtaking,” he said. “With the levels of tyre degradation and it being so tough to follow here, it’s not going to be easy to make my way forward.”

“But there are long straights and we’ve got good pace, so if I can keep the car in one piece I’ll be fighting for decent points I’m sure.”

Hamilton’s power unit fault became apparent during Q2 and forced him to miss the final phase of qualifying. “I knew there was a problem and that it was probably the same failure that I had in China pretty much straight away,” he said.

“I went out for a second run in Q2 to get a feeler lap and felt the same power loss as last time. When it happened in Shanghai it was something we hadn’t seen before and now unfortunately it’s happened again, so we need to understand it.”

“I’ve never been superstitious about these things, though, and I never will be. There’s nothing I can do about it, so I’ll move on and look ahead to the race.”

2016 Russian Grand Prix

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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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43 comments on “Hamilton avoids penalty for qualifying error”

  1. Did kyvat get one for doing the same thing in practice ?

    1. No– The rule didn’t apply in practice. Which makes me wonder what the point of the rule is.

      1. But isn’t qualifying also classed as a practice session ? Seems strange to not even investigate kyvat for doing the same thing.

        1. ColdFly F1 (@)
          1st May 2016, 10:26

          How can it be ‘strange not to investigate’ if the rule did not exist/apply.

          1. @coldfly Because the rule did exist/apply at the time. It was mentioned before FP3 and as Kieth has said there’s nothing to indicate that it wasn’t in force for final practice. So it is strange that 2 drivers did the same thing after being notified but only one was punished.

      2. Tommy Scragend
        30th April 2016, 21:07

        The lap times in FP1, FP2 & FP3 don’t count for anything, unlike qualifying. I would have thought that is the difference.

        1. RaceProUK (@)
          30th April 2016, 22:20

          In the event that qualifying doesn’t happen, the grid would be set from the fastest lap times in FP3. So they do have the potential to count for something.

      3. The rule didn’t apply in practice

        The rule was announced before final practice and there’s nothing in the text of it to indicate it did not apply then:


        1. Hmm, seems a bit unfair that kyvat didn’t even get investigated and Hamilton got what’s effectively a suspended 3 place grid drop for it. I guess they are in Russia.

  2. Michael Brown (@)
    30th April 2016, 18:17

    A stupid rule.

    1. Why? It’s to ensure that cars leaving the track and rejoining do so in a safe manner.

      1. No it isn’t. As we saw in GP2 last year the bollard actually tends to squirt the rejoining car dangerously across the track at an oblique angle. It’s to stop drivers gaining an advantage.

        Since Lewis immediately abandoned the lap a penalty that is 1/3 of a 10-place grid drop is pretty disproportionate.

        1. RaceProUK (@)
          30th April 2016, 22:23

          Is the bollard driving the car?

          It’s the sole responsibility of the driver to rejoin the track safely, bollard or not. If the driver spears across the track, it’s the fault of the driver, not an inanimate polystyrene block.

          1. It doesn’t matter whose responsibility it is. The bollard is not there for safety.

          2. RaceProUK (@)
            1st May 2016, 0:05

            It doesn’t matter whose responsibility it is.

            Of course it matters; to suggest otherwise is just stupid.

            The bollard is not there for safety.

            It’s also not dangerous. And let’s not forget all those other polystyrene blocks at other race circuits with useful information like ‘PITS’, distance markers, and arrows showing where the track goes; this new bollard at Sochi is part of that last group.

          3. lockup (@)
            1st May 2016, 0:14

            It doesn’t matter in the context of the reprimand.

          4. RaceProUK (@)
            1st May 2016, 1:24

            So if it doesn’t matter whether the driver is responsible or not, why did Hamilton get a reprimand? Clearly it does matter, and clearly it’s the driver’s responsibility, and that is why he got the reprimand.

          5. Race pro? I don’t think so. Anyone can see its at an angle that is dangerous when rejoining. Not adequate when you take into account the options they have because of the size of the run off. That needs changing.
            And it’s there to prevent drivers gaining an advantage and subsequently punish them for missing the corner. In the race fair enough, in practice and quali just scrap the rule. Problem solved.

          6. RaceProUK (@)
            1st May 2016, 14:15

            Is the driver somehow incapable of turning left? Because that’s the only way your argument makes sense.

      2. Michael Brown (@)
        30th April 2016, 22:44

        Actually, the safest way for drivers to rejoin the track is do what Hamilton did, not reenter the track at a much lower speed and different angle than the cars behind him, which is what the stewards want.

        That kink should be removed, anyway.

        1. I don’t quite have the complete picture in my mind of what the driver is supposed to do physically due to this new rule, but suffice it to say…a) LH did not follow the new instruction, and b) the instructions leave it up to the driver to rejoin the track safely where they have instructed the drivers to do so.

          A bollard can’t squirt a car across, only a driver can, and only if he gets on the gas in front of an oncoming car dangerously which it is his responsibility to not do. And abandoning a lap has nothing to do do with not following an instruction.

          A reprimand that may result in nothing ever happening to LH out of this come seasons end, not helped by him giving himself a previous reprimand for reversing in the pits, is the best LH could have hoped for vs. an immediate and direct penalty, unless you think ignoring an instruction should just be ignored. What precedent would that set?

      3. Hamilton was on a flyer, no way in hell would a car be right behind him.

  3. I guess he will get the 10 place penalty soon having received 2 reprimands in 4 races out of 21. The third one and the consequent 10 place grid drop is just around the corner.

    1. Can’t come soon enough. ‘Teflon-Lewis’ is wearing thin

  4. Monza doesn’t allow cutting through their chincanes, why can’t they use that as an example and fix that corner, which is always going to be problematic??

    Either that or eliminate that kink from there…

    1. You mean Monza where you’re allowed all four wheels off the track exiting Ascari?

      1. I think @fer-no65 was referring to the first and second chicanes. They have polystyrene chicanes and kerbing to stop cutting.

        Personally, I’d eliminate the kink, it’s literally there for the sake of having it there. And while they’re at it, remove the entire event from the calendar.

  5. I think in practice something similar occurred when Hamilton was on the racing line and Kyvat was on a fast lap behind him. They both went off track with only Hamilton following the rules. Not a squeak was hea

  6. [sarcasm]
    This is unacceptable! Why steward always sided with HAM? This must be a conspiracy to hold ROS and spice up the championship! Lewis was very lucky today…

    1. Ha , thats really holding Roberg up , hes on pole and Hamilton 10th .

      1. RaceProUK (@)
        30th April 2016, 22:24

        You clearly didn’t read the sarcasm tags

  7. It is at times like this that Hamilton needs to show why he is the World Champion Driver.

    1. Frankly, I do not recall the world champ having this much crap in the first four races?

      I may be wrong but please enlighten me…

  8. I was watching this live. He was a long, long way away from going fully off. To drive further off the track, just to go the far side of the bollard, would have been dangerous and completely unnecessary.

    Once again a stupid reprimand issued by a sport disappearing up its own backside.

    1. Neil (@neilosjames)
      1st May 2016, 1:54

      I kind of thought the same… from the in-car, it looked like he made a brief steering motion towards driving way off the track to go around the bollard before deciding he wouldn’t make it, then carried on.

      Can see the benefit in the race, but not in qualifying.

      1. Yusha (@freebird78)
        1st May 2016, 7:19

        I was watching live and agree with you. He was carrying a lot of speed and I don’t see how he could have slowed and driven around the bollard as instructed. I don’t know what the stewards were smoking.

    2. He was a long, long way away from going fully off.

      Not according to the definition given by the stewards which said a driver who “passes completely to the left of the orange kerb element on the apex” had to go around the block.

  9. I don’t think he should have gotten a reprimand. In his case it would have been dangerous to go so far against the barriers and then rejoin the track at a steep angle.

  10. RaceProUK (@)
    1st May 2016, 3:23

    I must admit, I’m a little disappointed to see so many people claiming that rejoining the track on the opposite side to the racing line is dangerous, and especially disappointed to see the blame is being laid entirely on an inanimate block of polystyrene.

  11. Lee Porcelli
    1st May 2016, 8:46

    The rules are there for everyone.Mr sulky is about to blow.His interviews after qualifying were a disgrace.You listen to Button / Riccardo /Palmer etc and they will race hard with what they have.Should be a good race . interviews should be interesting to. Mr nice guy is about to turn back the clock.

  12. Bottom line, you’re not a F1 racer. About rules, if you have to make a split second decision to avoid potentially crashing, your instincts of survival kicks in. You’re not thinking about rules. It’s about survival. Regarding interviews; LH comes across as a philosophical realist. He doesn’t play to the politics of being a nice guy. He tells it as it is and as he feels. He knows he has to entertain (F1 is a sport)…but he’s his own man. That’s why he’s not a Button / Riccardo /Palmer etc.

  13. Lee Porcelli
    1st May 2016, 15:26

    Good luck on your next start.

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