Why did the stewards make their second U-turn this year on a Hamilton penalty call?

2020 Russian Grand Prix

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Stoffel Vandoorne’s eyes must have widened when stewards’ documents number 47 was issued early in Sunday’s Russian Grand Prix.

It confirmed that, following his second penalty for performing a pre-race practice start in an unapproved location, Lewis Hamilton had been given a second penalty point, giving him “a total of 10 points in the 12-month period”.

Vandoorne, Mercedes’ only reserve driver who is currently eligible to race in Formula 1, would have been well aware those 10 points meant Hamilton was only two away from incurring an automatic one-race ban. He may also have known that Hamilton will not have any expired points struck from his licence until the Turkish Grand Prix, three races from now.

The chances of Hamilton therefore triggering the ban, and Vandoorne get a call back to F1, had therefore increased significantly. “It’s ridiculous,” fumed Hamilton in the press conference after the race, vowing his driving would be “squeaky-clean moving forwards”.

However, almost four hours after the original decision was issued, Vandoorne’s hopes suffered a blow. Two further documents were issued by the stewards, announcing that both Hamilton’s penalty points had been rescinded.

He was therefore back down to a total of eight. That’s still on the high side, and more than any other driver has at the moment. But as F1 has never issued more than three penalty points for an individual incident, his chances of inadvertently triggering a ban had therefore being significantly reduced.

(F1 may not have done, but other series have. In F2 last year Nikita Mazepin was given four penalty points for causing a crash in Sochi, while at Paul Ricard earlier in the season Mahaveer Raghunathan received a trio of three-point penalties – a total of nine points – for a Virtual Safety Car infringement.)

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In previous seasons it has been highly unusual for the stewards to revise one of their decisions. Even more so in a case such as this, where there was no formal protest from a team.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Red Bull Ring, 2020
Hamilton was cleared, then penalised, in Austria
But this is the second time this year the stewards have changed a decision, both of which concerned Hamilton.

At the season-opening race in Austria he was investigated for failing to slow for yellow flags during qualifying. He was originally cleared over the incident on Saturday. But the following morning Red Bull petitioned the stewards to review the decision, which was upheld, and Hamilton was given a three-place grid penalty.

In Russia no formal review was submitted. However after Hamilton’s strong words about the penalty decision, in which he claimed the stewards were “trying to stop me”, he spoke to them about the decision, as he had done during the race stoppage at Monza when he was penalised for a pit entry violation.

Hamilton, Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff and the team’s sporting director Ron Meadows met with the stewards in person after the race. What was discussed and, most significantly, whether any new evidence was presented, is not clear.

There is a formal review process in place for teams to submit new evidence. This was how Red Bull succeeded in gaining a penalty for Hamilton in Austria, by drawing the stewards’ attention to recently-published footage which showed Hamilton had indeed passed a yellow flag without slowing.

This formal review process was not used in Sochi. So if Mercedes did not present any new evidence, why did the stewards decide to rescind those crucial two penalty points?

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When the stewards announced the revised decision, they stated they had “received information from the team that the driver of car 44 had received a team instruction to perform the practice start in the incorrect place.” But this detail was publicly known before the original verdict was issued.

The following exchange between Hamilton and race engineer Peter Bonnington was broadcast and reported here while the investigation was ongoing:

Hamilton There’s all rubber here, can I go further out?
Bonnington Affirm.
Hamilton To the end of the pit wall?
Bonnington Yeah, copy. Leave enough room for cars to pass.

Did the stewards overlook this seemingly crucial exchange when they made their original decision? If so, it begs the question whether they should have penalised Hamilton at all, and he should not have been docked 10 seconds in the race, which potentially cost him a victory.

That damage can’t be undone. But if he picks up two more penalty points in the next two races, that little chat with the stewards will have spared him a race ban.

Unless, of course, he gets a further two penalty points…

Quotes: Dieter Rencken

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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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117 comments on “Why did the stewards make their second U-turn this year on a Hamilton penalty call?”

  1. I think the stewards were probably looking for a way to back out of issuing the penalty points altogether, given how close it brought Hamilton to a race ban (which probably also explains the slightly strange original decision to issue one penalty point, rather than two, for each breach). Any port in a storm, as the saying goes.

    On the one hand we have the seemingly accepted (by the stewards) explanation that Mercedes gave permission for Hamilton to do his practice start at that spot, which means it’s their fault. Separately we have Mercedes saying that they didn’t realise exactly where Hamilton meant to perform his practice starts, which suggests that it was Hamilton rather than the Mercedes pit wall who were at fault. Both can’t be true – otherwise, by the same logic, Hamilton shouldn’t have been given any penalty points for entering a closed pit lane at Monza, since the team told him to come in. In fact any incident where the driver can point to a team instruction would mean that no penalty points were awarded – which is open to obvious abuse.

    1. I think your analysis is spot-on. I think the stewards regretted their decision but couldn’t bail out of it completely since the race was already over, so this was as good as it got

      1. I absolutely agree here. One rule for one one rule for another. Monza penalty points should be recindered immediately as this was a team order, perhaps the racing incident with Alex A, should also be removed too. Lewis is one of the most experience drivers out there and one of the fairest. Stewards get your act together.

    2. Didn’t I read on this site that the stewards assigned that discrepancy between HAM being told okay by team, but still doing it in wrong location to miscommunication @red-andy? Pretty sure that’s what they went with, and it works well with the rest of your post too.

    3. @red-andy If the stewards were looking for a way to not issue any penalty points, that would have been easier than this reduction, because Lewis was in compliance with the Articles identified in the original decision, according to the video shown. As such, upholding any part of the penalty is a breach of the FIA Statutes. For that matter, precedent says that five-second penalties get 1 penalty point each (2 penalty points are for ten-second penalties and 3 penalty points are for things more serious than that).

      1. @alianora-la-canta I don’t think that’s true. Hamilton got a five-second penalty and two penalty points for both his collisions with Albon (in Brazil and Austria). Furthermore he only got two penalty points for his pit lane violation at Monza despite the penalty being much more serious (10sec stop/go).

        Seems like the ‘precedent,’ if there do be one, is that two points is the standard amount to go along with a penalty, with the stewards having discretion to issue more or fewer points if there are particular aggravating or mitigating factors (as per the F2 examples given in the article).

        1. Leclec not no points for similar accident when he pushed Stohll off the track today

          1. nothing similar in that accident.. Lewis did not caused an accident.

          2. valerir, no penalty points attached to a zero-second “penalty” is standard practise.

        2. @red-andy Fair point, thank you for correcting me :)

    4. I dont know if this is possible, but these stewards have access to million cameras, do teams have access to decision room? I would very much like to see the stewards and race director’s conversation and see/hear who/what influenced, what kind of controversial conversation happened, esp would love to hear this Mika Salo’s side of events…

    5. According to team mate Bottas, the team did discuss all the specifics of the track pre race, like they do every GP weekend.
      One of the specific things is where to make the practice starts… Bottas was very clear about, the team did point out where to make the practice starts during the briefings.

      Lewis knew… why question the stewards original decision?

    6. Just love all these comments. But we all know why the stewards reversed their decision whether you want to admit it publicly or not – the colour of his skin.

      They were terrified that the woke little privileged boy Hamilton would slag them off for being racist.

      It’s as simple as that.

  2. It was quite an odd situation. There’s no denying that he/Mercedes broke the rules. The rear facing camera showing cars flying out of the pit-lane towards him, blind, was quite damning.

    I felt that the penalty points were wrong and I’m glad they U-turned. Hamilton clearly asked (to paraphrase) “can I do it here?” and was clearly told “yes”. To me this means it should be a team penalty and not a dangerous driving penalty, which should be the only thing (along with flagrant disregard of a rule) contributing to penalty points on a license.

    1. @ben-n Article 19.1 and 19.2 specifically say that’s the part where practise starts are meant to be done. Also, penalty points are connected with time penalties, so removing the penalty points requires removal of the time penalty also.

      1. Nope that is not true.

        4.2 With the exception of a reprimand or fine, when a penalty is applied under the International Sporting Code or Article 38.3 the stewards **may** impose penalty points on a driver’s Super Licence.

      2. No they don’t. The EV do not specify a ‘designated PS zone’. They make 3 requirements within the pit exit (which runs up to where the pit exit reaches the track):

        “PS may only be carried out on the right-hand side” (HAM was on the RH side)
        “after the pit exit lights” (as HAM clearly was!)
        “Leave adequate room on the left for drivers to pass” (HAM did, as you saw others go past)

        The penalties were wrong.

        My guess is Mercedes stated this after the race, and Masi realised he got it wrong.

        1. Its not allowed in the pit lane exit and that’s exactly where he did his starts..

            28.1 The section of track between the first safety car line and the beginning of the pit lane will be
            designated the “pit entry”.
            28.2 The section of track between the end of the pit lane and the second safety car line will be
            designated the “pit exit”.
            28.3 At no time may a car be reversed in the pit lane under its own power.
            28.4 The pit lane will be divided into two lanes, the lane closest to the pit wall will be designated
            the “fast lane” and may be no more than 3.5 metres wide, the lane closest to the garages will
            be designated the “inner lane”.

            If you consult the map that comes with the Event Notes, the Pit Exit goes from the line adjacent to the Pit Lane Exit lights to the track. In short, everyone did their practice starts in the pit exit. Hamilton just further down.

      3. That rule doesn’t specify a designated practice starts area, if it did Lewis would have broken the rules, but it just says “after the pit lane exit” (terms and conditions apply)! Event Note 19.1, as Gav above has stated, says “Practice starts may only be carried out on the right-hand side after the pit exit lights and, for the avoidance of doubt, this includes any time the pit exit is open for the race.” (My thanks to Joff81 for showing me this). Since it doesn’t specify where “after the pit lane exit” finishes, one has to assume it finishes at some logical place, like the pit lane entrance. Therefore Lewis didn’t break the rules because he did it “after the pit exit lights” and before the pit lane entrance. The rule should say some phrasing restricting where someone can do their practice starts such as “within 200 metres of the pit lane exit” or “in the designated practice start area”. They should at least hand back the fine they gave to Mercedes!

    2. I’m not convinced that in the designated area that the driver can see other drivers exiting the pit lane.

    3. @ben-n there might be some complaining about inconsistent stewarding because, during the Belgian Grand Prix, it has been confirmed that Leclerc committed exactly the same offence as Hamilton, only for the stewards to issue no penalty to Leclerc for it. In the case of Leclerc, it seems that there wasn’t even the justification that the team told him to do the practice start from there – he seems to have decided upon it himself.

      If you go to the official documents for the 2020 Belgian GP on the FIA’s website, you will find that there was an investigation into Leclerc for driving unnecessarily slowly to the grid on the reconnaissance lap.

      The stewards would clear Leclerc for his slow lap to the grid on the following grounds:
      The Stewards heard from the driver of Car 16 (Charles Leclerc) and team representative and noted the report from the Race Director.

      The Race Director’s Note to Teams (document 16) specified a maximum time of 2:04.0 between the Safety Car lines and car 16 recorded a time of 2:06.087.

      However, the Team advised that the driver had crossed SC2 line hence triggering the timing for the lap, then stopped for approximately 12 seconds to perform a practice start, then completed the Reconnaissance Lap. This was independently verified by the Stewards from the on board video of Car 16. Accordingly, no breach was determined to have occurred.

      However, according to the event notes for the Belgian Grand Prix, practice starts could only be undertaken in the following areas:
      18) Practice starts
      18.1) During each practice session, practice starts may only be carried out on the right-hand side after leaving the pit lane. These must be done prior to the SC2 line and with all four wheels between the white line on the right-hand edge of the pit exit and the wall.

      18.2) During the time the pit exit is open for the race, practice starts may be carried out on the track after the pit exit before the SC2 line. Drivers wishing to carry out a practice start should stop wholly within the pit exit in order to allow other cars to pass on their left (the area bordered by red in the photograph on page 5). During this time any driver passing a car which has stopped to carry out a practice start may cross the white line that is referred to in 19.1 below.

      The statement by the stewards explicitly confirms that Leclerc stopped after Safety Car Line 2 in order to undertake a practice start. According to the event notes, drivers were supposed to stop in an explicitly defined zone before Safety Car Line 2 to undertake practice starts.

      However, even though their own investigation provided explicit confirmation that Leclerc was undertaking a practice start outside of the designated area, the stewards took no action against Leclerc. You can see why there might be some wondering why, if Leclerc was not penalised for that offence only a couple of races earlier, why Hamilton was then given penalties during the race and faced a threat of being given penalty points as well.

      1. This is the kind of quality sleuthing that I come to the comments section hoping to find. Thank you!

        1. Yes, very good, Anon

      2. It also proves that the quality of stewarding is deteriorating rapidly under the current leadership. Maybe the job of running this is too much for one person.

      3. If you can break the rules without being penalized, why bother with rules at all?

        If anything, this proves they were wrong about Leclerc in Belgium, not that the current decision is wrong.

      4. Leclerc got a penalty for a slow laptime though. Which was rescinded because he wasn’t actually slow, but simply started later than the timing (triggered by leaving the pit exit) would suggest.

      5. @anon I take it ‘committed exactly the same offence’ is your wording/opinion, not that of any F1 officials?

        Since it is unlikely that there is some conspiracy to somehow penalize LH if at all possible, I think it is much more likely that Leclerc’s ‘indiscretion’ in Belgium was different, and I would suggest far less dangerous. I suggest the differences were that in Belgium CL did the practice start in question at the beginning of his reconnaissance lap prior to the race start, ie. not during a practice session. So, were there cars behind CL that were surprised to see him there doing a practice start? Did they suddenly see him and jink their wheel to assure themselves in case he suddenly moved toward them, because they were passing the line and stomping on it? On their reconnaissance lap? Was CL fairly far past the SC2 line? Far enough past such that his own team had a ‘yikes’ moment where they thought the stewards would not like his position? Where CL stopped to do his recon lap practice start, was he perhaps visible to cars behind him moreso than LH was in Russia?

        No, I say CL in Belgium was far from the exact same offence as LH. LH (the team) did his offence twice, and it was during a practice session when cars could naturally be expected to be coming out of the pits behind LH and stomping on it past the line. It was also about his position which was far enough past the line that once the team clued in to how far past LH was going and then stopping, they knew the stewards wouldn’t like it. They knew that during a practice session (compared to a recon lap) cars would be flying out of the pit exit past LH and that he was stopping unusually far down the road and taking drivers by surprise in doing so.

        Not the same as CL in Belgium whatsoever, so the stewards were indeed not inconsistent between Belgium with CL and Russia with LH.

        1. @robbie – did you just seriously say that LH committed the offence during a practice session?

          1. @sebsronnie Yeah my bad, they’re actually called warm-up laps. Doesn’t change my argument.

        2. @robbie I am not saying that there is a conspiracy theory – that is you putting words into my mouth – but rather a question of inconsistency in the stewarding (the old dictum of “be careful of ascribing to malice what can be explained by incompetence”).

          I have put forward my opinion that stewarding standards have declined in recent years, with the inconsistent application of rules and some stewards even admitting that they have held different drivers to different standards, but feel that the case of Leclerc in Spa was more a case of sloppiness on the part of the stewards for not noticing that Leclerc had stopped to undertake a practice start in an area where the event rules explicitly stated he should not be doing so.

          Your argument seems to be to try and find mitigating circumstances for Leclerc’s actions, but that does not change the fundamental aspect that the event notes explicitly stated a location where a practice start could be undertaken and the documentation clearly shows his practice start took place outside of that designated zone.

          None of the factors which you list in your argument were mentioned in the judgement by the stewards in Sochi – the only question considered was “did Hamilton undertake his practice start in the permitted area or not?” and, in that case, they decided that he did not and therefore they penalised him.

          If the sole criteria that the stewards have applied was “did driver X undertake their practice start in the permitted area or not”, then it is unequivocal that Leclerc did not undertake his practice start in the correct location and thus there should have been a consistent application of penalties.

          1. @anon thank you for greatly explaining this non-sense penalties applied left and right inconsistently based on individuals, and some coach potatoes defending non-consistent penalties when it suits certain individual grudges… i wish/hope mercedes find this and provide a ground for appealing the penalty if not even harsly sue the stewards as well… this is a perfect example of double standards… first fia allowed ferrari to keep their points despite it is super duper obvious that they were cheating in their engine, and let them get away with it with points/price money and worst hiding it and become accomplice of the crime… then these silly in consistent penalties that never been issues before or not without warning/reprimanding first! I have a strong opinion that there is some conflict of interest among fia/personnel… fia: trying to spice things up, they issue controversial penalties, personnel: leaking official info before it has been released esp not confirming/talking with drivers/teams first! esp second one has huge repercussions….

          2. @anon Could have worded that better, as I wasn’t trying to portray you as a conspiracy theorist, but rather was making a comment that I personally don’t subscribe to the concept that there is a movement to ‘stop’ LH. I can see how that looks like I was accusing you, nonetheless.

            I think we can agree there has always been shades of grey in countless situations in F1, there’s been skewing, and yeah sometimes they get it wrong, or miss something, and often their ‘correctness’ is simply depending on who one roots for, though, and I generally just cede, like I have a choice, that whatever happens happens, and it’s part of the story of F1, as imperfect as it can be, like all entities in life.

            For sure CL started where he did and it wasn’t in the right position, we now know that only from Ferrari’s admission to the stewards. It doesn’t seem like there is footage, is there? Other than of course from his car, which was only reviewed after the fact. In other words, they (the stewards or anyone who would normally care and have power to report a concern) could have missed the actual occurrence, ie. presumably did miss it.

            If you look at the chronology, CL did his recon lap at 14:38, the stewards request to meet over a too slow lap they’d observed was formalized about an hour later during the race at 15:42, and it is to see Ferrari after the race at 17:30.

            I would suggest that what was different here is that yes CL did the wrong thing, but all the stewards had to go by initially was the slow lap time by 2 secs, hardly a high crime, yet investigate they would. An infraction it is. Hardly anything that would stand out to them as something dangerous having occurred to cause a mere 2 second error. They’ll discuss it with the team afterwards. Small potatoes.

            So as I see it, they only discovered the erroneous practice start after the race, only by Ferrari’s own admission through the slow lap investigation at which point what were they to do? Yeah they then looked at the on-board footage and had their proof, like Ferrari admitting it wasn’t enough. What penalty though at this point? CL had a miserable day. Out of the points. They had proof of a badly positioned start, but it went under the radar through nobodies fault, stuff happens. No doubt CL was sternly made aware of his indiscretion.

            I suggest that either through footage or from one of the drivers that were a bit surprised at seeing LH sitting there and perhaps making a comment on the radio, the stewards had immediate eyes on his actions, or attention drawn to them by someone, and that became the investigation, eyes that never were on CL in Belgium at that moment of his error.

          3. @robbie glad to clear up some of that confusion then.

            With regards to Leclerc, the issue is that, even if they initially missed Leclerc undertaking a practice start in the wrong place, I am of the opinion that it should have been properly investigated once it was brought to their attention. We have seen that the stewards have taken the decision in some races to reopen investigations if new information comes to light that indicates an initial breach of the rules was missed, so that shouldn’t really have been a limiting factor.

            The fact that Leclerc had a miserable day and finished out of the points really shouldn’t be a factor in ignoring a penalty – as a principle of governance, the rules should be applied consistently irrespective of how good or bad the race has been for that driver (and besides, we’ve seen teams that have finished outside of the points being penalised for similar infractions).

            Equally, whilst you say that “No doubt CL was sternly made aware of his indiscretion.”, actually, it appears that nobody bothered telling him. There is feedback that the stewards seem to have spotted that he was out of position for that practice start, but decided that it wasn’t worth the hassle of investigating it – basically, it was more convenient for them and the other parties involved to just let it slip. The indication is that the stewards probably didn’t even raise the issue with Ferrari or Leclerc, so it’s quite likely that Leclerc was never made aware of his indiscretion.

            The issue is that it gives an impression of poor and lazy management on the part of the stewards and, if anything, it seems to be that the more common complaint is that Leclerc is being given overly lenient treatment by the stewards – and the apparent conflict in interests that Jean Todt has, due to his son being Leclerc’s manager, only worsens that impression.

            Even if the breach was minor, it should have at least been acknowledged, not just brushed to one side because it was a nuisance to investigate it. As it is, it is now causing problems because we are now getting the arguments over why there was no attempt to even investigate the issue.

            It is why there are an increasing number of calls for the FIA to make being a race steward a professional occupation, with increased standards to become a steward, and for further transparency into the process – to introduce a greater degree of consistency in interpretation and as a quality control measure (as, unfortunately, some of the driver stewards in particular have indicated they have been biased or inconsistent in their interpretation of the rules).

          4. @anon Not sure quite where to go with your new assertion that the stewards saw CL’s practice start taking place and ignored it. That would have meant that they would not have had to investigate him for a too-slow recon lap, for they would have seen why he was too slow while it was happening and would have penalized him much more immediately like they did LH. I understand your issue with stewarding inconsistency, and acknowledge sometimes that exists and sometimes that depends on the driver or the circumstances, but I think overwhelmingly they are quite unbiased and consistent.

            I can only go by the stewards’ letter from 15:42 while the race was on that they wanted to see CL/Ferrari after the race at 17:30 for his too-slow lap at 14:38. One would think that if they were looking to avoid bothering CL or Ferrari they would have just thought any investigation at all would have not been worth the hassle as you put it. ie. it allegedly wasn’t worth the hassle to penalize him for the incorrectly placed practice start that they witnessed, so they ignored that, but still called on them after the race to explain why the too-slow recon lap? Doesn’t add up to me.

            No, I’m convinced by the time the stewards got to do their investigation at which point they were told CL did a practice start after SC2 line, the race was done, he was out of the points, and so what penalty were they to apply by then? A fine I suppose? Or something that would affect him for the next race? That wouldn’t seem fair to me either. For LH it was 5 seconds twice, so it should have been 5 seconds for CL. I suggest all they could do was remind him not to do that again.

            Anyway, bottom line for me is that you initially asserted that CL got away with the exact same crime as LH was penalized for, and I remain firm that the two incidence were not exactly the same in how the stewards received the information for their investigations, and so this was not so much about intentional inconsistencies with the stewards but rather just a different set of circumstances. It wasn’t sloppiness nor Ferrari favouritism. They didn’t miss the too-slow lap, just the reason why, and chose to investigate (did their jobs) and I guess it would appear they don’t have external eyes on all cars at all times, so if nobody points out an indiscretion such that they can then go to the on-boards, is it their fault that F1 doesn’t have cameras on every car at all times?

          5. @to whom it may concern:
            “at which point they were told CL did a practice start after SC2 line, the race was done,he was out of the points, and so what penalty were they to apply by then?”

            it further proves that someone people cant put 2+2 together… it is either they only follow person/people of interest? or they are doing a very lousy job of stewarding! Because when it is some person of interest, oh boy they are burning the midnight oil and some… i would love to believe it is latter, like some whoever is concerned, must quite likely to be so ignorant to think that way! since a person of interest is being investigated so frequently and punished left and right, it cant be blatantly ignored… just because someone is so ignorant of the facts, doesnt mean everyone else cant see it…

      6. Bravo. Nice sleuthing– I didn’t catch the bit at Spa with LeClerc.

        The whole investigation at Sochi seemed rushed– the director’s notes were unclear, the decision invoked article 36.1 which doesn’t apply to that section of the pit exit and someone (whether or not it was Salo) tipped off the press that Hamilton was getting two separate penalties at 5 seconds each.

        The whole thing stinks like rotten fish, and whether there is a conspiracy or not, the FIA should be trying to avoid the appearance of one.

    4. In a way, the race directorsnnotes fornthis event are open for multiple explanations…

      Practice starts
      19.1 Practice starts may only be carried out on the right-hand side after the pit exit lights and, for the
      avoidance of doubt, this includes any time the pit exit is open for the race.
      Drivers must leave adequate room on their left for another driver to pass.

      The map shows this area extends to where the white pit exit line stops. He was on the right side and located after the pitnexit lights, so far obeying thenrules…. the only debatable issue is, was there enough room for other drivers?

      Where everybody else, including botas, did there practice starts, there is a bit of space to the side of the fast lane. It appears that this isnt true for the spot where hamilton did his practice starts

      1. It appears that this isnt true for the spot where hamilton did his practice starts

        Except that from the video broadcast, a couple of cars passed by while he was stationary and there was definitely enough room in his left for them.

      2. No, Hamilton did his starts in the only other safe space to do a practice start on the pit exit– which is why it’s odd that the team said “OK” to “going to the end of the pit wall”.

    5. There’s no denying that he/Mercedes broke the rules.

      Actually, there’s a very strong case to be made that they did not break the rules as argued here: https://www.reddit.com/r/formula1/comments/j1b2il/why_hamiltons_penalty_was_incorrect/. The rear facing camera view that you refer to really has no relevance to this case.

      1. @sebsronnie I don’t think your link exonerates LH as the Event Notes say one can do a practice ‘after the pit lights’ on the right hand side. After the pit lights does not mean so far down the pit exit that cars coming from behind are caught by surprise seeing a car stopped there.

        1. @robbie – I’m sorry but saying:

          After the pit lights does not mean so far down the pit exit that cars coming from behind are caught by surprise seeing a car stopped there

          is your opinion and is not supported by the Race Director’s notes:
          19.1 Practice starts may only be carried out on the right-hand side after the pit exit lights and, for the avoidance of doubt, this includes any time the pit exit is open for the race. Drivers must leave adequate room on their left for another driver to pass.
          There are only two issues: Did he do his practice start after the pit exit lights and did he leave adequate room on his left for other drivers to pass? The answer is a clear Yes to each of them. Any “but” means you’re moving into subjective territory which is a clear sign that the notes/rules as written are not fit for purpose – at least for the purpose of doling out penalties.

          1. @sebsronnie Yet penalized he was, and even the team admitted where he was stopping was not going to be liked by F1. That indicates to me they understand that after the lights does not mean way way after the lights such that upcoming drivers will be surprised there’s a cars stopped there.

          2. @robbie: “where he was stopping was not going to be liked by F1.” noone has to like anything, rule states wording that is open to interpretation, everything ham did fits into the wording since Massi himself said: they dont paint a location/line! Since it is not defined specifically, they cant penalize definitively… as anon pointed out about same situation by leclerc in spa race, you are still barking up personal grudge while excluding/ignoring the very facts of the matter…

          3. @mysticus I’m not ignoring the facts of the matter whatsoever given that LH/the team was penalized, nor given that Mercedes weren’t surprised to get what they at least expected to be a stern dressing down ie. they didn’t initially know LH went where he did (lack of communication?) and once they found out they had a bit of an ‘uh oh’ moment.

            So for me the bottom line is that it is taking some licence to claim on a technicality they didn’t do anything wrong, when the fact is nobody else was doing this, not even VB, nor do drivers commonly go all the way down to the pit lane exit to practice starts. There’s danger in doing that. Perhaps saying ‘after the lights’ as is the case for all the tracks, should have been sufficient by Masi’s thinking, as it meant to him, or whoever is in charge of the wording of the event notes, ‘not all the way down at the pit exit, because after all, you don’t do that normally anywhere, anyway.’

            I doubt LH, if he wanted to, would have much luck with the drivers if he tried to get them to all agree from now on they should be able to do what he did. I’d say the majority would say ‘no thanks it’s better we do starts just after the exit lights where the guy behind can see the car ahead and what he is doing and we aren’t approaching him at speed. We like it the way it is, thanks. There are reasons we do it the way we do it.’