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Nicholas Latifi

Why a previous Hamilton penalty should clear Latifi's penalty points

Nicholas Latifi was awarded three points on his F1 licence for an infringement under the safety car at the Azerbaijan GP. But, should he have been given those points after Lewis Hamilton had some penalty points rescinded for a similar incident. RacingNews365.com takes a look

Column
To news overview © Williams

Nicholas Latifi received a 10-second stop-go penalty which turned into a 30-second time penalty during Sunday's Azerbaijan GP for failing to enter the pitlane during the safety car. He was also awarded three penalty points on his F1 superlicence.

It's those penalty penalty points which Latifi should feel particularly hard done by because it was clearly a team error.

Latifi was told six consecutive times by his race engineer to "stay out" followed by the words “into the pit lane but no pit stop”.

The Williams driver questioned the call but it was too late as he went past the pitlane whilst everyone else pitted. His engineer immediately said "sorry" on the team radio.

"After [Max Verstappen’s] accident on the start-finish straight the race director ordered the cars to use the pit lane, as a tow truck and marshals were on the track to recover the damaged Red Bull car,” said the stewards.

"This was indicated by a light signal in good time before the pit lane entry. While all other cars followed the [Safety Car] into the pit lane, [Latifi] ignored the instruction, stayed on the straight and passed the scene of the recovery.

“During this process he overtook two other cars that drove properly through the pit lane. The stewards also found that all teams were informed in good time by radio and that his team asked [Latifi] to box."

However, the team radio clearly showed that it was a team mistake. At last year's Russian GP, Lewis Hamilton was initially given two penalty points when he made his pre-race practice starts in the wrong place.

But, the stewards reversed this decision based on evidence that it was Mercedes who were at fault rather than the team. Instead, Mercedes were fined €25,000 (£22,815).

"The Stewards 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," read a revised stewards' statement.

"This was confirmed by the Stewards having listened to the audio between the team and the driver.

"Based on this information the Stewards replace document 47 with this decision and therefore remove the penalty points imposed."

			© Mercedes
	© Mercedes

Latifi's Baku incident is no different to Hamilton's Sochi blunder so rather than penalty points, a fine for Williams would make more sense and would be consistent with what Hamilton and Mercedes received.

"There was nothing I could have done there," Latifi told RacingNews365.com and other select members of the press after the Azerbaijan GP. "I got the message to stay out so just a miscommunication. So it goes."

Latifi's time penalty, which was a fair punishment, was very costly because he finished in 13th when he took the chequered flag.

However, his penalty elevated Haas' Mick Schumacher into 13th bettered Williams' George Russell's two 14th places in Spain and Monaco.

This meant that Williams dropped to the bottom of the Constructors' Championship as Haas moved up to ninth which will have huge financial implications if it stays that way for the rest of the season.

RN365 News dossier F1 2021 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

The latest news about the Azerbaijan Grand Prix straight from the Baku City Circuit.

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