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FIA

Why wasn't Hamilton given more than a ten second penalty?

FIA Race Director Michael Masi has explained why Lewis Hamilton wasn't given more than a 10 second penalty after being found predominantly at fault for the crash that eliminated Max Verstappen.

Article
To news overview © Mercedes

The FIA's Race Director Michael Masi has explained why Lewis Hamilton wasn't given a bigger penalty than a ten second time penalty, despite being found predominantly at fault for the accident that took Red Bull's Max Verstappen out of the race.

While Hamilton was given a ten second time penalty, which he could serve at his pit stop, the penalty wans't enough to stop him from recovering to win the race after overtaking Ferrari's Charles Leclerc with three laps to go. In light of the winning driver having taken out his main rival for the race win, Masi explained that the context of an incident is not taken into consideration.

"I think one of the big parts that's been a mainstay for many, many years, is that, and this came through discussions prior to my time, between all of the teams, the FIA and F1 and the team principals were all quite adamant that you should not consider the consequences in an incident," Masi told media, including RacingNews365, after the race.

"So when they are judging incidents is that they judge the incident itself. And the merits of the incident, not what happens afterwards as a consequence.

"And that's been something that the stewards have done for many years. And have been advised to do from the top down so, and I'm talking team involvement, and so forth. So that's the way that the stewards judge it because, if you start taking consequences into account, there's so many variables, rather than judging the incident itself on its merits."

Asked whether this approach, which wouldn't have 'redressed the balance' in Red Bull's eyes given Hamilton's ability to come back and win the race, is the correct one to take, Masi explained that this stewarding direction was one that the teams all agreed upon.

"I think if you look at it on that basis, you'll never find a penalty that would address an imbalance like that," he said.

"If you look at it in that particular circumstance, so that's why going back a few years, the teams, which was team principles, made a very clear distinction that they did not want consequences taken into the account.

"They wanted it based on the incident itself. So I completely understand their perspective. And I think that's a general held view across all stewarding to not look at consequences for that exact purpose."

Masi also explained why the race was red flagged after Verstappen ended up in the barriers, revealing that a lack of telemetry from the stricken RB16B meant no-one was sure about the car's electrical status.

"The barrier repair was the main part. So there was two elements. One was with the incident with Max's car having lost telemetry due to the size of it, neither the FIA nor the team could confirm the ERS status," he explained.

"So, even though the light was green, we run a super cautious approach, and send two team members out, which is within the protocols that we have to check the car to make sure that it was safe before the car got recovered.

"And then, following that, was the obvious barrier repair that had to happen to the barriers. So I think, for everyone's benefit, as we've seen before with barrier repairs, we've got the ability to suspend the race, and it's the perfect tool to use in that circumstance."

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