Hamilton had been pushing hard to catch Red Bull’s Max Verstappen midway through the Emilia Romagna GP, but slid off the track at Tosa while lapping another car. Clouting the tyre barrier with his front wing, Hamilton carefully extricated himself by selecting reverse and rejoining the circuit.
With reversing onto a live racing circuit seeming to be something that warranted a penalty, fans took to social media to question why no penalty was given for the apparent infraction. However, there is no rule in the Sporting Regulations against reversing onto a live race track, only for reversing in the pitlane.
However, the rules do state that drivers must rejoin the circuit in a safe and controlled manner, and Masi explained how Hamilton was able to do that despite driving in reverse.
“I think, looking at the incident at the time, reversing out of the gravel trap to the edge of the circuit, listening to Lewis’s radio between he and his team, they were absolutely advising him all the way through where that was,” Masi told media, including RacingNews365.
“So, in that particular circumstance, same thing again, I wouldn’t consider reporting that to the stewards.”
Reversing onto a live racetrack after a mistake isn’t unique to Hamilton. McLaren’s Mika Hakkinen slid off at Mirabeau at Monaco in 1999, relinquishing second place to Ferrari’s Eddie Irvine as he reversed out of the escape area to rejoin, also without penalty.
Masi confirmed that, while not against the rules, penalties can occur if it’s not done in a safe and controlled manner like what Hamilton did: “It’s a case by case basis that you need to review the complete set of circumstances that sit around it.”