The FIA stewards have withdrawn the penalty points slapped on Lewis Hamilton for race practice start infringements prior to F1 Russian Grand Prix and instead imposing a fine on the Mercedes F1 Team.
Hamilton had been handed two five-second penalties for two separate race start violations prior to Sunday afternoon’s race at Sochi Autodrom. The Mercedes driver served the two penalties by stopping in the pit for 10 seconds before the Mercedes team would service his car. This cost him the lead as he finished third behind his teammate Valtteri Bottas and Redbull’s Max Verstappen.
Hamilton also incurred two penalty points on his FIA super licence ending up with a total of 10 points incurred within a period of one year, meaning the driver had only two points remaining to make a total of 12 points which lead to a one-race ban for any Formula 1 driver.
The FIA stewards have now gone back on their decision to hand the brit the penalty points and instead handed Mercedes £25,000 penalty.
“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,” the statement from FIA stewards reads.
“This was confirmed by the Stewards having listened to the audio between the team and the driver.”
“Based on this information the Stewards replace the penalty points with this decision and therefore remove the penalty points imposed and fine the competitor (Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team) €25,000.”
Mercedes AMG Petronas race engineer Peter Bonnington had instructed Lewis Hamilton to complete his two race practice starts at the same location, which he did. But the decisions later emerged to have gone against the race director, Michael Masi’s instructions.
Hamilton later came out to say that the penalties were ridiculous and continued to say that the race stewards were trying to stop him. The team principal, Toto Wolff also added on the issue saying that the penalties were far fetched.
Lewis Hamilton is now down to 8 points on his super licence for the 12 month period only having 4 points to go for his licence to be dropped after the Turkish Grand Prix on November.
“The verdict was he wasn’t in the right place,” Wolff commented as he could not comprehend how the race stewards had come to a conclusion to issue the penalty.
“There is no mention what the right place is in the director’s note, nor is it in the regulations. So we agree to disagree on that one. The other one was not driving at constant speed in the reconnaissance laps, and there again, it’s debatable.
“But the race has happened. He received the 10 seconds penalty. So for a reconnaissance lap, infringement, an in-race penalty, can be debated also.
“But you have to take it on the chin and move on.”