More than one hour after claiming a stunning win from 14th on the grid at a rain-hit Hockenheim, Hamilton and Mercedes representatives were summoned to the stewards to explain why the Englishman had aborted what appeared a planned pit stop under the Safety Car with 14 laps to go and instead cut across the grass to rejoin the track.
Hamilton, who was later issued with a reprimand on Sunday night but kept the win, had already celebrated his unexpected success on the podium before the summons was issued.
Speaking before the verdict was announced, FIA race director Charlie Whiting outlined why stewards had not started an investigation immediately during the race.
“It just takes a little bit of time to make sure that if you’re going to call a team that you have good reason for calling them,” said Whiting, who does not sit on the stewards’ panel.
“Obviously we wanted to wait until after the race to have a look at it because we were getting quite close to the end of it and then with all the rain and the thunderstorms and everything like that, by the time everything had calmed down, had a good look at it and the stewards decided that they should, in fact, discuss it with the team.”
Whiting also confirmed Mercedes rivals Ferrari, who finished third with Kimi Raikkonen and saw Sebastian Vettel crash out when leading, did not a lodge a post-race protest against the incident.
Asked if the crossing of the pitlane entry line brought with it a certain penalty, Whiting said: “I don’t think there is a specific precedent.
“Kimi (Raikkonen) a couple of years ago in Baku got a five-second penalty, but that was quite a lot different in that particular scenario.”
The stewards’ verdict in full
‘Decision A reprimand. (1st reprimand of the current season)
‘Reason The Stewards reviewed video and audio evidence, heard from the driver of car 44(Lewis Hamilton) and the team representative. It was clear that there was an infringement of the above mentioned rule – the driver clearly crossed the line separating the pit entry from the track.
‘In deciding on the penalty for the infringement, we took into account the following mitigating factors:
‘(i) the driver and the team candidly admitted the mistake and the fact that there was confusion within the team as to whether to stay out or to enter the pits and that led to the infringement. (ii) The fact that the infringement took place during a Safety Car period. (iii) At no time was there any danger to any other competitor and the change in direction was executed in a safe way.
‘Taking all of the above into account, including considering previous infringements of the above rule, we are of the opinion that a reprimand would be the appropriate penalty for the said infringement on this occasion.
‘Competitors are reminded that they have the right to appeal the decisions of the Stewards (with the exception of those referred to in Article 12.2.4 of the FIA International Sporting Code), in accordance with Article 15 of the FIA International Sporting Code and Article 9.1.1 of the FIA Judicial and Disciplinary Rules, within the applicable time limits.’
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