Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton had a pretty bad weekend by his lofty standards. The Briton’s race got off to a good start on the track at least, but off it, he was slapped with two 5-second penalties. These were a result of Hamilton illegally practicing his race start from the pitlane.
While practicing a race start is allowed from the pitlane, the exact reason for the penalty was that Lewis had practiced his start from further ahead than what is considered the designated area.
However, it’s worth a mention that Mercedes themselves authorized Lewis to practice his restart from where he did.
Lewis was heard on the team radio asking his race engineer, Peter ‘Bono’ Bonnington if he could practice his start from further ahead. Hamilton was heard saying, “There’s all rubber here. Can I go further out? End of the pitlane?”
‘Bono’ gave Lewis the go-ahead. But told him to leave enough space for other drivers to go past. After the race Hamilton said, “I did (ask the team). As far as we were aware, it was ok.”
However, Lewis learned to his detriment that it wasn’t allowed by the FIA. He had to subsequently serve his 10-second penalty. As a result, the Briton went from leading the race to rejoining the action in P11.
Although he did mount a good comeback to finish P3, he was not very pleased with the way his weekend panned out.
Lewis Hamilton reveals his reasoning behind practicing his starts outside the designated area
Post-race, Hamilton was asked about the communication he had with the team regarding his practice starts. And why he chose to practice his starts so far out.
He said, “If you look at every race that I have done this year, I always start further down. Never ever had a problem, done it for years. It says you have to be on the right after the lights. It doesn’t say how far.
“So, often I don’t like to be on the rubber (because) that’s where everyone has done all their starts. So it’s not representative of what it’s like on the grid, so I tried to get on the surface that didn’t have any rubber.”
Hamilton termed the FIA’s penalty against him as an “Interesting decision.”
The incident also sees Hamilton slapped with 2 penalty points against his super license. That gives him a total of 10 penalty points in 12 months and if he were to accumulate two more before the Turkish Grand Prix, he will be forced to miss a race.