Hamilton’s pit lane dice with Vettel could cost him second (Update: no penalty)

Vettel and Hamilton banged wheels in the Shanghai pitlane

Vettel and Hamilton banged wheels in the Shanghai pitlane

Update: The stewards have given Hamilton and Vettel reprimands and no penalties have been applied.

The results of the Chinese Grand Prix may change as the stewards consider whether to take action against McLaren for an incident in the pits.

Lewis Hamilton was released alongside Sebastian Vettel during their pit stop – a move which could earn him a time penalty.

The pair even went into the pits side-by-side as Vettel moved alongside Hamilton on the way to the pit lane.

Replays suggest the cars were released at approximately the same time but Hamilton got away from his pit box more slowly. In the press conference after the race he said he had wheel spin on the damp surface in the pits.

What happened next was also potentially controversial. With Hamilton now alongside Vettel the Red Bull driver edged right, squeezing the McLaren dangerously close to the air lines of other teams’ pit boxes. Hamilton took a hand off the wheel and gestured at Vettel, saying afterwards:

He was pushing me a little bit to the right. We touched wheels.
Lewis Hamilton

If McLaren get a penalty for the pit lane incident it would likely take the form of a 25-second penalty which would drop him to fifth behind Robert Kubica. Or he may get a grid penalty for the next race at Catalunya.

Do you think McLaren should get a penalty? Should Vettel’s move be investigated as well? Have your say in the comments.

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364 comments on Hamilton’s pit lane dice with Vettel could cost him second (Update: no penalty)

  1. So most of you think only these dangerous moves made the race watchable? That you watch F1 for these? Are you serious?

    Hamilton was in great form today, but providing the best spectacle and best racing should not mean that as much as 3-4 stupid or illegal moves should be ignored in compensation.

  2. I thought that the 25 second penalty can only be given instead of a drive through penalty if there was no time at the end of the race, like Belgium ’08. Because they did have time to give a drive through but decided to decide after the race so can only give a grid penalty at the next race.

  3. I think he’ll get penalised. I haven’t seen the incident, but he’s had dodgy incidents in consecutive races now. The stewards probably won’t let him off the hook again. I hope its a grid penalty in the next race, I want him to keep 2nd place.

  4. Hammond said on 18th April 2010, 10:34

    With Hamilton always pulling these controversial moves (racing in to the pit lane at the last moment, weaving to block on track, etc), I think he’s due to be penalised for something. Even if it’s just the build up of all these acts that apparently aren’t quite enough to be punished for individually.

    Otherwise, he had a great race though and was very impressive. It’s just frustrating that he gets away with so much, while others are penalised.

    • WHAT? Hamilton should be penalized for racing in to the pit lane? It was Verttel trying to overtake Hamilton in the PL! Hamiltion wass ahead going into it!

      • Brake Bias said on 18th April 2010, 10:59

        Funny, but Hamilton overtook Vettel in the pit lane at the entry for the same pit stop in the telecast I was watching ………

        Vettel had the line period on the exit. Hamilton should have yielded as he was not first away. Wheelspin – well was Hamiltons’ foot on the accelerator, nobody elses.

        Hamilton has been given enough lee way. Time he was penalised for his driving indiscretions.

        Agreed though, the stewards should have made the penalty call during the race & not after the race.

        • MetalHead said on 18th April 2010, 11:48




      • I do not think either driver knew the other was going in to the pits until they found themselves next to each other. I certainly do not think either was trying to overtake the other.

    • MetalHead said on 18th April 2010, 11:08

      What about Alonso yielding purposefully in front of Massa when coming into the pit lane?

      Both Vettel and Lewis were on the same strategy and both had to break at the last minute before coming in since neither knew who was coming in.

      There are no rules against this.

      Vettel pushed Lewis into Williams’ space and that was a dangerous move, especially when it was that wet out there

  5. Salty said on 18th April 2010, 10:36

    Don’t think stewards should act. Maybe a suspended penalty 3 races.

    • Ben Curly said on 18th April 2010, 10:43

      What? Three-race suspension? Why not ban him from F1 for couple of years… Some people have really crazy ideas ;)

    • Of course. Team suspended with 15 million pounds…

    • A suspended penalty? Fine. So long as they’re suspended over a crocodile-infested well….

    • JohnBt said on 18th April 2010, 10:54

      Wow, that’s harsh with 3 race penalty. I thought 5 place grid penalty for Spain should be fair.

    • Patrickl said on 18th April 2010, 11:06

      Are you kiddng? I’m assuming he means that they should be under probation for 3 races.

      • Rohan said on 18th April 2010, 11:27

        That’d be far too lenient given Hamitlon’s past transgressions. Hell, a 3 race ban would be too lenient as well imho.

        • Patrickl said on 18th April 2010, 12:32

          I don’t think they hand out penalties for driving a great race.

          Maybe we need a ban for people who overly “fanboy” here though.

    • James_mc said on 18th April 2010, 11:40

      I actually think a penalty of some sort (one-race ban perhaps?) suspended for a few races should be considered given that it was endangering the lives of the mechanics. Imagine if one of the hoses for the air guns had got tangled in a rear axle… could have been nasty. Eugh :-(

    • David A said on 18th April 2010, 20:53

      I believe Salty means that if Hamilton does it again in the next three races, then he should get a penalty. Not a three race ban.

      • Salty said on 20th April 2010, 17:21

        LOL – correct. Gosh – that riled the troops. I mean’t something along the lines of a 10 place penalty suspended over 3 races. No further infringements during the next 3 races, no penalty.

  6. How long do we have to wait?

    • David A said on 18th April 2010, 20:55

      It’s a four week wait now, until the Monaco Grand Prix (well there’s some event in Spain in three weeks time, but that’s usually a snoozefest).

  7. mtss said on 18th April 2010, 10:37

    Defenetly no, but Vettel squeezing the McLaren was defenetly something dangerous! If its done on track – fair enough, but in pit lane, which is full of equipment and people, is something hazardous. I dont think he shoud be penalaised but defenetly given a warning, so others are more careful in the future.

  8. xabregas said on 18th April 2010, 10:37

    If hamilton will get a penalty it would be unfair

  9. Today’s “Special Guest Steward” was a McLaren driver for six years. I imagine Hamilton will get away with barging Webber off the road, and Button for backing everyone up unnecessarily (and potentially dangerously – Hamilton himself had to take avoiding action by running onto the grass). Though I would penalise both.

    On the pit incident, I can see it being penalised purely because Hamilton wasn’t technically in the “fast lane” while driving down the pit lane. However Vettel might get a slap on the wrist because there was probably enough room for two cars down there, had he been more generous with the space!

    • Well, we’ll see – but your point is a good one. There’s an inherent tension between appointing driver stewards with recent F1 experience and potential conflicts of interest.

      Justice must be done and be seen to be done – if McLaren escape a penalty in China it’s meat and bread for the conspiracy theorists out there.

    • Patrickl said on 18th April 2010, 11:09

      How about Schumacher “barging off” Hamilton and later Massa?

      I don’t think there are penalties for staying on your line.

    • gDog said on 18th April 2010, 11:24

      So you didnt see Vettel pushing Hamilton into Webber then?

  10. sheep said on 18th April 2010, 10:37

    I’d say, racing incident, let it be.

    Hamilton certainly didn’t do anything wrong, whereas Vettel arguably did behave dangerously.
    If anything the Mclaren team should get a penalty, and Vettel maybe should drop places at the next race. Really I think that there should be no penalties though.

  11. Brian Baum said on 18th April 2010, 10:38

    Hamilton will get a 25 second penalty for his pit lane antics. Button should get a warning for ‘doing a Hamilton’ behind the safety car and nearly crashing the entire field.

    • rick13 said on 18th April 2010, 10:47

      Agreed 100%.
      Hamilton :
      1. Nearly going wrong way on the track to enter the pits way late. Penalties for that have been handed out before.
      2. Nearly hit Vettel doing a dicey moves coming into a slow part of entering pit lane. Luckily, Vettel yielded.
      3. Not yielding to Vettel in the main lane of the pits and running up against the side of him. Should’ve yielded and pulled in behind.
      Button: Dumb move slowing the whole field down at the hairpin. Many driver had to take evasive actions. Very well could’ve led to drivers damaging parts on their cars or puncturing tires. See Fuji 2007 Hamilton-Webber-Vettel safety car incident.

  12. steph said on 18th April 2010, 10:39

    On BBC f1 forum Seb just said about the incident “I don’t know why he was so keen to touch me”

  13. Rohan said on 18th April 2010, 10:43

    Literally falling over with laughter at how you’ve managed to blame Vettel for Hamilton’s dangerous driving.

    Usually, you’re pretty much spot on, but here I’m afraid your bias towards Hamilton is evident in this article.

    • Could not agree more. Hamilton is dangerous. Exciting but dangerous.

    • James_mc said on 18th April 2010, 10:48

      Because HAMILTON decided when he was to be released, because HAMILTON pushed the lolly-pop up, because HAMILTON put water on the track so that he skidded pulling out, because HAMILTON thought it would “be more fun” to drive closer to the pit crews.

      Neither driver wanted to yield, Hamilton should have, but by the same token Vettel didn’t need to squeeze him towards the mechanics

      • Rohan said on 18th April 2010, 10:56

        But Hamilton benefitted from the illegal release and therefore should be punished. Or can’t you understand that?

        • James_mc said on 18th April 2010, 11:01

          I thought that although the RBR was released first, it was almost at exactly the same time and was too close to call. The lollypop man can’t watch two cars at once. I think that Hamilton should get a penalty for this (or perhaps the team), but Vettel should be warned too as his driving also contributed to an already-dangerous situation.

        • Vishy said on 18th April 2010, 11:02

          First off it is not decided it was an illegal release. Second Hamilton did not benefit from it. Get your facts right.

          • Rohan said on 18th April 2010, 11:08

            How didn’t he benefit from it? If Hamilton had not endangered the mechanics in the pitlane and yielded to Vettel by slotting in behind him in the fast lane (as he should have done), Hamitlon would have been further behind Vettel than he was once they’d exited the pitlane. Hence, Hamilton benefitted from his dangerous driving.

          • James_mc said on 18th April 2010, 11:13

            What’s your opinion on Vettel’s pushing Rohan?

          • Rohan said on 18th April 2010, 11:34

            What pushing James? Hamilton forced himself alongside Vettel in the pitlane, Vettel did nothing wrong. As I have said elsewhere on this site, to suggest otherwise is a desperate attempt to excuse Hamilton’s inexcusable actions.

          • James_mc said on 18th April 2010, 11:44

            @Rohan – Vettel starts in the centre of the pit lane (with approximately 1 car width between him and the wide blue strip which runs along the front of the garages), and by the time he’s past the Williams garage his wheels are encroaching on this blue area. This would indicate that he moved over towards the garages.

        • Robbie said on 18th April 2010, 11:09

          No he didn’t, he came out of the pit lane second.

          • MetalHead said on 18th April 2010, 12:11

            you’re blind or pathetic

            either driver should have got a penalty (financial perhaps since it’s late now)

            but the video replay (if you want to see it) shows he moved to the right and pushed lewis further into the pit stops of other teams

            lewis couldn’t have overtaken him on the pit lane – noone can do that

            and lewis should have stayed right behind vettel – either way he wouldn’t have benefitted .. thats not how he got P2

        • Patrickl said on 18th April 2010, 11:13

          How on earth was that an illegal release? They were released at the same time considering their pitbox location.

          Of course the trailing car is going to be released sooner. He gets into his box sooner.

          By your claim a trailing car will always be able to overtake the car in front of him in the pitlane (assuming they have the same pit stop times)

        • Derek said on 19th April 2010, 11:35

          Hamilton came into the pits in from of Vettel but exited behind him so how did he benefit??

      • I don’t think the release was illegal. What Hamilton did afterwards was.

        Even if Vettel hadn’t moved at all, Hamilton would still have been dangerously close to the mechanics and the equipment. He shouldn’t have been alongside Vettel, he had plenty of time to slot in behind him.

        Unless you expected Vettel to move to the side and allow Ham to overtake him!

    • matt90 said on 18th April 2010, 17:21

      First, you’re talking complete BS- you seem to have invented the incident in your head rather than actually watching it- and second you accuse Keith of being biased on probably the most unbiased site on the web. Go away if you think that.

  14. ganmarau said on 18th April 2010, 10:43

    Why Safety Car had to stay on track for so long ? Somebody wanted to start this race again ?

    • The Safety Car is supposed to stay out until all the cars are lined up behind it, which takes quite a long time now that they have this silly “lap delta” rule. I think they should go back to closing the pits when the safety car is deployed, now that refuelling is banned it shouldn’t be an issue with drivers getting caught out by an unexpected SC period.

  15. NO WAY, hamilton is the most spectacular driver in F1 races, he never cause crashes!

    • JohnBt said on 18th April 2010, 10:50

      Remember Canada?, remember Kimi? He went straight into the Ferrari rear when the light was red at the pit lane. Lol.

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