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. 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).

  2. 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.

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

    If hamilton will get a penalty it would be unfair

  4. 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?

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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”

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. JUGNU said on 18th April 2010, 10:44

    If FIA decides to give penalty than give it to both the drivers as i think Vettel also pushed Hamilton too far on the right when there was clearly lot of space. He did it on purpose.
    But i hope the results stay the same and there is no penalty at all just warning.

  12. Brian Baum said on 18th April 2010, 10:46

    Sheep wrote: “I’d say, racing incident, let it be.” Racing in the pits?

    • sheep said on 18th April 2010, 10:51

      It was during the race, so maybe ‘race incident’ would be a better way of putting it:
      if you’re complaining about racing in the pits, then surely you don’t like the way that Vettel overtook Hamilton in the pit lane?

      • Brian Baum said on 18th April 2010, 11:02

        Because of his wheel spin, Hamilton was behind Vettel and tried to get ahead of him in the pit lane. Driving beside Vettel was stupid and dangerous, and Hamilton should be penalized.

        • sheep said on 18th April 2010, 11:25

          At no point did Hamilton drive faster than Vettel, so you can hardly say he ‘tried to get past him’.

  13. Undoubtedly he should be penalised. Too many incidents that are controvertial with Hamilton. He needs to be thought a lesson. Dodgy Dodgy driver.

  14. JohnBt said on 18th April 2010, 10:46

    Hamilton must stop making obvious moves which do not favour him at all. Otherwise he drove well again. Pity Alonso’s jump start drive through, but still he stormed through to 4th. Overall the race was fantastic as the rain was just adequate to mess things up.

    • Patrickl said on 18th April 2010, 11:15

      Hamilton gets himself into positions where he needs to race to get a good result.

      I agree he should make sure he gets a good qualifying performance and make the right pit stop calls. If he can just cruise at the front like Button he would get himself in a lot less trouble.

  15. sainaa said on 18th April 2010, 10:48

    Hamilton is deserved a penalty. He’s been driving like a hooligan out there on the track. Twice he crossed the white line when he entered the pitlane and the first one was a slamdunk penalty.

    • James_mc said on 18th April 2010, 10:51

      By the same token though, Baricello left the track to avoid an incident in the first corner with his direction being similar to that of Hamilton’s dive into the pitlane, should he get penalised?

      And a lot of drivers, not just the ones overtaking in the pitlane entrance were jumping over the white lines in the pitlane entrance, +25 second penalties for Alonso, Massa, Vettel, Webber, Schumacher too?

      • marius van list said on 18th April 2010, 10:58

        What regulations say? I know about +25c when you drive out of pit and cross line…like Rosberg last year for ex….what when drive in? I don’t know…

  16. matt90 said on 18th April 2010, 10:49

    I thought the whole point of the 25 second penalty was to replace a drive-through if there wasn’t time to investigate an incident during the race. There was clearly plenty of time to make a decision during the race, which may have allowed Hamilton to drive the rest of the race accordingly. So if any penalty is given, it should be a fine or grid-drop at the next race.

    To be honest though, if a penalty of any kind were to be given it should be for Hamilton overtaking on the entry or Vettel squeezing Hamilton on the exit. The releases were nearly simultaneous, and Hamilton would almost certainly have been ahead of Vettel if he hadn’t had so much wheel-spin- the release itself was justified.

    If Hamilton is being investigated, I would have thought that Alonso should be as well- although I was just relieved to see him finally escape from Massa after the last few races. I’m not even an Alonso fan and its been annoying me seeing him held up by his team mate.

    • Vishy said on 18th April 2010, 11:05

      “I’m not even an Alonso fan and its been annoying me seeing him held up by his team mate.”

      Totally agree.

      • Patrickl said on 18th April 2010, 12:37

        Totally agree too, but on the other hand, it’s his own fault for ending up behind a slower Massa so often.

        • matt90 said on 18th April 2010, 17:23

          Fair point, but regardless of if the team says that the two drivers are free to race, it seems silly when particularly in Australia Alonso may have had the pace to get past Kubica and claim an extra position for himself and the team.

          • Patrickl said on 18th April 2010, 23:03

            In fact the team (Domenicali) said they are not allowed to race each other during the last stint.

            These days basically the last stint is the whole race. In a dry race at least.

  17. marius van list said on 18th April 2010, 10:53

    It was great driving by Hamilton. Anyway, he did dangerous drive in pit. Rules are rules. He can do more on track… not in pits. Vettel was dangerous as Hamilton getting in “game” there. Both should be penalised. And this should be done during race. Stuards were too slow for F1 today. They should be judging in snooker from next time maybe. From different hand now, it was not necessary to get second SC on track. It was at least curiosity. Few tiny parts on track… stuarts did not like advantage of Jenson, Nico, Kubica and Petrov… not good for show. Overall… I would give a penalty -drive “over” all stuarts team today. Race was great anyway:9!

  18. steph said on 18th April 2010, 10:54

    Massa and Alo been to stewards because stewards weren’t happy about Alo’s move on Massa in pitlane.

  19. Most of you are obviously biased fans…….Okay, so you argue that he was released late and was slow out of there, but why not just accept the fact the other guy was in front and not take such a risk of running equipment or unaware pit crew for a position? Id be startled if ANYONE did it, let alone the young and ambitious LH…. I mean, how many warnings will it take? Maybe till he harms himself or someone else…

    • Brian Baum said on 18th April 2010, 11:08

      I agree… it’s time to prove to Lewis that he has to follow the rules like everyone else.

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

      As a Hamilton and McLaren fan I agree there. I just hope that Lewis is penalised with a grid place for the next race, not this one.

      Red Bull fans who are saying that it was Hamilton’s fault they didn’t do so well should listen to Christian Horner’s words – “we weren’t fast enough”.

  20. steph said on 18th April 2010, 10:56

    Brundle: I would penalise Lewis on grid in Barcelona. Reprimand Vettel.
    DC: hope no penalities but I think Martin was right

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