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. Rubbish Dave said on 18th April 2010, 13:36

    Brings back memories of Germany 2008.

    Where Vettel and Alonso raced side by side in a similar manner (with Vettel on the mechanics side) and where Vettel forced Alonso over the white line at the pit exit.
    Nothing heppened there, although it was pretty outrageous.

    Squeezing people in the pit lane is certainly not on – and something Vettel seems to be guilty of on more than one occasion, but they should introduce a requirement for position to be yielded by the one rejoining the pit lane in the case where they are side by side.

    It would be a bit contrary to penalise them for racing down the pit lane though, as similar incidents (for example Kubica/Raikkonen Canada 2008 in addition to Germany 2008) haven’t even really been mentioned, let alone punished.

  2. This is a good outcome for the sport. Clearly having a driver on the stewards board is having a really practical impact. It was right Hamilton and Vettel got a ticking off today – it’s always going to be risky to have cars racing in the pitlane and it has the potential to be dangerous. But equally today’s incident was not worth changing the result of a cracking race over.

    • Scribe said on 18th April 2010, 14:16

      I think a better outcome would have been to leave the outcome of the race, an give both drivers a three place grid penalty for the next race. Along with that clarification is needed on the pitlane rules, a yeilding to the car ahead rule should be established, like under yellows, an racing side by side in the pitlane should be banned, it’s too dangerous.

      What if Hamilton had hit a Williams mechanic at 100kmh, he would have killed him, or taken of his leg, the more I think about this the more I think the stewards decision was wrong and bad for the sport, it was potentialy fatal driving from both of them, due to their own competative spirit, an unclear rules.

      Pitlane rules should be made clearer an safer to avoid a situation like this occurring again. Hamilton should receive a 3 place grid penalty an a fine for not yeilding, Vettle should receive a 3 place grid penalty an a fine for pushing Hamilton outwide, acidentally or not, in a potentially fatal situation. This may seem harsh but in a situation where there are unprotected people are standing there drivers have to reign in their compatative instincts.

      • James_mc said on 18th April 2010, 19:35

        I’m with you on this one Scribe – We’ve seen in the past ridiculous penalties but this was one which some kind of reprimand such as a grid drop or a suspended race ban (is that not what Renault ended up with after Alonsoswheelfallingoffbeforeaspanishroundgate?)

        To put it into context dangerous driving in the pitlane has warranted less punishment than:

        Cutting a corner in the wet
        Cutting a corner in the dry
        Rejoining the racetrack beside a leader
        Having a car which is a few kg too light
        Changing a faulty part without which the car wouldn’t function
        An internal team squabble which culminated in two cars being stationary in the garage

        We seem to have gone from one extreme to an other

        • Scribe said on 18th April 2010, 19:45

          Indeed, however what F1 still needs comming out from Mosley’s keep the rules fuzzy so we can manipulate them to our liking era is more clarification on all this issues.

          If a driver knew he was going get a penalty for something, he would avoid it no matter how marginal it might be.

          I still think reprimands was to weak, an I say this as a known McLaren an Hamilton fan, hopefully what we get out of this though is a clarification for next time, which might just be the route the stewards are taking, reprimands on unclear rules, harsher punishments next time.

  3. nemo said on 18th April 2010, 13:50

    hamilton did nothing wrong in my eyes..
    what about vettels attempt to pass him even though he was heading for the pits.. and it also looked like vettel still tried to overtake hamilton down the pit lane..

    vettel was the one who was agressive in my eyes.. Hamilton was just defending his position..

    • nemo said on 18th April 2010, 13:59

      other than that..

      good call by jenson on tyres yet again and a blinding race by hamilton to come from the back again..

      roll on barca..!

      • Patrickl said on 18th April 2010, 14:43

        BTW I’d like to add that Hamilton was the one who got the tyre call righ the last stop gaining 5 seconds on the guys ahead of him. It’s how he got passed Rosberg and closed right up to Button.

  4. polishboy808 said on 18th April 2010, 14:02

    Didn’t something like this happen to Webber in Spa when the team released him from the pits right alongside hiedfeld? What happened to him? Drive through. Vettel at Germany? 10,000 euro fine and reprimand. Hamilton at China? Nothing. This shows whats going on in f1. As for why they do it, I still don’t understand but that right there is enough proof to win me over that the stewards are biased towards Hamilton. Vettel’s move should have also earned him a reprimand, but had McLaren not released him in such a fashion, said incident would have not have happened.

    • Patrickl said on 18th April 2010, 14:50

      Yeah, the new “fewer penalties” attitude baffled me too when the season started. Webber cause many incidents and didn’t even get a warning. I’ve gotten used to it now.

      It IS for the better though. All these “Allen Donnely penalties” were beyond ridiculous. Before this loon came into power we didn’t have penalties for the drivers “farting on track” either.

      So see it as that the penalty regime is back to before Mosley and his friend Donnely took over stewarding. A huge improvement in my book.

      BTW there is a huge difference with releasing a driver in the path of a car that’s already on the fastlane and what happened here.

      In this case Hamilton and Vettel were released at the same time (keeping their pitbox locations in mind). That’s hardly an unsafe release.

      Vettel didn’t even have to brake or swerve. So he wasn’t hindered by Hamilton at all. In fact it was Vettel who opted to swerve INTO Hamilton and have the audicity to later claim that Hamilton purposefully ran into him.

  5. Gwenouille said on 18th April 2010, 14:35

    Just my humble opinion for the records:
    Both should be penalised: the pit is not a racing area.

    Vettel shouldn’t have steered to Hamilton: that was dangerous for the mechanics. So, penalty. A 5 places grid penalty means he will start from 6th place next race ;-) Not the end of the world.

    Hamilton could have let him by. Was he really thinking he could overtake there ??? Penalty. Hamilton gets too rough. I mean OK, try to overtake, be quick. But the weaving ? Overtaking while entering the pitlane ?? IN the pitlane ? Come on: if we had 24 Hamiltons, we’d have a great distracting race: 5 SC, 12 drive through, 3 25s pens… He has to calm down a bit. OK he wants to be the king, but that is a bit like an over-motivated too hasty child.

    • Patrickl said on 18th April 2010, 14:52

      It was Vettel who was trying to overtake Hamilton while going into the pitlane. Hamilton defended his position.

      Maybe you are confused with Alonso who overtook Massa?

  6. The Limit said on 18th April 2010, 14:57

    I think this decision will come back to haunt the FIA. This was potentially a very dangerous incident with so many people in the pitlane, you have to draw the line somewhere. Personally, I think both Vettel and Hamilton were at fault and should have been punished for it. For this to happen on the racetrack is one thing, but the pitlane rules must be followed or one day we will see people killed by this kind of thing. As I say, I hope this does not come back to haunt F1 in the future.
    I can understand why they have done what they have done, but at what cost?

  7. Button was not investigated because his acceleration and deceleration behind the safety car was not considered to be “erratic”, unlike some of the other stuff that happened elsewhere.

  8. johnno said on 18th April 2010, 15:04

    even if he does push the limits of the rules, you cannot say Lewis’s driving is unentertaining :D It’s what formula 1 needs.

  9. carlos said on 18th April 2010, 15:29

    it is Massa’s fault. Senna would have thrown the spanish prima donna on the wall for being “pushy”. Massa is a disappointemnt when it comes to mind games.

  10. aNT366 said on 18th April 2010, 15:29


  11. Simon said on 18th April 2010, 16:54

    Reprimands for both parties seems like the right choice. This is competitive racing – why on earth would anyone want to see penalties for either driver over it? Last year at Spa showed that stewards were getting too involved – changing the outcome of races after the event – making it a bit of a farce.

    As has been pointed out, both drivers were released at the same time, Hamilton got wheel-spin and they ended up side by side. Hamilton should probably have dropped back, Vettel should not have squeezed him. Not worth a penalty for either, in my opinion.

    Good to see less steward intervention so far this year. Not to mention some fantastic races (even if that’s mainly due to the rain).

  12. TMFOX said on 18th April 2010, 17:23

    Good to see common sense prevailed. All that was needed was a good talking to and that’s all that happened.

  13. Correct decision. It was an odd incident, both had parts to play. Its sport and in the heat of battle you can’t always be squeaky clean things happen to fast and if you haven’t got the winning instinct what’s the point.

    Good to see this championship could be decided by racing. ;-)

  14. Georgio said on 18th April 2010, 17:47

    Hamilton gets away with most his infringements, “weaving” is “weaving” not trying to break a slip stream. The Pit lane dice with Vertel, was just that, Vertel was in front and Hamilton was running along the Pit area. Furthermore, his penalties are always awarded at a later stage, and he takes the points up front. Hamilton, the new Montoya?

    • Lehonardeuler said on 18th April 2010, 17:57

      Not to mention last year’s 3 race ban in suspension…
      I mean, I understand he was sent out besides Vettel on the pit lane, but actually fighting with him until the last possible moment a limited speed and width street, with people alongside, it’s a very dangerous thing to do, and as a Super Lincese holder driver he must know that.

  15. Realist said on 18th April 2010, 18:50

    The comments in here would fit much better in a Lewis Hamilton fanatics forum.

    In F1 nowadays, there are two kinds of drivers: Hamilton and the others. The rules apply only to the others, not to Hamilton. He does whatever he wants to, not fearing any kind of penalty.

    Soon enough, Hamilton will cause a major accident with his temerarious driving. It will be too late, then.

    Something must be done now to placate this person, who thinks anything goes as long as it makes you win.

    • SamS said on 18th April 2010, 18:57

      Change the record, i suppose Spa in 08 was a major issue and just deserts. The stewards have made their decision, this anti hamilton stuff is getting boring

    • Paper Tiger said on 18th April 2010, 21:54

      You can argue all you like about whether or not Hamilton is an over aggressive driver, because it`s a matter of opinion. But if yo`re going to make the argument that Hamilton never gets a penalty, you might like to choose a driver that doesn`t have the record for most penalties in a season (5, 2008).

      • Realist said on 19th April 2010, 1:02

        The way Hamilton disregards general safety, he should be penalized at every GP, multiple times.

        Anti-Hamilton… that’s fanboy talk. I’m just someone who’s not biased towards this kamikaze.

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