F1 steward Garry Connelly: “Lewis was extremely polite”

© LAT Images for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd

Formula 1 race steward Garry Connelly details Lewis Hamilton’s famous visit to the stewards during a red flag period at the 2020 Italian Grand Prix, after he was handed a 10 second stop-and-go penalty.

We all remember the striking images of Lewis Hamilton riding on his scooter and storming the stewards’ office during a red flag period at the 2020 Italian Grand Prix. Lewis did so because he was handed a hefty ten second stop-and-go penalty for pitting while the pit lane was closed.

Lewis was leading the race at the time, so when the race was red flagged for a different incident, Lewis marched to the stewards’ office, accompanied by his physio and right-had woman Angela Cullen, and followed by the cameras.

Although what was seen on camera seemed to suggest that the conversation inside the office was heated, race steward Garry Connelly says this was not the case.

“Lewis hopped on his scooter during the stoppage of the race, scooted down the pitlane, and came up and paid us a visit,” Connelly said during the FIA web conference.

“Lewis was extremely polite. He just said, ‘Guys, can you tell me why I’ve been penalised?’ And we said, ‘Yes, because you entered the pitlane when it was closed.’

“We showed him the video replay. We showed him from his onboard camera. And there right in front of him was the warning light for the first panel, and then again, the second panel.

“He said, ‘Oh, okay. I accept that, but why such a harsh penalty?’

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“We explained to him, ‘Unfortunately Lewis, it’s a mandatory penalty. And we don’t have any choice but to impose this penalty.’

“We referenced the appropriate regulation, and we had no choice, and this is something that most of us don’t like, we don’t like mandatory penalties.

“In fact, almost all the all the chairmen of the FIA stewards in F1 and most of the other stewards in F1 disagree with mandatory penalties. But they are there, mainly at the request of the teams, and this required a stop-and-go penalty.

“Whilst he was not absolutely delighted with this, Lewis accepted it and was extremely polite as I’ve always found him, and left the room and went back.

“No doubt he had a few comments to his team about why they didn’t warn him on the radio.

“It just goes to show that if you can explain something, you can make a difficult decision acceptable to those to whom it applies and to the wider audience.

“I think that’s a perfect example that no matter how painful the decision, it was accepted by Lewis and it was accepted by his team,” concluded Connelly.

Ultimately, after serving the penalty, Lewis finished the race in P7.

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