Hamilton was penalised for entering the pitlane while it was closed. The investigation into Hamilton’s breach was going on while the race was stopped, which led to a surreal scene of Hamilton driving through the pitlane on his scooter, first to visit his team’s pit wall and then the race stewards.
After the race the Briton explained what happened during the red flag period.
“I came back, spoke to the team, they didn’t have any video, and I just wanted to see what had been missed,” said Hamilton.
“I could have sworn on the entry to the pitlane there was no red light. It wasn’t to see Michael [Masi], it was to see the other stewards who made the decisions with penalties.
“They just quickly showed me the onboard, and there were two signs that had an X on it. I actually didn’t see them, because I was looking elsewhere.
“Then there was not really much more for me to do, so I just left, went back, got changed, and that’s ultimately why I was a little bit late to the grid.”
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Hamilton went on to explain how he wasn’t aware that the lights that indicate the pitlane being closed would be shown on the left-hand side of the circuit.
“I don’t remember any time coming here that that was the indicator for the pitlane closing. I’ve never actually known that would be on the left. That was a new experience.”
The reason for the pitlane being closed was Kevin Magnussen’s car, which stopped right next to the pit entry. Hamilton is unsure why the car wasn’t wheeled backwards instead of being returned to the pitlane, which ultimately led to it being closed off.
“I’m generally quite unsure why they pushed the car from that spot which they could have pushed the car back into. Why the hell did they push it?
“I know why, but I don’t understand why they took that decision necessarily, because that wasn’t needed,” concluded the six-time champion.
Race Director Michael Massi said after the race that he has no problem with Hamilton approaching the stewards.
“We also talk about all this at the drivers’ briefing,” said Masi.
“I wasn’t there, but as far as I understand, when he saw the video, he agreed that the penalty was fair.
“There are no such restrictions [on drivers approaching the stewards to discuss penalties], but fortunately it’s not often that races have to be stopped with a red flag.
“But the stewards always adhere to an open door policy – if someone has questions, they can always ask them.”