Mercedes explains “misunderstanding” that led to Hamilton’s penalty

© LAT Images for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd

Mercedes Trackside Engineering Director Andrew Shovlin explains why the team gave Lewis Hamilton the ok to go out of position for the pre-race practice start.

Lewis Hamilton was awarded two five-second penalties during the Russian Grand Prix, one for completing two practice starts in the wrong place and the other for not driving at constant speed in the reconnaissance laps.

However a video that was released after the race showed that Hamilton had asked his team if he can move out of position and he was given the ok.

“There is already rubber here. Can I start further down? At the end of the pit lane,” asked the Briton.

“Go ahead. Yes, is fine. Leave enough room for cars to pass,” Lewis was told by the team.

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In Mercedes’ race debrief Andrew Shovlin explains the “misunderstanding”.

“During the reconnaissance laps the drivers can practice their starts,” said Shovlin.

“On this event it said you could do them after the pit exit on the right hand side. Lewis had said if he could go a little bit further.

“This is about trying to get the car of the rubber where everyone’s been practicing starts all weekend. That’s often grippier than the grid itself, so it’s not the perfect location to do it.

“From an engineering point of view we often ask the drivers to move a bit further down. When Lewis asked if he could go further down, we said that was fine. We hadn’t realised he’d go quite as far as he did.

“That was really where the misunderstanding was. We thought he meant a few meters. We should’ve given him a different answer to that question.”

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