Mercedes’ Trackside Engineering Director Andrew Shovlin says the team was aware the FIA ‘wouldn’t like’ Hamilton’s practice start position.
During the Russian Grand Prix Lewis Hamilton was penalized with two five-second penalties, one by completing two practice starts in the wrong place and the other for not driving at constant speed in the reconnaissance laps. However, Hamilton inquired with his engineer if his practice start position was ok and he was told it was.
Mercedes’ Andrew Shovlin explains what went on at the time.
“In some places there’s a box that they paint on the floor, and you’ve got to do it in the box,” said Shovlin.
“Then other places, it’s kind of a general area. And often, if there’s a lot of rubber, that’s not going to be representative of the grid.
“The drivers and also the engineers will want to find a bit that’s closer in terms of the grip to expect on the grid. And all it was, was Lewis asked if he could go a bit further.
“We hadn’t realised quite how far he was going to go. But it’s really just trying to find a bit of tarmac that’s more like the one that you’re going to get when you do the proper race start.”
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However Shovlin acknowledges the team realized during the second practice start that there could be a problem.
“We didn’t see the first one. And when we saw the second one, we thought, ‘They’re not going to like that.’
“But we didn’t think it was dangerous. And given the event notes said that it was on the right hand side after the pit exit we thought it might have been ambiguous enough that we would have just got a telling off.
“When we saw the car position, it wasn’t a complete surprise that they didn’t like it.
“And no doubt there may have been teams who flagged it as much as whether the FIA or the stewards spotted it themselves,” concluded Shovlin.