REVEALED: The Misunderstanding Between Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes Which Led to Sochi Penalty

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Lewis Hamilton suffered a double blow during the race at Sochi after the stewards handed him two 5-second time penalties for the practice start infringements.

Mercedes revealed that they did not see where Lewis did the first practice start. But when they saw him do the second, the team knew the stewards would not be happy with that.

After the race, Mercedes’ Trackside Engineering Director, Andrew Shovlin, revealed that the team did not know where Lewis was going to do the practice start.

Lewis asked if he could go a bit further,” said Shovlin. “We hadn’t realized quite how far he was going to go.”

He mentioned that the team was not aware of his first practice start. But for his second start, he went onto the end of the pit lane. The moment the team saw that they knew there was a penalty coming their way.

Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton in action during the race at Russian Grand Prix 2020
Formula One F1 – Russian Grand Prix – Sochi Autodrom, Sochi, Russia – Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton in action during the race. Pool via REUTERS/Yuri Kochetkov

We didn’t see the first one. When he saw the second one we thought ‘they are not going to like that’. We didn’t think it was dangerous,” said Shovlin.

“And given that 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.”

The penalty spoiled Lewis’ race as he finished in P3 after leading the race prior to the getting the penalty.

How the Race Unfolded for Lewis Hamilton

Mercedes gave Lewis a green flag when he asked his race engineer if he could do the start out of the designated area. “It’s all rubber here, can I go further out or not?” Lewis asked.

Bonnington said, “A-firm.” But he did not know then where Lewis was going to do the start.

To the end of the pit lane?” Lewis asked to which Bono said yes. “Yeah, copy… leave enough room for cars to pass.” The stewards took note of the incident the very next moment.

Lewis was already under investigation when the race started. A lap after the safety car restart, the stewards slapped him with a 10-second penalty.

The penalty hampered his race and brought his rival, Valtteri Bottas, closer on the Drivers’ Championship standings. Now, Lewis lies 44 points ahead of his teammate.

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