Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc Defend Lewis Hamilton Over Penalty Points Controversy in Sochi




Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton was slapped with two 5-second time penalties and was also given 2 penalty points against his Super License for an illegal pitlane start in Sochi.

Hamilton served his time penalty, but the FIA decided to overturn the decision on his penalty points and had them rescinded in place of a fine (€25,000). Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc had their say on the fiasco.

Mercedes and Ferrari have been bitter rivals for the better part of the last decade. The two teams don’t often see eye to eye, but this time sportsmanship prevailed. Both the Scuderia drivers sympathized with Hamilton; they felt that giving the Briton 2 penalty points was incredibly harsh.

Vettel said, “I think if you really do some crazy moves on the track and some dangerous driving, then they’re justified. But if you’re speeding in the pitlane or minor infringements, it’s probably not the point to apply penalty points.”

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Charles Leclerc has his say on Lewis Hamilton getting penalty points for his pitlane incident

Vettel’s teammate Leclerc also sided with Hamilton. The Monegasque feels that the system should perhaps be revised because Hamilton didn’t commit any cardinal sin.

He said, “I don’t think he has done anything particularly wrong this year. Maybe there’s a better way to do it. I don’t know, it’s not my job either, so the FIA will look into it.”

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

Before the penalty points given to Hamilton were revoked, the Briton was flirting with the possibility of missing out on a race weekend. With 10 penalty points affixed to his Super License, another infringement between now and the Turkish Grand Prix could have been disastrous.

F1 rules state that if a driver is penalized with 12 points in 12 months, he would receive a one-race ban.

Luckily for Hamilton, he has been rescued from walking the tightrope. Thanks to the time penalty, Lewis only managed to come home in P3. Had things gone his way, he could have easily won the race.

With an eventful and rather unfortunate race in Sochi behind him, the spotlight now shifts to the Nurburgring. The German track offers Hamilton the opportunity to equal the record for the most race wins that was set by Michael Schumacher (91)

Will the Briton tie what was once thought to be an impossible record to surpass? We’ll find out on the 11th of October at the Eifel Grand Prix.