Russian Grand Prix – Mercedes’ Andrew Shovlin says they wouldn’t have told Lewis to practice start where he did, if they’d known where he was on track.
Lewis Hamilton picked up two separate penalties relating to a practice start ahead of the race at the Sochi Autodrom on Sunday. The reigning Champion was penalised for practicing from the end of the pit lane exit, rather than just past the red lights at the pit exit, which went against the instructions of the race director.
As a result, Hamilton was given 10 seconds worth of a time penalty, which took him out of contention for the race win.
Speaking in Mercedes’ debrief on Wednesday, Head of Trackside Engineering Andrew Shovlin explained:
“On the reconnaissance laps the drivers can do practice starts and, on this event, it said you could do them after the pit exit on the right-hand side.”
“Now, Lewis had said could he go a bit further. This was about trying to get the car off the rubber where everyone’s being practising starts all weekend, that is often grippier than the grid itself, so it’s not the perfect location to do it and 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 would go quite as far as he did and that was really where the misunderstanding was.” continued Shovlin.
“We thought he meant a few metres; he was actually asking if he could go a bit further and we should have given him a different answer to that question.”
As a result of the instruction issued to Hamilton, the race stewards later retracted the penalty points they gave to Hamilton, but not the time penalty itself. Mercedes were given a 25,000 euro fine instead.