Hamilton purposely gained penalties

F1 conundrums No 2: Lewis Hamilton – This is the second of an occasional series of articles where an incident is chosen and then aspects of that incident considered from different perspectives, often with conflicting outcomes.

The reader will then be asked their opinion on the mater.


No2: Lewis Hamilton: 6x WDC.  Are the marshals ‘out to get him’ or did he know EXACTLY what he was doing when he did those ‘illegal’ practice starts in Russia?


A bit of background: Hamilton has won six WDC titles, the last five with Mercedes who, with the help of Nico Rosberg, have won the last six WDC in a row.

Hamilton has broken an awful lot of records recently, but perhaps the two most significant ones are yet to be achieved: he currently has 90 race wins and a win in Sochi would have given him 91 wins, equalling Michael Schumacher’s (previously thought to be un-matchable) 91 F1 wins.

He is also well on track (forgive the pun) to equal Michael’s seven WDC record wins.



However, things were not going to plan in Sochi for Lewis and things really began to go pear-shaped when, during the second round of qualifying, Hamilton had his time deleted for breaching track limits.

This meant Lewis had to do a second flying lap, but this time on soft tyres. To make a bad situation worse,  Vettel (now there’s another conundrum) lost the rear of his Ferrari on turn two and by turn four had crashed into the barriers, causing a lot of drivers (Hamilton included) to lose their current flying lap.

The session was red-flagged with two minutes and fifteen seconds left on the clock. Well, what a kerfuffle ensued when qualifying did re-start: Lots of cars, all trying to make it into the top ten shootout, were lined up at the end of the pitlane.


Gasly slowed down in the pit lane, backing others up behind him and Lewis left the pit lane late (presumably to avoid the traffic). This meant, that after his warm-up lap he made it to the start line with one second to spare, unlike Sainz and Perez who didn’t make it in time.

Needless to say, Lewis got into Q3 from whence he took his 96th pole position (another record). HOWEVER, he would have to start the race on this very set of tyres which had already done one aborted lap, a second warm-up lap and a flying lap, plus he was on the soft compound tyres when his two nearest rivals, Bottas and Verstappen had both qualified on much younger, more robust medium tyres.


Added to this, the run to turn 2 (turn 1 is merely a kink in the track) is very long, the cars have a lot of drag and the car in pole position can give following cars ‘a tow’ by ‘punching a hole in the air ‘  allowing the following cars to follow in his slipstream relatively easily. Well, winning the race would have been hard enough without this to contend with!


Come race day, Lewis then did what appeared to be one practice start from outside the pit lane (not allowed). So, the question is, were the marshals ‘out to get him’ as he claimed after the race OR did he know EXACTLY what he was doing by practising these starts from an ‘illegal’ position, effectively giving himself the perfect excuse for not winning his 91st GP which, as we’ve seen above may have been difficult anyway?

Over to you, readers! It will be very interesting to know your opinion on this matter!




31 responses to “Hamilton purposely gained penalties

  1. The M-B pit-wall and Hamilton were both responsible, though the onus falls on Hamilton to abide by the rules.. Both knew the area where a practice start could be legally done. The pit-wall ok’d .the practice start assuming Hamilton would use the correct area. Hamilton decided to use an area outside the legal area as it had a more similar start feel. Without being able to see Hamilton the pit-wall should not have allowed him to do a practice start. The FIA decision was correct.

    At Monza it was entirely a pit-wall error. Giovanazzi was also penalized. So the FIA was consistent in issuing penalties.

  2. I guess Hamilton may have deliberately earned the penalty bring more competition into the championship, more so now that spectators are being allowed to watch, which could bring more revenue for both F1 organizers and also boost his bargaining power for next season contract.

  3. No, he hadn’t used the soft compound for an aborted flying lap before. He still had the medium compound on at the time, and hadn’t even started his attempt before the red came, so not even an aborted lap. #CheckTheFactsBeforePosting

    • Thanks for the info. I’ll take your word for it. I have to say I wrote this article whilst in the middle of another article (which won’t be published), so it was ‘off the top of my head’. You’re right. I should have checked which tyres he was on at the time rather than relying on my hazy memory. Thanks for the tip. I’m sure it will come in handy in the future.

  4. That’s just nonsense. If he hadn’t received the penalties, he would most likely have fniished second either because Bottas outdraggged hum into Turn 1 or because of the different tyre strategy. Either way hardly a big deal.

    Getting penalties so early on in the race could have got him stuck in traffic. If he wanted to get penalties it would have been far easier to cut the chicane and get 5 seconds later in the race.

  5. I thought that where you were going was “[…] so he can crush Schumy’s record next race in Germany, where it really hurts” but then you stopped without stating clearly what you believe Ham’s goal would have been.

    an “excuse to not win his 91st race” only makes me ask again, “why would he want or need that?”. After all, not winning his 91st race from pole position would most likely still leave him in a better position than not winning it after a massive penalty.

    So no, I don’t buy it – I think you need to practice folding tinfoil hats a little bit more and try again 🙂

  6. What I was trying to say is ‘did he know/suspect he would not win and therefore getting a penalty gave him an excuse for not winning’

  7. I have to say, the thought of him winning in Germany to match Michael’s record hadn’t occurred to me. I don’t think he’d be that cruel,(IMO).

  8. “I don’t think he’d be that cruel”

    Yeah, I agree – it’s a bit show-off-and-rubbing-it-in-ey, but hey, with his career record so far I have no issue with that.

    Thanks for clarifying – I like the thought you had, and I think it’s a valid question to ask. It’s just … wouldn’t his chance of a decent points haul be higher without the penalty? I’m not sure if he’d care so much about not winning the race that he’d take a net lesser amount of points just so he has an excuse why he didn’t win.

    What do you think?

    • I think Lewis would try to get as many points as possible. BUT It did occur to me that he had given himself an excuse for not winning, so perhaps people might say he’d have done much better if he hadn’t been penalised (when in fact he may still have come third anyway?). Who knows?

  9. Rubbish, sorry.
    Lewis is widely regarded by those that count (i.e. peers, competitors and other professionals in the sport, not just keyboard warriors, and commentators)as one of the most fair, and most honest competitors.

    Competitors will take a win when they can get one, irrespective of any circumstances around it.
    I find it impossible to believe that he would throw the chance of ANY race win, just to save face in not winning something that OTHER people are creating or bigging up (i.e. to throw winning the 91st race just because he MIGHT not win it from pole).

    Ridiculous. I’ve seen some nonsense on this site before – often aimed at Hamilton, but this is just daft

    • Thanks for taking the time to read the article and comment on it. (5000+ people have read it and not commented, so it’s good to have feedback.) I find your opinion interesting. Thank you.

  10. Further, to deliberately throw the competition, especially by way of something considered “dangerous”….?

    We’ve been here before…. Singapore 08. Mercedes would not sanction anything like that, let alone for something so insignificant

  11. Too many conspiracy theorists (stay in the US with Trump if you believe this nonsense).
    Hamilton wants to win EVERY race. He is not going to start picking and choosing which ones he wants and which ones he thinks he can afford to lose. Even when he was told to let Bottas have a token win it was hard for him to give away. Lewis always says that records don’t matter to him but he really, really wants to win everything or score as many pints as possible.

    Nest we will be hearing that Hamilton will be ‘rocking’ fifth place or that he will ‘rock up’ to the chequered flag, one lap down………let’s keep these reports up to a certain standard and do away with nebulous speculation.

    • It’s not a report. It’s an article designed to get readers’ opinions on a situation which could be viewed from different angles and hence generate different opinions depending on the readers point of view.

  12. Makes sense. Also, Navalny poisoned himself in order to become famous and to befriend Macron and Merkel.

    • Really? I think you are being facetious. Absolutely NO IDEA how to spell that one but hopefully you’ll realise I meant tongue in cheek and not full of shit (faeces).

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