Formula One commentator and ex-F1 driver Martin Brundle believes ir was “curios” Lewis Hamilton was not penalised by the stewards during the Abu Dhabi GP. During the opening lap Lewis Hamilton was battling to keep Carlos Sainz behind, when the Ferrari driver made a move down the inside into turn 6 after the back straight.
In what was reminiscent of Hamilton’s defect a year ago from Verstappen the British driver left the circuit, cut the corner and rejoined keeping the position ahead of Sainz.
F1 Stewards decision contradictory
The stewards initially decided to investigate Carlos for forcing another driver off the track, but onboard video footage clearly showed he had left Hamilton space.
“Sainz was correctly exonerated after being investigated for forcing Hamilton off, who was then asked to hand the place back to Sainz which he duly did,” explained Brundle in his column for Sky Sports.
The stewards then announced they were investigating Hamilton for gaining an unfair advantage. Then Lewis was told by his engineer “we’ve been asked to give the place back.”
Hamilton duly allowed the Ferrari through before taking the place back legitimately on the next lap. Brundle thinks it was curious Hamilton was not given a penalty.
“Then It was announced by race control that there would be no further action for gaining an advantage off track and curiously Hamilton was exonerated too.”
Was protocol breached?
There was a breach in stewarding protocol which has changed for 2022. In previous years Michael Massi would discuss such matters with the stewards and advise a driver whether he needed to yield a position or suffer a penalty.
However, since Massi’s departure, the communication between race control and the teams has become formalised in an attempt to prevent persistent badgering of the FIA representatives.
Stewards have not been advising drivers this season to yield a place, they merely issue a penalty if they adjudicate a driver has gained an unfair advantage.
It was clear having found Sainz the all clear for forcing Hamilton off the track then it had to be the case that Lewis’ cutting the Chicano would result in the stewards deciding he had gained an advantage.
Could it be that when the stewards revealed they were investigating Hamilton, Bono his engineer anticipated the impending penalty and merely phrased the instruction to Lewis in a manner designed to force Hamilton’s compliance.
Having yielded the place the stewards then subsequently decided no advantage had been gained, though bizarrely within a lap Hamilton had passed Sainz and his Ferrari.
However, the Mercedes duo completely misjudged the early part of the race burning through their tyres by pushing harder than their Red Bull and Ferrari rivals.
Lewis was forced to retire his car after his first pit stop which astonishingly was Mercedes only mechanical failure of the entire 22 race long season.
Lewis Hamilton reacts to a disappointing end to his 2022 season, after he was forced to retire with a mechanical failure 👇 pic.twitter.com/mXPsTZQgze
— Sky Sports F1 (@SkySportsF1) November 20, 2022