The more I read about the Russian Grand Prix penalty that Lewis Hamilton incurred, the more it became clear that there was a miscommunication between the team and Lewis. Lewis radioed that there was a lot of rubber on the tarmac in the designated are and asked if he could go further down the pit exit. Simple enough.
The point is, finding a piece of asphalt that is not covered with rubber from numerous practice starts is key and Lewis was looking for that when he radioed his team asking if he could go further down pit exit to find some clean asphalt.
The confusion was the team were not aware of how far he had gone down pit edit as director Andrew Shovlin says:
“We hadn’t realised quite how far he was going to go. But it’s really just trying to find a bit of tarmac that’s more like the one that you’re going to get when you do the proper race start.”
“We didn’t see the first one,” he said. “And when we saw the second one, we thought, ‘They’re not going to like that.’
“But we didn’t think it was dangerous. And given 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.
“When we saw the car position, it wasn’t a complete surprise that they didn’t like it. And no doubt there may have been teams who flagged it as much as whether the FIA or the stewards spotted it themselves.”
Contrary to Lewis’s theory that the FIA is “trying to stop me” and they are changing the rules “to keep racing more exciting”, it seems to me a simple directive on location of practice starts to ensure safety and Lewis went beyond that location and was penalized.
You might argue that it hasn’t been that way before but then again, Charlie Whiting was at the helm and Michael Masi is a different person with different concerns. Lewis, finding fresh asphalt, gained an advantage over other drivers who had to use the designated area that had been rubbered in.
For what it is worth, I am struggling to take Lewis’s hint of victimhood onboard from a guy who is poised to break the all-time record in F1 and set to ink a new $120 million contract. Spare me if I fall short of mustering up a tear.