A mix-up in communication between the Mercedes pit wall and Hamilton saw the reigning world champion enter the pit lane on lap 53, only to bail out at the last moment and cut across the grass separating the pit lane entrance and the track. In the hours following the podium ceremony Hamilton was summoned to see the stewards as they investigated a potential breach of the FIA International Sporting Code.
Hamilton’s margin of 4.5s over Valtteri Bottas meant the win was under threat, as the lowest time penalty which could be applied would be five seconds. However, after deliberation the stewards issued Hamilton a reprimand for the incident, his first of the current season, meaning his final race time remained unaltered.
Its verdict read: “The Stewards reviewed video and audio evidence, heard from the driver of car 44 (Lewis Hamilton) and the team representative. It was clear that there was an infringement of the above mentioned rule – the driver clearly crossed the line separating the pit entry from the track.
“In deciding on the penalty for the infringement, we took into account the following mitigating factors:
(i) the driver and the team candidly admitted the mistake and the fact that there was confusion within the team as to whether to stay out or to enter the pits and that led to the infringement.
(ii) The fact that the infringement took place during a Safety Car period.
(iii) At no time was there any danger to any other competitor and the change in direction was executed in a safe way.
Taking all of the above into account, including considering previous infringements of the above rule, we are of the opinion that a reprimand would be the appropriate penalty for the said infringement on this occasion.”