Hamilton started 14th and went on to win the race when leader and main championship rival Sebastian Vettel crashed out as rain hit the circuit. But the Mercedes drivers victory was at risk after the race when the stewards decided to look into Hamilton’s pit entry.
The Briton was told to box for fresh tyres when a Safety Car was called out for Vettel’s car, but Hamilton then chose not to pit, cutting across the grass separating the pit entry from the track.
Mercedes blamed miscommunication over team radio and the stewards eventually decided on a reprimand, meaning Hamilton kept the win. The stewards cited the fact it happened under the Safety Car and that Hamilton rejoined in a safe manner as reasons for not imposing a greater penalty.
Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo believes a time penalty, costing Hamilton the win, would have been a “harsh” penalty given the nature of the incident.
“I know it’s clear in my mind that if you enter [the pits] after the bollard, if he pitted doing the opposite, that’s a clear breach. But then avoiding one as he did…I don’t think it changed too much.
“The way I see it, he did a good race to come from where he did. It should be black or white so I’m not saying the circumstance should’ve affected the decision. But it seemed fine, he still deserved the win. If they would have taken the win from him for that maybe that’s a bit harsh.”
Force India’s Sergio Perez agreed, adding: “It’s a hard one but when you look at the rule then it’s clear. The reprimand came, it was under the Safety Car, he rejoined safely.
“I think the stewards looked at it carefully and decided to give a reprimand which I’m not against. I think the stewards took the decision right.”
Source: Motorsport Week