Lewis Hamilton keeps his victory in the German Grand Prix after being handed a reprimand for cutting the pit lane entry during the race.
When the Safety Car was deployed as a result of Sebastian Vettel’s crash in the stadium section, Mercedes called both drivers into the pits immediately as they were approaching the pit entry, but Valtteri Bottas’ team didn’t have tires ready.
Hamilton was also called in but saw Kimi Raikkonen stay out, leading him to question the decision. Having taken to the pit entry, Hamilton then cut across the grass to stay out on track, inheriting the lead when Raikkonen pit a lap later.
The stewards summoned Hamilton for breaching part of the FIA International Sporting Code that states: “Except in cases of force majeure (accepted as such by the stewards), the crossing, in any direction, of the line separating the pit entry and the track by a car entering the pit lane is prohibited.”
Having found Hamilton guilty of the breach nearly three hours after the race, the stewards opted to hand the defending champion a reprimand rather than a time penalty, saying there were three mitigating factors to the incident.
“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,” the stewards decision read.
“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.”
The reprimand is Hamilton’s first of the season, and the result is he keeps his victory and now leads Vettel by 17 points in the drivers’ championship.