Lewis Hamilton turned down the chance to defend himself in front of the stewards for his collision with Alex Albon towards the end of the Brazilian Grand Prix.
Albon was running second after a Safety Car restart on the penultimate lap of the race when Hamilton tried to overtake down the inside into Turn 10. Hamilton made contact with Albon’s right rear tire to tap the Red Bull into a spin that relegated the rookie to the back of the field, and after an investigation the world champion was handed a five-second time penalty.
Hamilton was called to the stewards’ room after the race to give his version of events, but FIA race director Michael Masi says he simply admitted fault.
“We did summons both drivers, but the team admitted to the breach,” Masi said. (Mercedes sporting director Ron Meadows) came down and said ‘don’t need to summons us, Lewis has admitted it’, and that’s it.”
Hamilton took to the podium before receiving his penalty, meaning Carlos Sainz did not get to stand on the podium for the first time despite being promoted to third place. Given the speed of the time penalties handed out at the end of races in Mexico and the United States to Daniil Kvyat, there was some criticism of how the incident was handled, but Masi says the Safety Car restart with two laps remaining needed focus.
“Obviously with everything that had happened in that last period of the race… it was a very late call for the Safety Car to come in. Because it was so close, (the stewards) were going to do a post-race investigation.
“Kvyat’s (in Mexico) if I recall, there was longer lap time, more time overall, that was their determination. Why they chose that, I don’t know, but they did. I’m not in the room so I can’t tell you what their discussion was or wasn’t.”