The FIA’s Formula 1 race director Michael Masi says there was nothing stopping Lewis Hamilton from visiting the stewards during the red flag interruption in the Italian Grand Prix.
Hamilton had been handed a 10-second stop-and-go penalty for entering the pit lane when the pit entry was closed, but hadn’t seen the boards indicating he could not do so. As a result, when the race was halted soon afterwards due to a crash for Charles Leclerc, he took the opportunity to visit the stewards for an explanation, and Masi (pictured above) says he has no problem with Hamilton doing so.
“From my understanding yes, during the race suspension Lewis did go up and see the stewards,” Masi said. “I don’t know what was said because I wasn’t in there, but from my understanding it was that once he saw the footage he came across fairly content. As content as you can be.
“There’s nothing stopping it and thankfully we don’t have too many red flags. The stewards — like everyone — have a very much open-door policy. If someone’s got a question, they can ask.”
Hamilton also felt the penalty was a harsh one given the impact it had in relegating him to the back of the field and comfortably adrift of the pack, but Masi says the stewards have a mandatory sanction in those situations as Antonio Giovinazzi was also given the same punishment.
“So in the sporting regulations — and it was actually detailed in the stewards’ decisions for both Lewis’ offense and Antonio’s offense — it’s very clear that the penalty under Article 38.3d will be imposed on any driver who in the opinion of the stewards entered the pit lane for any other reason while it was closed. So the simple part is that there is no flexibility within that, the stewards have a mandatory penalty that they must apply.
“All of the mandatory penalties within the sporting regulations, we also went through one by one with all of the team sporting directors last year to see those that we collectively felt needed to be changed versus those that needed to stay in. And the sporting directors unanimously that they had to stay. So all of the teams are well and truly familiar with the mandatory penalties throughout the sporting regulations.”
Hamilton’s penalty came due to Kevin Magnussen’s car being pushed into the pit lane after the Haas driver retired, with the gap in the barrier where he stopped only big enough to allow marshals to access the track. However, the red flag period also saw teams able to change tires and certain parts on cars freely, something Masi says can be looked at if the sport collectively calls for it.
“From that perspective — and from my understanding — the race suspension regulations have been as such for quite a long time. Thankfully it’s not something that occurs all that often, and if there are elements of the regulations that need to be reviewed, we will review it in a Sporting Working Group with all of the team sporting directors and if something is necessary go through the required process to do it.
“Nothing will change for the remainder of 2020 but we’ll have a discussion about what happens in future and learn from it and see if there’s anything that can be improved.”