Lewis Hamilton ‘slammed door’ of FIA stewards’ room after 2016 ‘mistake’ surfaces

Thomas Maher
The crashed Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton following a collision with Nico Rosberg at the 2016 Spanish Grand Prix.

The crashed Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton following a collision with Nico Rosberg at the 2016 Spanish Grand Prix.

An FIA steward has revealed one of the biggest errors of his career came judging the big Lewis Hamilton/Nico Rosberg collision in 2016.

Back in 2016, with the Drivers’ Championship battle heating up between dominant Mercedes teammates Hamilton and Rosberg, one of the main flashpoints of that season was the infamous collision between the pair as they fought for the lead at the start of the Spanish Grand Prix.

Approaching Turn 4, Hamilton attempted to use his greater momentum to slingshot past Rosberg but, with the German closing the door, ended up on the grass. Losing control, the two cars collided and ended up in the gravel.

Tim Mayer: My biggest mistake involved Lewis Hamilton

Appearing on the F1 Nation podcast, Chairman of the FIA stewards Tim Mayer appeared alongside host Tom Clarkson to reflect on the US Grand Prix weekend and shed some light on how the stewards operate.

Intriguingly, when asked to recount a story of how the conversations between competitors and the stewards can play out, Mayer revealed that one of his biggest regrets had been how he handled the fall-out from the Hamilton/Rosberg collision – although not for the official decision not to take further action with neither driver predominantly to blame.

Mayer had been one of three stewards that weekend, alongside Radovan Novak and Martin Donnelly, and revealed that his conversations with Hamilton hadn’t been handled particularly well on his own part.

“My biggest mistake ever as a steward was in 2016 [at the Spanish GP] – Hamilton and Rosberg started the race in Barcelona and they crashed,” he explained.

“Both drivers were out. We bring them in afterward. And we decide no further action in the end.

“But Lewis says to me, ‘Well, what was I supposed to do?’ As a steward, somebody who’s never driven an F1 car, I started to tell him what I thought he ought to have done.

“That wasn’t respectful of me, he got up, he was a bit mad and he slammed the door and walked out. Poor Ron Meadows, his team manager, went absolutely white in the face and said, ‘Oh, I’ll get him back to apologise’.

“I said ‘Actually, Ron, I need you to go and apologise on my behalf because it was a stupid thing for me to do’. It’s maybe not my stupidest thing as a steward but I’m not going to tell you the other ones!”

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Tim Mayer: It’s not the FIA stewards vs. F1 drivers

While not a steward over the US Grand Prix weekend, Mayer weighed in on the topic of the underfloor planks that resulted in the disqualification of Hamilton and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc due to excessive wear underneath their cars.

“With these cars, that create most of their downforce with the underfloor, you have to have some way of stopping them from just absolutely sending the car right down to the ground,” he said.

“So this plank, which is down the middle of the car, is a piece of… everybody has a little bit of different stuff but jabroc is what they mostly call it – it wears and that means that you can’t go all the way down as far as you want.

“If you wear that plank too much, it means the car has been too low to the ground and that downforce that you get from that underfloor effect is more than we care for them to have.”

But while the drivers and teams may not always be happy with the outcome of visits to the stewards’ offices, Mayer said that it usually is a respectful and civilised battleground as he outlined how the stewards should be viewed as a service, rather than an obstacle.

“The teams are so professional, the drivers are so professional – it’s all about respect,” he said.

“And they respect us. We’ve got an enormous amount of information in that room, they know that we’ve got the goods, and we respect them.

“It’s not about the FIA stewards versus the drivers. I always like to say that we’re a service provider for the teams, we’re there to help provide a level playing field. As long as we treat them with respect, they tend to treat us with respect.”

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