Mercedes punished by FIA following Lewis Hamilton investigation after Saudi GP practice

Thomas Maher

Lewis Hamilton was called to see the stewards after second practice in Saudi Arabia, following a blocking incident in the session.

Hamilton was found to have blocked Williams’ Logan Sargeant during the second practice session in Saudi Arabia, at one of the fastest sections of the Jeddah Corniche Circuit.

Lewis Hamilton called before the Saudi Arabia GP stewards

Sargeant was on a fast lap when he turned into the high-speed Turn 10, only to find Hamilton loitering in the middle of the track – resulting in the American driver having to take avoiding action to prevent a catastrophe.

Sargeant was forced to back off, ruining his lap, with Hamilton having been seemingly unaware of the approach of the Williams driver.

Jumping on the team radio, Hamilton admitted he hadn’t known the Williams was approaching: “I didn’t realise someone was on a lap. I was trying to get out of the way for Sainz and, all of a sudden, there was a Williams there.”

Both were called before the stewards for an alleged breach of Article 37.5 of the Sporting Regulations, for the unnecessary impeding of another car, with the stewards finding Hamilton to have committed the breach.

However, instead of punishing the driver, it’s Mercedes who took the heat from the stewards, picking up a monetary fine of €15,000 – Hamilton merely being given a warning. recommends

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Having heard from both Hamilton and Sargeant, as well as team representatives and reviewing data and video, Hamilton was determined to have impeded Sargeant, resulting in the Williams having to take evasive action.

“Had that not been done, there would have been a serious, high speed crash,” the stewards said.

“Having listened to the team radio, it was clear to us that the team of Car 44 [Mercedes] failed to warn [Hamilton] of the fact that [Sargeant] was arriving on a fast lap.

“That was a serious failure on the part of the team, particularly given the speeds on this circuit and the nature of Turn 11, which is at the end of a series of high-speed corners where driver visibility is impaired.

“We therefore issue a warning to the driver and impose a fine of €15,000 to the team.”

Traffic was a major topic during the second practice session as several drivers, including Fernando Alonso, complained about the closing speeds and proximity of other cars around the blind high-speed sweeps of the Jeddah Corniche, with Alonso exclaiming “So dangerous!” during the session as Carlos Sainz jumped out of his way through one blind section of the circuit.

Hamilton returned to the pits in the closing minutes after an off-track moment after which he complained that he was down on power – Mercedes has confirmed the British driver inadvertently hit the pit limiter button while catching a snap, allowing Hamilton to resume the circuit for the final minutes of the session.

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