Martin Brundle questions ‘what is racing?’ after ‘harsh’ Lewis Hamilton penalty

Oliver Harden
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton in action during the Belgian Grand Prix sprint shootout. Spa, July 2023.

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton in action during the Belgian Grand Prix sprint shootout. Spa, July 2023.

Former F1 driver Martin Brundle has condemned the “harsh” penalty handed to Lewis Hamilton during the Belgian Grand Prix sprint race, insisting his collision with Sergio Perez was a racing incident.

Hamilton and Perez came to blows at Stavelot as they fought over fourth position at Spa, with the Mercedes driver’s left-front tyre making contact with the Red Bull’s sidepod.

Perez suffered a dramatic loss of pace after the collision, complaining of a loss of rear grip over team radio and losing multiple positions before running into the gravel soon after at almost the same spot as the original incident. The Mexican later returned to the pits to retire the car.

Martin Brundle disappointed by Lewis Hamilton penalty

Hamilton went on to finish fourth on the road, but was demoted to seventh at the chequered flag after incurring a five-second time penalty for causing a collision.

Brundle was aghast by the decision to penalise Hamilton during his live commentary of the race for Sky Sports F1, and reiterated his stance after seeing the incident for a second time.

However, the former Tyrrell and McLaren driver acknowledged that the effect on Perez’s race may have been a consideration in the stewards’ decision.

He said: “I thought the penalty was harsh, I’ll stand by that having now watched and analysed it.

“Lewis had claimed the corner, there was an error the corner before by Perez, and he was on the inside. Yes, the car did understeer a little bit.

“What is racing? If that’s not racing and therefore a racing incident, I don’t know. It wasn’t Lewis launching an impossible move, he was on the inside of the corner.

“It did take Checo out of the race, so we have to consider that as well, and it was definitely the Mercedes sliding left rather than the Red Bull pinching him.

“I understand what the stewards have done but I would want to call that a racing incident, because Lewis can’t disappear at that moment, he’s claimed the corner.

“What’s he going to do? He can’t disappear.”

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Brundle’s fellow pundit, Naomi Schiff, added: “I feel for Sergio Perez, because he’s had such a poor run for a couple of races. He’s really trying to get it right and each time it goes wrong it’s going to just build that frustration that he’s probably already got.

“But, as Martin says, we want to see these drivers racing and the move was on, he was side by side.

“Obviously, in these tricky conditions, you’ve got to think that the grip levels in the corners at that point are not very high, so I think Lewis was as much of a passenger in that situation and I don’t think it was delivered by any means.

“It’s a shame to see them not really being able to put up those kinds of moves, obviously unfortunate for Checo to have some damage.”

Read next: Christian Horner: Lewis Hamilton put a big hole in Sergio Perez’s sidepod