Posted on July 31, 2011
Darren Heath

Lewis Hamilton’s race today was compromised by a bad strategy call to go for intermediates when they were not needed and by a drive through penalty for almost colliding with Paul di Resta as Hamilton recovered from a spin.

The incident was uncannily similar to one he had in the Turkish round of the 2006 GP2 series. Hamilton received no penalty for it in GP2 but he did today.

Take a look at this video at 49 seconds from the start.

Today Di Resta had to go with all four wheels off the track to avoid Hamilton and the stewards, featuring Allan McNish in the ex driver role, didn’t like it. McNish didn’t like Hamilton’s moves in Monaco either, the last time he was an F1 steward, handing him a drive through penalty for colliding with Massa and a further 20 second penalty for colliding with Maldonado.

Some of the experienced ex drivers in the F1 paddock expressed some surprise that the Di Resta incident warranted a drive through. On the whole ex driver stewards this season and last have persuaded their colleagues to give the driver the benefit of the doubt in close calls.

“I honestly have to apologise to Paul di Resta. I didn’t see him,” said Hamilton. “I had absolutely no clue. I don’t know what happened but I got a penalty for something, which is to be expected, I guess, sometimes. So I apologise to him.”

This contrasts with his reaction in Monaco that McNish’s and colleagues’ decision to penalise him was “an absolute fricking joke.”

Di Resta’s response was, “Thankfully I saw him quite early, I saw before I went into the chicane he’d had a moment. And just as I came out of the chicane, I was a bit surprised, but at the same time there was time to take action on it. I think Lewis was leading the race at that point so I can fully understand what he was trying to do.

“But there’s no harsh feelings. I spoke to Lewis about it, he just said he didn’t see me. But if it had cost us a lot of points then it would have been a hard one.”

Like the GP2 incident it certainly looked dangerous, but Di Resta’s comment that, from his perspective, “There was time to take action on it” in conjunction with the lack of penalty by stewards in 2006, makes one wonder whether that makes it a penalty worthy offence. Perhaps this will set a precendent.

And as Di Resta is managed by Hamilton’s father Anthony, there is not likely to be any issue between them.

Penalties in F1 do not carry a cumulative sanction like yellow cards in football, whereby a player is suspended for a match for accruing a number of yellow cards in a season.

As the holder of a season pass to the stewards’ office this year Hamilton will be grateful for that.


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