What is happening with Hamilton's safety breach?

Published on 18 October 2023 at 13:00

The FIA are still investigating the incident where Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton crossed the track, whilst not having permission to do so at the last race in Qatar. What are the FIA going to do about the matter? 


Hamilton ran across the track without permission (Image Credit: Dan Istitene - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)


How did we get to this point?


The whole controversy started after a lap one incident between Mercedes teammates Lewis Hamilton and George Russell at the last round's Qatar Grand Prix.


Hamilton tried an optimistic lunge around the outside of Russell. However, there was not enough room, resulting in the pair colliding and both spinning round. 


Hamilton was out of the race, losing his rear tyre an spinning into the gravel. Russell, on the other hand, managed to continue the race and made an impressive recovery to fourth, showing the good pace from himself and Mercedes.


With Hamilton out of the race, the seven-time world champion decided to get out of his car and cross the track to get back to his team. However, there was a still a live race going on, making it a dangerous move to cross the track without the FIA's permission.


Therefore, the FIA hit Hamilton with a reprimand and a €50,000 fine. However, the Mercedes driver only had to pay half of that with the other €25,000 being suspended - that will be paid if he receives another reprimand.


FIA revisiting the incident


More recently, the FIA had announced that they would revisit the incident, involving Hamilton. An FIA spokesperson released a statement, regarding the matter:


"The FIA notes that Lewis was apologetic during the subsequent Stewards hearing in to the incident and acknowledged that the crossing was a serious safety breach. However, in view of his role model status, the FIA is concerned about the impression his actions may have created on younger drivers."


The FIA also explained their previous decision, giving the 38-year-old a fine and a reprimand:


"After crashing out of the race in Lap 1, the driver of Car 44 abandoned his car in the gravel and ran back to the pits," said a statement from stewards.


"He thereby crossed the track that was live at this time and reached the inside edge of the track just seconds before Car 63 [Russell] arrived at high speed after exiting the pits.


"He then continued to walk alongside the track until finally exiting the track.


"During the hearing the driver of Car 44 was very apologetic and realised that the situation could have been very dangerous for him as well as the drivers approaching.


"The Stewards reinforced the fact that crossing a live track can cause extremely dangerous situations and the drivers have to be very cautious about it.


"In addition to imposing a significant fine (which is suspended in parts), the Stewards also reprimand the driver bearing in mind that receiving a certain number of reprimands during a season will draw a significant driving penalty in accordance with Article 18.2 of the FIA Formula One Sporting Regulations."


Hamilton was stranded in the gravel (Image Credit: Qian Jun/MB Media/Getty Images)

Have other drivers done it in the past?


Some have suggested that Hamilton has not been the only one to do this making it unfair on the seven-time world champion to be fined an being given a reprimand.


Sky Sports Broadcaster Karun Chandhok made the point of other drivers crossing the track after incidents. He most notably remembered Williams driver Logan Sargeant crossing the track this year in Suzuka after his qualifying incident.


Then fans across social media included more instances. Max Verstappen crossed the track after his tangle with Hamilton at the 2021 Italian Grand Prix in Monza.


Verstappen did not only cross the track in Monza. He also crossed the track after retiring from the 2021 Azerbaijan Grand Prix due to a tyre blowout on the main straight.


Verstappen crossed the track after his tyre blowout incident at the 2021 Azerbaijan Grand Prix (Image Credit: Clive Rose/Getty Images)


Therefore, is this reprimand and fine really fair for Hamilton, since other drivers have got away with it?


Nathan Hartley

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