Today, the Russian Grand Prix was supposed to be a celebration of a remarkable achievement.
Lewis Hamilton was on course to equal the record for most wins set by Ferrari legend Michael Schumacher at 91. The Brit started on pole, however, a minor infringement during the reconnaissance lap to the starting grid gave him a 10-second penalty.
The penalty essentially cost the Brit his win, meaning he has to wait to equal Schumacher's record.
The infringement itself was to do with the practice start procedure. When drivers go to the end of the pit-lane for the reconnaissance lap, they have a dedicated lane to perform these practice starts for the race.
Hamilton positioned his car outside of the dedicated area, not once, but twice. Although the first offence at the end of the pit-lane could be called into question, the second offence was clear cut.
Hamilton stopped at the end of the pit exit, i.e on the track, which is not permitted. The separate infringements equated to two five-second penalties, which meant that when Hamilton made his first (and only) pitstop of the race, his mechanics could not change the tyres for 10 seconds.
Hamilton was frustrated, exclaiming down the radio: “What happened? What happened?!!”, “Where’s that in the rule book?”
His frustration was compounded when Mercedes elected to pit him earlier than expected to make sure that he stayed in front of the Renault of Esteban Ocon after taking the penalty. This worked, but Hamilton was not happy with the amount of laps he had to do on the hard compound tyres.
“Why did you pit me in early?” he questioned the team.
Hamilton managed to finish on the podium in third place, minimising the damage done by the penalties.
Although it is disappointing for Hamilton, it’s still a question of when, not if, Hamilton will equal the incredible record set by the great German.
As for his teammate Valtteri Bottas, it was a comfortable win, his second of the season, as he closes the points gap to the Brit from 55 to 45.
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