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Hamilton, Vettel escape punishment for pit-lane clash

Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel get slapped wrists, but nothing more, from Chinese GP stewards after banging wheels in pit-lane.
Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel both escape serious punishment for their clashes in pit-lane during the Chinese Grand Prix, with race stewards deciding not to influence either the result of the round or their chances in Spain next time out.

While many were predicting grid penalties for one or both - the only real course of action had the stewards decided to come down heavily on the pair - they escaped with little more than a slapped wrist, despite both appearing to endanger others in pit-lane as they raced in and out of their tyre stops.

Hamilton had already made a contentious entry to his first stop, on lap two, cutting across the gravel trap after a late call to switch to intermediate rubber - a 'mistake' according to the driver after the race - but a subsequent stop coincided with a heated battle with polesitter Vettel as both made their way back up through the field.

Hamilton seemed still to be competing with the German as the left the track and entered pit-road, passing the Red Bull driver with at least two wheels over the white line separating what was legitimately considered part of the racing surface from the tarmac and grass that lay beyond, and then continued to race as the pair left their respective stalls.

Vettel's Red Bull crew, positioned early in the pits than Hamilton and McLaren, had managed to change the German's tyres and release the RB6 around a second before Hamilton could move, with the result that he was alongside as the Briton put the power down. A painted strip, wet from the rain that blighted the race, saw the McLaren snap sideways before Hamilton gathered it up and proceeded to run side-by-side with his rival to pit exit.

While it appeared that the 2008 world champion was the man with most to lose when the matter was referred to the stewards, Vettel did little to aid his cause by subsequently edging Hamilton close to pit equipment at garages further down the lane. The German eventually exited ahead, but had no answer to the superior McLaren as the race wore on, with Hamilton passing him on track six laps later, before going on to claim second place behind team-mate Jenson Button.

The Briton initially appeared not recall the incident - "I'm not really sure what they are talking about," he told reporters - before trying to play down the severity of it.

"I don't really remember too much about it," he admitted, "I think Vettel got on the outside of me on the exit of the last corner, and I was worried that he was going to turn into the last corner and I was going straight, so I just kept going and he came with me. We got round into the pit-lane, so it was fine.

"When I did the pit-stop, the guys waited for some time to let all the cars go past and they released me at what I thought was a good time, [but] there's a big, long, blue line down the pit-lane which is all painted and it's so slippery. As soon as I hit that, I had some major wheelspin and lost a bit of traction. Unfortunately, that let Vettel get alongside me, but otherwise it was good racing.

"As far as I am concerned I think it was okay. As I came out, I noticed Sebastian was there and he was pushing me a little bit to the right. We touched wheels but, otherwise, I think it was fair."

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren Mercedes MP4-25
Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing RB 6
Race, Sebastian Vettel (GER), Red Bull Racing, RB6 and Lewis Hamilton (GBR), McLaren  Mercedes, MP4-25
21.09.2014 - Race, Celebration, Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W05 race winner with Jurgen Hubbert (GER), Mercedes
21.09.2014 - Race, Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W05 race winner
21.09.2014 - Race, Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W05 race winner
21.09.2014 - Race, Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W05 race winner
21.09.2014 - Race, Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W05 race winner
21.09.2014 - Race, 2nd position Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing RB10
21.09.2014 - Race, Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W05 race winner
21.09.2014 - Race, Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W05 race winner
21.09.2014 - Race, Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W05 race winner
21.09.2014 - Race, 3rd position Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Red Bull Racing RB10
21.09.2014 - Race, Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W05 race winner
21.09.2014 - Race, Pit stop, Sergio Perez (MEX) Sahara Force India F1 VJM07
21.09.2014 - Race, Pit stop, Daniil Kvyat (RUS) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR9
21.09.2014 - Race, Pit stop, Max Chilton (GBR), Marussia F1 Team MR03
21.09.2014 - Race, Pit stop, Jean-Eric Vergne (FRA) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR9

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Magician - Unregistered

April 19, 2010 7:33 AM

Gazza01 - not spineless, but showing commonsense for once. Vettel didn't 'push Hamilton so far right'. You can't punish 'what if's ?', there would be no end to it. There was nobody in that part of the pitlane so there was nobody to endanger, that's whay everyone stays in the garage when not actually doing anything, not just standing around waiting to get run over. Motor racing would die, as nobody would be able to do anything because the 'what if someone got hurt ?' attutide would take over and we would all be watching bloody snooker. Why do you watch motor sport if you don't want any excitement from it ?

Jagworth - Unregistered

April 19, 2010 7:33 AM

what is wrong with F1 officials? Hamilton's driving was dangerous FULL STOP. Vettel also deserves sanction for his equally dangerous creep over, but Hamilton was the aggressor from before entry to pit lane. It stinks - both should have been penalised.

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