Michael Schumacher kicked off his 300th F1 race weekend with a 2,500 euro fine for not entering pit lane in the correct manner during the Friday afternoon Free Practice 2 session.
According to the official stewards' decision released by the FIA, the Mercedes driver "did not stay to the right of the bollard on the left in the pit entry" when he came in, just over an hour into the rain-hit session.
That's a breach of Appendix L, Chapter IV, Article 4(b) of the FIA International Sporting Code, covering a driver's conduct as he comes onto pit lane. Incorrect entry into pit lane can be deemed a serious offence and occur stiffer penalties if other cars or anyone in the pit lane are put at rick by the breach, but the stewards accepted this was not the case with this incident.
"The driver did not enter the pit lane via the pit entry as defined in the race director's notes to team managers," the decision noted. "However as no other cars were in the vicinity, the offence is not regarded as dangerous and it did not impede another competitor."
The four race stewards at Spa this weekend are Garry Connelly, Steve Chopping, Yves Bacquelaine and former GP driver Eliseo Salaza.
On Thursday, race director Charlie Whiting reportedly admitted that Schumacher had been unfairly penalised at the last Grand Prix before the August break at the Hungaroring in Budapest.
Schumacher triggered a second attempt at a start after he managed to line up in the wrong grid spot after the formation lap and then killed his engine. That forced him to start the race from pit lane, and he was handed a drive-thru penalty for speeding in pit lane to get to the exit to await the green light.
However, according to Germany's Auto Motor und Sport
, Whiting now concedes that the drive-thru was incorrect as the race had not officially started. Speeding on pit lane outside of race conditions warrants a fine, not a drive-thru penalty.
Schumacher ultimately retired from the Hungary race after suffering a puncture on lap 58.