FIA race director Charlie Whiting has explained why Mercedes’ ‘phantom’ pit stop during the Italian Grand Prix did not breach the Formula 1 sporting regulations, calling the move “all part of the game.”

Mercedes’ pit crew was seen outside the team’s garage preparing for a stop towards the end of Lap 20 as Lewis Hamilton ran second behind Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen, suggesting it planned to pit the British driver.

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Raikkonen came into the pits, going into the Ferrari pit box next to Mercedes’, but Hamilton continued on his way before eventually pitting eight laps later. Hamilton would go on to win the race after passing Raikkonen for the lead with nine laps to go.

Mercedes’ apparent dummy pit stop on Lap 20 resulted in some debate as to whether the team had breached the regulations.

Article 28.12 of the F1 sporting regulations reads: “Team personnel are only allowed in the pit lane immediately before they are required to work on a car and must withdraw as soon as the work is complete.”


However, Whiting explained after the race that as Mercedes could fairly show it intended to pit Hamilton before deciding against it at the last minute, and as its crew did not impede Raikkonen’s stop, the stop was not against the regulations.

“My feeling is that it is all part of the game,” Whiting said.

“We don’t like teams hanging around in the pit lane if they are not actually doing a pit stop. If they did it every lap I think we would have something to say.

“But they may well have been thinking about doing one and then changed their mind, so unless someone does something overtly incorrect, I don’t think we will do anything about it.
 
“If it’s clear that that’s what they are doing, to make it more difficult for another car to come in and they had no intention of pitting, then we might well want to investigate it.”

Mercedes F1 boss Toto Wolff explained after the race how the team had planned to do the opposite to Raikkonen’s strategy with Hamilton, meaning that had Ferrari kept the Finn out, the pit stop would have gone ahead.

“It wasn’t a ‘phantom’ stop. You need to be prepared if you undercut or overcut,” Wolff said.

“We didn’t know if Kimi was coming in so the message was to do the opposite. Doing the opposite means you need to have the pit crew prepared.”

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