Lewis Hamilton’s lock-up and subsequent excursion on to the grass at the start of last weekend’s Mexican GP became a major talking point after the race as no penalty had been inflicted to the Mercedes driver while Max Verstappen was punished for a similar mishap.
Several drivers were in the camp that viewed FIA race director Charlie Whiting’s decision as applying a double standard.
“How you can be leading the race, defend, lock your wheels and go off track and still stay in the lead?” Daniel Ricciardo told Sky Sports.
“I think Lewis deserved a penalty; I think anyone in that position deserves a penalty.
“I saw Max (Verstappen) cut the chicane trying to defend Seb. He got a penalty, so I don’t know what was that different between his move and Lewis’s.”
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Having spoken with Whiting on Sunday evening, Sky Sports commentator Martin Brundle elaborated on the subject in his usual post-race op-ed, and explained why Hamilton’s move went penalty free.
“The stewards usually give some leeway in the mad dash at the start of a race and through the first lap, there’s so much going on that they would be overwhelmed with potential enquiries?” Brundle explained in his Mexico GP column for Sky Sports.
“That’s what happens when you line 22 cars up together and start as one.
“The key consideration in these types of incidents is whether a ‘lasting advantage’ is deemed to have been gained.
“But the data sent back to Race Control from Hamilton’s Mercedes showed that he got off the throttle when he came back on track to take himself back towards the pack even before the Virtual Safety Car was deployed.
“It was also the case that the two cars behind him were squabbling for position with one cutting the corner and not challenging him for the lead of the race. So hence he wasn’t penalised.”
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