Driv­ers ques­tion why Hamil­ton was not pe­nalised on 1st turn

Malta Independent - - SPORT -

Lewis Hamil­ton won the Mex­i­can Grand Prix with the help of a wide turn through the grass and dirt at the first corner.

It was a cru­cial vic­tory for the de­fend­ing cham­pion if he is to catch Mercedes team­mate Nico Ros­berg in this sea­son’s ti­tle chase with just two races left.

But sev­eral driv­ers ques­tioned why Hamil­ton wasn’t pe­nalised for go­ing off track and re­turn­ing with a huge lead. The move came when Hamil­ton locked his right front brake com­ing out of the long straight off the start.

“Very sur­prised by that. Mas­sive ad­van­tage,” said Force In­dia’s Nico Hulken­berg, who started fifth and had a good view of Hamil­ton’s drive into the first turn. “I think he was go­ing well off the track. He was far, far from mak­ing turn one and two ... That it’s not even be­ing looked at is amaz­ing to me.”

Hamil­ton started on pole po­si­tion and the ma­neou­vre helped him stay ahead of Ros­berg. It was crit­i­cal for both the race and the chase for the sea­son championship.

Race of­fi­cials chose not to re­view Hamil­ton’s move, but did look at a bump be­tween Ros­berg and Red Bull’s Max Ver­stap­pen at the same turn that briefly sent Ros­berg into the grass as well. No penalty was as­sessed in that case.

Ver­stap­pen was later pe­nalised 5 sec­onds for run­ning wide into the grass at the same corner as Hamil­ton’s drive-off. Ver­stap­pen’s wild ride came in a late-race duel for the third with Fer­rari’s Se­bas­tian Vet­tel, and the penalty cost him a podium fin­ish.

“Lewis gained a mas­sive ad­van­tage (at the start),” Ver­stap­pen told Sky Sports. “I didn’t gain an ad­van­tage. When I came back on track I was the same length in front so I think it’s ridicu­lous.”

Hamil­ton in­sisted they were dif­fer­ent rac­ing sit­u­a­tions.

“I think I was still in the lead go­ing in. I was still in the lead go­ing out,” Hamil­ton said.

Red Bull’s Daniel Ric­cia­rdo, who fin­ished third, wasn’t so sure.

“How you can be lead­ing, lock the brakes, go off and come out in front?” Ric­cia­rdo said. “I think he de­served the penalty. I think any­one who does that de­serves a penalty.”

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