Lewis Hamilton: ‘I hold myself accountable for missing signs’

Formula 1
Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton says he considers himself responsible for the penalty that cost him victory in the Italian Grand Prix.

The Mercedes driver pitted for fresh tyres when the pit lane was closed, a fact neither he nor the team noticed.

He said: “Nobody’s happy. We all have to hold one another accountable. I definitely hold myself accountable for not seeing the signs.

“But it is part of a whole sequence of things that weren’t perfect as a team.”

The pit lane was closed as Hamilton entered the final corner, Parabolica, before his stop.

Hamilton did not see two light boards that were on the outside of the corner, and Mercedes engineers did not notice the message on the timing screens saying the pit lane had been closed.

Race director Michael Masi closed the pit lane because Kevin Magnussen’s Haas needed to be pushed into the pit lane.

“You rely a lot on team to tell you things,” Hamilton said. “Approaching a corner, it’s generally quite easy to see but when you’re cornering in a right-hand corner, you’re looking over to the right and gauging the gap between you and the white line, so your view is centre to the right.

“Also, when there’s a car pulled over on the right you are conscious of the marshals, so that’s the area you look to.

“I don’t remember that was the indication for the pit lane closing, so that was a new experience and I am unsure why they pushed the car from that spot they could have pushed it back into. I don’t understand why they took that decision.”

Magnussen had stopped by the side of the track after Parabolica with a technical problem. He was in front of a gap in the barriers, but this was not big enough for the car to be pushed into.

Hamilton said he felt the penalty – a 10-second stop-and-go which dropped him to the back of the field – was “severe”.

“Ultimately, a stop-and-go penalty would come if you’ve done something intentional or driving dramatically and you’ve put someone in danger maybe, but, having experienced it and it almost put you out of the race, it is not the greatest thing for racing,” Hamilton said.

Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff said: “It was a weird sequence of events that maybe we could have spotted earlier.

“The decisions taken were highly unusual but absolutely within the rules.

“The Haas was parked to the right, almost behind the entry by the rail on the inside of Parabolica, and there was a single yellow and 11 seconds later a safety car was deployed. I don’t know why. We couldn’t understand. And when it was deployed they closed the entry to the pit lane.

“But it wasn’t red – it was too yellow crosses on the outside and we spotted it at the last minute. One of the strategists back home shouted into the radio as we were coming into the pit lane.

“No-one looks at page four (of the timing screens) and it is just a sequence of events that screwed Lewis’s race. Not happy, but you have to take it on the chin.”

Hamilton also explained that the reason he missed the anti-racism demonstration before the start of the race was because of a mix-up with timing his return to the garage for a comfort break after the reconnaissance laps to the grid.

He said: “Just timing. I went back to the garage, took the scooter back, and just ran out of time.

“I thought I left to come back in time – usually I am guided when to leave. I left when I thought I had enough time, but when I got back everyone was already taking the knee.

“I missed it. It’s not the end of the world. I got to see that my team had continued to take the knee and we will just try to get better with timing next time. In the past, there is another toilet somewhere closer.”

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