Lewis Hamilton escaped a penalty for cutting across the track at Turn 1 of the Mexican Grand Prix because telemetry showed he backed off immediately afterwards to lose the advantage he had gained.
The Mercedes driver locked up at the first corner – and elected to run straight on across the grass before rejoining with his lead intact at Turn 3.
Although several drivers questioned why Hamilton was not sanctioned for what happened – especially after a similar incident by Max Verstappen earned him a five-second penalty – it has emerged that it was what happened afterwards that proved key to the world champion being allowed to race on.
Motorsport.com has learned that F1 race director Charlie Whiting and the race stewards were comfortable that Hamilton had not gained a ‘lasting advantage’ from the incident.
Indeed, the fact that Hamilton backed off, as was proven by telemetry readings that they saw, meant there was no doubt the Briton did not deserve a punishment.
In Verstappen’s case, the stewards decided that the Dutchman had only been able to retain his position by driving across the grass and rejoining the track – which is why he was given the five-second penalty that cost him a podium.
The other incident that was investigated was the first corner clash between Verstappen and Hamilton’s Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg.
Rosberg was forced wide after banging wheels with Verstappen, and appeared to benefit from being able to cut out the second corner as he rejoined ahead of his Red Bull rival.
The matter was looked at closely by the stewards, but it was decided that no action needed to be taken because Verstappen had contributed to running Rosberg wide.
It is understood the stewards felt that Verstappen did not leave room for Rosberg – although he wasn’t penalised for pushing him off track.
The video footage analysed by the stewards showed that Rosberg was in front at the apex of the corner, and they felt that the German had rejoined in the same position he had been at the apex – therefore gaining no advantage.