Lewis Hamilton escaped major Brazil GP penalty as race footage scrutinised

Lewis Hamilton narrowly avoided a huge penalty at the Brazilian Grand Prix despite jumping the gun when it came to reacting to the five red lights. The Mercedes ace ended up finishing eighth after losing three positions during the race, with the Silver Arrows enduring one of their worst weekends in recent memory.

Footage of the race start showed that Hamilton edged forward in his grid box before the lights went out, leading to calls on social media for him to be penalised for a false start. The offence is usually punished with a five- or ten-second penalty or a drive-through, depending on the advantage gained.

However, the FIA decided not to give Hamilton any penalties after it was determined that his slight movement did not warrant a false start because he stayed within the lines. In order to sanction a false start, a driver must leave his grid position before the lights go out by crossing the orange line on the front left side of the box.

Hamilton managed to avoid crossing the orange line by quickly stopping his car just before the start, which he took at a standstill. Therefore, he did not commit an offence as his early reaction did not incur a false start and he was not penalised as a result.

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That aside, it was still a desperately poor weekend from the Brit as he slipped down the order despite making a reasonably strong start to the race. He jumped up to third by passing Fernando Alonso and Lance Stroll on lap one but was unable to maintain solid pace and was overtaken by the likes of Carlos Sainz and Pierre Gasly before the chequered flag.

George Russell, meanwhile, was forced into an early retirement as his power unit neared the point of failure, with Mercedes opting to bring him into the garage rather than nursing the car to the end. Toto Wolff was highly critical of his own team in the aftermath, branding their collective performance as ‘inexcusable’ while struggling to hide his disappointment.

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“Inexcusable performance, there’s even no words for that,” said the Mercedes boss. “That car finished second last week and the week before and whatever we did to it was horrible. Lewis survived out there but George… I can only feel for the two drivers with such a miserable thing.

“It shows how difficult the car is, it’s on a knife’s edge. We’ve got to develop that better for next year because it can’t be that, within seven days, you’re finishing on the podium as one of the two quickest cars and then you’re nowhere.”

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