FIA: Hamilton opted not to defend himself to stewards
Mercedes Formula 1 driver Lewis Hamilton was penalised by the FIA stewards for his clash with Alex Albon on the penultimate lap of the Brazilian GP after declining to take up an opportunity to defend himself.
Hamilton was summoned to the stewards after they decided to hear from both drivers, thus giving the world champion a chance to explain his views, rather than apply an instant penalty.
The situation contrasted with the recent similar late-race incidents involving Daniil Kvyat in both the Mexican and the US GPs, when the Russian was penalised minutes after the flag, without his views being heard.
However, even before he was summoned, Hamilton had admitted culpability in the post-race top three TV interviews conducted on the grid by Rubens Barrichello.
Subsequently, despite being summoned, Hamilton did not appear in front of the stewards, and instead Mercedes sporting director Ron Meadows passed on the message that his driver had admitted he was at fault, in effect obliging the stewards to award a five-second penalty.
“They were going to do a post-race investigation,” said Masi. “So they did summons both drivers. But the team admitted to the breach.
“They came down and said, ‘you don't need to summons us, Lewis has admitted it', apparently from what Ron said, and that was it.
“There was an investigation, but you investigate, and you’ve got the team that comes down and says ‘we made a mistake’' it becomes a very simple investigation to the other side!”
Masi agreed that the stewards were in a difficult situation in that they wanted to give Hamilton a chance to state his case, given that a top three position was at stake, yet at the same time there was some urgency to get the right man in the podium with a quick decision.
"It's a catch-22," he said.
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