It was a day of mixed fortunes for many. Particularly the Haas team.
Race winner Lewis Hamilton. Photo by Joe Klamar/Pool via Getty Images.
Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton scored his eighth Hungarian Grand Prix victory last Sunday. Dominant from start to finish, Hamilton took his second win of the year and moved to the top of the drivers’ championship.
Second was Max Verstappen, owing his position to the incredible Red Bull pit crew who, on the grid, repaired the front left of the car after he had slid into a barrier during the formation lap. They completed the task with just 25 seconds to spare before the grid was cleared for the start. Valtteri Bottas’ mistake at the start was to result in an epic drive to finish third, but he lost an opportunity to challenge his Mercedes team-mate.
It was a day of mixed fortunes for many. Particularly the Haas team. Kevin Magnussen was 16th and team-mate Romain Grosjean 18th after a wet qualifying session and a very damp race day. All the cars were shod with intermediates as they started the warm-up lap, when Alpha Tauri’s Daniil Kvyat contacted his pit wall, requesting a change to slicks and a start from the pit lane. He got no response so he took his position on the grid.
Meanwhile, both Haas drivers received a radio message instructing them to come in and change to the medium-compound dry-weather slicks and start from the pit lane. It was a gamble that paid off. After five laps the Haas pair were third and fourth, but with the power differential experienced by all Ferrari-engined teams, it was inevitable this situation would not last.
The Haas cars slipped down the field, but a sterling effort by Magnussen resulted in a ninth place at the chequered flag and the first points for the team this season. Unfortunately for Haas, the stewards instigated an investigation regarding the use of “driver aids” and reached the decision that both cars had breached Article 27.1 of the FIA Formula One Sporting Regulations during the formation lap. The regulation states that “the driver must drive the car alone and unaided”. The stewards summoned the two drivers and informed them that the use of radio transmissions during the formation lap was a breach of regulations, subsequently issuing a 10 second penalty to both of them.
There is a definite need for rules and regulations in any sport, but this one confuses me. Why the formation lap is singled out I cannot imagine. Does this mean that during the race this “driver’s aid” is acceptable? We constantly hear radio messages advising drivers to change settings on their steering wheels, emanating from his engineer during the race. Surely that is more relevant driver assistance than aformation lap directive. Heaven alone knows where the pit issued message “box, box, box!” fits in. After all, that is certainly not a driver decision but a team instruction.
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