Hamilton could face grid penalty after two incidents in final practice

    • Joined ESPN in 2009
    • An FIA accredited F1 journalist since 2011

JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia — Lewis Hamilton could face a grid penalty at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix after being summoned to the stewards for an alleged breach of yellow flag rules and a near miss with Haas driver Nikita Mazepin in final practice.

Hamilton was ordered to attend a hearing at 7 p.m. local time after initially being reported to the stewards for not respecting double yellow waved flags 22 minutes into the session.

Five minutes before the 7 p.m. hearing, a second summons was issued to Hamilton for impeding Mazepin at Turn 8.

Failing to slow sufficiently for double waved yellow flags is an offence under the FIA’s International Sporting Code and usually carries a five-place grid penalty in Formula One. Hamilton’s title rival Max Verstappen was penalised five places for a similar offence during qualifying for the Qatar Grand Prix two weeks ago.

Hamilton’s yellow flag incident was separate to a near collision with Haas driver Nikita Mazepin later in the session in which Hamilton was caught driving slowly on the racing line in Turn 8 and forced Mazepin to take avoiding action.

Impeding is rarely treated as harshly during a practice session as it is during qualifying, but the dangerous nature of the incident will likely be a factor in the investigation. At the time, FIA race director Michael Masi said neither driver had received warning flags about the presence of the other car.

If Hamilton is penalised for either incident, it could have a big impact on the championship race, with the Mercedes driver currently eight points behind Verstappen with two races remaining.

Hamilton can ensure the title battle goes down to the final race by finishing in fifth place or higher in Saudi Arabia, but needs to outscore Verstappen this weekend to stand the best chance of securing his eighth world title in Abu Dhabi.

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