Lewis Hamilton’s weekend in Brazil was full of ups and downs, with one further marginally sour note being received from race stewards after his magnificent victory in Sao Paulo.
The Mercedes driver had to start Saturday’s sprint from the back after being excluded from qualifying, then after finishing fifth in the sprint was still only starting the main event in 10th as a result of a prior grid penalty handed out for the use of a new engine.
During the race he was also forced off-track as he battled with Max Verstappen for first place, with his Dutch rival not punished for the move which led to the near-miss. Hamilton himself was unsurprised at the stewards’ decision to not investigate the Red Bull driver, while his boss Toto Wolff was somewhat more forceful in his assessment of the call, labelling it “laughable”.
Despite all those hurdles, Hamilton forced his way to the front of the pack and won the Brazilian Grand Prix to move back to within 14 points of Verstappen in the championship – but part of his post-race celebrations have cost him with a €5,000 fine.
“The driver of car 44, Lewis Hamilton, undid his seat belts on the in-lap at the end of the race,” a bulletin from FIA stewards announced.
“While the Stewards are sympathetic to the desire to celebrate, it is fundamentally unsafe to undo the seatbelts while the car is in motion. Slow speeds in these cars are very fast for an unrestrained occupant.
“Further, Formula 1 drivers set the example for junior categories. It is critical that junior category drivers learn the importance of using all the safety devices of the car at all times.”
As well as the initial expense, an additional €20,000 fine was given to Hamilton, suspended to the end of the 2022 season.
Verstappen, meanwhile, was fined €50,000 before the race for touching the Mercedes car driven by Hamilton, in a breach of parc ferme regulations.
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