Hamilton escapes grid penalty for Q3 incident

© XPB 

Lewis Hamilton has escaped a grid penalty after being summoned to the race stewards at the Red Bull Ring over an alleged breach of yellow flag rules during Saturday's qualifying session for the Austrian Grand Prix.

Hamilton claimed second place on the grid for tomorrow's race after losing out to his Mercedes team mate Valtteri Bottas by 0.012s - despite Bottas drifting off track and into the gravel on his final flying lap.

It was this incident that brought out a brief yellow flag, and affected several drivers who had to slow down as a safety precaution. As a result they were unable to improve upon their earlier times.

Running just behind Bottas, Hamilton didn't slow down between turns five and seven and went on to set his fastest time of the final round - even though it still wasn't sufficient to beat the Finn to pole.

However that failure to reduce his speed could end up potentially in hot water if the race stewards had deemed him to have broken the rules. “I came out of turn four and there was a big puff of dust," Hamilton recalled later.

"I didn’t know where the car was or anything and managed to see that Valtteri was just about to come on track. Fortunately it didn’t affect the lap and he kept his position.

The question came down to whether Hamilton was shown the yellow flag for Bottas' veering off, or whether he was already through the sector in question by the time that the race officials responded.

"Not that I saw, no," Hamilton insisted when asked if there had been any yellow flags. "I came round the corner, got on the power and I thought that Valtteri had perhaps gone wide and then come back on further up the road.

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 in qualifying parc ferme.

"I was looking out for the gravel on the track and the car on the track, but there was nothing there so I continued.

"Then I saw going into turn six, that Valtteri was much further to the left. So it happened pretty quick."

If the stewards had decided that he did breach the rules, he could have been handed a costly grid penalty that would have dropped him off the front row. That was what happened last year at this event, when he was demoted from P2 to P5 for impeding Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Raikkonen.

But on this occasion, the stewards decided that no further action was required over that particular incident.

"The driver mentioned that he passed a green light panel in turn 5," said a statement from the stewards.

"The video footage confirmed that there had been yellow flags and green light panels at the same time and therefore conflicting signals were shown to the driver.

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W11.

"Taking this into account, the stewards decide to take no action."

Hamilton had also been summoned to the stewards office to discuss a second incident earlier in the same session, in which he ran wide and off track at the exit of turn 10. The stewards decided that he should be docked the lap time of 1:03.061s in question.

"The car left the track. As no lap time had been achieved in the lap following the infringement, only the lap time in which the infringement had happened is being deleted."

However losing that lap didn't change the result of the session or the order of tomorrow's starting grid, as his subsequent effort was still good enough to put him into second place.

Gallery: The beautiful wives and girlfriends of F1 drivers

Keep up to date with all the F1 news via Facebook and Twitter