Connelly details Hamilton visit to stewards after Monza penalty

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Formula 1 race steward Garry Connelly says it's important for FIA race stewards to be able and prepared to explain the reasons behind their more controversial decisions, in order that drivers and teams fully understand them.

Connelly illustrated his comments by referring to a crucial moment in the 2020 season when Italian Grand Prix race leader Lewis Hamilton was handed a costly ten second stop-go penalty for pitting at the wrong time.

Hamilton had reacted to a safety car by diving into pit lane. While standard operating procedure in a race, on this occasion pit entry had been closed for safety reasons which neither Hamilton nor Mercedes had realised in time.

During a subsequent red flag period, Hamilton headed off to see the stewards to question what had happened and why he'd received such a stiff penalty.

"Lewis hopped on his scooter during the stoppage of the race, scooted down the pitlane, and came up and paid us a visit," Connelly recalled during Saturday's FIA web conference.

"Lewis was extremely polite," he continued. "He just said, 'Guys, can you tell me why I've been penalised?' And we said, 'Yes, because you entered the pitlane when it was closed.'

"We showed him the video replay. We showed him from his onboard camera. And there right in front of him was the warning light for the first panel, and then again, the second panel.

"[Lewis] said, 'Oh, okay. I accept that,'" Connelly added. "'But why such a harsh penalty?'

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W11 leads behind the FIA Safety Car.

"We explained to him, 'Unfortunately Lewis, it's a mandatory penalty. And we don't have any choice but to impose this penalty.'

"We referenced the appropriate regulation," he said. ""And we had no choice, and this is something that most of us don't like, we don't like mandatory penalties.

"In fact, almost all the all the chairmen of the FIA stewards in F1 and most of the other stewards in F1 disagree with mandatory penalties. But they are there, mainly at the request of the teams, and this required a stop-and-go penalty.

"Whilst he was not absolutely delighted with this, Lewis accepted it and was extremely polite as I've always found him, and left the room and went back."

"No doubt he had a few comments to his team about why they didn't warn him on the radio," Connelly added.

"[But] it just goes to show that if you can explain something, you can make a difficult decision acceptable to those to whom it applies and to the wider audience.

"I think that's a perfect example that no matter how painful the decision, it was accepted by Lewis and it was accepted by his team."

After the restart and serving his penalty, Hamilton went on to finish the race in seventh place.

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