Whiting explains why Hamilton escaped penalty in Mexico

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FIA race director Charlie Whiting says Lewis Hamilton was not penalised for cutting through the grass at the start of the Mexican Grand Prix because the race stewards did not think the Mercedes driver gained a “lasting advantage”.

Starting from pole position, Hamilton led on the approach to Turn One when he locked up, ran wide but remained in first place after rejoining the track.

Several drivers, including Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo, were surprised the Briton was not even investigated for the incident, especially given that Max Verstappen was handed a penalty for a similar offence late in the grand prix.

“The principal difference between the two was simply in Lewis's case it was felt he didn't gain any lasting advantage, and in Max's case, he did,” Whiting said when asked about the stewards’ rulings during Thursday’s FIA press conference at the Brazilian Grand Prix.

“You can see Lewis makes a small mistake at the beginning, cuts across, gains significant track advantage but then sets about giving that back, immediately. We can see on the straight between Turns 3 and 4 he backs off to 80% throttle to give that advantage back.

“Then, about a minute later, the safety car is deployed and that advantage is gone completely. So the stewards felt there was no lasting advantage.”

Whiting adds that Verstappen should have slowed down in a similar manner to Hamilton after cutting through the grass at the same spot.

“If Max had done the same thing on the straight between Turns 3 and 4 he would certainly have lost a place, which is why the stewards felt that deserved a penalty, because the driver had gained a lasting advantage.

“That's the fundamental difference between the two incidents in the eyes of the stewards.”

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