Hamilton close to race ban after Russian GP penalties

Lewis Hamilton is on the verge of a one-race ban after accumulating another two penalty points on his superlicence at the Russian Grand Prix.

Hamilton was handed two five-second penalties during the Sochi race for incidents which took place before the start. The championship leader carried out two practice starts further down the pit exit, rather than in the designated place to do so.

The time penalty was served during his pit-stop and denied him the chance to match Michael Schumacher's 91 career wins, meaning that record will remain intact for another race at least. Hamilton eventually finished third, behind Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas and Red Bull's Max Verstappen.

On top of the time penalty, Hamilton was handed one penalty point for either incident. That means he now has 10 to his name -- drivers are handed a one-race ban if they accumulate 12 over a rolling 12-month period. He will not lose any of his existing points until November, meaning he will be on thin ice for the next four races.

Hamilton's existing points are for the following incidents:

  • 2 points - 2019 Brazilian Grand Prix - Collision with Alex Albon

  • 2 points - 2020 Austrian Grand Prix - Failing to slow sufficiently for a yellow flag in qualifying

  • 2 points - 2020 Austrian Grand Prix - Collision with Alex Albon

  • 2 points - 2020 Italian Grand Prix - Entering the pit-lane when it was closed

  • 2 points - 2020 Russian Grand Prix - Two separate practice start violations

The Stewards' verdicts clarified the practice start rule, saying: The driver performed the practice start near the end, but directly in the pit exit. Art 36.1 requires drivers to use constant throttle and constant speed in the pit exit other than in the place designated for practice starts in the Event Notes item 19.1., which is defined as the place "on the right hand side" after the pit exit lights (and is not part of the track as defined by lines) which has been known to all competitors and used without exception."