Formula One – Lewis Hamilton: How the six-time world champion came perilously close to race ban

Lewis Hamilton had two penalty points taken away in Russia’s Sochi Autodrom for practice start infringements which temporarily placed the world champion two points away from a race ban.

Despite the rescinded penalties, Lewis Hamilton still had to suffer a 10-second penalty when he came in for his pit stop during the Russian Grand Prix which resulted in the six-time world champion to finish in the final podium position. 

Over the last 12 months, Hamilton has racked up eight points on his super license, which is required for him to compete in F1. If a driver gains 12 or more points, in a 12 month period, the driver in question will automatically gain a race ban for the following grand prix. 

Here’s a look back when the six-time world champion received points on his license.  

Brazil 2019

Hamilton’s first conviction was back in 2019, the Brazilian Grand Prix which was just after the Briton had secured his sixth world title – one behind the F1 legend, Michael Schumacher. 

During the race, Hamilton was in third, behind the Red Bull rookie Alexander Albon, as the field entered the second sector around Interlagos, after the second safety car of the race. However, the British world champion aimed for a gap which closed too quickly for him to react. 

This caused the Silver Arrow to punt the London-born Thai driver around on the penultimate lap which cost the young driver his first-ever podium position. With the contact came a five-second timed penalty for Hamilton, after the race, and two penalty points added to his super license.

Austria 2020

His second conviction came in two parts during the season opener of 2020, after a prolonged winter break in the events of the Coronavirus pandemic.

The first infringement was during Q3 of the Austrian Grand Prix when his teammate, Valtteri Bottas, went wide at turn four and over the grass. However, as Hamilton arrived at the same section of track, the Briton failed to slow down for the waved yellow flags and provided Hamilton with a three-place grid penalty as well as two penalty points on his license. 

The second penalty came after the Briton once again made contact with Albon during the restart on lap 61, after Kimi Raikkonen’s loose tyre retired the Alfa Romeo driver on the start/finish straight. This contact once again gave Hamilton another five-second timed penalty and a further two penalty points. 

Italy 2020 

After leading a comfortable race in Monza, Hamilton suffered a 10-second timed penalty after he entered a closed pit lane. 

On the 19th lap, Kevin Magnussen (Haas), pulled over on the pit lane entry as he believed “something broke” on his car which forced the Dane to retire from the Italian Grand Prix. Due to the hazardous position of the Haas, race control deployed the full safety car and closed the pit lane so the marshals could get the car cleared away. 

However, Hamilton and Antonio Giovinazzi (Alfa Romeo) failed to acknowledge the pit lane entry was closed as they both went into the pits, despite the red crosses on the LED boards. This prompted a 10-second penalty for both drivers and two penalty points on their licenses.   

With eight points to his name – after the two in Sochi were taken away – and seven more rounds before the season concludes in Abu Dhabi, Hamilton is perilously close to a race ban.

The last time a driver was recieved a race ban in F1 was Romain Grosjean, who currently drives for Haas F1 team, when he caused a horrendous crash in Spa-Francorchamps back in 2012.

Kamron Kent