Lewis Hamilton has escaped punishment for overtaking under red flag conditions during the third practice session for the 2022 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
The Mercedes has looked competitive around the Yas Marina circuit, with the seven-time champion finishing little over two tenths behind Sergio Perez during FP3 as he bids to register a maiden victory of the 2022 Formula 1 season.
And he can perhaps count himself lucky not to receive a grid penalty for passing the McLaren of Lando Norris and then the Haas of Kevin Magnussen after Pierre Gasly brought the red flag out.
It looked like a case of wrong place, wrong time as Hamilton was in the early stages of a flying lap while Norris and Magnussen were touring slowly off the racing line.
Norris was quick to flag the incident over team radio before Hamilton’s race engineer, Pete Bonnington, told his driver to get behind the Haas.
In Hamilton‘s favour was the lack of physical red flags on show as he approached Turn 5, while the light boards appear to be flashing yellow.
He slowed as he exited the hairpin but race control were quick to note the incident before confirming it would be investigated after the session.
What did the FIA say?
The FIA concluded that, although Hamilton overtook Magnussesn, he immediately lifted off the throttle when he became aware the session had been red flagged.
The governing body also noted the speed delta between the cars, given the Mercedes driver was in the early stages of a flying lap at a high-speed section of the track.
See the full statement below:
What was the precedent?
Overtaking under red flags is normally a slam dunk but stewards do tend to factor in mitigating circumstances, of which there appear to be in this case. That will certainly be what Mercedes are arguing as they look to beat Ferrari to second in the Constructors’ Championship.
Yuki Tsunoda was assessed a three-place grid penalty and given two penalty points at Monza for failing to slow for yellow flags, while Valtteri Bottas was penalised three places in 2015 for doing what his former teammate did.
However, last season, Max Verstappen escaped punishment for a similar incident at the Dutch GP because it was deemed there was enough mitigation to absolve him of blame.