Lewis Hamilton hit with fine and warning for Logan Sargeant practice incident

Traffic was a major issue in FP2 at the 2024 Saudi Arabian GP

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Lewis Hamilton has been hit with a warning and a fine by the FIA stewards, but the Mercedes driver has avoided receiving a grid drop for the Formula 1 2024 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix on Saturday after an incident involving Williams driver Logan Sargeant.

The Silver Arrows driver was adjudged to have impeded Sargeant when the two drivers nearly collided at Turns 4 and 5 during the second free practice session on Thursday. The stewards initially noted the incident before confirming it would be investigated after the session.

Hamilton was told to report to the stewards by race control on Thursday evening to discuss the incident, with Sargeant also called to give his version of events. The summons read: “Alleged breach of Article 37.5 of the FIA Formula One Sporting Regulations – Car 44 unnecessarily impeding Car 2 in turn 10 at 20:16.”

The decision arrived at 7.55pm with confirmation that Hamilton would receive a warning and Mercedes would be fined £12,819 (€15,000). The judgment read: “The Stewards heard from the driver of Car 44 (Lewis Hamilton), the driver of Car 2 (Logan Sargeant), team representatives and reviewed positioning/marshalling system data, video, team radio and in-car video evidence and determine that Car 44 impeded Car 2 at Turn 11.

“As a result, Car 2 had to take evasive action by going off the track to avoid a collision. Had that not been done, there would have been a serious, high speed crash. Having listened to the team radio, it was clear to us that the team of Car 44 failed to warn their driver of the fact that Car 2 was arriving on a fast lap.

“That was a serious failure on the part of the team, particularly given the speeds on this circuit and the nature of turn 11, which is at the end of a series of high speed corners where driver visibility is impaired. We therefore issue a warning to the driver and impose a fine of €15,000 to the team.”

Hamilton accused by rivals

Sargeant was on a flying lap at the time while Hamilton was out warming up his tyres and therefore travelling much slower on the inside. As the American approached the corner, he was forced to take evasive action onto the run-off area to avoid hitting Hamilton.

Sargeant complained on the team radio to his race engineer that the Briton was at fault: “Mate come on! It’s too dangerous!”, the Florida racer shouted.

Lewis Hamilton looks on in a press conference at the 2024 pre-season test in Bahrain | Mercedes / Jiri Krenek
Lewis Hamilton looks on in a press conference at the 2024 pre-season test in Bahrain | Mercedes / Jiri Krenek

Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz was also at the scene when Sargeant breezed through and the Spaniard backed up Sargeant’s claim that Hamilton was the guilty party, describing his driving as “super dangerous”.

But Hamilton, 39, pleaded his innocence and claimed he wasn’t aware of Sargeant coming through, having moved aside to let Sainz pass him. He was heard telling his race engineer Peter Bonnington: “I didn’t realise someone was on a lap. I was trying to get out of the way for Sainz and all of a sudden there was a Williams there.”

It is unusual for drivers to receive a penalty for impeding during practice sessions as they did not impact lap times. However, the issue of safety was more relevant to the incident involving Hamilton and Sargeant, which may explain why the stewards felt compelled to punish him.

Joe Krishnan
Joe Krishnan
Joe Krishnan is an NCTJ-qualified journalist who has worked for a number of media organisations, including the Daily Express, The Mirror, Evening Standard, The Independent and Bleacher Report. Joe has been following F1 since when he watched Mika Hakkinen clinch the 1999 drivers' championship, and his first taste of real-life racing action was watching David Coulthard spin off into the gravel at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone in 2001.
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