Mercedes only became aware that the Monza pit lane was closed at the last minute when calling Lewis Hamilton in for his stop under the safety car at the Italian Grand Prix.
Hamilton was handed a 10-second stop and go penalty for entering the closed pit lane, as race control blocked all activity in the lane following the retirement of Kevin Magnussen’s retirement, who was pulled over before the pit entry.
Light panels on the outside of the final corner indicated that the pit lane was closed and no panels were on display at the pit entry, with Hamilton insisting that he didn’t see the displays at the exit of the Parabolica.
Wolff explained the situation, outlining that a team member at its Brackley factory saw the panels at the last moment as Hamilton was coming in for fresh tyres.
“It was a weird sequence of events, I must say, that maybe we could have spotted earlier,” Wolff said.
“But the decisions that were taken were highly unusual but they were absolutely within the rules.
“What happened was, Magnussen was parked to the right, almost near the entry behind the rail at the inside of Parabolica. There was a single yellow and 11 seconds later, a safety car was deployed.
“I don’t know why, this is what we couldn’t understand, and while the safety car was deployed, they put the entry to the pit lane on red.
“It wasn’t exactly red, it was two yellow crosses on the outside and no light on the inside. We spotted that last minute, back home one of the strategists shouted into the radio whilst we were entering the pit lane.”
Wolff added that the notification to the teams that the pit lane was closed was displayed on page four of the FIA communication board – an area that nobody is ever looking at.
“There was confusion because you prepare yourself for the pit stop to make it good,” Wolff stated. “Everybody on the pit lane, including myself, we were looking at this situation.
“Nobody looks at page four [of the FIA communication board], that the pit lane is closed. We can’t see the signs.
“This is just a sequence of events that screwed Lewis’ race. [We’re] not happy, but you have to take it on the chin.”
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