During Q1 on the driver’s left at the Eau Rouge-Raidillon complex, Lewis Hamilton was observed going off course and then reentering the track immediately in front of his fellow Mercedes teammate, George Russell, while they were both in the middle of their out-laps. This manoeuvre forced Russell to take evasive action, and directly behind them, it also caused problems for Alfa Romeo driver Valtteri Bottas.
After the qualifying session concluded, this incident was presented to the stewards for scrutiny. Consequently, both Hamilton and Russell were called in for questioning. Hamilton defended himself by stating he merely wanted to steer clear of Bottas, who was currently on a quick lap.
Russell, too, explained that his intention was to prevent Bottas from running into trouble and that he perceived no risk associated with the way Hamilton popped back unto the track at the top of Raidillon. The stewards were persuaded by their rationalisations and elected to take no other measures.
Following their investigation, the stewards declared, “Hamilton made it clear that he moved out of the way when he noted Bottas‘ approach, which in this case meant going off the track.” They further reported, “Russell stated he received the same notice, but his reaction was later. Furthermore, he explained that as he was on the same program as Hamilton, he was fully conscious of Hamilton‘s actions and believed there was no risk involved with the manoeuvre. The stewards concur and decide against taking additional action.”
Alex Albon from the Williams team also came under review for an unsafe return to the track. He left the course while in the second sector during Q1, then returned right in front of Pierre Gasly‘s Alpine, which was on the racing line. The stewards issued a reprimand for the misdemeanor, noting that Albon could have exercised more caution despite inevitably ending up on the ideal line when rejoining the race course.
The stewards noted, “Albon exited the track at Turn 8 at the end of Q1. He then returned to the track while on the racing line. Even though he was always going to have to reenter on the line, the stewards feel that he could have done more to ensure that he returned safely while another vehicle was approaching.”
Kevin Magnussen of the Haas team was dealt a three-place grid penalty for obstructing Charles Leclerc from the Ferrari team. The cause for this sanction was that Magnussen remained on the racing line for following corners after hitting the wall coming out of Speaker’s Corner, thereby significantly impeding Leclerc, who was consequently incensed, and made calls for a penalty over the team radio.