Lewis Hamilton was urged repeatedly over team radio to push to the finish line at the German Grand Prix, as Mercedes covered its bases in case he was handed a time penalty for crossing the pit entry line.
Although the world champion was ultimately given a reprimand for aborting his entry into the pits on lap 52, radio communications with the pit wall revealed how Mercedes was mindful about the risk of a punishment while the race was still taking place.
With Mercedes having already called off Hamilton’s fight with teammate Valtteri Bottas and the Finn slowly dropping back, the team actually declined a request from the British driver to turn his engine down in the closing stages.
In fact, Hamilton’s engineer Peter Bonnington pushed Hamilton to keep building up a gap over Bottas as the laps counted down.
And on the final lap, Hamilton was given several messages to push hard to the finish line to not give away any time.
Those messages alerted Hamilton who, just after taking the chequered flag, queried whether he had already been given a penalty already.
“Do I have a penalty?” Hamilton asked.
His race engineer Peter Bonnington replied: “Negative, negative. We are just covering bases mate.”
Speaking about the reasoning for Hamilton being urged to extend his advantage over Bottas, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff said: “We were covering all bases. You know these things. [There] is pretty much room for interpretation. We just wanted to disappear in the distance as much as we could.”
An edited transcript of how the conversations between Hamilton and his race engineer Peter Bonnington played out in the closing stages of the German Grand Prix can be found below.
Vettel has just crashed in the stadium section
PETER BONNINGTON: So Vettel off. Yellow, yellow. Yellow, yellow. Caution. Caution. Vettel off. So yellow, yellow. Yellow, yellow.
PB: So box, box. Box, box. Get the gap. So gap to Valtteri.
Hamilton dives for pitlane but makes last second change and cuts back to track
LEWIS HAMILTON: Kimi is staying out.
PB: Stay out, stay out. In, in, in, in, in, in, in, in, in.
LH: Hey man.
PB: Sorry mate. Just go, go.
LH: I was at the entry man.
Hamilton follows Raikkonen behind the safety car
LH: Are we in trouble?
PB: Negative, negative. So staying out. Staying out.
Hamilton discusses tyre temperatures and strategy during safety car period. Race restarts on lap 58
PB: Strat mode 3. Strat mode 3.
PB: Gap to Valtteri at 1.7.
PB: DRS has been enabled.
PB: Gap to Valtteri 2.4. Seven laps remaining.
PB: Gap to Valtteri 3 seconds.
PB: Gap to Valtteri at 2.8.
PB: Your pack is now fully charged.
PB: Four laps remaining. Threat of rain to the north is building.
PB: Gap to Valtteri at 3.9.
LH: Can I turn the engine up [radio interference makes message unclear]?
PB: Negative Lewis. Let’s just stay where we are. That threat of rain is still there.
PB: Lewis. Go Strat mode 3, Strat mode 3. Keep building that gap. Currently four seconds.
Further discussions on the weather
LH: Two more laps?
PB: Two more laps. Just keep building that gap.
PB: Strat mode 5 to the end.
PB: Strat mode 5 Lewis. Currently in 6. Strat mode 5.
LH: I want to save the engine.
PB: We need you to build the gap.
PB: Strat mode 8. Strat mode 8. Just to use the energy.
Hamilton enters the stadium section
PB: Lewis, keep pushing to the line. Keep pushing to the line.
Hamilton exits final corner
PB: Keep pushing to the line.
Hamilton takes chequered flag
PB: Get in there Lewis! Miracles do happen, mate.
LH: Do I have a penalty?
PB: Negative, negative. We are just covering bases mate.
Additional reporting by Adam Cooper