The FIA's decision not to punish Hamilton broke Canada precedent

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Less than two weeks after the stewards denied Sebastian Vettel victory in Canada, the precedent that decision set has already been broken.

It is beyond ironic then that the beneficiary of this latest act of officiating bewilderment is none other than Lewis Hamilton, talk about feeding those conspiracy theories.

Now immediately let's get something out there, yes the incident in question was in a practice session and the implications were therefore much different, but that shouldn't shy away from the reality that it should be taken seriously.

Just like in Montreal when the Ferrari bumped across the grass, Hamilton found himself off the track after losing control of his Mercedes between Turns 3 and 4 on Friday at the French Grand Prix.

Then, just like Vettel, whether intentional or not, he hampered the progress of another car when rejoining the track.

In this case, it was Max Verstappen who, approaching Turn 5, was unable to take corner normally as he encountered the Briton encroaching towards the racing line.

The two incidents were investigated but had very different outcomes as Vettel was obviously denied a win, while Hamilton got off scot-free.

A key reason was the lack of any repercussions but, had there been a wall on the exit of Turn 5, as there was at Turn 4 in Canada, Verstappen would have hit it rather than slide off the track into a run-off area.

Had that been the case, it is almost certain that Hamilton would have got a grid penalty and actually, his actions which caused Max to go wide make him more guilty of an unsafe re-entry than Vettel was.

Lewis had complete control over where he rejoined the track and, given the space available at the French circuit, he could have very easily stayed inside the apex of Turn 5 to ensure there was no chance of impeding another car.

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The main argument that Hamilton and Verstappen agreed with is that visibility was a problem in the Mercedes, but that's even more of a reason to stay on the inside of the circuit and rejoin before Turn 6, where the racing line is on the outside.

Also, given the live data available, Mercedes should have informed him of the likelihood that the Red Bull would be fast approaching as recovered back onto the track.

As mentioned, the incident obviously has no bearing on Verstappen's weekend other than spoiling a flying lap on soft tyres and let's be honest, in any other situation the talk of a penalty would be minimal at best.

But because of the precedent set by the Montreal stewards and the consistency which they are meant to show...

If the same boundaries as Montreal are to be applied everywhere, Hamilton should consider himself very lucky to have escaped where Vettel did not.

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