French GP: Lewis Hamilton cleared by stewards after close call with Verstappen

Lewis Hamilton was cleared by stewards after a dramatic moment in French Grand Prix qualifying saw he and Max Verstappen almost collide.

Lewis Hamilton ran off the track in French Grand Prix qualifying.   -  Getty Images

Lewis Hamilton has avoided punishment for an incident in French Grand Prix practice that forced Max Verstappen off the track at Circuit Paul Ricard.

Stewards investigated an incident when the Formula One drivers' championship leader rejoined the track following an error that saw him wipe out a bollard, causing Red Bull's Verstappen to take evasive action. It occurred on Friday afternoon in the second free practice session, after which Hamilton and Verstappen were summoned to see the stewards.

'No further action'

They were examining whether a breach of overtaking regulations had taken place but later issued a statement saying there would be "no further action," meaning no possible grid penalty or any other punishment for Hamilton.

The stewards said, in a statement released by world governing body the FIA, that Mercedes driver Hamilton and Verstappen "agreed that the situation was not particularly dangerous and did not give Verstappen a lasting disadvantage."

They added: "Both drivers agreed that the limited rear visibility and the angle of car 44 [Hamilton] made it difficult for Hamilton to see the approaching car and agreed that Hamilton re-joined slowly."

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The statement added stewards "could observe from the on-board video that Hamilton looked in his mirrors at least twice before attempting to re-join the circuit."

Valtteri Bottas was quickest in the day's second practice session after Hamilton set the pace in FP1. Hamilton said of his performance: "It’s been very hot today, but we got through most of the programme.

"It’s been a bit difficult with the balance of the car; maybe that’s to do with the new tarmac they have here and the high temperatures, I think the track reached 55 to 60 degrees today. In general, the car pace is really good, we just have to fine-tune the balance."