Mercedes-GP’s Lewis Hamilton has made no secret of the notion that he would one day consider returning to McLaren-Mercedes, the team with which he spent 13 years.
Yet not even his former team principal, Martin Whitmarsh, would have expected to see the 2008 world champion popping into the McLaren pits quite so soon.
Old habits die hard, and during yesterday’s Malaysian Grand Prix, the 28-year-old Hamilton showed his human side.
Pulling in for a new set of tyres at the end of the fifth lap, the Briton parked in the wrong pit box before being waved on by his befuddled old buddies.
Hamilton was quick to realise his mistake and immediately exited, weaved past Lotus, and returned correctly into his new Mercedes garage. While Hamilton’s blushes were hidden underneath his helmet, his girlfriend, Nicole Scherzinger, could be seen trying to stifle her laughter.
Twitter, as it tends to do in such situations, went berserk.
“Suggested new rule,” tweeted Mark Gallagher, an F1 expert and race-team owner, who last year presented a lecture in Abu Dhabi on the business of winning. “If a driver stops at the wrong pit box, you can take his wheels off & leave car on a pile of bricks #letsmakethisfun”.
The McLaren team were less cruel: “Smiles in the garage after a well-worked double pit stop with an unexpected twist.”
Hamilton, who finished third, was asked post-race for his view on the situation. “I did a Jenson,” he said, reminding that former teammate Jenson Button did a similar thing in China two years ago.
“I’m used to, for so many years, driving into the McLaren pit box. I don’t know how it went wrong.”
Watch the moment Lewis Hamilton entered the wrong pit box below: