|© AP Photo/Brandon Malone
Lewis Hamilton may not have fully realised that he has changed his team over the off-season.
At the Malaysian Grand Prix on Sunday, the Briton came into the pit lane for his first pit stop on lap 8 but instead of stopping into the Mercedes box, he dived into the McLaren pit, where team members were waiting for one of their drivers.
The mechanic with the front jack immediately left his position to clear the way while the rest of the crew waved frantically at Hamilton to drive through the pit box.
Having realized his folly, Hamilton continued to his the Mercedes pits almost immediately.
"Smiles in the garage after a well-worked double pitstop with an unexpected twist," McLaren mentioned on its Twitter page.
"Feel free to pop in and say 'hi' any time, @LewisHamilton!" the team added a bit later on the social media website.
Hamilton’s pop star girlfriend Nicole Scherzinger, who was watching the race from the team’s garage, too was surprised as she gave a jaw-dropping reaction to the episode.
In 2011, a similar incident had occurred when McLaren driver Jenson Button drove into the Red Bull pit box at the Chinese Grand Prix.
"I just did a Jenson. He did that a couple of years ago," Hamilton recalled.
"I don't know what happened. The teams look so similar," he later told the BBC. "I have been stopping in that pit box for years. It's an easy mistake and hopefully one I won't make again."