Russian Grand Prix: Lewis Hamilton claims stewards are against him after penalties

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Following a third-place finish in today’s Russian Grand Prix, reigning F1 Champion Lewis Hamilton believes the stewards are “out to get him” after two five-second penalties were given to the British driver after the pre-race practice.

Hamilton conducted two practice starts outside of the designated starting area, as noted by race director Michael Massi.

In his event notes, Massi said: “The driver performed the practice start near the end, but directly in the pit exit. Art 36.1 requires drivers to use constant throttle and constant speed in the pit exit other than in the place designated for practice starts in the Event Notes item 19.1., which is defined as the place “on the right hand side” after the pit exit lights (and is not part of the track as defined by lines) which has been known to all competitors and used without exception.”

During today’s race in Sochi, Hamilton served two five-second penalties while at his pit station. The World Champion was also handed an additional penalty for the two infractions, meaning that he now has 10 out of a maximum 12 penalty points on his Super Licence. This brings the current World Champion very close to a potential one-race ban.

The time spent at the pit cost Hamilton the lead, as he ultimately finished the race in third behind Max Verstappen in second and Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas in first.

Two penalty points will remain on Hamilton’s licence until the Turkish Grand Prix in November, while the other eight will remain until mid-2021.

Hamilton told Sky Sports after the race: “I need to go back and see what the rules are, what exactly I did wrong.

“I’m pretty sure no one has ever got two five-second penalties for something so ridiculous before.

“I didn’t put anyone in danger, I’ve done this at a million tracks over the years and never been questioned over it. But it is what it is.”

Hamilton also voiced his opinion regarding the harshness of the penalties.

“Of course it is, and it is to be expected. They are trying to stop me. But it’s OK. I’ll just keep my head down and stay focused and see what happens.”

Hamilton still remains 44 points clear of Bottas in the 2020 standings, with a fourth straight title still very much in sights for the six-time World Champion.

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