"They're trying to stop me," says Hamilton

27/09/2020
NEWS STORY

Failure to follow the instructions contained in the event notes for today's race in terms of the practice start location, a breach of the International Sporting Code, Lewis Hamilton was handed two 5s time penalties, having performed two practice starts outside the designated area.

Having reviewed video evidence, the stewards deemed that Hamilton "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."

As a result Hamilton was handed a 5s time penalty for each offence and 1 penalty point for each offence, bringing his total for the 12 month period up to 10, leaving him just two shy of an automatic race ban.

Though unwilling to talk about the penalty in the moments before the podium ceremony, he subsequently suggested that he is being deliberately targeted by F1 officials.

"I'm pretty sure no one has got two five-second penalties for something so ridiculous before," he told Sky Sports.

"I didn't put anyone in danger," he added, "I've done this at a million tracks over the years and never been questioned on it. But it is what it is."

Asked if he felt the penalties excessive, he replied: "Of course it is... but it's to be expected. They're trying to stop me, aren't they?

"But it's OK. I just need to keep my head down and stay focused, and we'll see what happens."

Team boss, Toto Wolff subsequently described the penalties as "far-fetched".

"The errors always happen together," he said. "It's not a team error, it's not a Lewis error. And I wouldn't want to point at anybody, and I've never done that.

"(Mercedes sporting director Ron (Meadows) and I were the stewards," he continued, "the verdict was he wasn't in the right place.

"There is no mention what the right place is in the director's note, nor is it in the regulations. So we disagree on that one – we agree to disagree on that one.

"The other one was not driving at constant speed in the reconnaissance laps, and there again, it's debatable. But the race has happened.

"He received the ten seconds penalty. So for a reconnaissance lap infringement an in-race penalty can be debated also. But you have to take it on the chin and move on.

"I'm not happy with the penalty, because it's far-fetched, but we agree to disagree. I will always respect the stewards in their job, but on that one, we just agree to disagree.

"The race director's notes say, if I'm well-informed, that you must do practice starts after the lights on the right side of the pitlane. And that's what happened," he added. "The designated place, it says after the lights, at the right side. It does specify that the practice starts need to be done after the lights on the right side.

"You know, things are not always black and white, and there's room for interpretation. There are rules that can be interpreted in two ways. There is common sense. There is the fact that then that an in-race penalty was given, actually two in-race penalties were given, for an infringement that happened before the race.

"And there was an argument that he gained an advantage by making the starts there, I think it was not an advantage because there was no grip, so much less grip than you would have on your starting positions.

"It is what it is at the end of the day, obviously, we're all emotional about that. But the emotion should be geared towards Valtteri who deserved a race win since a long time, and that is fundamentally what makes me happy.

"And finishing once and three should give us all reason to make us cheer and fly home and say, we can be satisfied with how it went, and now we need to learn from the incident.

"We need to look at the procedures and our communications. And as every time we will not blame the person, we will target the problem."

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Published: 27/09/2020
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