(Motorsport-Total.com) – “It doesn’t matter anymore,” said Lewis Hamilton when he was asked about his two time penalties immediately after the Formula 1 race in Sochi. He didn’t really want to say anything more about it. In the press conference after the podium ceremony, however, Mercedes driver Hamilton went into it again, and he found clear words.
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“I’m sure: Nobody has ever received two five-second penalties for something as ridiculous,” said the World Cup leader. “I have to [aber] first see what the rules say or what I’ve done wrong. “
That is easy to explain: Before the start of the race, Hamilton had stopped at the end of the pit lane while driving to the grid and had done a practice start – twice, in the same way. And not in the place actually intended for it, which had been recorded in advance in the so-called event notes by Formula 1 race director Michael Masi.
What is in the “Event Notes”
It says literally in section 19.1: “Exercise starts may only be carried out on the right-hand side of the lane after the traffic lights at the pit exit. […] Drivers must leave enough space on their left for another driver to pass by. “
And under point 19.2 it follows: “For safety reasons and for reasons of sporting justice, cars are not allowed to remain in the fast lane without a justified reason whenever the pit lane is open.”
But Hamilton stopped in the fast lane, namely in the further course of the pit lane, at the level of the junction back into the race track.
Hamilton does not recognize a rule violation
But he himself is not aware of any guilt: “Over the years I have done this on a million racetracks, and it has never been questioned. You can watch every one of my races there, at least this year.”
When starting practice, he generally “always goes a little further ahead”, and “so far without any problems,” says Hamilton.
“Often I do not want to stand on the rubber abrasion. That is the area in which everyone practices their starts. But that is not representative of the start straight. That’s why I always try to drive to a place where there is no rubber abrasion.”
No solo decision, but consultation with the team
In Sochi he drove as far as this time for the first time. The rules, the mentioned event notes, would not have prohibited that. Hamilton: “They say you should stand on the right side after the traffic lights, but not how far ahead you can be.”
Hamilton replied in the affirmative when asked whether he had discussed the start of the exercise and the place of execution with the team. “In our opinion it seemed okay. It’s no different than in Brazil: You drive to the end of the pit lane and start your race.”
“Compared to Brazil, the place where I was today is probably even safer because there was a lot more space on the left. So: an interesting decision.”
Hamilton reports that the race management will act with intent
What Hamilton overlooks: In Brazil, for practical reasons, the starting exercises always take place at the end of the pit lane, because the exit is initially too narrow, so that safe training starts there would be impossible.
What Hamilton recognizes, however, is too much attention from the Formula 1 stewards. “But you have to reckon with that,” says Hamilton at ‘Sky’ and accuses the officials of interfering with sporting events: “You’re just trying to stop me, aren’t you?”
When asked whether he was really serious, Hamilton replied again: “Of course.”
Why Hamilton thinks he is campaigning
Later, at the press conference, he weakened this statement a little and stated that he “not necessarily” thought that way. “But it is the case that you look very carefully at the top teams.”
“Everything that we have on the car is checked, and again, and again. You change the rules, like now with the drive. Lots of things to put obstacles in the way so that the races are exciting, I suspect. Me don’t know if the rules that came into effect today had anything to do with it, but it feels like that. “
He must therefore lead a “difficult fight”, says Hamilton. “It’s not as if I haven’t had any resistance to overcome. We’ll stay focused and keep fighting, we’ll try to do better work and act cleaner. Then we’ll see what happens.”
Mercedes accepts the penalties without protest
Whether he is aiming for a clarifying discussion with the stewards or race director Masi, he does not yet know what to say. “I haven’t made a decision yet,” explains Hamilton. “Right now I’m looking forward to going home.”
He does not have the impression that all those involved act with the same understanding of what is allowed and what is not. When asked “Are we all on the same page?” replied Hamilton: “I don’t think so.” And he laughs. Hamilton continues: “We may be on different pages, but I seem to have left out a few pages.”
Mercedes sports director Toto Wolff, however, claims to respect the Formula 1 stewards and their decision. But: “In that case, I do not agree with you. The event notes say, if I am correctly informed, that you have to do the practice starts after the traffic lights on the right-hand side of the pit lane. Where exactly, that is not specified.”
Hamilton’s Mercedes team will not protest, Wolff assures. This leaves the two five-second time penalties against Hamilton and two penalty points on his Formula 1 super license – and third place in the Russian Grand Prix behind Valtteri Bottas and Max Verstappen.
Said penalty points were canceled by the stewards. Reason: “The stewards found out that the driver had been instructed by the team to carry out the starting exercise in the wrong place.” That is why it fined Mercedes twice 25,000 euros.