Lewis Hamilton claims the FIA is “trying to stop me” by handing him penalty points as he nears a one-race ban after the Russian Grand Prix.
Two separate practice start infringements ahead of the race at Sochi earned Hamilton a five-second time penalty and one penalty point for each, limiting him to third place in the race. More notably, it leaves Hamilton on 10 penalty points for the 12-month period, and with four races where two more would result in him picking up a one-race ban.
“Of course it is (too harsh), and it is to be expected,” Hamilton said. “They are trying to stop me.
“It’s ridiculous, the points they’ve been giving people this year in general. Penalty points usually are for … I don’t want anyone to speak on my behalf, but from a driver point of view, if you put someone in danger, crash into somebody, of course you should be getting penalty points.
“I did not harm anybody, did not put anybody in harm’s way, so ultimately it’s a ridiculous rule, but it is what it is. I’ll just make sure I’m squeaky clean moving forwards, don’t give them an excuse for anything.”
Hamilton did check with his team before picking where to practice his starts from, but says he was also confident there would be no issue as he regularly tries to avoid the usual practice start area.
A look back at the time penalties incurred by polesitter Lewis Hamilton before lights out – which ended up changing the complexion of the Russian Grand Prix#RussianGP 🇷🇺 #F1 pic.twitter.com/3EZ43De2UB
— Formula 1 (@F1) September 27, 2020
“Generally, if you look at probably every race that I’ve done this year at least, I always start further down. Never ever had a problem — done it for years. Here I haven’t done that before, I would say, but it says you have to be on the right after the lights, it doesn’t say how far. And so often I don’t like to be on the rubber, where everyone has done their (starts), so it’s not representative of what it’s like on the grid. I like to be on the surface that doesn’t have any rubber.
“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 says he will now try and work out where else he might fall foul of regulations with a potential ban so close.
“I guess we’ll go through the rule book and pick out areas where they can create rules, areas where penalties have never been given before and we’ll figure out all the ones they have and try and make sure we cover ourselves on the ones we’re aware of.
“Like I said, today I don’t think anyone’s had the penalty for that before. We’ll just work hard. I’ve gone through seasons before without penalties so I’ll just have to make sure I give no reason, not even a sniff, to be able to do something.”