Lewis Hamilton and Toto Wolff were not pleased with him being penalised for a pre-race mistake to in-race as FIA fines Mercedes heavy.

There was controversy already even before the start of F1 Russian GP at Sochi, when Hamilton was put under investigation by the FIA stewards for practice start violation, where he did so after the pit exit light on the right-hand side of the circuit.

The Brit asked the team if he could do so and it was affirmed but they couldn’t see how far off the line Hamilton was. It seemed like a mis-understanding and the stewards came hard on them when they handed out double penalty just after the safety car re-start.

There were two starts from him, with each having five-seconds. He was also handed one penalty point each, which took his total to 10. However, post-race, the FIA released another statement where they agreed with Mercedes that it was the team call to allow him to do so.

The FIA revised its penalty where the penalty points on the superlicense of Hamilton was cut off but Mercedes were fined 25,000 euros for their mistake. The two five-seconds time penalty, though, stayed as it is, as there was no reversal to it. The cancellation of the two penalty points is relieving for the Brit as his next slashing will only happen in November.

Both Hamilton and Wolff were unhappy with the decision to penalise them in-race for a thing they did pre-race. The Brit said, he had done a similar thing before, especially in Brazil, while adding that this is being done to stop them from running away with the races.

“Generally, if you look at probably every race that I’ve done this year, at least, I always start further down,” said Hamilton. “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, that’s where everyone has done all their starts so it’s not representative of what it’s like on the grid, so I try to get onto the surface that doesn’t have any rubber. I did, and as far as we were aware, it was OK. It’s no different to Brazil. You drive to the end of the pit lane and you do your start.

“It’s actually probably safer where I was, compared to Brazil, because there was a lot more space on the left… so interesting decision. It’s to be expected that 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,” summed up Hamilton.

He, however, clarified and elaborated on the above comments: “I don’t necessarily think that it’s for me, I think probably most teams – whenever a team is at the front, obviously they are doing a lot of scrutiny. Everything we have on our car is being checked and triple checked and triple checked. They are changing rules, such as the engine regs, lots of lots of things to get in the way to keep the racing exciting, I assume.

“I don’t know if the rules – in terms of what happened today – was anything to do with it but naturally that’s how it feels, naturally it feels like you we’re fighting uphill but it’s OK, it’s not like I haven’t faced adversity before so we just keep our heads down and keep fighting and keep trying to do a better job and be cleaner and squeaky clean, as I said before,” summed up Hamilton.

Like Hamilton, Mercedes F1 chief Wolff, wasn’t too happy as well as he felt there was interpretation scenario from the stewards. Although, it was a hard one but the Austrian ruled out an appeal, while adding about the Brit’s ‘trying to stop me comment’.

“That was exactly the verdict from stewards, they said it is not the place you would do a practice start and I agree with that, but in the director’s note, it said, you can make practice starts after the lights on the right side,” said Wolff to Sky Sports F1.

“That’s what he did. There is room for interpretation and clearly we have to analyse why we made the mistake all together and just take it to the chin, even though, we were at the stewards, we agree to disagree. I think Lewis has faced a lot of adversity and to all of us, the penalty seems a little harsh.

“Never before a pre-race or a reconnaissance lap infringement, be it pitlane speeding, was penalised with an in-race penalty, so that’s new. That can be also debated. I think things go against him, harshly sometimes. I guess, if you are the most successful driver you have to take it sometime,” summed up Wolff.

While Hamilton and Wolff were on about the stewards – the panel consisting of Mika Salo, Gerd Ennser, Andrew Mallalieu and George Andreev – some of the Reddit users had an interesting information which could embarrass the FIA, if found to be true.

It said that the commentators of Finnish TV CMore, already indicated about a double five-second penalty coming towards Hamilton, when the grand prix was about to start. The official decision only came through after the safety car re-start, nearly 10 laps in.

The commentator, in fact, said that Hamilton will also have two penalty points each too but it was one each when the penalty was announced. That changed again after the grand rpix to being zero, where the Brit now has eight as mentioned above.

It is unclear if the commentator got an info or just made a pure guess to be right – the Reddit user puts it on Salo but there is no factual proof of it. Here is the Reddit link: https://www.reddit.com/r/formula1/comments/j0trh9/fia_steward_mika_salo_reportedly_leaked_the/

Here’s Document 1 from FIA on penalty: https://www.fia.com/sites/default/files/decision-document/2020%20Russian%20Grand%20Prix%20-%20Replacement%20for%20Document%2046%20-%20Offence%20-%20Car%2044%20-%201st%20Practice%20Start.pdf

Here’s Document 2 from FIA: https://www.fia.com/sites/default/files/decision-document/2020%20Russian%20Grand%20Prix%20-%20Replacement%20for%20Document%2047%20-%20Offence%20-%20Car%2044%20-%202nd%20Practice%20Start.pdf

Here’s how F1 Russian GP panned out