FIA Steward Mika Salo has refuted the allegations about him leaking the penalty information of Lewis Hamilton to Finnish TV.
Moments after the F1 Russian GP at Sochi, while Hamilton and Mercedes showed their displeasure over the penalty, a Reddit user translated video of Finland’s CMore’s broadcast, where the commentator speculated about the Brit’s double penalty.
It is common for broadcasters to discuss various penalties for drivers and sometimes, they guess it right as well. In Hamilton’s case, it was complicated, especially due to the nature of the investigation regarding practice start, not once but twice.
Hamilton did couple of reconnaissance laps, which the drivers can opt to do so, but it has to be at a slower speed than if opting for just the one lap to the grid. For both of those laps, the Brit undertook practice starts but it wasn’t at the designated area as per the FIA.
Mercedes’ argument was that he did it after the pit exit line on the right-hand side but the FIA stated that he did it much further than he was supposed to – video of only one of those practice start has been made available so far. Hamilton stated that he usually does that because he wants to practice his starts where there is no rubber.
Eventually, Hamilton was handed two five-seconds time penalty along with one penalty point each on his superlicense. It was changed by the FIA post-race, where Mercedes were fined 25,000 euros as the two penalty points was scrubbed off.
Race Director Michael Masi said that, although, they removed the penalty points but as per the stewards, the penalty still was deemed as a sporting advantage thing, because it was not just about practice start but also that he didn’t drive at constant speed at pit exit road.
The four stewards for F1 Russian GP, meanwhile, were Salo, Gerd Ennser, Andrew Mallalieu and George Andreev, where Ennser is a common name, while Salo also features in multiple races but less so than the former. Among them, the Finn was the one targeted by many.
The evidence provided was CMore’s commentary, where they talked about a double penalty coming Hamilton’s way, which was said about around the start of the F1 grand prix – much before the actual announcement, which came after the safety car re-start.
Additionally, the commentator speculated about four penalty points which meant Hamilton would have 12 and therefore banned to race at Nurburgring. That guess ended up being wrong as the British racer only got two, which was scrubbed off as well.
Defending his stance, Salo came heavy on Internet writers. “All I have to say is that it’s full of shit,” the Finn was quoted by Iltalehti.fi. “Anyone online can write what they amuse, and it would be worth checking the facts and asking them where they got their information.
“Online writing is really silly anyway. Without better information, things will be addressed. Those who get angry write shit. For example, after the Verstappen case in the United States a couple of years ago, I received death threats for a year. Just normal shit grinding.”
In addition, when speaking to another reputable Finnish site, Ilta Sanomat, Salo added: “It doesn’t make sense here. Quite endless, absolutely. Call Niki and ask. I heard about this yesterday that someone had invented this, it is worth checking out the facts.
“You can write anything on the Internet.” Meanwhile, the commentator in question, Niki Juusela stated: “It’s not Mika Salo. As you know, for the sake of source protection, I am not going to comment on this in any way. You know for sure.”
It is a strange situation as information sharing is not uncommon in F1 and a lot is done confidentially between known personnel. But for now, it cannot be said with certainty that it has happened, especially with the people in question having come clear.
Here’s story from Iltalehti: https://www.iltalehti.fi/formulat/a/458f4525-76a7-44f2-be0d-eb22ae298411
Here’s the story from Ilta Sanomat: https://www.is.fi/formula1/art-2000006651014.html
Here’s what Lewis Hamilton and Toto Wolff said