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FIA refute Hamilton’s ‘they are trying to stop me’ suggestion after Russia penalties

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Formula One F1 - Russian Grand Prix - Sochi Autodrom, Sochi, Russia - September 27, 2020. Mercedes'

The FIA’s F1 Race Director Michael Masi has hit back at Lewis Hamilton’s claims that the FIA are “trying to stop” him, saying that the stewards were simply administering the regulations by handing out penalties to the six-time world champion in the Russian Grand Prix.

The race in Sochi saw controversy before the race had even begun, with Hamilton picking up two five-second time penalties for carrying out practice starts at the pit lane exit. He was originally also handed two penalty points as part of the infringement, but the stewards later revised that to a team fine, but not before the championship leader had accused the FIA of treating him unfairly.

READ MORE: Hamilton says 'it feels like we're fighting uphill' as he lashes out at 'ridiculous' penalties

“From my perspective it’s very simple that if Lewis wants to raise something - as I have said to him before and said to all the drivers numerous times - the door is always open,” Masi said.

“I’m more than happy to discuss anything, but I think from an FIA perspective we are there as a sporting regulator to administer the regulations.

2020 Russian Grand Prix: Hamilton hit with two 5-second time penalties

“We have the stewards as an independent judiciary to adjudicate those, and therefore there was an infringement and it doesn’t matter if it was Lewis Hamilton or any one of the other 19 drivers, if a breach has occurred of the regulations they will consider it on its merits.

“And also further to that I would say adjudicate it equitably and fairly in the circumstances, taking all of the key elements into account.”

READ MORE: 'I will never give up' – Bottas elated to answer critics with Russian Grand Prix victory

Hamilton’s claim that there has never been a problem with him practicing starts further down the pit lane at other venues was also addressed by Masi, after the runaway championship leader was limited to third place behind Mercedes team mate Valtteri Bottas and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen by his time penalties.

“The practice start location is obviously very circuit specific and detailed in the event notes. So at every other event Lewis has, along with all the other drivers, complied with the requirements of where they perform a practice start in accordance with the race director instructions.

“I would say that the reason why we determine where the practice start location is is for the safety of all drivers, and also so everybody is aware of what is actually happening. We determine its location for a deliberate reason.”

Lewis Hamilton critical of 'ridiculous' penalties at Russian GP

It appeared the double penalty was due to Hamilton carrying out two practice starts from the position in question, but it transpires it was actually because he contravened a different regulation by stopping where he did in the pit exit.

“Actually it wasn’t a second penalty," said Masi. "There was a breach of two elements of the regulations that were highlighted. One being the article within the race director’s event notes, the second being Article 36.1 of the Sporting Regulations that states you must keep a constant speed through the pit exit road, the pit exit road being defined by being where the red lights are at pit exit through to the Safety Car line.”

Speaking before the penalty points were retracted, Hamilton has said it’s now on him and his Mercedes team to be “squeaky clean” at upcoming events.

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