FIA race director Michael Masi says that the Russian GP stewards decided that the original Formula 1 penalty points awarded to Lewis Hamilton was “inappropriate” after a post-race review.
Hamilton was awarded two five-second time penalties for conducting two practice starts outside the designated zone beyond the pit exit, and both came with an extra penalty point for his licence.
That put him on 10 penalty points for the ongoing 12 month period, with two more incurred before the Turkish GP automatically triggering a race ban.
However after the race the stewards spoke to Hamilton and the Mercedes team, and elected to rescind the original points penalties levied.
Instead, the FIA fined the team €25,000 on the basis that the driver had been told he could use that location for starts.
“The stewards after the race heard from the team, and the driver of car 44,” said Masi.
“Lewis and Mercedes spoke to the stewards, at which point it was actually a team instruction to Lewis where he could perform the practice starts.
“On that basis the stewards have just now rescinded the penalty points on both those decisions, because they thought it was inappropriate – and as a result, have fined the team €25,000 for that instruction.
“Effectively, yes, it was him driving the car.
“However, a contributing factor was that his team instructed him to do so at that point, and therefore, they saw fit to revise their decision accordingly.”
Masi explained that the drivers understood where the practice start zone was, and was detailed in the event notes distributed before the grand prix weekend.
“The practice start location is obviously very circuit specific, and detailed in the event notes.
“So at every other event Lewis along with all the other drivers has 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 for the safety of all drivers. Everybody is aware of what is actually happening. So we determine its location for a deliberate reason.
“Generally, we actually don’t paint a box, we just specify the location and have done even before my time, from my understanding. It’s very much a circuit specific element of where it is. I think today was just a simple error from that perspective.”
After Hamilton’s suggestion that the FIA were “trying to stop me”, Masi said he was always available to talk to the six-time champion to air any grievances.
“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, and 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.
“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 other one of the 19 drivers.
“If a breach has occurred of the regulations, they will consider it on its merits, adjudicate it equitably and fairly in the circumstances taking all the key elements into account.”