Masi tells Hamilton: Only applying the rules

Michelle Foster
Lewis Hamilton

Michael Masi is open to speaking with Lewis Hamilton after the Brit accused the stewards of being “out to stop” him.

Hamilton lined up on the Sochi grid facing an investigation for doing a practice start on his way to the grid outside the designated zone.

The Brit was later hit with two five-second time penalties for the infractions, he was also handed two penalty points on his licence.

That put him up to 10 meaning the reigning World Champion was courting a one-race ban as 12 points in a 12 month period is an automatic ban.

The stewards subsequently decided to retract the penalty points and instead hit Mercedes with a fine.

“The stewards after the race heard from the team, and the driver of car 44,” FIA race director Masi explained.

“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“On that basis the stewards have just now rescinded the penalty points on both those decisions, because they thought it was inappropriate – and as a result, have fined the team €25,000 for that instruction.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.”

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Speaking after the grand prix, Hamilton accused the stewards of trying to “stop” him, saying Sunday’s penalty was absurd.

“I’m pretty sure nobody has got two five-second penalties for something so ridiculous before,” he told Sky F1.

“I didn’t put anyone in danger, I’ve done this [type of start] at a million tracks over the years and never been questioned on it.

“But it is what it is.

“They [the stewards] are trying to stop me.”

Masi is open to having a conversation with the Brit if that’s how he really feels.

He said: “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.”

He added that all the drivers had been made aware of where they can and cannot practice starts.

“The practice start location is obviously very circuit specific, and detailed in the event notes,” he said.

“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.”

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