Mika Salo says Lewis Hamilton’s claims that the stewards are out to “stop” him are “full of s**t”.
The former F1 driver was part of the stewards’ panel at the Russian Grand Prix, the panel that decided to hand the Mercedes driver two five-second time penalties for practice start infringements.
Heading to the grid at the Sochi Autodrom, Hamilton practiced a start outside the designated area as he felt there was too much rubber in the zone.
The penalty ended the Brit’s chances of taking his 91st grand prix win with Hamilton third at the chequered flag.
He accused the stewards of deliberately trying to hamstring him.
“I need to go back and see what the rules are,” Hamilton told Sky F1.
“I need to see exactly what I did wrong. I’m pretty sure nobody has got two five-second penalties for something so ridiculous before.
“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. But it’s ok, I just need to try keep my head down and stay focused then see what happens.”
Salo says that is not true.
“Full of shit,” he told Ilta-Sanomat. “This is by no means true. Everyone has the same rules.”
He added: “It’s pretty clear. Hamilton did his starts from the side of the track and twice more.
“Hamilton made his last practice start at the white line that almost ends the pit lane exit.”
Leaving Sochi with a solid 1-3 and more points in the bag 💪
— Mercedes-AMG F1 (@MercedesAMGF1) September 27, 2020
FIA race director Michael Masi has denied that there is a conspiracy to stop Hamilton.
“I think from an FIA perspective, we are there as a sporting regulator, to administer the regulations,” he said.
“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.”
Masi added that if Hamilton feels aggrieved, his door is always open for a chat.
“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,” he said.