Mercedes Formula 1 boss Toto Wolff says he disagrees with the “far-fetched” penalties dished out to Lewis Hamilton at the Russian Grand Prix.

Hamilton was hit with two five-second time penalties after he was judged to have breached the FIA’s practice start rules before the race got underway at Sochi.

The total 10-second time penalty meant Hamilton missed the opportunity to equal Michael Schumacher’s all-time wins record of 91 F1 victories and instead was forced into a recovery drive to take third behind Max Verstappen and Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas.

Hamilton took aim at the Russian GP stewards for what he described as a “ridiculous” penalty, adding he felt they were “trying to stop me” from winning the race.

Wolff went to see the stewards before the race got underway with Mercedes sporting director Ron Meadows and was left unhappy with the decision, though he refused to put the blame on either driver nor the team.

"The errors always happen together," Wolff explained. "It's not a team error, it's not a Lewis error. And I wouldn't want to point at anybody, and I've never done that.

"Ron and I were the stewards, the verdict was he wasn't in the right place. There is no mention what the right place is in the director's note, nor is it in the regulations. So we disagree on that one – we agree to disagree on that one.

"The other one was not driving at constant speed in the reconnaissance laps, and there again, it's debatable. But the race has happened.

"He received the 10 seconds penalty. For a reconnaissance lap infringement an in-race penalty can be debated also. But you have to take it on the chin and move on.

"I'm not happy with the penalty, because it's far-fetched, but we agree to disagree. I will always respect the stewards in their job, but on that one, we just agree to disagree."

Wolff believes a “common-sense” approach should have been taken as Hamilton did not gain any advantage from the incidents which occurred prior to the race.

"You know, things are not always black and white, and there's room for interpretation,” he said. “There are rules that can be interpreted in two ways. There is common sense.

"There is the fact that then that an in-race penalty was given, actually two in-race penalties were given, for an infringement that happened before the race.

"And there was an argument that he gained an advantage by making the [practice starts] there, I think it was not an advantage because there was no grip, so much less grip than you would have on your starting positions. It is what it is at the end of the day, obviously, we're all emotional about that.

"But the emotion should be geared towards Valtteri who deserved a race win since a long time, and that is fundamentally what makes me happy. And finishing once and three should give us all reason to make us cheer and fly home and say, we can be satisfied with how it went, and now we need to learn from the incident.

"We need to look at the procedures and our communications. And as every time we will not blame the person, we will target the problem."

 

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