Michael Massi says a sporting penalty was “appropriate” for Hamilton

© Steve Etherington for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd.

At the Russian Grand Prix Lewis Hamilton got penalized for performing practice starts in the wrong place. Now the FIA issued detailed practice start guidelines.

“During each practice session, practice starts may only be carried out on the right-hand side prior to the derestriction line indicated by the white grid marking,” said Race Director Michael Massi.

“Drivers wishing to carry out a practice start should stop on the right in order to allow other cars to pass on their left.

“During the time the pit exit is open for the race, practice starts may be carried out after the end of the pit wall and adjacent to the orange band on the right-hand side barrier.

“Drivers wishing to carry out a practice start should stop on the right in order to allow other cars to pass on their left.

“During this time any driver passing a car which has stopped to carry out a practice start may cross the white line that is referred to in 19.1 below. Any driver crossing this line must move back to the right of it as quickly as possible.

“For reasons of safety and sporting equity, cars may not stop in the fast lane at any time the pit exit is open without a justifiable reason (a practice start is not considered a justifiable reason).”

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After being awarded two five-second penalties, Lewis Hamilton lost out on an opportunity to win the Russian Grand Prix and equal Michael Schumacher’s most career wins record.

Many were questioning why Hamilton got an in-race penalty, when his breaches happened before the race and therefore didn’t have an impact on his performance. Massi, however, explains the practice start position did provide Hamilton with an unfair advantage.

“The practice start location is obviously very circuit specific, and detailed in the event notes,” explained Massi at Sochi.

“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.

“In the stewards view, performing that practice start in that area, in their view was a sporting advantage.

“Therefore they thought an appropriate penalty was a sporting penalty,” concluded the Australian.

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