Toto Wolff disagrees with Hamilton’s penalties: “It’s far-fetched“

© LAT Images for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd

Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff says he is “not happy” with two five-second penalties Lewis Hamilton received at the Russian Grand Prix.

The Briton received one penalty for performing the race start beyond the area specified to the teams in Race Director Michael Massi’s pre-race notes and the other one for not driving at constant speed in the reconnaissance laps. Wolff says neither Hamilton nor the team are to blame for the penalties.

“The errors always happen together,” explained Wolff.

“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 [Meadows, Sporting Director at Mercedes] and I were at 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. So 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.”

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Wolff further explained how Michael Masi’s notes did not specify the exact place where the drivers have to conduct practice starts.

“The race director’s notes say, if I’m well-informed, that you must do practice starts after the lights on the right side of the pitlane. And that’s what happened.

“The designated place, it says after the lights, at the right side. It does specify that the practice starts need to be done after the lights on the right side.

“You know, things are not always black and white, and there’s room for interpretation. 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 one 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,” concluded Wolff.

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