Wolff 'agrees to disagree' with stewards over 'harsh' Hamilton penalties

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Mercedes boss Toto Wolff will "agree to disagree" with the stewards over Lewis Hamilton's "harsh" penalties during the Russian Grand Prix.

The Briton was handed two five-second penalties for completing two practice starts outside the designated area on the way to the grid before the start, dropping Hamilton to his ultimate finishing position of third.

And while one of the starts was clearly in breach of the instructions given by the stewards before the event, the Mercedes boss was unsure about the second.

“No and that was exactly the verdict from the stewards, they said it’s not the place where you would do a race start and I agree with that," Wolff, a former racer, said when asked if he would have done a start in the pit-lane exit on the track itself.

“But in the directors’ notes it said you can make a practice start after the light on the right-hand side…and that’s what he did.

“So there is room for interpretation and clearly we have to analyse why we made the mistake and just take this one on the chin, even though we were at the stewards and agree to disagree.”

In his own post-race remarks though, Hamilton was furious claiming the stewards are "trying to stop me".

“I think Lewis has faced a lot of adversity in his life, and to all of us the penalty seems a little harsh,” Wolff said on that claim.

“Never before pre-race on a reconnaissance lap has an incident been penalised with an in-race penalty, so that’s new, and that can also be debated.

“But I think things go against him harshly sometimes and if you are the most successful driver you have to take it sometimes.”

This is the second time in three races Hamilton and Mercedes together have broken the rules, following the 10-second stop/go penalty Lewis got for pitting while the lane was closed at Monza.

“I think like we’ve always done in the past, we win and lose together, and we’ve never pointed the finger at a person or a group,” Wolff continued.

“We try to analyse what we can do better and how we can improve, and clearly we’ve had two incidents now in Monza and here where we probably could have had a better judgement, all of us together.

“And this is something that’s going to make us better for the long-term.”

Meanwhile, as a result of Hamilton's dramas, teammate Valtteri Bottas was able to claim his second win of 2020 and first since the season opener in Austria.

The Finn's victory also continued Mercedes' record of winning every race in Sochi.

“I’m really happy that we have maintained the 100% race win record here, and the race win for Valtteri was overdue since a long time,” Toto noted.

“Today he drove a brilliant race, there was no mistake, well managed in terms of the tyres and the way he controlled it at the end, he cruised to the finish line.”