Masi denies FIA bias against Hamilton as Lewis doubles down on criticism

Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive

FIA race director Michael Masi insists there is no bias against Lewis Hamilton following his penalties at the Russian Grand Prix.

The six-time world champion claimed Formula 1's governing body was "trying to stop me" after he was awarded a combined 10-second penalty for completing practice starts outside the designated area on the lap to the grid.

Hamilton was also given two penalty points but they were later rescinded when Mercedes argued it was the team, not Lewis, who approved his request to change the location of his practice starts, resulting in a €25,000 fine for the German manufacturer.

“Lewis asked if he could go a bit further,” head of trackside engineering Andrew Shovlin explained via “We hadn’t realised quite how far he was going to go.

“We didn’t see the first one, but when we saw the second one we thought ‘they [the stewards] are not going to like that’.

“We didn’t think it was dangerous,” he added. “And given that the event notes said that it was on the right-hand side after the pit exit, we thought it might have been ambiguous enough that we would have just got a telling-off.

“But when we saw the car position, it wasn’t a complete surprise that they didn’t like it.”

The combined penalties dropped Hamilton from the lead to third in the race, denying him the chance to match Michael Schumacher with 91 F1 career wins.

And after his initial strong outburst at the "ridiculous" decision, the 35-year-old maintained there is an attempt to hold him back.

"I don't necessarily think that it's for me," Hamilton said if he felt targeted by the FIA. "I think probably most teams, whenever a team is at the front, obviously they are doing a lot of scrutiny.

"Everything we have on our car is being checked, double-checked and triple-checked.

"They are changing rules, such as the engine regs, lots and lots of things to get in the way to keep the racing exciting, I assume.

"I don't know if the rules, in terms of what happened today, was anything to do with it but naturally that's how it feels.

"It feels like we're fighting uphill, but it's OK. It's not like I haven't faced adversity before.

"So we just keep our heads down and keep fighting and keep trying to do a better job and be cleaner and squeaky clean, as I said before."

Also Read:

In response to Hamilton, however, FIA race director Masi was clear it was not one rule for Hamilton and Mercedes and another for the rest.

“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," he said.

"I’m more than happy to discuss anything.

“I think from an FIA perspective we are there as a sporting regulator to administer the regulations. We have the stewards as an independent judiciary to adjudicate those.

“There was an infringement and, it doesn’t matter if it was Lewis Hamilton or any one of the other 19 drivers, if a breach has occurred of the regulations they will consider it on its merits.

“Further to that, I would say they adjudicate it equitably and fairly in the circumstances, taking all of the key elements into account.”