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F1 explain Hamilton penalties were fair

Formula One race boss Michael Masi has told Lewis Hamilton that he is not being singled out for punishment.

Hamilton’s bid to match Michael Schumacher’s record 91 victories at the Russian Grand Prix was derailed when he was handed a 10-second penalty for performing two illegal practice starts ahead of the race.

The six-time world champion claimed afterwards that F1 bosses were finding new ways to stop him from winning.

But race director Masi said: “As the FIA, we are here as the 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 done by Lewis Hamilton or any one of the other 19 drivers.

“If a breach of the regulations has occurred, the stewards will consider it on its merits, and further to that, adjudicate it equitably and fairly in the circumstances, taking all the key elements into account.

“From my perspective, it is very simple, if Lewis wants to raise something, as I have said to him before, the door is always open and I am more than happy to discuss anything.”

Masi also dismissed Hamilton’s suggestion that he had carried out a similar practice start a “million” times before.

“At every other event, Lewis has complied with the requirements of where you perform a practice start in accordance with the race director’s instructions,” Masi said.

“There was a miscommunication between Mercedes and Lewis because Valtteri Bottas, and all the other drivers, used the exact practice start location where it was supposed to be.

“You need to look at everything on its own merits and the stewards believed Lewis took a sporting advantage so they thought an appropriate penalty was an in-race penalty.”

Hamilton will now have to wait until at least a week on Sunday to match Schumacher’s all-time tally.

F1 next heads to the Nurburgring for the first time since 2013 for the 11th of 17 rounds this year.

Despite Bottas’ triumph on Sunday, Hamilton, who finished third in Sochi behind Max Verstappen, will head to Germany with a 44-point lead in his quest to win a record-equalling seventh world crown.

Sergio Perez was fourth for Racing Point in his best placing of the season, ahead of Australia’s Daniel Ricciardo for Renault.

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