Lewis Hamilton hits out at F1 stewards over ‘ridiculous’ reprimands

Lewis Hamilton - Formula 1

Lewis Hamilton has criticised what he considers are unduly harsh decisions by Formula One race stewards.

The Mercedes driver and reigning champion, who finished second in the Russian Grand Prix, was given his second reprimand of the season after qualifying and will face a 10-place grid penalty should he receive a third.

“I’m just aware there’s most likely going to be one 10-place grid penalty because I’ve got one more reprimand to go,” he said. “The last one was bloody ridiculous.”

Hamilton was censured in Sochi for going wide at turn two during qualifying and not, as required, heading to the left to go round a bollard, to ensure no time advantage was gained. The other reprimand came in Bahrain for reversing in the pit lane.

In both cases the stewards were following the rules to the letter but Hamilton can feel legitimately aggrieved to an extent. In Sochi he gained no advantage from cutting the corner. In Bahrain, where he could have faced a stronger sanction, he had taken pole and had entered the pit lane to park up but was given no clear instruction where to go, stopped and then reversed for approximately 50cm.

Hamilton felt the decisions were unnecessarily harsh. “When I was in karting there was one steward who was just there to make everyone’s weekend a bad weekend,” he said. “I’m starting to have reminiscent experiences. Families would turn up and spend so much money to be there but there was this one guy who was a complete arsehole. I heard he’s still there. He was just there to ruin people’s weekend. I have started to see signs of him.”

He said both reprimands had triggered this memory. There was one common denominator on both steward panels: Paul Gutjahr, president of the FIA hill climb commission. In Bahrain he was joined by Roger Peart, president of the FIA circuits commission, and the driver representative, Derek Warwick. In Sochi Nish Shetty, an FIA steward, and the former Le Mans winner Emanuele Pirro were the other representatives.

Hamilton has not won a race since October, when he took his third world title in Texas, while his team-mate Nico Rosberg has started the season with four straight victories and leads the championship by 43 points. The German has also had a reliable car whereas Hamilton had to start from the back in China after a power unit failure in qualifying.

In Russia another failure meant Hamilton missed the final phase of qualifying. Mercedes had to fly out parts overnight to ensure he did not start from the pit lane.

Ferrari’s team principal, Maurizio Arrivabene, has admitted his driver Sebastian Vettel went “ballistic” during Sunday’s race in which he was shunted out by Red Bull’s Daniil Kvyat on the first lap.

The Ferrari driver launched an expletive-laden tirade over team radio and then had words with his former, and Kvyat’s current, team principal, Christian Horner, on the pit wall during the race.

“He was not happy at all, he was going ballistic,” Arrivabene said. “He has taken a DNF for a second time [after failing to start the race in Bahrain] for something that has nothing to do with him. This is the character of a guy who is a four-times world champion who wants to win, so it’s understandable. Afterwards we talked and he was a bit more calm but of course calm does not mean happy.”

Vettel and Kvyat also came together at the Chinese Grand Prix when Vettel was angry with the Russian for putting a move up the inside of turn one that caused him to turn into his Ferrari team-mate, Kimi Raikkonen.

Arrivabene had accepted Kvyat’s legitimate move on that occasion but had no sympathy for the 22-year-old’s actions in Sochi. “Last time, in China, I was not complaining about Kvyat and I said he has done his job,” he said. “This time I can’t find any reason for what has happened.”

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Giles Richards in Sochi, for The Guardian on Monday 2nd May 2016 18.03 Europe/London

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