Lewis Hamilton made clear his unhappiness with race officials after a pair of time penalties cost him dearly at the Russian Grand Prix, declaring: "They're trying to stop me".
Championship leader Hamilton was leading the way in Sochi when informed he was to be punished for carrying out a practice start outside the designated area before the race.
Formula 1® stewards ordered the Mercedes driver to serve two five-second penalties when he pitted on lap 17, leaving him with too much ground to make up when returning to the track.
The Briton ended up having to settle for third place as teammate Valtteri Bottas claimed victory, cutting the gap between the pair in the driver standings to 44 points with seven rounds remaining.
Hamilton did not hold back with his assessment in an interview with Sky Sports, claiming there are some who are determined to stop him securing a seventh world title.
"I need to go back and see what the rules are, what exactly I did wrong, but I'm pretty sure no one has received two five-second penalties for something so ridiculous," Hamilton said.
"I didn't put anyone in danger, I've done this at a million tracks over the years and never been questioned on it. But it is what it is.
Asked if the punishment was excessive, he replied: "Of course it is, but it's to be expected.
"They're trying to stop me, aren't they? But it's okay, I just need to keep my head down and stay focused, see what happens."
Hamilton, who started from pole position, was aiming to move level with the legendary Michael Schumacher by claiming a 91st race win, as well as a third in a row in Russia.
Any hopes of a record-equalling triumph were dashed by the penalties, though. On a frustrating day, he also appeared to question the timing of his stop over the team radio.
"The plan was to stop on that lap, I was just trying to go as far as I could," Hamilton revealed. "It didn't really change a huge amount, I just knew I had such a long to go on that tyre.
"I think I did pretty well on the softs, but we will discuss it and try to figure it out. I’ve just got to make sure I don't put myself in that situation again."
Hamilton will hope to draw level with Schumacher's tally next time out, with the season moving to Germany for the Eifel Grand Prix.