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Wolff on Hamilton penalties - Things go against him harshly sometimes

28/09/20

The Mercedes boss appreciated Hamilton's frustrations.

Toto Wolff was sympathetic to Lewis Hamilton's frustrations after the Mercedes driver questioned the penalties handed to him during the Russian Grand Prix.

Hamilton was leading in Sochi before race officials announced a pair of five-second penalties for carrying out practice starts outside of the designated area before the race had begun.

The reigning world champion ended up finishing third but questioned the ruling made by stewards, stating: "They're trying to stop me, aren't they".

Mercedes did still secure victory in the race through Valtteri Bottas - meaning it's seven from seven for the team in Russia - but Wolff acknowledged it had been a difficult day for Hamilton, with the ruling effectively costing him a shot at glory.

It was a second setback in three races for the Briton, who appeared on course to win the Italian Grand Prix in Monza before being penalised for entering the pits when they were closed.

"I think Lewis has faced a lot of adversity in his life, and to all of us the penalty seems a little harsh," Mercedes boss Wolff said in an interview with Sky Sports F1.

"I think things go against him harshly sometimes. I guess if you're the most successful driver, you have to take that sometimes.

"First of all, like we've always done in the past, we win and lose together. We've never pointed the finger on a person or group, we've tried to analyse what we can do better, how we can improve.

"Clearly, we've had two incidents now – Monza and here – where we could have probably have had a better judgement, all of us together, and this is something that is going to make us better in the long term.

"Every driver that hasn't extracted the maximum points in a race is going to be unhappy. You have to respect the DNA of racing drivers, but as a team we need to be happy with the result.

"We've increased our advantage in the constructors' championship and I'm very happy for Valtteri, but I can understand Lewis' feelings too."

Hamilton's lead in the title race is now 44 points, while the penalties prevented him from equalling Michael Schumacher's all-time record of 91 race wins.

On the subject of the illegal practice starts, Wolff explained how there is "room for interpretation" within the rules.

"The stewards said it's not the place where you would do a race start and I agree with that," Wolff said. "But in the director's notes, you can make practice starts after the lights on the right-hand side. And that's what he did.

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