Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has criticised the "far-fetched" time penalty handed to championship leader Lewis Hamilton at the Russian Grand Prix.
Hamilton had to settle for third place after serving two five-second penalties in the early stages due to him conducting pre-race starts outside of the designated area at the Sochi Autodrom.
It left Wolff debating the matter with the stewards, and with him bemoaning their eventual decision.
"I’m not happy with the penalty because it is far-fetched but we agreed to disagree," said Wolff. "I will always respect the stewards in their job, but on that one, we just agreed to disagree.”
The notes of race director Michael Masi read: "Practice starts may only be carried out on the right-hand side after the pit exit lights and, for the avoidance of doubt, this includes any time the pit exit is open for the race."
Wolff believes Hamilton followed this instruction to the letter. He added: “The race director’s notes say, if I am well informed, that you must do practice starts after the lights, on the right side of the pit lane and that is what happened."
Radio messages between Hamilton and race engineer Pete Bonnington showed the driver had sought clarification from the team that he would be able to conduct his practice start from the end of the pit exit.
Wolff, though, would not be drawn into a blame game. “The errors always happen together," he said.
"It’s not a team error and it’s not a Lewis error and I wouldn’t want to point [the finger] on anybody. I have never done that.
“Ron [Meadows - Mercedes sporting director] and I were at the stewards, the verdict was he wasn’t in the right place.
"There is no mention what the right place is in the director's note, nor is it in the regulations so [again] we agree to disagree on that one.
"The other one was not driving at a constant speed on the reconnaissance laps, and there again, it’s debatable. But the race has happened. He received a 10-second penalty.
“So for a reconnaissance lap infringement, an in-race penalty can be debated also, but you have to take it on the chin and move on.”
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