Salo Admits Hamilton’s Russian GP Penalties Were ‘Harsh’

The ex-F1 driver was criticised by some fans after the race for allegedly leaking his decision to a Finnish broadcaster.

Ex-Formula One driver Mika Salo, who was one of the driver stewards at last weekend’s Russian Grand Prix, has said he believes the penalties handed to Lewis Hamilton were “harsh”.

Stressing that the stewards acted to the letter of the law, Salo said: “It was a clear violation of the rules, so some sanction had to be imposed.

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“We also thought it was harsh, but we acted according to the penalty table.”

Hamilton, who received two five-second penalties for performing a couple of illegal practice race starts, accused the FIA of “trying to stop” him, though he later implied that he may have overreacted.

In addition to the time penalties, Hamilton was given two more penalty points on his super licence, bringing him very close to getting a race ban.

Luckily for him, the stewards decided to rescind these two penalty points.

Explaining why they decided to do so, Salo said: “After the race, we were showed a radio conversation between Hamilton and the team which said that the team had given permission for the practice start to take place.

“It was a communication problem, because Mercedes didn’t mean for Hamilton to do the starts as far away as he did. They accepted the other penalties.”

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Continuing, he said that F1 stewards have “so much information and data at their disposal that their decisions always stand up to reasoning,” but fans and drivers still feel aggrieved in certain cases.

“A couple of years ago, there was a death threat from the Netherlands when we penalised Max Verstappen, but there was nothing questionable about it. Max committed a clear foul,” Salo gave as an example.

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