Hamilton slams penalty points as Red Bull suggests Mercedes ready a reserve

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Lewis Hamilton slammed what he considers the liberal handing out of penalty points by the stewards following the Russian Grand Prix.

On Sunday, the six-time world champion slipped from first to third after a 10-second penalty for completing practice starts outside the designated area on the way to the grid, leading Hamilton to claim the FIA is "trying to stop me".

He was also initially given two points on his superlicence before they were rescinded as stewards agreed Mercedes were more to blame for the breach in regulations.

And with Hamilton having already accumulated eight for various incidents over the past year, he feels those points are handed out a little too readily.

“Are we all on the same page?” he asked in the post-race press conference. "I don’t think so.

“I’m probably on a different page of the book or I’ve skipped a few pages clearly. It’s ridiculous the points that have been given people this year in general.

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“Penalty points usually are for – I don’t want to speak on my behalf – from a drivers’ point of view, if you put someone else in danger, you crash into somebody, of course, you should be getting penalty points.

“I did not harm anybody, did not put anybody in harm’s way so ultimately it’s a ridiculous rule, but it is what it is.

“I’ll just make sure I’m squeaky-clean moving forwards. Don’t give them an excuse for anything.”

Hamilton's possible tension about that situation comes from the fact that should a driver reach 12 penalty points on his licence over a 12-month period, they are automatically banned from the next race.

And with Lewis briefly on 10, before the two in Sochi were dropped, that would have put him on very thin ice over the next four races before more points are due to be removed on November 17.

In fact, at such a risk Hamilton would have been and still is of potentially getting a ban, Red Bull boss Christian Horner teased Mercedes.

“I don’t know who the reserve driver of Mercedes is, but if I were him, I would start training,” he told Auto Motor und Sport.

“With the slightest error, he would lose his racing licence.”

Some fellow drivers though were sympathetic to Hamilton's argument.

“He’s been punished enough with the time penalty. I’m not sure whether the penalty points are correct,” Max Verstappen said.

Sebastian Vettel added: “If you do any crazy things on the track, then it’s okay, but no points should be awarded for minor offences.”