Masi 'more than happy' to listen to Hamilton's grievances

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FIA race director Michael Masi says his "door is open" to Lewis Hamilton following the six-time world champion's claim in Sochi that the stewards "are trying to stop me".

Hamilton was reacting after the Russian Grand Prix to the race officials' decision to penalize the Mercedes driver for conducting two practice starts on his way to the grid on Sunday out of the designated zone.

Hamilton was hit with a 10-second time penalty - 5 seconds for each offence - and two penalty points on his superlicence. However, the latter punishment was rescinded after it came to light for the stewards that Hamilton was instructed by his team to carry out the practice starts in the specific area located after the pitlane exit.

"I need to go back and see what the rules are," Hamilton said immediately after the race. "I need to see exactly what I did wrong. I’m pretty sure nobody has got two five-second penalties for something so ridiculous before.

"They are trying to stop me," he added, referring to the race stewards. "But it’s okay, I just need to try keep my head down and stay focused and see what happens."

Later on, Masi, who met with Hamilton and representatives of the Mercedes team after the race, said the designated area where drivers were allowed to practice starts was clearly outlined in the FIA pre-race notes handed to competitors at Sochi.

"The practice start location is obviously very circuit specific and detailed in the event notes," said Masi.

"So at every other event, Lewis, along with all the other drivers, has complied with the requirements of where they perform a practice start in accordance with the race director instructions.

"I would say that the reason why we determine where the practice start location is for the safety of all drivers.

"Everybody is aware of what is actually happening. So we determine its location for a deliberate reason.

"Generally, we actually don't paint a box, we just specify the location and have done even before my time, from my understanding. It's very much a circuit specific element of where it is. I think today was just a simple error from that perspective."

Regarding Hamilton's off the cuff "they are trying to stop me" comments, Masi said that he would be more than happy to discuss any grievances the Briton may have about the FIA's decisions.

"From my perspective it's very simple that if Lewis wants to raise something, as I have said to him before, and said to all the drivers numerous times, the door is always open, and I'm more than happy to discuss anything.

"But I think from an FIA perspective, we are there as a sporting regulator, to administer the regulations.

"We have the stewards as an independent judiciary to adjudicate those, and therefore there was an infringement and it doesn't matter if it was Lewis Hamilton or any other one of the 19 drivers.

"If a breach has occurred of the regulations, they will consider it on its merits, adjudicate it equitably and fairly in the circumstances taking all the key elements into account."

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