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- Updated: July 15, 2017
After FIA decided not to punish Lewis Hamilton for hampering Romain Grosjean‘s efforts during the final part of qualifying, the Frenchman and Mercedes boss Toto Wolff have entered into what can best be termed a war of words.
The incident saw Hamilton suddenly pick up pace after just about managing to enter Vale as Grosjean was just in the midst of completing a lap of his own.
It was decided by the stewards that while Hamilton may have been guilty of the accusation, there would be no punishment for him.
“The stewards concluded while Grosjean may potentially have been affected by the presence of Hamilton he was not impeded,” read a statement from the FIA.
Grosjean was understandably left rather annoyed at the lack of penalty, having felt the Brit’s actions had cost him a significant amount of time and the chance to overhaul Stoffel Vandoorne for what would have been a net eighth place, given the fact that Valtteri Bottas will face a gearbox penalty.
Talking to Motorsport, Grosjean said, “I am surprised by the wording: ‘the driver behind has not been impeded’.
“If losing 0.35-0.4 seconds in one corner is not being impeded, I am very surprised. I think it opens room for messy qualifying and the rules are pretty clear.”
He said that it almost felt like the stewards were doing their best not to interfere in the championship battle.
“I know there is a world title going on at the front but we are in a position where we actually fight as hard as the boys at the front and I was impeded today. How can I put it? Maybe if it was another driver there would have been something. It does feel sometimes that there are two types of decision.
“I think the title race is an important one, but again we are fighting as hard as those boys. We have got a lot of people working and yes, I lost 0.35s in two corners. If next time I have to get with my front wing into his rear diffuser to show that I have been impeded…
“We have got very clear rules in qualifying and with 10 cars in Q3, we should not have those problems.”
Grosjean went on to say that there was a huge disparity in how punishments are dished out by stewards based on the relative competitiveness of teams and drivers, referring to his own previous run-ins with the men in question.
“I got a five-place grid penalty in China for being too quick under double yellow and today I lost position and nothing is happening,” he continued. “It is frustrating that there seems to be big inconsistency between the decision and who is doing the manoeuvre.”
Wolff was in no mood for such talk from Grosjean and took the opportunity to voice his own opinion on the matter.
“There are some that moan all the time,” he said. “They just continue moaning. I don’t want to even comment.
“If Romain Grosjean comes out and starts asking for penalties for other drivers, you should rather look at his track record. He should be happy he is driving in F1.”
Haas’ team boss Guenther Steiner joined the fray and stuck by his driver.
“If you step back and ask yourself, what would they have done if Romain had done that to Hamilton? That I think should answer that.
“Something needs to be done. Because if he says, ‘that wouldn’t have made your position better’. I know. But if we would have impeded Hamilton, if we get penalised, it means a lot to us because we go back on the grid and we lose points. We both have something to lose, so don’t do it.
“He’s a world champion, he’s better than that. Why does he need to impede? And as soon as someone is in his way, it’s a disaster. We need to get a little bit more equal because there’s always a discussion, how do we bring the field closer together?
“We need to get it together, and there seems to be never any consistency with the penalties. It’s always who is who.”