The FIA also recently changed the rules for using engine modes in qualifying. It was seen as an attempt to reduce Mercedes’ advantage on the lap alone and Hamilton believed it was part of a concerted effort to erode the dominance they enjoyed.
“Every time a team is up front it comes under scrutiny. Everything we have on our car goes through a triple check, they change the rules like engine regulations and a lot of things to try and keep the race exciting I guess. I don’t know if the rules for what happened today have anything to do with it, but it naturally feels like it. You feel like you’re struggling uphill, but that’s okay. It’s not like I’ve never faced adversity.
The British driver also received two penalty points from the stewards at the start. If he had won two more in the next four races, he would have received a one-race ban. But the points were subsequently canceled and replaced by a fine of € 25,000 for Mercedes on the grounds that it was the team that had ordered him not to make his training starts in the required zone.
Hamilton nevertheless seemed convinced that his actions were more likely to be sanctioned. “We’ll go through the rulebook and pick out areas where they can make rules, areas where sanctions have never been imposed before,” he said. “We will try to find out whoever they have and try to cover ourselves. I just have to make sure I don’t give any reason, not even a snort, to be able to do something.