Lewis Hamilton's bid for a record-equalling 91st career Formula One win took a huge hit at the Russian Grand Prix on Sunday after stewards imposed two five-second penalties for practice start infringements. Hamilton accused Formula One stewards of trying to stop him winning after being handed two time penalties in Sunday's Russian Grand Prix.
Stewards had notified the Mercedes driver, who was on pole at Sochi, before the start that he was under investigation.
"What happened? What happened?," exclaimed the Briton when told of the decision. "Where is that in the rule book?"
Hamilton pitted after 17 laps and dropped from the lead to 11th place.
"This is just ridiculous," he said over the team radio.
Hamilton's team mate and closest rival Valtteri Bottas, 55 points behind in the standings after nine races, was leading.
Hamilton is one victory away from matching the all-time win record of Ferrari great Michael Schumacher.
"I need to go back and see what the rules are and what exactly I did wrong," the Briton told Sky Sports television after being punished for practice starts outside of the designated area on his way to the grid.
"I'm pretty sure no-one's got two five-second penalties for something so ridiculous before," he added.
"I didn't put anyone in danger. I've done this at a million tracks over the years and never been questioned on it. So it is what it is."
The stewards also handed Hamilton two penalty points on his licence, leaving him two short of incurring a one-race ban triggered by 12 in a 12-month period.
Asked if that seemed excessive, he replied: "Of course it is. But it's to be expected. They're trying to stop me, aren't they?"
"But it's OK. I just need to keep my head down and stay focused and we'll see what happens."