LEWIS HAMILTON’s record-equalling title challenge could be put on hold as he risks a one-race ban.
The six-time world champion is likely to match Michael Schumacher’s haul of seven titles by the end of this season.
However, the Brit has been left walking a disciplinary tightrope after picking up another two penalty points on his racing licence.
Along with the 10-second time penalty that cost him victory in that Italian GP, Hamilton was also slapped with two penalty points for driving up the pitlane when it was closed.
Like conventional driving licences, once a driver reaches 12 points within a 12 month period they automatically receive a ban.
Hamilton is now up to eight points with two points due to be expunged – but not until November – meaning he has to keep things clean.
And the Mercedes driver then picked up TWO five-second penalties at the Russian Grand Prix for practice start violations.
Should the FIA then decide to hit him with two sets of two penalty points, rather than ruling it to be one incident, he could be banned for the next F1 race – the Eifel Grand Prix at the Nurburgring.
After the incident in Italy, Hamilton sought out race stewards for an explanation of the call to hand him a penalty.
However, he was later satisfied with their decision and accepted responsibility for the error that resulted in him finishing in seventh place.
FIA Race Director, Michael Masi, says Hamilton was well within his rights to ask for a clarification.
He said: “As far as I understand, when Lewis saw the video, he agreed that the penalty was fair.
“There are no such restrictions [stopping a driver from seeing the stewards but fortunately, it’s not often that races have to be stopped with a red flag.
“But the stewards always adhere to an open door policy — if someone has questions, they can always ask them.”
Meanwhile, Hamilton’s boss at Mercedes, Toto Wolff says he will be staying with the team next year – although his role has yet to be decided.
Wolff, who also owns 30 percent of the team, is weighing up his plans as his contract with the team expires at the end of year.
He said: “I love this team and I think this is my place, it is just [that] eight years as a team principal is taking its toll and it is something I am reflecting on.
“It is important to make the right decision for my family or myself but you you can sure I will be involved in this team in one way or another.”