stewards generally go easier on drivers who aren’t named Schumacher or Hamilton
This ties in with what I was saying earlier about harsher sentences for repeat offenders.
Let’s say Schumacher got a drive-through penalty for that incident with Barrichello in Hungary, but then did the exact same thing to, say, Kamui Kobayashi two races later at Monza. Would a drive-through penalty for Schumacher be justified here? Certainly. But would it be appropriate? Certainly not. Schumacher did something stupid in Hugary and got penalised for it. When he does it again in Italy, it’s obvious that he didn’t learn his lesson the first time around, and so a harsher penalty is needed.
The stewards don’t target Hamilton and Schumacher because they are Hamilton and Schumacher. Lewis Hamilton is one of the most-aggressive drivers in the sport, and he is involved in more incidents than any other driver on the grid. Since all racing incidents are investigated, the stewards aren’t targeting Hamilton. He’s just involved in most of them. One has to ask why that is, so the stewards are taking a hard line against him because he’s a repeat offender. And the same goes for Schumacher – he is one of the most ruthless and uncompromising drivers the sport has ever seen. Like Hamilton, he gets himself into a lot of incidents, and so gets harsher penalties because he is in and out of the stewards’ office on a pretty regular basis.
To draw an analogy, I have a year 7 class at the moment who can be particularly disruptive. I usually have them before recess or before lunch, which has led to me introducing a system with them: for every minute of time that they waste, I take back a minute of their recess or lunch, and keep them in after the bell has rung. They can earn their minutes back by completing their work (and completing it quietly), but they all have to work together in order to get out of class on time. Conversely, it only takes one person misbehaving to get more minutes added to their tally. Yes, it’s deliberately stacked against them, but the point of the exercise is not to keep them in after the bell. The point of the exercise is to get them to realise that they need to complete all of their work and complete it quietly if they want to go to lunch. If the bell goes and there are minutes on the board, then they stay back, but most of the time, they pull themselves together, get through their work, and leave when the bell goes.
It’s the same thing here. The stewards aren’t giving Hamilton and Schumacher harsh penalties for the sake of penalising them. They’re handing out harsh penalties to get the drivers to realise that they need to pull themselves together.