If you think the rules on football's handball are complicated you should spend a morning sifting through the FIA's handbook for a giggle.

Take the regulation that did for Lewis Hamilton in Sunday's Grand Prix that denied the British driver the chance to equal Michael Schumacher's record of 91 victories. If you can get that far – and I'm not advocating that you attempt to if you want to spend some time with family – the offence is right there in black and white under article 37, clause 1 of a set of 15.

“All drivers going to the pit exit at this time must do so at a constant speed and with constant throttle. This applies over the whole of the pit lane whether a driver is going to the pit exit from his garage or travelling through the pit lane between reconnaissance laps.”

For those who didn't see the race, let alone the pre-race manoeuvrings, Hamilton was given two five-second penalty points for contravening the above rule prior to the start of the race – eventually won by Hamilton's Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas in Sochi. The 10 seconds accumulated by the British driver meant he had no chance of claiming victory nor matching Schuey's record and he eventually finished in third, more than 22 seconds behind the Finn.

His problems had begun a day earlier in qualifying when a crash involving Sebastian Vettel, at a point when Hamilton had yet to record a lap time, meant a scramble for a place on the grid. He duly obliged in fine style setting the fastest circuit time but he did so on soft tyres meaning that he had to start the race on those same moulds.

In light of that disadvantage, Hamilton's transgression seemed innocuous enough. He twice made practice starts during the aforementioned “reconnaissance laps” before the cars lined up on the grid instead of the designated place at the end of the garage. But, as stated above, that's against the rules.

Cockpit camera footage showed him being told of the infringement in-race and the string of expletives – albeit bleeped out – that followed would have made a navvy blush.

After the race, the 35-year-old delved into his big book of conspiracy theories to suggest: “They're trying to stop me,” he said from behind a black facemask. Presumably, he meant the FIA rather than the illuminati or Covid-19 deniers before he admitted “I need to go back and see what the rules are.”

It was meant sardonically but the uncomfortable reality for Hamilton was that he had indeed breached the rules. Under instruction, it must be added, by his Mercedes team, something that seemed to have been communicated to him by officials as he sat down for press interviews afterwards.

The role his team played seemed to have mitigated the stance of race officials' by the time yesterday morning came around and the deduction of two penalty points – a punishment that pushed him closer to a one-race ban – was commuted to a E25,000 team fine which no doubt explains why Hamilton was in more conciliatory mood at those later press engagements.

Hamilton watchers tend to split into two camps: those who revere his every gear or outfit change and those who watch him as studiously as any petrolhead analyses an overtaking car, simply waiting for a slip-up.

To those detractors the list of misdemeanours is long. Already this year, he has been embroiled in controversy for liking an anti-vaccine post on Instagram – something he later said was done in error. Yet, since 2016 alone, he has infuriated women's groups over his comments about the return of pit-lane girls, trans groups over his post on social media saying 'boys don't wear dresses' followed by a GQ front cover in which he wore a kilt, and he invoked the ire of PETA, the animal rights organisation, when he posted selfies of himself posing with big-game cats in captivity.

You don't have to look too far to find fans deifying him on social media or justifying every perceived transgression, either. Search deep enough and you'll find pictorial defences of him invariably praising or consoling fellow drivers after maiden victories or crushing disappointments and those who have his back every time he becomes part of another media storm, usually citing latent racism as a reason for the criticism he receives.

It is too easy to cite this as an explanation, though. Hamilton is an enigma but he's also five years off 40. The microscopic scrutiny of his every move must become wearisome but then there appears to be little evidence of a willingness to change. Is that something to condemn him for? Probably not but his siege mentality and allegations of conspiracy do him no favours. In fact they grate at a time when there are bigger worries across the globe so there should be no surprise on Hamilton's or his supporters' part if the brickbats continue to come.