Another race, another Mercedes victory… But this one was much more contentious than normal because Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel passed the chequered flag in front. A mistake at Turn 3 on Lap 48 saw Vettel skid across the grass and then re-join the track still just ahead of Lewis Hamilton. The problem? Lewis had to slam on his breaks and was forced wide to avoid a collision. The stewards looked long and hard before handing Vettel a 5 second time penalty for re-joining the circuit in an unsafe manor.
Was it the right decision? Social media went wild with both Mercedes and Ferrari fans shouting their points of view. For what it’s worth we’re on Ferrari’s side. The circuit layout in Montreal is such that Vettel had nowhere to go other than re-join the track as he did. It was a mistake but, in our eyes, it was just a racing incident and the punishment seems harsh.
Vettel was understandably upset but didn’t cover himself with glory in his post-race antics. Swapping the number 1 and number 2 signs in parc fermé produced a cheer from the crowd but won’t have helped his cause with the FIA…
Team boss Mattia Binotto was more controlled and said afterwards: “We are not happy. From our perspective, he could have not done anything else and he was even lucky to remain on track… No intention in what he did, he was still ahead and he tried to keep his position and simple as that. We disagree with the decision but we all may have our own opinion.”
Toto Wolff’s counter argument was: “My view of the incident is that it is very difficult for the stewards to interpret regs so everyone is satisfied and that incident could be judged 60-40 on either side but we mustn’t put the stewards under pressure so they struggle even more in the future to come up with consistent decisions… Sometimes it goes for you, sometimes it goes against you.”
Toto is right of course, and in all sport, decisions can go against you, but Ferrari must be starting to think they really are cursed as their run of bad luck continues.
Perhaps article 38.1 of the FIA Formula One Sporting Regulations needs rethinking? Safety is, and always should be, paramount in Formula 1 but the scenario on Sunday would have happened with or with out this rule. All the 5 second penalty achieved was to cheat fans out of what could have been a grandstand finish.
Once he’d calmed down Vettel himself summarised quite succinctly, saying: “It’s not making our sport popular with these kind of decisions. People want to see us race and that was racing. It is a shame when we have all these funny decisions.”
These arguments could rumble on for months but more immediately we have the French Grand Prix in two weeks’ time. Le Castellet is not dissimilar in style to Circuit Gilles Villeneuve and this may provide a ray of hope for Ferrari. They qualified on pole in Canada. Can they do the same again in France?
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