Sebastian Vettel right to feel aggrieved but he wasn't blameless in Canadian GP penalty

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The Montreal crowd’s cheers for an aggrieved Sebastian Vettel were laced with sympathy after he was stripped of a first Grand Prix win in 15 attempts despite a near-perfect drive.

And those soon morphed into raucous roars of approval at his theatrical gesture on the post-race grid.

A Formula One season starved of gripping narrative was injected with a heavy dose of drama when Vettel marched over to the No2 signboard and placed it in front of Lewis Hamilton‘s Mercedes before plonking the No1 board ahead of his empty space.

It was an incredible visual and greeted as if he were an inspirational rebel, fuelled by righteous indignation, fighting a losing yet glorious battle against an appalling injustice.

Of course, it could also be construed as petulant and thoroughly unprofessional. But that’s the unpopular opinion.

Vettel followed a stunning lap in qualifying to claim pole with a flawless start to the Canadian GP on Sunday, quickly pulling away from second-placed Hamilton early on. However, with little over 20 laps to go, the German’s lead was cut pretty fine as was the grass when he ran wide on Turn 3 before rejoining the track in Hamilton’s path who was forced to brake to avoid collision.

After much deliberation, the FIA stewards slapped a five-second penalty on Vettel with 13 laps to go and Hamilton hot on his heels. The Ferrari driver crossed the chequered flag first but only marginally so and was forced to settle for second place on the podium.

Mercedes have now won each of the seven races so far including six one-twos while Hamilton is already 62 points clear of Vettel in the drivers’ championship.

The penalty was indeed a harsh call but made to seem excessive owing to the fact that it cost Vettel his first race win since Belgium last year. A five-second penalty for a violation like that is technically the most lenient reprimand though.

Vettel would have you believe that he’s been denied victory through no fault of his own but that isn’t entirely accurate. While he certainly deserves a portion of sympathy, the bottom line is he made a mistake, a big one and just the latest in a long list of similar errors.

On Lap 48, both front-runners were struggling on the hard tyres. Hamilton noticeably locked up his front wheels on a few occasions but remarkably kept the pressure on Vettel, riding the corners hard and negating the Ferrari‘s superior straight-line speed.

With the Briton gaining on him, Vettel panicked. He braked late in Turn 3, didn’t have enough grip and found himself mowing the lawn. It was a basic mistake from the four-time world champion and the kind that he’s become familiar with in recent years.

He punched the throttle too early in Bahrain this year with Hamilton in pursuit and spun out, a repeat of his errors in Japan and the US last year. He braked late in slippery German conditions last season and crashed, handing his rival the title advantage in a season which also featured glaring errors in France and Germany.

As for this violation – one that Ferrari are challenging – there’s no denying that Vettel has a strong argument, one that highlights the myriad of things wrong with modern day F1 racing, but there’s a suspicion he’s more frustrated with himself for squandering a golden opportunity, or at least he should be.

With the pace Ferrari showed over practice and qualifying, Montreal should’ve made for a revival of this season’s competition. But when Vettel veered off track, he took any hope of Ferrari reeling Mercedes in with him.

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Sebastian Vettel upset after controversial penalty denies him victory at Canada GP

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Sebastian Vettel

Sebastian Vettel said he is falling out of love with Formula One after a controversial penalty denied him victory in Canada.

Lewis Hamilton was promoted to first place at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve – the British star claiming his fifth win from seven rounds – following Vettel’s five-second punishment for almost crashing into his Mercedes rival.

Backing their driver, Ferrari said they were “disappointed” by the steward’s decision and will appeal.

On lap 48, and with Hamilton crawling all over his Ferrari gearbox, Vettel lost control, sliding over the grass at the third bend before re-joining the track.

But Hamilton, who was forced to brake to avoid a collision with the recovering Ferrari driver, accused Vettel of dangerous driving. The stewards concurred, hitting the German with a timed penalty and slapping him with two points on his licence.

“This is not the sport I fell in love with,” said Vettel. “We all sound like lawyers. It just gives no edge to the sport.

“I am a purist. I love going back and looking at the old times, the old cars, the old drivers. It is an honour when you have the chance to meet them and speak to them. They are heroes.

“I really love that, but I just wish I could do what I do in their time, rather than today. It is not just about this decision, but other decisions, too.

“We have an official language, and it is wrong. We should be able to say what we think, but we are not. In this regard, I disagree with where the sport is now.

“I re-joined the track, Lewis had to react, but for me that is racing, and a lot of the old Formula One drivers, and people in the grandstands here would agree that this is part of racing.

“It hurts me today because it impacts my race result, but this is also part of a bigger criteria.”

Ferrari Team Principal Mattia Binotto said they were “naturally disappointed”.

“Most of all our thoughts are with Sebastian and the spectators. As for Seb, I don’t think he could have done things differently, which is why we have decided to appeal the Stewards’ decision,” he said.

“We leave Canada knowing that today, as indeed over the whole weekend, we proved we were competitive and that fact has been a confidence booster for the whole team.”

Ferrari have four days to gather evidence before progressing with the appeal.

Britain’s 1992 world champion Nigel Mansell said the incident was “very embarrassing”.

“No joy in watching this race. Two champions driving brilliantly, ending in a false result,” he wrote on Twitter.

“What’s Seb supposed to do? Crazy. The car stepped out. At that point he was a passenger.”

Hamilton was jeered on the podium – the strong contingent of Ferrari supporters in North America unhappy with a penalty which denied Vettel his first win since last August’s Belgian Grand Prix and the Scuderia’s first of a disappointing campaign.

Vettel was furious with the decision, complaining over the radio before initially refusing to take part in the podium celebrations.

He marched in front of Hamilton’s parked-up Mercedes and removed the board declaring he had finished first, replacing it with the second-place marker reserved for his Ferrari.

Hamilton, who is now 29 points clear of Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas in the championship, said: “All I can say is that I didn’t make the decision. I don’t know what they are booing at.”

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Lewis Hamilton wins Canadian GP after Sebastian Vettel penalty and other key talking points

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Lewis Hamilton was crowned the winner of a remarkable Canadian Grand Prix after Sebastian Vettel was hit with a five-second penalty.

Vettel took the chequered flag at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve but was demoted to runner-up following a penalty for a near-collision with Hamilton on lap 48.

Hamilton crossed the line 1.3 seconds behind Vettel to ensure he would take the fifth win of his championship defence, and extend his championship lead to 29 points after Valtteri Bottas finished fourth. Charles Leclerc completed the podium positions.

Here are our key talking points from the race.

BAD DAY FOR VETTEL

A disappointing race day for the German. Fastest for much of the weekend, Vettel topped the timesheets in FP3 and secured top spot in qualifying for the first time in 17 race, stretching back to the German GP last July.

In the race itself, he drove solidly and looked on course to secure his first win of the season up until lap 48. On the exit of turn four, he ran wide, which forced Hamilton slightly off the track, resulting in a penalty.

Although he held on to cross the line in first, he didn’t build on the necessary time advantage and was forced to settle for second in what was an underwhelming finish for the spectator.

In truth, the penalty was harsh as there is no other place for a driver to re-join the track in a situation like that. He deserved the win but the stewards thought differently, which is disappointing.

Hopefully Vettel can return to the fore in France in two weeks time.

LUCKY NO7 FOR HAMILTON

A remarkable seventh win for Hamilton in Canada. Although the victory wasn’t in the manner that he would have liked, due to Vettel’s penalty, it is still Mercedes seventh triumph of the season and they hold a comfortable advantage in both drivers’ and constructors’ championships.

The Englishman was boosted by a new Mercedes engine in Montreal this weekend, but he was unable to live with the searing pace of Vettel in qualifying and had to start from second on the gird.

A combination of the hitting the wall in FP2 and his hydraulics issue on Sunday morning, it was a mixed weekend for the 34-year-old ahead of the start of Sunday’s race.

But what makes him a champion is that he never gives up, and he stayed two-seconds behind Vettel for the first half of the race, before cutting the time substantially – to just under one-second by lap 40 – putting pressure on German for the final frenetic laps.

Benefiting from the time penalty handed to Vettel, the Briton pushed hard and closed the gap to finish 1.9 seconds behind Vettel and clinch the win.

It may have been undeserved, but a win is a win.

RICCIARDO ROCKS

The Driver of the Day? Definitely a close call between him and Vettel.

Daniel Ricciardo qualified fourth fastest on Saturday, his best performance for Renault, in a significant boost for the his flagging season to date.

And he continued his superb form on race day, holding off Valtteri Bottas for a number of laps, before his resistance was finally broken to the Mercedes’ severe power. Still, sixth represents a stunning finish for the 29-year-old and Renault’s best result of the season so far.

His efforts plus Nico Hulkenberg’s seventh were warmly greeted by the Montreal crowd.

STRONG PERFORMANCE FOR STROLL

A solid afternoon for the Canadian man. Racing in front of his home fans, Lance Stroll shone in his Racing Point and finished ninth – his third points finish this season after picking up ninth in Melbourne and Baku.

Starting from 17th on the grid, the 21-year-old soared through the field and even held off Carlos Sainz late to seal a joint-season’s best result.

In contrast, his team-mate Sergio Perez crossed the finish line in 12th.

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