LE CASTELLET, France — The controversy around the penalty which cost Sebastian Vettel victory at the Canadian Grand Prix has rumbled on to the next race, nearly two full weeks on from the incident.
Ferrari will present new evidence to the FIA on Friday afternoon as part of its request to have the incident reviewed. The ongoing saga was a popular theme of discussion during the media day ahead of the next race on the calendar, this weekend’s French Grand Prix at the Paul Ricard circuit.
Below are some of the most outspoken views on the penalty and the rulebook which led to the decision itself.
Kimi Raikkonen (Alfa Romeo): “[Vettel] had no choice. When you’re on the grass you have no control and then when you re-join the track, 50 metres later, you still have a lot of shit on the tyres, so there’s not much you can do.
“The odd thing is that this year they keep telling us more freedom to race and then this penalty happens. They say it’s no one fault but there is a penalty.
“Honestly, I’m on no-one’s side, I don’t care, but what Seb did, the penalty and what’s on the rules somehow doesn’t match … I guess the stewards are always in a difficult position, whatever ruling they issue there’s always going to be happy and unhappy teams. That’s how it is.”
Max Verstappen (Red Bull): “I think in general if you are going to award a penalty maybe don’t do it during a penalty because it takes away all that excitement of Lewis catching Seb and fighting for the win, Lewis was just cruising behind Seb and just needed to stay within those five seconds.
“Looking back at it the first mistake that happened was Seb going off the track, but then I think when he rejoined he didn’t do anything. He was not purposely blocking Lewis so I think why they gave him the penalty was wrong. To give the penalty, in general… if you are going to give penalties like that, why don’t you just put a wall there? Then of course if he made a mistake the race is over for him.
“I’m not a fan of penalties, I’ve had them myself many times, so I’ve tried to stay out of the stewards room now, I just go in and say hello! It’s maybe not good for F1 as well, but what can you do about it.
“I think he did everything he could to come back in a safe way. Of course when you go off in the in the lead and you know Lewis is behind a second, or a second and a half, you stay on throttle and you know you’re managing. But Lewis saw him going off, so when he goes through the left-hander he know Seb is going to come back on and then of course he’s going to drift wide and then he had to back off. If I would have been Lewis I would have been on the radio like ‘hey, he blocked me’, because you know it’s in the rules and there’s a possible penalty. I understand both drivers.”
Daniel Ricciardo (Renault): “I think unfortunately it depends case by case and it is not always that clear. Even if it is written in the rules they will still use more common sense for a situation. Obviously the Vettel-Hamilton one, for the lead, I think you’ve got to let that go and if Vettel squeezes him to a point where Lewis touched the wall and really had to get out of it then maybe it is a different story. Sure he squeezed him a little bit but I think a part of that was the line, his trajectory, he was always going to end somewhere near there.
“If he made it a bit more difficult then so he should, he was fighting for the win and Mercedes has won every race this year. I think Vettel, maybe others would have squeeze Lewis all the way into the wall, I think those situations have to be…. not favour the underdog, but just be a bit more open-minded with the situation cutting on the grass. It is for a Formula One win so it is a big deal.”
Kevin Magnussen (Haas): “It was a bit of a strange one. I think there are too many rules that, not only we have to follow, but that they have to police. It becomes impossible for them to be consistent to have so many rules that they need to police — every situation is slightly different and it becomes really hard for them to keep up the consistency.
“My view is that we should think about letting us race more and get it on with it ourselves. It’s fine to have some rules but I think we can ease it up a lot because the cars are so safe these days and the tracks are very safe also that it is not a question of safety. There is room to take a step back and let us get on with it.”
Guenther Steiner (Haas boss): “I’ve got my own issues with the stewards normally so I don’t need to help anybody out! How I see it, it’s a 50-50 and it can go both ways. And if it’s a fifty-fifty, I go without the penalty as I always say. Whether it’s against us or for us, we shouldn’t over-regulate it. If it’s a fifty-fifty, let it go. That should be the clear decision in my opinion.
“If it’s a 60-40, again it’s very close. But it was a fifty-fifty in my opinion and it was proper racing. If we want to kill racing, if you have to have a simulation before the race and decide the race, we need to stop this. We have no value in this anymore in this one. For me it was proper racing, it was pretty cool and in the end he got the penalty and they need to deal with it, I have no input there thank god. It’s a bit of a contentious one.”
Sergio Perez (Racing Point): “I think it was harsh, the penalty. But the thing that I’m most concerned about is the inconsistency. We have seen similar incidents with very different end results. That’s the biggest thing to me: the lack of consistency. That’s something we have got to work out, for years we have been talking about bringing the same stewards to races but that is very unlikely to happen.
“Over the course of a year, you have to realise that we are human beings and some human beings see that incident as a penalty required and some not, so that is where the inconsistency comes. I think the FIA has to come up with a better system to implement a more consistent field, where with similar incidents similar penalties happen. That’s the main thing.”
George Russell (Williams): “Obviously with everything you have to draw a line somewhere. I think my view is actually just with how the footage was shown there in the moment really didn’t favour the FIA because it went from Lewis’ onboard to an outboard shot and it didn’t look much of an incident. I’m not saying the penalty was deserved or not deserved.
“But I think quite often, I see it in football, when you see replays in slow motion, and slow motion again, in football, someone’s standing two metres away, kicks a football into a guy’s arm and yeah it looks obvious, it’s handball, it’s hit his arm, then at full speed it looks nothing.
“I really feel for the FIA stewards. I’d never want this job because you’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t. I think there’s many things the media or fans don’t see behind the scenes, especially what we speak about in driver briefings. For example that weekend we spoke a lot about drivers cutting the circuit and not gaining an advantage, but not losing an advantage and not being penalised for it. many times you see a driver defending, locks up, cuts the track, doesn’t gain anything, doesn’t lose anything, but he’s made a mistake and should be punished. Perhaps it’s played on the conscious of the mind but like I said it is one of those things.
“I’d be intrigued to see what happens, but it’s one of those things.”
Lando Norris (McLaren): “Personal opinion? He shouldn’t have got the penalty. You never know what goes on in a driver’s head.
“It would have been more exciting. It just causes a better rivalry between everyone [without a penalty]. It didn’t cause a crash at the end of the day. He just made a mistake. He lost time overall because of it, and that’s that I thought. That’s what I think should have happened, he shouldn’t have had a penalty.”