The Sky F1 pundits were unanimous in their views that Sebastian Vettel was harshly-treated at the Canadian GP, with Jenson Button claiming the Ferrari driver had “nowhere to go” when tangling with Lewis Hamilton.
The five-second penalty Vettel received when almost making contact with his Mercedes rival cost him a precious race win and provided the most contentious moment of the Formula 1 2019 season so far.
- Ferrari intend to contest Vettel penalty
- Deflated’ Hamilton: Vettel made an error
- Angry Vettel hits out at penalty
Ferrari have already confirmed their intention to contest the decision, after race stewards adjudged that Vettel ‘rejoined the track in an unsafe manner’ and Hamilton ‘had to take evasive action to avoid a collision’.
The Sky F1 team were shocked after the call was made – Martin Brundle said he felt like he had been “kicked in the stomach” – while Button sympathised with Vettel and felt it spoiled an epic battle.
“It’s disappointing when there’s a proper fight out on track between two greats, two multiple world champions, and then the stewards are able to come in and take that away from us,” Button, the 2009 world champion, said.
“It’s a shame. For me, it’s a racing incident. Yes, Seb made a mistake – but you’ve got to realise he’s doing over 100mph here. You can’t just stop the car and stay off the circuit.
“It doesn’t deserve a penalty, I don’t think. From a racer’s point of view – he had nowhere to go.”
He added: “You don’t choose to be on that part of the circuit and Seb doesn’t want to crash into Lewis either.
“He’s not in control coming back onto the circuit and it’s not his fault that he couldn’t slow down.”
Did Vettel turn towards Hamilton?
Button also analysed the controversial incident in a must-watch SkyPad extra, alongside Karun Chandhok. The pair looked at Vettel’s cockpit in slow motion after the German ran onto the grass at the Turn Three chicane before heading over towards Hamilton, who was on the racing line, at the Turn Four wall.
“It looks like he’s turning to the right side of the circuit, but he’s not,” said Button. “He’s just correcting oversteer – you turn in to oversteer.
“I think Seb realised that Lewis could be there now – and that’s when you see he doesn’t move out any further or closer to the wall. But he hasn’t quite given Lewis enough room.
“There’s probably two centimetres [in it], if he had been 2cm further away he probably wouldn’t have got a penalty.”
Brundle: ‘Absolutely the wrong decision’
Martin interviewed the top-three on the podium after the race – where Hamilton was met with jeers while Vettel insisted fans should instead boo the “funny decisions” – and was clear in his opinion on the matter.
“For me that was absolutely the wrong decision,” he said. “If I’d have been in the Stewards’ office, I’d have let that one go.
“Sebastian made a mistake, he made an error – and that’s what put him on the grass. Lewis didn’t, he took the racing line. But I don’t see anything else Vettel could have done, he hasn’t got a handbrake!”
Vettel was denied a first victory since August 2018 while Ferrari are also still waiting to end Mercedes’ dominance at the start of F1 2019.
“Ferrari have had a tough time and Vettel’s had an extra tough time,” added Brundle. “He’s done everything right this weekend, apart from that little glitch in the race, and I think he felt he deserved that victory.
“Forever, that race will be missing on his CV.”
Both Button and Brundle also defended Hamilton, who admitted after the race that he felt “deflated” but said he forced Vettel into the mistake.
Lewis wants to win but he doesn’t want to win like that, and he drove a stonker of a race,” Button stated. “He pushed Seb all the way, but he couldn’t capitalise on-circuit and the way I think racing should be, which is a shame.
“But both of them did an extraordinary job today, they really did. It leaves a bit of a sour taste in the mouth after such a great race.
“The rule is the issue. Racing is what we want to see and I know safety is key but there was nothing dangerous about that.”
Brundle agreed: “Lewis points are totally valid: ‘I didn’t do anything wrong, I didn’t make a mistake, I didn’t write the rules and I didn’t make this decision in the stewards’ office.’ What could he do other than race the car as best as he could?”
How the Sky F1 team reacted
Karun Chandhok: “I think it’s harsh. When you see Vettel rejoin the track after the grass, he still had opposite lock on and he wasn’t fully in control – I think that’s the key point. He didn’t rejoin the track with 100% control and deliberately go across. It’s one of those things that happen when you’ve got real grass at the side of the track.”
Ted Kravitz: “There was a winner of the Canadian GP today and it wasn’t Formula 1. We saw a race where a guy who made a mistake was punished for it and lost the race win. There is the rule that says about an unsafe re-entry but this is racing – come on!”
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