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Formula 1: Was FIA right in penalizing Vettel at the Canadian Grand Prix?

A controversy was raised after Sebastian Vettel was penalized for five seconds which led to Hamilton winning the Canadian GP. Was FIA right in penalizing Vettel?

Abhranil Roy
Last updated: 12.06.2019
Vettel lost after being penalized at Canadian GP | Sports Social Blog

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In what has been a much-discussed and hotly debated topic in Formula One since last Sunday, Sebastian Vettel was penalized five seconds following his off-track excursion at the Canadian Grand Prix. It was a decision that cost him the first spot, as despite being the first racer to cross the chequered flag he ended up behind Lewis Hamilton due to the penalty.

Why was Vettel penalized?

Under pressure from Hamilton, Vettel ran off the track in between Turn 3 and Turn 4 of the 48th lap. The German rejoined the race in an unsavoury manner, just as Hamilton was about to overtake him. In fact, Vettel’s clearly oversteered his car and almost forced his British counterpart off the tracks. It was this moment that cost him the race, the stewards judging the race deemed his return as “unsafe” and docked him 5 seconds.


What do the rules say?

In a twist of fate, Vettel’s victory was cost by the racers before him who had demanded ironclad rules and penalties for situations like. In fact, in Suzuka last year, Max Verstappen had been awarded a similar punishment for getting a jump on Kimi Raikkonen in a chicane.

As far as the guidelines are concerned, they clearly state that if a driver returns unsafely to the track, he must be sanctioned with a 5-second or 10-second penalty, or a stop-and-go. Vettel was awarded the minimum most penalties, as the steward panel did not have any room for sensitivity or understanding due to the strict nature of the guidelines.

What did the racers say?

Sebastian Vettel, was as expected, clearly unhappy with the decision. He said,” This is not the sport I fell in love with. We all sound like lawyers. It just gives no edge to the sport. 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. “

Lewis Hamilton, on the other hand, supported the call. According to him,” What I can say is, if I was in the lead and I made a mistake and went wide, I probably would have done the same thing. It happens so quickly and you’re just trying to hold the position. And when I say I’d do the same, I would have tried to squeeze him too. That’s ultimately what happened.”

Many former racers, however, supported Vettel’s protests and the fans were split as well. Ferrari has lodged its decision to lodge an appeal, and it will have until June 13th to go ahead with it.

Author’s take…

The first on-track controversy of the Formula One season is finally here and it is indeed hard to take a stance. Going by the spirit of the sport, Hamilton should definitely take the second position but given that the rules of the sport not only support the steward’s call but also, there is solid precedence, I would have to say the decision was the right one.

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