Behind The Headlines – Canada – Penalty or no penalty?

Behind The Headlines Features

The story Canadian Grand Prix will be the battle between Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel. As they fought for the win Vettel forced Hamilton into a mistake or Vettel made a mistake, everyone will have a different interruption

These are the facts – Vettel forced Hamilton to take avoiding action after running over the grass, which was deemed to be unsafe by the stewards.

Watching the race, I thought Vettel made a mistake and went onto the grass thus giving Hamilton right of way. I believe Vettel should have yielded position as all four wheels were over the white line and Hamilton came through on the racing line.

That forced Hamilton to put the brakes on and avoid a collision, in the first place. Some would argue that Vettel as the lead car has right of way, but the track is defined by the white line and Vettel went over the white line thus lost the right to lead

The stewards ruling was “The stewards reviewed video evidence and determined that Car 5 (Vettel), left the track at turn 3, rejoined the track at turn 4 in an unsafe manner and forced car 44 (Hamilton) off track. Car 44 (Hamilton) had to take evasive action to avoid a collision.”

Reports say the decision to penalise Vettel was because of secondary steering wheel movements as he came back on track. There has been no formal detailed explanation nor release of data relating to the matter. The fact is we don’t have all the camera angles and data, so we can only judge on the video.

The rules

A number of F1 regulations apply to this sort of incident.

“Should a car leave the track the driver may re-join, this may only be done when it is safe to do so and without gaining any lasting advantage.”

“Manoeuvres liable to hinder other drivers, such as deliberate crowding of a car beyond the edge of the track or any other abnormal change of direction, are strictly prohibited.”

“It is not permitted to drive any car unnecessarily slowly, erratically or in a manner deemed potentially dangerous to other drivers at any time.”

So did Vettel re-join unsafely? I think yes he did. Did Vettel crowd Hamilton off track? Clearly, he did but was that due to correcting his error and imped that’s the question. It was clear he was off the track from replays I’ve watched.

Some will say that Vettel was correcting oversteer, if that was the case then he should have yielded the position. Hamilton had right of way as he was on the track and hadn’t made the mistake, yes it was hard racing which we want.

The president for the penalty came from Spa in 2008, when Hamilton ran around the inside of Kimi Raikkonen to hold the position after being pushed off by the Finn. Last year, in Russia Sergey Sirotkin, was given a similar penalty for the incident.

But was it another one of Vettel’s mistakes which he has been making over the last year? I don’t know. Vettel I often ask can he race all his championships came in the dominant Red Bull, making me question his ability to race.

The childish behaviour shown in parc ferme is nothing new, we have seen it before from Vettel. He wasn’t respectful, he should have gone through the formalities before launching his attack. Vettel is emerging as a poor loser, yes he still would have won if he hadn’t gone off.

One thing Ferrari can take away from Montreal is they can beat Mercedes and they have a car capable of winning.

But the fall out from Montreal could become a big theme over the summer. On Tuesday, F1 managing director Ross Brawn has called for the sport to increase transparency when it comes to stewarding. But this opens a can of worms about how you do that.

VAR could be a solution, and the question would then be about further divisions. But Brawn, a multiple world championship winning technical director and team principal, says his current role would make it wrong of him to offer his view on what should have been done with Vettel. Adding “I can understand how Vettel feels and I know Ferrari intends to appeal the decision.”

“I also know what a difficult job the stewards have, as they have to reach a their decision in a very short time, producing a verdict that can affect the outcome of the race.”

Stewarding will always be a difficult job and constancy is a huge challenge. Vettel never takes responsibility or accept things when they rule against him, it is not only in stewarding but when things are going his way its never his fault.

The moving of the one and two positions in parc ferme, I believe was immature and petty, Vettel I feel has always lacked a bit of respect when he is angry. You can argue about this race for years, but is this the beginning of the end of Vettel.

Ferrari needs to go away and for now, think about why they were winning in Canada and take the positives away to help them challenge Mercedes. No one wants F1 races decided in a courtroom in Paris, but we need some way of ensuring consistency.


Jack is responsible for the day-to-day running of Formula One Vault. He brings you all the brilliant content. Has an obsession with all things Formula One and anything with an engine.

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