Optimistic that finally he might claim Ferrari’s first victory this season, Sebastian Vettel’s hopes turned to bitter ashes as he was denied by a controversial penalty at the Canadian Grand Prix. Lewis Hamilton took the win for Mercedes but only after an incident that left Vettel fuming, disappointed and confused as to how the decision against him was made. The race had been in his and Ferrari’s hands but they were denied as the finale descended almost to pantomime, leaving little pleasure for any of the drivers involved, not least Hamilton.
Hamilton won with the 50th Canadian Grand Prix having started from second behind Vettel and remained in that position. He had not looked like he had the pace to pass despite chasing relentlessly until a moment of high drama changed the race.
Vettel pushing hard, lost the rear at turn four on lap 48, went across the grass and almost hit Hamilton as he returned to the track on the inside and Hamilton attempted to go around him. Vettel emerged in front and the incident was investigated by the stewards.
Shortly afterwards they gave Vettel a five-second penalty for an unsafe return and forcing another car off the track. He held his lead to the end but was only 1.3 seconds in front of Hamilton who thus took the win. The stewards’ decision cannot be appealed.
Vettel was angry and confused. “I had nowhere to go. They are stealing the race from us,” he said to his team. Then querying what he might have done having gone straight across the grass to rejoin the track. “No, no, no. Seriously you need to be an absolute blind man,” he said. “Let him pass and not control your car – where am I supposed to go? This is a wrong world, this is not fair.”
He appeared to be struggling to control the car as it bounced across the grass as he rejoined, mitigating the circumstances and raising a major question of exactly what else he might have done as he fought for control of the car. He had made a mistake but it might easily have been dismissed as a racing incident.
What followed the flag reflected how aggrieved the German felt. Vettel parked his car at the end of the pit lane and did not take part in the post-race interviews, immediately going instead to his team motorhome before returning to he podium ceremony. He is required to attend the podium and did so to a ringing endorsement of applause and cheers from the fans. On his way there the theatre continued as he moved the No 1 marker board from in front of Hamilton’s car, replacing it with the No 2 and put the original where his car would have stood had he brought it to the parc ferme.
Visibly disheartened Vettel did finally stand for the ceremony but with a face that betrayed his distaste at the events that had unfolded. Hamilton invited him to the top step, a moment the German did not indulge for long. Finally interviewed and with the crowd cheering him he reflected their feelings. “You should ask the people what they think”, he said of the decision.
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SOURCE: The Guardian, Giles Richards