‘By the letter of the law, Vettel was guilty’

Michelle Foster

'By the letter of the law, Sebastian Vettel was guilty'

Former F1 racer turned pundit Jolyon Palmer says he is in “complete agreement” with Sebastian Vettel’s penalty as he either “crowded” a rival or returned to the track in an unsafe way.

Vettel was hit with a five-second time penalty in the Canadian Grand Prix, which cost him the race win.

Trying to keep Lewis Hamilton at bay around the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, Vettel made a mistake at Turns 3/4 and ran off the track.

The German returned just ahead of Hamilton, cutting off the Brit and pushing him close to the wall.

Vettel maintains his momentum carried him and he wasn’t even aware that Hamilton was that close.

The stewards felt he had made an “unsafe” return and penalised him.

The decision has polarised opinions with many feeling Vettel was hard done by.

Palmer disagrees.

He wrote in his BBC column: “I’ve been at odds with the Formula 1 stewards before – both during my career and after it – but this time I’m in complete agreement. Sebastian Vettel deserved his five-second penalty in the Canadian Grand Prix.

“The Ferrari driver had driven a perfect weekend, until his mistake on lap 48 of 70. But in that moment he simply cracked under moderate pressure from Lewis Hamilton and it cost him the race.

“By the letter of the law, Vettel was guilty.

“He either crowded another driver off the circuit – Hamilton into the wall on the exit of Turn Four, to the point where the Mercedes driver had to anchor on the brakes to avoid a collision.

“Or, as his defence said, his natural momentum took him across the full width of the circuit. But in that case he is guilty of rejoining the circuit in an unsafe manner, as he was not in full control of his car, to the extent that he ran Hamilton off the road in an unsafe manner.

“One of these scenarios has to be correct.

“If he was forced to run all the way into Hamilton, that’s not safe. If he wasn’t, then he deliberately did it, and that’s not fair and deserves a penalty.

“You can’t have it both ways, and you need to have it both ways to avoid the penalty here.”

The former Renault driver likened the Vettel incident to that of Max Verstappen and Kimi Raikkonen at the final chicane in Japan last year.

In the incident Verstappen locked up, cut the corner and rejoined ahead of Raikkonen. He was hit with a five-second penalty.

Palmer added: “The fact that Ferrari are now appealing against the Vettel penalty, which is unbelievably similar, is desperate. If anything, I believe the Verstappen case was more acceptable than the Vettel one in Canada, because he clearly tries to turn the car and not run into Raikkonen, which eliminates some of the doubt that exists in the Vettel case.

“Also, Raikkonen had a bigger option to go inside or outside to avoid Verstappen, whereas Hamilton could only go to the outside, got halfway alongside the German and was then promptly ushered to the wall.

“It set a precedent, though. It’s not about the intentions either way; it’s about the final action.”

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