Kimi Raikkonen, Alfa Romeo, Bahrain International Circuit, 2019

“They tell us we are free to race then this happens” – Vettel finds support among rivals

2019 Canadian Grand Prix

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Several of Sebastian Vettel’s Formula 1 rivals have supported him over the penalty which cost him victory in the Canadian Grand Prix.

Vettel’s five-second penalty for rejoining the track unsafely in front of Lewis Hamilton, which dropped him from first place to second in the race, was criticised by drivers from several rival teams:

It happens easily. You go off on the grass you have absolutely zero control, you just slide back on. It happened to be a wall there and the lines end up in the same place. I understand if he hit somebody and really forced, then fair play.

You go over the grass with these tyres and cars and some 50 metres after that you have shit on your tyres and it’s not much you can do.

The odd thing is they keep telling us this year that we are more free to race and then this kind of thing happens that is absolutely no one’s fault and you get penalised. Honestly I’m not that one guy should get or not, I don’t care, but what they said and what’s been done is somewhere on the lines they don’t match always. I guess the stewards are in a difficult position whichever way they give the ruling there are always going to be happy and unhappy teams.
Kimi Raikkonen

I think why they gave him the penalty was wrong, to give the penalty I think in general if you are going to give penalties like that then why don’t you just put a wall there? […]

I think he did everything he could to do it in the safe way. Of course when you go off in the lead you know that Lewis is behind only by a second or one-and-a-half, you stay on throttle and you are managing. Lewis saw him going off, when he goes through the left-hander he knows that Seb is going to come back on and then of course he knows he is going to drift wide and then he had to back off. If I had been Lewis I would have been on the radio as well, like ‘hey, he blocked me’, because you know it’s in the rules and there’s a possible penalty.
Max Verstappen

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It’s a tricky question. I think it’s just about consistency, really. Every case has to be treated in the same way. If they are treated in the same way, people are not surprised any more.

Why Hamilton didn’t get a penalty in Monaco – but Vettel did in Canada
But I think looking immediately at it with the first look I would say there wasn’t anything to be penalised. Then maybe if you look deeper maybe you could squeeze something out of it but again there were cases I think in the past that I think it’s penalised already, something similar has happened, and there was no penalty. It’s just that kind of topic again.
Daniil Kvyat

My opinion and view of that is just that it’s racing, it is tough to control a car on the grass and how you then make the entry to the race track because we are simply not in full control and we don’t have normal grip. So for me, yeah, it seemed like a racing incident.
Nico Hulkenberg

It didn’t cause a crash. If it did, it would have been better on TV. It would have been more exciting. It just causes a better rivalry between everyone. It didn’t cause a crash at the end of the day, he just made a mistake. He lost time overall because of it. That’s what I think should have happened, he shouldn’t have had a penalty.
Lando Norris

like any other Formula 1 fan I was disappointed when I saw a penalty, first of all because as a driver I think I would have done exactly the same as Seb. I would just rejoin the track and try and keep first position independently of where the car is. Was it dangerous? Potentially, but what’s not dangerous in Formula One? There’s always a bit of danger, you’re always close to the walls and I think that at any point Lewis was on the real threat of having a huge accident.

I think there was no reason to give a penalty but the rule is written and the stewards applied the rule. So I also don’t understand all this criticism that the stewards have received over the last few weeks because they are just trying to do their job and they have a rule which they need to interpret and they need to apply and that’s what they did. So it’s not the fault of the stewards, it’s not the fault of Seb, I think, it’s not the fault of Lewis either, it’s just that there is a rule that I don’t think should be there, which is a bit too drastic and a bit too black and white and doesn’t interpret well the rules of racing, that is race hard and enjoy.
Carlos Sainz Jnr

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It’s so tough to judge from my point of view. Every racing incident is unique and the stewards are trying to do their best to keep it fair. It’s really challenging to judge. I think they are trying to let us race, the stewards. We want to see good racing, hard racing, wheel-to-wheel racing. However we want to keep it fair and it’s always going to be two sides to it. That incident in particular I think was a bit harsh.

However the stewards made a call and ultimately I wouldn’t say they made a right or wrong call but they made a call and that’s what they’re there to do, they’re there to keep the sport fair, safe and I can’t argue with that. I’m sure Lewis agrees with their decision! But it’s so hard to tell whether it was intentional or not. I doubt it was intentional. However I could be wrong, I wasn’t in the car. We want to see good racing, that’s all I can say.

It’s a shame to see guys being penalised for certain things, this and that, but it is what it is and we still see good racing. It made the race exciting, I’m sure the Ferrari fans were quite upset that Seb didn’t win but that’s the name of the game. Sometimes it plays into your hadn’t and other times it doesn’t.
Lance Stroll

“I believe there are too many guidelines with penalties”

While not every driver said Vettel’s penalty was wrong, the decision won little support, even from Hamilton’s team mate Valtteri Bottas. More drivers called on the stewards to give drivers greater freedom when racing each other:

From a driver’s point of view honestly if you go off straight on the chicane the first thing in your mind is to get as quickly as you can back to the track without damaging the car. That’s what Seb did but obviously Lewis happened to be there also and I don’t know if he on purpose went more to the right or not, you never know. But the decision for the penalty, I leave that to others.
Valtteri Bottas

I think it’s really tough when you cross the line first on track and then after we tell you you’re second. I think it depends which perspective you look at it.

I think if you look at Seb’s side for sure it’s really tough and really harsh penalty. If you look at Lewis, you say that maybe I could have won the race without this incident, but I think at the end of the day, when you race Formula One cars at that speed, pushing to the limit these things happen and it’s part of racing so it’s difficult to draw a line but I think for me it was quite harsh to lose a victory that way.
Pierre Gasly

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I think everything that we do on track has a line and a rule and then it’s very hard to deviate from those. I believe there are too many guidelines with penalties that are applied to that guideline and sometimes two incidents that can be very different but with the same penalty.

[For] example I crossed the pit exit line in Monaco with part of my wheel, got a five second penalty and one point on my licence and Verstappen got an unsafe release in the pit lane and had a touch with Bottas and it was a five second and one point penalty because that’s what is written. So I think sometimes it’s hard for the stewards just to decide where they want to go, because everything is written but you never know if you’re in that case or that case.

Talking of Seb, I think he’s the only one to know if he could have controlled the car better and left more room on the right hand side. We do not know, we do not have access to his telemetry and I think only Seb knows if he actually saw Lewis, went on the throttle on the grass and made his way fully to drive out. I won’t discuss the penalty or not, I think it’s not my job but I can only say that Seb knows if he could have left more room or not.
Romain Grosjean

In the end it’s not nice to lose a race like that but I think it’s the rules, like they say and in the end the important thing is the rules are consistent at every race and to every driver, so I think this is the main thing.
Antonio Giovinazzi

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63 comments on ““They tell us we are free to race then this happens” – Vettel finds support among rivals”

  1. Yeah you’re free to race, just don’t slip up and then force to make a dangerous re-entry cos of your own error.

    1. Exactly, it’s like drivers refuse to accept that crashing and going off track is NOT racing. Once vettel went off track he loses any right to defend his position until he safely reenters the track. Simple and plain. Penalty deserved.

      1. @megatron or maybe the drivers know better than fans how cars react to things and what is acceptable or not.

        guess you would have penalised villeneuve and arnox for driving into and banging off each other and running off track at dijon in 1979? avoidable contact, track limit abuse and unsafe re-entry’s galore in that bit of ‘Not racing’.

        drivers know better than fans so maybe fans should listen to there views rather than thinking they know better even though they have probably never raced anything outside of video games where there used to the silly penalties.

        1. So I’m sure Ferrari would retrospectively concede Hamilton should have won Spa 2008? Because I don’t remember them praising the virtues of hard racing then, or numerous other times since. Verstappen in Japan against a Ferrari last year? Also don’t remember them saying, no, please, no penalty, it’s just racing.

        2. That race took place before any of the current drivers was born and back when F1 fatalities were commonplace. If you went back the same period of time, cars didn’t have seat belts, drivers didn’t have helmets, cars were poorly built and death was likely at every race.

          You want all that again?

        3. Every driver there has to accept everything they say could affect their next F1 driver’s contract. Some of them might have even started negotiations with prospective teams, one of which could be Ferrari. So I don’t see why a driver would say with certainty that Sebastian was wrong because doing so might come back to bite them. I think they’d be much better saying things ambiguously and painted with lots of grey paint.

        4. And maybe you should listen to the drivers instead of spouting nonsense about the past. As Buxton said Vill and Arnoux were roundly condemned by their fellow drivers for that display. But lets sweep that part of the story under the carpet.

      2. @megatron I’m not gonna comment on whether the penalty was deserved…but whom would anyone rather believe about what constitutes racing; you or world class racers? :P

        1. Not every former F1 driver disagrees with the penalty – only the usual rent-a-mouth ones.

          1. You mean: The successful ones whose opinion actually matters?

          2. The only (ex) F1 driver who’s opinion mattered wast that of Emanuele Pirro. So why not simply listen to his?

        2. The problem I see is not so much the penalty but the rule itself, unfortunately when interpreted correctly it leaves the stewards with little choice but to penalise a driver in such situations. The stewards believe Seb gained an advantage by leaving the track and rejoining the way he did, as others have said a sensible decision would have been just to tell Seb to “give back the position” thus avoiding all the controversy over the time penalty and additional points on his super licence.

          1. I don’t think a car can be told to give a position back that was never taken.

      3. @megatron

        Drivers: A
        Clueless clown commenting on website: B

        Yeah right, you’ re the voice of reason…..

      4. @megatron Yes indeed, a bit like coming from behind a stop or yield sign on regular roads.

    2. You’re speaking as if the drivers are in charge of when they make errors and when not

  2. the fact that a vast majority of drivers both past and present seem to believe the decision to hand out a penalty was incorrect tell’s me that the penalty was indeed the wrong call because these guys know far better than any of us what it’s like to be driving and racing these cars.

    in the past we never had any of these rules dictating how you race, how you do this, how you do that and i do not believe that the sport was any worse off for it, if anything it was better when this sort of stuff was left down to the drivers. if we go back maybe 20 years ago this never would have been a penalty and likely never even would have been investigated, it would have just been called a racing incident and they would have been left to race.

    to be honest i blame the fans just as much as anyone else because over the past 20 years we have started to complain everytime a driver we dislike does anything we deem as bad. i mean look at max verstappen not long ago where fans were calling for him to suffer penalties for doing the sort of stuff fans claim to enjoy watching… racing hard.
    i wonder how many would have been screaming for penalties against villeneuve and arnox if that happened today or how many fans here would have been screaming to ban senna for the hard racing he was known for back then.

    ditch a lot of these silly anti-racing rules and just leave the drivers to race and only step in if something truly egregious happens, you know like it was in the past!

    1. @roger-ayles Most of the drivers argue that we don’t know if Vettel blocked Hamilton on purpose. So they deem it a racing incident with that caveat in place.

      Yet the stewards looked at the actual evidence and say it was in fact clear that Vettel did move further to right to block Hamilton deliberately AFTER he regained control of his car halfway across the track.

      Once you take evidence into account it’s a whole different discussion from some nonsensical comments about not having control on the grass.

      1. Yeah he intentionally missed the chicane so he could lose control and almost slam into the wall. Contrary to what people think, what Vettel did is NOT the fast way through there.

        Ridiculous.

    2. Well said! Bad penalty.

    3. “The vast majority” – I don’t see hundreds of former F1 drivers making their opinions known, I’ve seen less than 10. Not so many when you know there have been 600 F1 drivers – and they ain’t all pushing up daises.

  3. I love how fans said that he deserved it blah blah blah he made the mistake but he still finish the race in first position, no one knows how a 15 million car respond on the grass only the drivers and almost all of them said that he didn’t deserved it. And beside how many mistake did Lewis made in the race 5? 10 lockout?

    1. How many of Lewis’ mistakes resulted in him running off track, rejoining in an unsafe manner and then blocking another driver?

      Lewis mistakes only affected him, no one else

  4. OK, so change the regulations.
    Next time Hamilton will do what he said he would have – carried on without braking. Then in the ensuing mayhem, had Vettel continued with his drift into Hamilton’s path, either Vettel would have been penalized or it would have been judged a ‘racing incident’ as everyone else seems to think it was. Only we have no idea, of course, what the consequences of the collision would be.

    1. Hamilton could easily avoided the Ferrari, but tried to pass him and tried to use the error.
      Alas, Vet kept his speed and blocked that way. Racing!
      Btw, Hamilton never fully left the track, his wheels touched the white line so he stayed on track.
      So, the VET never pushed Ham off track, penalty not deserved.

      1. Hamilton could easily avoided the Ferrari, but tried to pass him and tried to use the error.

        Wrong. Hamilton stayed on the racing line.

        Alas, Vet kept his speed and blocked that way. Racing!

        Wrong. Vettel lifted some (he could have lifted more). He blocked by drifting back onto the racing line, rather than stay left and leave room.

        Btw, Hamilton never fully left the track, his wheels touched the white line so he stayed on track.

        Wrong, see image.

        So, the VET never pushed Ham off track, penalty not deserved.

        Wrong and irrelevant too.
        0/4 and minus one for the last, so -1/4. Good even by your standards!

      2. Hamilton could easily avoided the Ferrari, but tried to pass him and tried to use the error.

        You are not racing if you don’t use your competitor’s error to pass him

  5. Don’t think it’s fair to say we want to watch drivers race on the edge as it’s exciting then also to say well if they lose control then tough we have no sympathy. That’s what driving on the edge means. Driving only just on the right side of losing it and crashing lap after lap. If they know harsh punishments await they will slow down and block more. It will be less exciting of course.

  6. Umm, has anyone considered what Seb’s reaction would have been if it had been Lewis defending, going off, and coming back on in Seb’s path, blocking him from passing …?
    Just sayin’

    1. Just watch highlights of Japanese GP when Max rejoined crowding Kimi out of track. Crashtel and Limping donkeys deserve each other as they both are sore losers.

    2. WelshChris, I do have to wonder whether so much of the debate comes from the fact that it involved Hamilton and Vettel, and the context in which it occurred – that of Mercedes having won all of the races up until Canada, and the frustrations from those fans wanting to see Ferrari and Vettel just have one good clean race after such a turbulent start to the season.

      We have a popular driver at a popular team that lots of people are desperate to see take a victory, and that combination of very high public profiles and people seeking a win for Ferrari has created an atmosphere where any backlash is likely to be much stronger. How much of the outrage is really down to those factors and not the actual move itself, which has almost become incidental in some way to the discussion?

      Suppose that, instead, this had featured two different drivers – let’s pick the battle between Stroll and Kvyat over 10th place as our replacement drivers. In our hypothetical scenario, let us assume that Stroll and Kvyat drove in exactly the same way that Vettel and Hamilton did respectively, with Stroll running over the grass and then judged guilty of blocking Kvyat when rejoining the track.

      In that context, we have two drivers who are often dismissed as being very clumsy on track by fans and by commentators, and instead of a potential victory, we’re talking about only a couple of points being at stake. Now, how many people here would show anything like the same level of indignation if we’d had that situation instead?

      Would we expect to see page after page of people coming out in support for Stroll, demanding that the FIA overturn the decision for penalising him for “good, hard racing”? Would we hear other drivers, past and present, complaining that the stewards made a terrible mistake and that Stroll was hard done by?

      I pick Stroll because I suspect the way that he is characterised and viewed by the F1 fan base would almost certainly result in a very different attitude being taken towards him.

      At most, there might have been a few critical comments of the stewards and some sympathising with him for being penalised in his home race. Given that he is often characterised as useless and the fact that it would have involved a lowly points position, I would not be surprised if most people, rather than protesting against the decision, would probably have gone “he deserves it, he’s an incompetent and clumsy idiot”.

      Similarly, Kvyat, whilst he has some sympathisers for how he was sometimes treated at Red Bull, is not exactly a global superstar either – would people really care all that much about whether the incident potentially impacted on his race?

      Had this involved a couple of midfield or tail end drivers, this incident would probably have been forgotten by now – to me, there is a question of how much is really about the racing itself and how much of this is really down to wider political moves and the fact that it involved a driver that people cared about.

    3. @WelshChris Or how about the miriad of posters on this site and their reaction if it was LH in SV’s spot and he the one penalized instead of SV? Just sayin’.

      1. @robbie These days, the chances of Hamilton flying off track during a race are smaller than Vettel keeping his car on track and not hitting another car all race long. So your reverse example is extremely hypothetical.

        Still I seriously doubt anyone would have made such a big deal of something so obvious and so tiny. Vettel blundered and lost one place come on. He should count his blessings that he didn’t end in P5 after one of his blunders again.

        Yet we KNOW that Vettel was all in favor of Verstappen getting that penalty in Japan. So who’s the biggest hypocrite of them all?

  7. Vettel penalty should have been to concede the place and then the race is on.

    1. Duncan Snowden
      20th June 2019, 20:07

      I said that at the time. I think a penalty was justified, just not that penalty.

      The trouble is that the penalties the stewards are provided with are too blunt an instrument. Five seconds is a lot in F1, and that’s pretty much the minimum. The rule of thumb should be that any in-race penalty should, as far as is possible, only redress any gains or losses made as a result of the incident – in this case, maintaining a position that would otherwise have been lost – with any punishment being left till after the race; fines, licence points, etc.. Obviously, as I say, this isn’t always possible: if a driver hits another and causes him to retire, for example, the status quo ante can’t be restored and the offending driver should receive some kind of punishment during the race, but an incident like this didn’t need such a harsh measure.

    2. Yep. As I’ve said elsewhere, we really miss Charlie in these circumstances.

      1. Charlie Whiting wasn’t a steward. Only the stewards judge incidents and award penalties.

    3. Technically the race was on. Vettel could have pulled a gap.

      Leclerc closed 5 seconds in on Vettel and he wasn’t even trying hard. So the car was plenty fast.

  8. I agreed with Brundle and his cohorts right off the bat, as well as Wurz when he weighed in, and now of course I agree with these drivers.

    1. Agreed, but not the POV most here seem to have.

    2. @robbie I agree with Wurz too. He said that the stewards had no choice but to give Vettel a penalty.

      I also agree with these drivers who basically say that IF Vettel wasn’t doing this on purpose he wouldn’t have deserved (or gotten) the penalty. The thing is that evidence shows that he did do it on purpose.

      So yes I wholeheartedly agree with all those drivers too, but it’s just opinion. Yet the actual facts and precedents made this an inevitable penalty.

      1. @f1osaurus ‘No choice’ based on the system in place, not because SV necessarily did something obviously penalty worthy. Highly debatable, obviously, and you have conveniently left out the fact that Wurz said he considered the SV/LH a racing incident, not penalty worthy. Why have you left out that fact?

        Also, it is merely your opinion that SV jinked to the right on purpose and there is every bit the likelihood and possibility that he was just controlling his car under acceleration. But of course you have decided you have all the answers, and as in other responses to me have to resort to insults, so bent out of shape you are at being questioned as to your authority on matter.

        1. John Toad (@)
          21st June 2019, 3:52

          The stewards had access to far more ‘hard’ evidence than any of us fans.
          They reviewed it and concluded that SV committed an offence and duly penalised him.
          Who are we fans to question the stewards decisions based on our limited information ?

        2. @robbie Yes “No choice” so penalty. Is it finally starting to sink in? How on earth can this be so difficult to grasp?

          I didn’t decide anything. The stewards did.

  9. Keith Collantine knows better…

  10. Nobody knows it better than them.

    I hope that there are more former F1 drivers acting as stewards. And I really hope most of the current crop goes on too.

    1. lol at how my comment goes with the comment above, posted while i was typing

  11. The drivers are free to race just not free to leave the track, cut chicanes or corners, grass or otherwise and block a competitor when they get back on the racing surface, whether intentional or not. The result is a penalty. This is not about racing – this is about safety. People can blather on about the past – but its the past. If we lived in the past, we’d still be racing soapboxes.

  12. Of course the players are going to try and make things easier for themselves.
    It may be their turn sooner or later to face the same situation.

    The rules are there. They don’t have to like it. They have to comply. It is the same in all sport competitions.

    The major problem here is that it was a battle for the win and a decision that helped the team that is already winning everything.
    If it was for a 14th place nobody would bother to take a look at it. It would be fine either way.

  13. I just want Hamilton to bend some rule up like a pretzel this weekend; and get away with it. Just to read the comments of the multitude of the let them race brigade. It would also help if Ferrari was involved as an innocent party.

    1. @riptide Me too, though it’s guaranteed that they’d demand Hamilton be penalized too (rather than stick to their position that it’s all ‘just racing’).

  14. Neil (@neilosjames)
    20th June 2019, 21:54

    Seems to be a broad consensus against the rule existing in the first place.

    Curious beasts, racing drivers. None of them seem to like rules apart from on the rare occasions they have an opportunity to benefit from them.

    1. Well according to Wurz, who is their elected rep, he says the opposite. They want hard and fast rules/penalties, which is why we have got them. If they don’t want them it can be change; but doubtful when push comes to shove that they will go down that route. Letd see how many teams/drivers over the next few races prove him wrong.

  15. Vettel got the smallest penalty available and if he was the best driver and car combo he should have driven away from Hamilton to create a 5 second gap. He finished 2nd where he deserved on the day. As soon as you leave the circuit you forfeit your right to take the racing line. Whether you judge it not rejoining safely or not leaving a car width for another car that was alongside, it was a penalty.
    Half those drivers criticising the decision have been on the radio crying about someone this year to get them penalised. They’re hypocritical, just as Vettel was proven go be when he whined about Verstappen’s driving then fell foul of the rule doing the same manoeuvres himself. Every single one of them will demand the driver in front is penalised if a similar thing happened this race and not stand by their “principals”.
    Of course they will want the rules changing to make it easier to defend a position, most are driving slower cars where their only chance is to luck into a high position and hold others behind to score.

  16. Literally WOW @david-br. During our last conversation I thought that there is an openminded person who just has some strong views to stick to. We all do and this is what defines our characters and seperates us from each other.

    I haven’t been here for some time now.
    Your messages is a literal example of bias and one side.
    I know that you don’t care, but totally ignored from now on.

    1. @ioannisk Ermm, OK. Maybe I should just insult people instead of arguing my point? Possibly causes less offence.

  17. The fact that Kimi had that much to say really shows you how much the stewards messed up.

    1. Sounds about right! 😂

  18. Grosjean gave the best answer, he said only seb knows if he could have avoided lewis more or not. Only seb and the data knows the truth and because ferrari aren’t trying to appeal then that must mean the data says otherwise. In the end you can’t just take sebs word on the matter this is why there are rules. If the drivers want to see racing we could have easily seen it if seb gave lewis room and they would fight the rest of the lap side by side but seb did everything he could to avoid going wheel to wheel because he knows lewis would come out on top most of the time.

  19. Seb, if you were “free to race”, then you were in control, right? You said you were NOT in control when you came back on track and “drifted” into Hamilton. Which is it???

  20. roberto giacometti
    21st June 2019, 5:34

    Bahh – they’re all a bunch of softies.
    What would Gilles have done …?????
    He would have gone off in a shower of grass clippings , done a huge correction, oversteered back onto the track sideways, and absolutely wrung the car’s neck onto victory !!!
    Salut Gilles.!!
    Legend Forever.

    1. Paul Eksteen
      21st June 2019, 7:50

      Erik. Anyone who thinks that this incident is similar to the one in Canada is just being bias toward Ham.

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