Sebastian Vettel crossed the finish line first on Sunday in Montreal however Lewis Hamilton in second was handed the first-place trophy. Much like Robby Gordon in 2007 at the same track, he had the win taken away from him unfairly by NASCAR but that didn’t stop him from celebrating as if we won, burnout and all.
What happened Sunday between Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton was so minuscule, so innocent, most fans likely didn’t think much of it. Vettel out-braked himself going into turn 3, as that happened he took to the grass essentially cutting the corner but slowing in the process. As he came back onto the track he attempted to gather the car. Circuit Gilles Villenuve isn’t the widest circuit on the calendar so by the time he gathered the car up he was already by the outside wall. The trailing Hamilton behind him had to briefly check up to avoid a collision. Just a racing incident.
There doesn’t appear to be any mal-intent in that move. Vettel was merely trying to avoid crashing when he came back on the circuit. The FIA didn’t care for his explanation however. Vettel was handed a 5-second penalty for his egregious maneuver which would mean he’d need to gap Hamilton by 5 seconds or he would finish in second place.
Hamilton was pushing hard to stay on Vettel’s gear box guaranteeing that the 4-time champ would not be able to gap the trailing Mercedes. Vettel would cross the finish line 1.4 seconds ahead of Hamilton but it would be Hamilton who parked in front of the first place sign in parc ferme, more on that in a second.
Vettel pleaded his case over the the radio to no avail. After the race he stopped his car in front of the FIA garage and left it there. He proceeded to walk through the garage, weighed himself and continued past the FIA officials who desperately wanted him at the other end of the pit lane. Vettel then walked to the Ferrari hospitality building where he went straight to the back. Apparently his manager was left sprinting to the hospitality building to get Vettel so they could avoid further reprimand by the FIA.
A disgusted Vettel emerged and took a short cut through the Mercedes garage to get back to the pit lane. Just as it appeared he would comply with the FIA’s pleas to go up to the podium room Vettel did this:
What Should Vettel Have Done?
When Vettel went off the track what was he supposed to do? The FIA apparently wants him to stop in the grass before rejoining the circuit. As if that’s even physically possible. The other suggestion was to hold a tighter line when coming back onto the track. Again, not possible when you’re going as fast as these cars are today. Vettel did what he should have, not wreck the car or hit anyone around him.
The official ruling said that Vettel forced Hamilton off the circuit which isn’t entirely true. Hamilton elected to go off to avoid potential contact. But because he went off shouldn’t he then be forced into a penalty as well? The FIA has been very strict about drivers putting all four wheels off. If you’re going to be call penalties with no margin for error then you have to call this.
Vettel protesting the FIA’s decision to become an autocratic governing body with no room for interpretation or rebuttal is what the sport needs. That was a purely racing incident, every driver will tell you that and they have.
Sebastian Vettel won the 2019 Canadian Grand Prix and someday you’ll have to explain to future generations how a patch of grass handed Lewis Hamilton the trophy.
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