Vettel lost the rear of his Ferrari and ran across the grass whilst Lewis Hamilton was chasing him for the lead of the race. The German rejoined alongside Hamilton and forced the Briton to take evasive action, otherwise he would have either collided with Vettel or the wall.
The stewards deemed it an “unsafe rejoin” and handed him a time penalty, which elevated Hamilton to the top spot.
However former F1 driver and 2009 champion Jenson Button believes it was an unfair penalty and one which robbed fans of a great battle.
“It’s really sad. It’s always disappointing when there’s a proper fight on between two greats, two multiple World Champions, and the stewards come in and take that away from us as viewers, so it’s a shame,” Button told Sky Sports.
“For me, it’s a racing incident. Yeah, Seb made a mistake, but you’ve got to realise he’s doing over 100mph here. You can’t just stop the car and stay off the circuit.
“He’s come onto the track with the rear moving around. It doesn’t deserve a penalty for me personally, but it’s a regulation, and they’ve decided to punish it,” he explained.
“On a circuit like this – it’s so narrow, it’s a street circuit, the cars are massive and you just end up over that part of the track, you don’t choose to be there. Seb doesn’t want to crash into Lewis either.
“Both of them drove a really great race, they really did, and it just leaves a bit of a sour taste in the mouth.”
Vettel’s former Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber agreed and described the penalty as “mental”.
“Any of the stewards ever raced at the front in F1? I didn’t watch the race…have now seen the ‘incident’. Mental penalty,” he wrote on social media.
Ferrari have lodged their intention to appeal the penalty, though it’s not certain the FIA will allow the appeal to go ahead as the rules stipulate such a penalty cannot be retroactively amended.
Source: Motorsport Week