We've heard everyone talk about the recent Canadian Grand Prix and the controversy that happened in the race between Vettel and Hamilton. If you missed it, Vettel made a mistake, went four wheels off, and came back on closely coming into contact with Lewis Hamilton. I wanted to quickly give me two cents.
Here's the video first:
This led to Vettel getting a five second penalty which lost him the race even though he crossed the race in first place ahead of Hamilton. The problem is the rule is written in a sense that says you must re-enter the track safely if you go off. In this incident it's obvious Vettel went off at speed and came back on the track at speed. He even had countersteer coming back onto the actual pavement. Many argue he turned towards the wall to block Hamilton. How can we prove that? Any racing driver would have in that moment of leading a race with Lewis Hamilton in close toe tried to avoid losing as much speed as possible if we went off.
In terms of having consistent rules, a five second post-race penalty ruined the race. There could have been a rule that states in these cases, if the stewards decide a penalty, then you just give the position up and fight on. Remember Hamilton in Monaco in 2016? No penalty here. So if we argue consistency, is there really any?
In my view the penalty was too harsh. It ruined the race. Many say it was unsafe from Vettel and he deliberately turned to Lewis to block a pass. How is that proven and he was obviously fighting the car back onto the track, so what made it unsafe? The speed he carried? Should Lewis have even attempted passing there against the wall knowing Vettel was carrying speed back onto the track? Of course it's easy to sit here and bench race about what someone should have done. If it was the other way around I would argue the same thing on Lewis' behalf though.
My final stance is if a penalty must be given, in a circumstance like this, it needs to be an on-track penalty given during the race (let a car pass or maybe create a time delta during the lap), that way at least the fight can continue. Vettel gained nothing from this off and Lewis lost nothing except a very slight chance of a risky pass. In a perfect world yes, Vettel could have slowed up more, re-entered on the left, and chased Lewis back down. This is racing though and sometimes adrenaline overpowers decision making.