Formula 1’s managing director of motorsports Ross Brawn insists there was “nothing sinister” in the stewards’ decision to penalize Sebastian Vettel in the Canadian Grand Prix.
Vettel was handed a five-second time penalty for not rejoining the track safely and forcing Lewis Hamilton off-track following an error at Turn 3, ultimately losing his victory when demoted to second place after the checkered flag. A number of fans in Montreal booed after the race and Brawn admits that the incident has proven extremely divisive, but said the stewards were doing their job to the best of their ability.
“The penalty the stewards handed out to Sebastian in Canada has got everyone talking, fans and F1 folk alike,” Brawn said. “I can understand how Vettel feels and I know Ferrari intends to appeal the decision. I also know what a difficult job the stewards have, as they have to reach a their decision in a very short time, producing a verdict that can affect the outcome of the race.
“As such, I don’t want to give an opinion on the decision, because in my position it would be wrong to do so.
“I have a lot of respect for the work of the stewards and for their professionalism, and I believe they would be the first to say that they would prefer not to see a race outcome decided via a penalty.”
However, Brawn says it could be better for F1 to find a way of getting decisions explained more thoroughly, something former FIA race director Charlie Whiting often used to do with a post-race press conference.
“At the same time, I understand how difficult it must be for fans to understand why the driver on the top step of the podium is not the one who crossed the finish line first. That’s why transparency is important when it comes to explaining the decisions of the stewards, especially in such a complex sport as Formula 1. It is in football, where despite the arrival of VAR, there is still discussion as to whether a handball should be punished with a penalty or not.
“Therefore, it might be useful to work with the FIA on solutions that would allow the stewards to explain their decisions to the fans and to elaborate on how they reached them.
“Having said that, I would emphatically add is that there is nothing sinister about a decision like this. You might agree with it or not, but none of those who take on the role of steward each weekend has a hidden agenda and fans can be certain of that.”