On lap 48 of the Canadian Grand Prix the most-talked-about incident this season unfolded. Sebastian Vettel, after shading Lewis Hamilton through pretty much the whole weekend, lost the rear-end of his Ferrari out of Turn 3, went grass-tracking off the circuit, held on to an out-of-control car and rejoined bang in-the-middle of the racing line, snuffing out the only real chance that his Mercedes rival had of leapfrogging him.
While the worldwide audience took a few seconds to completely understand what really happened at Turn 3, Star Sports’ commentator David Croft exclaimed: “Has Vettel just got away with an error and preserved his lead in the Canadian Grand Prix?!”. When the slow-motion replay was broadcast a few seconds later he went on to ask his co-commentator Martin Brundle “if that was a dangerous move as Hamilton had to really jam on the brakes to avoid a collision.”
Martin Brundle who of course is an ex-Formula One driver himself said it was a racing incident and felt the stewards wouldn’t review it. But, he was wrong. The stewards did investigate the incident and went on to slap a five-second penalty on Vettel for “rejoining the race in an unsafe manner”.
Was it Hamilton’s radio message to his team about Vettel’s ‘dangerous rejoining of the track’ that influenced the race stewards or, was it the commentator’s queries themselves? Or did they just apply the rules like they did to the Max Verstappen and Kimi Raikkonen incident in Japan last year?
The fans will remain divided in their opinions of whether or not the five-second penalty that denied Ferrari its first race win this season was fair. But, before the penalty was awarded to Ferrari it must be noted that Sebastian Vettel made an error whilst being hotly pursued by Lewis Hamilton once again. In the bigger picture of the sport, one wonders if the German requires more than a great car to make his rivalry with the Englishman a great one.
Up next is the French Grand Prix at Circuit Paul Ricard. A race that Hamilton bossed last year. The need of the hour is an error-free, world-class performance from the Scuderia and its numero uno driver.
The writer is a motorsports enthusiast covering the 2019 FIA Formula One™ season.