Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel believes Formula 1 has lost its way, in the wake of the penalty that cost him victory in the Canadian Grand Prix.
The four-time champion won on the road but was handed a five-second penalty for rejoining the track dangerously and impeding Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton.
The German said the rules had left drivers sounding “like lawyers” and that there was “no edge” to the sport.
“It’s all wrong. I disagree with where the sport is now,” Vettel said.
Ferrari say they have appealed against the decision, even though the rules say that a five-second penalty is a verdict against which the right of appeal does not exist. The Italian team have not yet clarified the grounds of their complaint.
Vettel insisted he had done nothing wrong and had not deliberately hindered Hamilton as he rejoined the track after cutting across the grass at Turns Three and Four of the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal.
But race stewards handed the penalty to Vettel because they felt he continued to move across the track after regaining full control of his car. They felt he could instead have continued on a line that allowed Hamilton space, and believed video footage of movements of his steering and head suggested he had seen Hamilton and knew where he was.
Vettel, who complained over the radio that the stewards were “stealing the race” from him, said: “I really love my racing. I’m a purist. I love going back and looking at the old times, the old cars, the old drivers. It’s an honour when you have the chance to meet them and talk to them; they’re heroes in a way.
“But I just wish I was maybe as good, doing what I do, but being in their time rather than today.
“It’s not just about that decision today, there’s other decisions. Just hear the wording when people come on the radio, that we have now. We have an official language; I think it’s all wrong.
“We should be able to say what we think but we’re not, so in this regard I disagree with where the sport is now.
“You have all this wording ‘I gained an advantage, I didn’t gain an advantage, I avoided a collision’. I just think it’s wrong, you know, it’s not really what we’re doing in the car. It’s racing. It’s common sense.”
He added: “If there’s a hazard on track, obviously you slow down because it’s quite unnatural to keep the pedal to the floor and run into the car and then say, ‘Ah, it’s wrong that the car was there.’
“I rejoined the track and then Lewis obviously had to react. I don’t know how close it was or close he was.
“Once I looked in the mirror he was sort of there but for me that’s racing and I think a lot of the people that I just mentioned earlier, the old Formula 1 drivers and people in the grandstands and so on, would agree that this is just part of racing but nowadays I don’t like it. We all sound a bit like lawyers and using the official language. I think it just gives no edge to people and no edge to the sport.
“Ultimately it’s not the sport that I fell in love with when I was watching. Obviously it hurts me today because it impacts on my race result but I think this more of a bigger criteria.”
Hamilton, who was partly alongside Vettel in the incident but had to brake as the Ferrari moved across, admitted he “would probably have done the same thing” in Vettel’s position, but said that the rules required drivers to rejoin the track safely.
“I was alongside and I had to back off to avoid a collision and I guess that’s why they made the decision,” Hamilton said.
“If you try to force a guy into a wall, are you saying you shouldn’t get a penalty for that? I was going to crash with him, so I had to brake. I was just driving the normal line so I shouldn’t have been in that position of being close to crashing. It was his responsibility to avoid that, but it ended up being mine.”
It was the fifth win in seven races for Hamilton, who leads team-mate Valtteri Bottas in the championship by 29 points and Vettel by 62 – the equivalent of two clear wins and a fifth place.