Formula 1’s managing director Ross Brawn says there was ‘nothing sinister’ in the stewards’ decision to penalise Sebastian Vettel during the Canadian Grand Prix.
Vettel was leading the grand prix when he fell off the road, skating across the grass at Turn 3 before rejoining in front of Lewis Hamilton in a manner officials deemed was unsafe.
After investigating the issue, stewards elected to hand the Ferrari driver a five-second penalty, the lightest of all penalties they are able to dish out.
With Hamilton close to Vettel as they took the chequered flag, the additional time relegated the German to second and handed Mercedes its seventh race win of 2019.
The penalty sparked intense discussion among pundits and fans, leading Brawn to hose down suggestions there was any collusion in aiding Mercedes over Ferrari.
“There is nothing sinister about a decision like this,” he asserted in a column for the sport’s official website.
“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.”
The Englishman, who has formerly worked as team principal for both Ferrari and Mercedes prior to his appointment with the sport itself, suggests the incident highlights the need for greater transparency in the penalty process.
“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,” he wrote.
“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.”
Formula 1 employs a three-person panel of stewards, one of which has race experience.
In Canada that role was filled by Emanuele Pirro, though others such as Danny Sullivan, Alan Jones, and Tom Kristensen have also performed the job.
Ferrari’s window of appeal is set to close on Thursday when the 96 hours allowed for the submission of new evidence ends.
It remains, however, unclear as to whether the Italian team has the right to appeal as the article under which Vettel was penalised expressly states there is no such avenue available.