Jun.25 (GMM) Niki Lauda thinks the FIA let Sebastian Vettel escape with a lenient penalty after a first lap crash at Paul Ricard.
Vettel and Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas collided at the start of Sunday’s French grand prix, and the Ferrari driver was given a 5 second penalty.
“Why did Vettel only get five seconds for a huge mistake?” F1 legend and Mercedes team chairman Lauda said.
“Five seconds is nothing. It destroyed Valtteri’s race. We could have had first and second places,” he added.
However, FIA race director Charlie Whiting defended the penalty.
“The stewards had four options,” he revealed. “A 5 second penalty, a 10 second penalty, a drive through and a stop and go.
“5 seconds seems logical given other incidents of this kind in the past. If you take into consideration the consequences of the incident, you could argue that it should have been different, but that’s not what the stewards did,” added Whiting.
Vettel finished the race fifth, with Finn Bottas in seventh.
Lewis Hamilton therefore re-took the lead in the world championship, and now leads Vettel by 14 points.
Hamilton said: “I think the five second penalty is like a slap on the wrist when you destroy the race of another guy.
“If he ends up finishing in front of that guy, you have to ask whether the penalty was enough,” he added.