Sebastian Vettel has become the latest driver to hit out at Formula 1's governing body and rule-maker the FIA, for what he deems to be an unfair penalty imposed upon him for this weekend's Malaysian Grand Prix.
The young German was adjudged by race stewards at the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne last weekend to have been responsible for the closing laps collision that removed both himself and BMW-Sauber rival Robert Kubica from the action and saw the race end under a safety car.
The pair were duelling over second place when Vettel made a small mistake heading into turn one on lap 56 of 58, which allowed Kubica – on the more favourable medium-compound Bridgestone rubber compared to the rapidly deteriorating super-soft tyres on the Red Bull Racing RB5 – to gain a run down the outside into turn three, the Albert Park circuit's most popular passing spot.
With the Pole attempting to force the issue around the outside, Vettel similarly refused to yield on the inside, and when Kubica turned in the man from Heppenheim had nowhere to go, provoking the inevitable collision that left both drivers with substantial accident damage. Though each attempted to carry on, the state of their cars following the impact meant that neither would reach the chequered flag – and their podium hopes went up in smoke.
Vettel later went up to BMW Motorsport Director Dr Mario Theissen – the man who, somewhat ironically, had given the 21-year-old his debut in the top flight in place of the injured Kubica at Indianapolis in 2007 – to offer his apologies, and was ruled the guilty party in a post-race stewards' inquiry.
As a result of that, the sport's youngest-ever grand prix-winner was handed a ten-place grid demotion for Sepang, the venue for the second round on the 2009 F1 World Championship calendar. Though he insists he 'put [the incident] behind me very quickly', it is clear that Vettel still feels somewhat aggrieved by the harsh penalty.
Asked by German broadcaster RTL
whether he believed the punishment to be a fair one, he replied: “No. I couldn't dissolve into air, and neither Robert nor I wanted to end our races there.”