Bernie Ecclestone has hit out at Formula 1's governing body the FIA by branding the penalty applied to Sebastian Vettel for this weekend's Malaysian Grand Prix 'wrong' – and a deterrent to drivers against getting involved in 'wheel-to-wheel' duels.
The Red Bull Racing star was punished for just that – a wheel-to-wheel duel – in the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne last weekend, when he and BMW-Sauber rival Robert Kubica came together just three laps from the chequered flag as they disputed the runner-up spot behind Brawn GP's runaway winner Jenson Button.
The collision left both drivers with significant damage to their cars and cost them an appearance up on the rostrum. With Albert Park race stewards subsequently holding Vettel as the guilty party, the German – the top flight's youngest-ever grand prix-winner, following his incredible triumph for Scuderia Toro Rosso at Monza last September – will go into qualifying in Sepang knowing he has a ten-place grid penalty to take, thereby virtually destroying his chances of battling for the podium again.
“It was wrong,” F1 supremo Ecclestone argued in an interview with German magazine Auto Motor und Sport
. “The poor guy is punished for an accident. He lost third place.
“If the rule is that you get punished for a collision with another driver, then soon we will have no more fights. We want to see more wheel-to-wheel [duels], not less.”