McLaren team boss Martin Whitmarsh has labelled Sebastian Vettel's botched passing attempt on Jenson Button as akin to something seen in the junior formulae, and said that he hopes that the German will learn from his mistakes.
Vettel was harrying Button after the pair both took advantage of poleman Mark Webber's poor start but, with Lewis Hamilton already fleeing out front, the German knew that he had to dispense with the hobbled #1 McLaren if he was to have a chance of adding to his victory tally. Unfortunately, he decided to make a move at the tight right-hand entry to the Bus Stop chicane and, finding that his chosen inside line was being covered by Button, attempted to move back to the outside, only to hit a bump and be turned into the side of the world champion.
Although Vettel was able to make it back to the pits for a new nose, Button was out on the spot, his championship chances as damaged as his car, causing Whitmarsh to slam his assailant for an amateurish move and label him a 'crash kid'.
“Sebastian is an exceptionally fast driver, but he has made a habit of colliding with other drivers,” Whitmarsh told sections of the German media, no doubt recalling the incidents with Mark Webber in Turkey and with Tonio Liuzzi later in the Belgian race. “I'm sure he'll learn a lot from this, but it hasn't only happened [here].
“Jenson was in a strong position, and the collision hasn't only damaged his world championship chances, but is also bad for our team. A mistake like that is something you usually only see in junior formulae, not in F1. Sebastian is a likeable guy and we know he didn't do it on purpose but, when you're fighting for the title, this sort of thing is not easy to take. He saw a gap that didn't exist and it affects not only him, but also those around him.”
Naturally, Red Bull Racing was quick to jump to its driver's defence, with team principal Christian Horner claiming that Vettel had been caught out by how early Button had braked for the chicane - something that the Briton vehemently denies [SEE STORY HERE
]. Red Bull motorsport advisor Helmut Marko made the same claim, before criticising the decision to hand Vettel the drive-thru' penalty.
“Sebastian could not stay all the time behind Jenson,” he told Auto Motor und Sport
. “He was so slow that Vettel was losing a second a lap to Hamilton, so he had to pass to still have a chance of winning.
“Regarding the penalty, there is still a double standard. [Robert] Kubica put Sebastian on the grass at 320km/h, and Liuzzi hit him at the chicane, even though Vettel was over [on the racing line], and both have gotten off scot-free.”