Johnny Herbert, who was part of the steward's panel for the Indian Grand Prix, has insisted that Felipe Massa deserved the drive-through penalty he was awarded during the inaugural race at the new Buddh International Circuit.
The Brazilian was given the penalty after another clash on track with Lewis Hamilton, with the pair touching as Hamilton tried to make a move for position into turn five.
As Massa tried to close the door, contact with the McLaren saw him run off-track while Hamilton was forced to pit for a new nose and dropped down the order, with Massa also losing places after serving what he felt was an unjust penalty.
However, writing in the National
newspaper, Herbert insisted that the decision to penalise Massa had been the correct one as contact between the two drivers didn't need to happen.
“The decision to penalise Felipe Massa for his contact with Lewis Hamilton came down to one simple fact - it could have been avoided,” he said. “As one of the stewards for the inaugural Indian Grand Prix, I was involved in the review of the incident and the discussion of the penalty. I know Massa was upset by our decision, but I believe we made the right call.
“After looking at it from different camera angles and studying all the data available to us, it was clear that Massa knew where Hamilton was before he chose to turn across him. You could see that Massa looked in his side mirror, so he knew Hamilton was on his left as they approached the left-hand turn. It appeared he was giving up the corner as he moved wide to the right, effectively opening the door for Hamilton to go down the inside on the left. Only, Massa swept across in front of him, leading to contact.
“There was nothing Hamilton could have done to avoid it. He did try to get out of the move, but it was too late and the contact was made. If Massa had not gone wide - that would have been a different scenario altogether. If there had been contact then, the blame would have been Hamilton's.
But as it happened, the incident could have been avoided. Massa knew where Hamilton was, he opened the door for him by moving wide, and after doing that he still swept across and did not give Hamilton room. That's why the decision was made to punish him with a drive-through penalty.”
Hamilton himself wasn;t blameless during the weeknd as he picked up a three-place grid penalty for ignoring double waves yellow flags in Friday practice, with Sauber's Sergio Perez picking up a similar punishment.