Esteban Gutierrez has labelled his five-place grid penalty for the Belgian Grand Prix as 'very harsh' after being punished for impeding Pascal Wehrlein in third free practice.
The Haas driver came under fire after being caught by Wehrlein as he was coasting on an in lap at the top of Eau Rouge, the German forced onto the grass in avoidance.
RESULTS: Belgian Grand Prix – Qualifying results
Prompting a furious reaction from Wehrlein over the team radio, stewards subsequently decided to punish Gutierrez with a grid penalty, adding further pressure to a driver who was criticised for his conduct under blue flags by Lewis Hamilton and Daniel Ricciardo in Hungary and Germany.
However, Gutierrez feels aggrieved by the penalty, saying the incident was the result of a 'communication error' and expressing frustration that no action was taken against Kevin Magnussen for a similar infringement.
“Basically I didn't get the message from my engineer that he was coming and then by the time he came from the back he came very quickly. I left some space to the right for the same reason, but then when he comes very quickly I cannot make an aggressive move because if I make the move to the wrong direction, it can be even worse.
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“I saw that he tried to go to the left and then he changed to the right so it's the kind of situation where it's better to stay kind of straight because otherwise it can be very dangerous.”
“The penalty is very harsh, especially considering that Magnussen didn't get anything. Very harsh. Honestly it's up to them to decide the judgement but at least be consistent and today they were not consistent. I respect them a lot, I came there with the right approach, I explained my situation and I have explained that to you but the final decision was [that].
“It's a painful miscommunication mistake, definitely. It was not intentional of course, it was practice and it was a risky situation, in that corner it's probably important. I think we can move on, this will not affect anything, my approach for the race. I think we are going to have a fun race tomorrow.”
Gutierrez qualified 13th on the timesheets but is set to start the race down in 18th position.
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