The fall-out from Sunday’s controversial Canadian Grand Prix and the penalty handed down to Sebastian Vettel has shown few signs of slowing down overnight, with the majority of the Formula 1 world decrying the stewards’ ruling in Montreal.

As I detailed in yesterday’s analysis, the stewards’ decision – as cut and dry as it may have been by their interpretation of the regulations – robbed us of a grandstand finish to the race, with Vettel and Lewis Hamilton going toe-to-toe on-track in a fight we have dearly missed through the early stages of this year.

But thankfully, we were treated to some much-needed post-race drama courtesy of Vettel’s outburst – something F1 really, really needed on a day its overly-officious nature spoiled the most exciting race of the year so far.

Vettel’s fury was clear from the moment he was informed of the time penalty over team radio as he launched into a lengthy rant against the “blind” stewards, who he felt were “stealing” the race away from him and Ferrari. He persisted with his complaints, even on the cool-down lap en route back to the pits after his relegation to P2 was confirmed in the final classification behind Hamilton.

Vettel parked his car at the entry to the pit lane instead of taking it down to parc ferme as usual - Hamilton actually stopped his car there to offer Vettel a lift, believing his rival had a problem – before hopping out and storming through the FIA garage. He then marched through the paddock back to Ferrari’s hospitality, helmet still on, and disappeared into the team’s private area. Hamilton and teammate Charles Leclerc were already at parc ferme, taking part in the post-race celebrations and interviews, and for a moment, it looked like only two drivers would be standing on the podium.

Vettel was ultimately coaxed out to come to the podium, doing so as “a matter of respect to show to Lewis and Charles [Leclerc]” - although he admitted it was “not of my free will” – but he firstly wanted to pay a visit to parc ferme to swap around the first- and second-place finisher boards. He lifted the P1 board away from Hamilton’s car, and placed it in the empty space where his Ferrari car should have been. A wave to the fans, and he was off again. Point made.

It was sensational viewing. An aggrieved sportsman who felt cheated, powerless to change the scenario – with the exception of this symbolic action that spoke for millions of frustrated fans all over the world.

It was a wonderfully human moment for F1, something the sport has needed more of in recent times. All too often, it becomes bogged down in chat about tyre tread widths or sector times, seemingly too technical for its own good. It needs more character, more human moments that the casual fan can relate to – and that is something Vettel offered on Sunday.

The drawback of an over-complicated rulebook was evident on Sunday as the stewards followed the letter of the law in their decision to give Vettel a penalty. Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff wouldn’t be drawn on whether or not he agreed with the penalty when speaking after the race, but said a look at revising the rules come 2021 may be wise if F1 wants to promote more gloves-off racing.

“I think the penalty was what the rule says. It was according to the rules and the stewards are thinking according to the rules,” Wolff said.

“If we’re not happy with the rules, because we like harder racing, count me in. Then the stewards will take another decision because the rule will be a different one. So let’s look at the rules and see how we can get it right so we encourage hard racing, and then the verdict will be a different one.”

As F1 looks to the future and tries to shake up its image to become more palatable for a wider audience, incidents such as this need to be at the forefront of its thinking. It is hard to explain to the newcomer fan why a driver was penalised for making a mistake, returning to the track, avoiding contact with the car behind and simply doing his best to keep going. It’s even harder to explain on a basic level why the driver who crossed the line first didn’t win the race.

The Canadian Grand Prix has been back-page news today because of Vettel’s outburst, but it also highlights one of the underlying issues F1 is wrangling with. It has highlighted it for the world to see.

And while Vettel’s actions after the race may have reflected the frustration that he felt following such a difficult run of form, he must also recognise the fact that it only came as the result of another error under pressure.

The run of mistakes that ended his championship hopes in 2018 has extended through to this year, hampering an already-troubled start to the season. Canada was the chance for him to turn things around – and Vettel cracked with his mistake at the Turn 4/5 chicane, losing the rear of the car.

Deep down, he’ll know that his mistake cost him victory in Canada - not the stewards’ decision.



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