Takuma Sato claims the ten-place grid penalty served to him ahead of French Grand Prix is both harsh and incorrect after insisting he was not overtaking under yellow flags, but was in fact being overtaken.

Sato was landed with a drive-thru' penalty in the United States Grand Prix after officials judged him to have passed Jenson Button in the yellow flag zone as marshals worked to remove Ralf Schumacher's car at turn one.

However, Sato would spin out of the race before he had a chance to serve the penalty, prompting officials to carry the punishment over to the next race in the form of a grid penalty.

Sato though is not happy with the decision after insisting he was merely being forced to reclaim the position he lost when Honda's Button appeared to pull back from the overtaking manoeuvre when the yellow flags came into sight, rather than Sato attempting to make a racing move.

"We are not happy with the decision," he told his personal website. "I knew about the incident and yellow flag at turn one, it was so obvious. On the straight, I knew Jenson was immediately behind and had got my tow. I thought he didn't realise there was a yellow flag. He tried to overtake and we were side-by-side but, going into turn one, he hesitated and braked earlier. I thought he was quitting the manoeuvre and that's why I held my position.

Sato has also criticised the placement of the flags, claiming there would not have been enough time for himself and Button to sort themselves out before the first corner, not least because they were side-by-side coming up to the corner and the position was not decided in favour of either driver.

"Where the yellow flag is shown, just before turn one, it's much too late because it was only 50 metres before the incident. We were absolutely side-by-side, in terms of positioning it looks we were identical on the TV footage, but there was a loop there which shows that Jenson was ahead. The outcome is it looks like I was overtaking him - from the scientific point of view - but of course the penalty is really harsh."

 

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