Williams technical chief Paddy Lowe says he supports the "robust" penalties handed out by Formula 1 stewards to drivers despite outcry following Daniel Ricciardo's grid drop for the Australian Grand Prix last weekend.

Ricciardo was hit with a three-place grid penalty for failing to slow enough under a red flag in Friday practice, harming his chances of a podium finish at his home grand prix.

Ricciardo called the decision "shithouse", while Red Bull team boss said there was a need for greater leeway when it comes to penalties after telemetry showed his driver had slowed significantly, albeit without meeting the required delta speed.

While Lowe offered his sympathy to Ricciardo, he praised the stewards' diligent action in the wake of a possible safety issue, saying there could be no room for leniency.

"I feel sorry for Ricciardo for that particular incident, because it did seem quite harsh when it’s his home race," Lowe said.

"We always come out with these things, but in reality, one of the themes of stewarding is they are often criticised for being inconsistent, and I think when it comes to issues of safety, I actually do support the stewards for being fairly robust with penalties.

"You can’t make those sorts of allowances because the minute you say ‘it’s the first race and it was a new rule and nobody was ready for it so we will let you off’. It means you have to let off the next guy as well. You’d just be digging a hole that you can’t climb out of.

"At the end of the day, it’s a matter of safety and if it was in the race, we know how it would work in the race.

"You would manage it very diligently so that you didn’t get a penalty. That’s the job to do."