Mercedes non-executive chairman Niki Lauda has slammed Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel for “destroying” Valtteri Bottas’ French Grand Prix, adding a five-second time penalty did not reflect the “enormous mistake”. 

Vettel, starting on Ultrasofts with the Mercedes duo on Supersofts, made the most of the extra grip in his Pirelli tyres to challenge Bottas on the run into Turn 1 but the pair made contact, causing Bottas to suffer a puncture and spin.

Vettel - who damaged his front-wing in the incident - was handed a five-second time penalty for causing the collision which he served during his second pit stop as he recovered to fifth. 



“I think we could have [got a one-two],” Lauda told Sky Sports F1. “Why Vettel only gets a five second [time penalty] for an enormous mistake, I don’t really understand. 

“It’s too little. There is more time they can give. Five seconds is nothing. He really destroyed the whole race for himself and Bottas.”

Bottas was hampered by floor damage throughout the race and also suffered a slow second pit-stop with a problem on the rear tyres and struggled to seventh. The Finn believes he left Vettel enough room at Turn 1. 

“We were going kind of side by side into the braking zone with Seb,” he said. “I went to the outside, braked quite a bit later, left enough room for him to be inside still. 

“He just went wide and hit me. I got a puncture and from the puncture got decent damage on the floor, which really compromised the race.”

Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton fared better as he converted the 75th pole position of his career into a comfortable first victory in France. Lauda feels the Briton, who has moved into a 14-point lead in the championship, had the race completely under control. 

“Sometimes he was pushing but he had the race really under control,” Lauda explained. “He did no mistakes and the team worked perfect, so fantastic. 

“It’s the right result but it would have been better if Bottas had been up there too but nevertheless I thank the whole team and everyone for the result.”


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