Formula 1 race director Charlie Whiting has hit back at Romain Grosjean's criticism of the FIA-appointed race stewards following his penalty during last Sunday's French Grand Prix, saying he would have preferred to have spoken with the Haas driver directly before reading his comments in the press.

Grosjean was hit with a five-second time penalty at Paul Ricard for a start-line clash with Esteban Ocon, with the stewards deeming the Frenchman to have made a side-swipe at the Force India driver, pushing him off the track.

Grosjean called the penalty "nonsense" on Thursday in Austria and claimed his move had been in reaction to that made of Charles Leclerc ahead, before saying that the stewards "were drinking rosé wine" when making the decision.

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In a media briefing on Friday attended by select media including, overheard footage of the start-line incident was shown along with Ocon's onboard as Whiting explained the call.

"Romain seemed to be a little upset about his penalty that he was given. I doubt if anyone has seen this footage as the incident was dealt with during the race and I don’t think Romain has properly seen it either," Whiting said.

"Here you can see just before the start, you can see Romain’s moved over already and Esteban is alongside him. I think it’s fairly clear that Romain just bumped into him. And that’s why the stewards penalised him. He’d already moved him over, so two of his wheels were off the track anyway, and then he just gave him a final little help on his way.

"They were racing hard, that’s fine, they were almost alongside, and then Esteban had been forced onto the blue stuff, which is the sort of thing that happens from time to time, no problem with that. But this final little push we felt was unnecessary. That was it really."

Whiting revealed Grosjean had not come to speak with him about the incident either after the race in France or on Thursday in Austria, much to the disappointment of the race director.

"Romain’s made his position clear to you guys without discussing it with us. I’d like to also point out that he didn’t come after the race to have a chat about it either," Whiting said.

"It’s a bit odd to go directly to the press and say that he felt he was hard done by. It would have been good if he’d come to us after the race and said: ‘Look I really feel I was harshly dealt with there, could you tell us why?’ And we would have shown him that footage.

"I doubt if he had found that footage or got that footage, because it’s not out there as it were. I thought it would be fairly helpful to show you. It would have been even more helpful if he had come to have a chat about it with me beforehand before going and saying all those things he said."

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