Formula 1 sporting chief Ross Brown insists there was “no hidden agenda” and “nothing sinister” behind the decision to penalise Sebastian Vettel at the Canadian Grand Prix.

Vettel crossed the line in first place but was demoted to second behind Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton after being hit with a five-second time penalty for rejoining the track in an unsafe manner following a trip across the grass at Turn 3 on Lap 48 of Sunday’s race.

The Ferrari driver was left fuming about the decision, while the Montreal crowd booed during the podium ceremony as Hamilton stood on the top step for the fifth time out of seven races this season.

“The penalty the stewards handed out to Sebastian in Canada has got everyone talking, fans and F1 folk alike,” Brawn said.

“As mentioned, I can understand how Vettel feels and I know Ferrari intends to appeal the decision. I also know what a difficult job the stewards have, as they have to reach a their decision in a very short time, producing a verdict that can affect the outcome of the race.

“As such, I don’t want to give an opinion on the decision, because in my position it would be wrong to do so.

“I have a lot of respect for the work of the stewards and for their professionalism and I believe they would be the first to say that they would prefer not to see a race outcome decided via a penalty.

“At the same time, I understand how difficult it must be for fans to understand why the driver on the top step of the podium is not the one who crossed the finish line first.

“That’s why transparency is important when it comes to explaining the decisions of the Stewards, especially in such a complex sport as Formula 1,” he added.

“It is in football, where despite the arrival of VAR, there is still discussion as to whether a handball should be punished with a penalty or not.

“Therefore, it might be useful to work with the FIA on solutions that would allow the stewards to explain their decisions to the fans and to elaborate on how they reached them.

“Having said that, I would emphatically add is that there is nothing sinister about a decision like this. You might agree with it or not, but none of those who take on the role of steward each weekend has a hidden agenda and fans can be certain of that.”

Brawn added he was pleased to see the return of a “vintage Vettel” in Canada, who swept to his first pole in 17 races before controlling proceedings until his mistake under pressure from Hamilton.

“Without taking anything away from Lewis Hamilton, whose name now appears on the Canadian winner’s trophy seven times, Sebastian Vettel was the star of the weekend,” Brawn said.

“The Ferrari driver produced a brilliant pole lap after a fantastic duel with his main rival. On Sunday, he got off the line well, comfortably controlled the first stint on Mediums tyres, but then seemed to suffer when both he and Hamilton moved to a hard compound that seemed to suit the Mercedes better on the day.

“Then, on lap 48, he made his only mistake of the weekend. He was given a five-second penalty that cost him the win, as although Hamilton didn’t seem to have the top speed to get past him on the straights, the German was unable to create a big enough gap to erase the time penalty.

“The most important thing from the weekend, though, is that the fans saw a vintage Vettel performance, which has perhaps been absent since last year’s Belgian Grand Prix.

“Ferrari was in fine form in Montréal, so it was essential that they could count on a driver of the class and talent of Sebastian being at the top of his game, and that was the case this weekend.”

 

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