Ross Brawn has sympathy for the Formula 1 fans out there who may not understand the reasoning behind Sebastian Vettel receiving the five-second penalty which cost him victory at the Canadian Grand Prix, and has likened the decision to that VAR in football.
The Canadian GP ended controversially on Sunday as Vettel crossed the line ahead of everyone, only to end up second on the podium. He was given a time penalty after the race for drifting into the path of Lewis Hamilton in an “unsafe” manner after he suffered from a wheel lock which forced him off the track.
Vettel, and Ferrari, were furious with the decision at the time, with the driver exclaiming over team radio that Mercedes had “stole” the victory after Lewis Hamilton eventually ended up on the to podium.
Brawn says that the regulations are outlined for such an incident, but admitted there is still slight room for different points of view being taken into account – like when the referee uses the Virtual Assistant Referee in a football fixture.
“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,” he said.
“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. 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.”
Even with the controversy and the ambivalence surrounding the decision, Brawn is adamant that there are not “hidden agendas” within the stewards making the decisions – in this case Gerd Ennser, Mathieu Remmerie, Mike Kaerne, and Emanuele Pirro.
“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,” he continued.
“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.”
The Formula One managing director of motorsport claims that, due to his role, it would be unfair for him to provide a personal opinion on the matter.
“I don’t want to give an opinion on the decision, because in my position it would be wrong to do so,” Brawn added.
“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.”
The penalty took Vettel’s, and Ferrari’s, first win of the season away, as Mercedes made it seven wins on the bounce.