GPDA chairman Alex Wurz says Formula 1’s quest for “the ultimate perfection” with regard to the interpretation of the sport’s rules is to blame for the controversial penalty handed to Sebastian Vettel in Sunday’s Canadian Grand Prix.
The ex-F1 Benetton and Williams driver, who now guides the efforts of the Grand Prix Drivers Association, believes that over the years, drivers and teams have demanded so much clarity and precision from the FIA that cases are no longer judged on the basis of their individual merits.
“Each and everyone in the system who thinks this penalty is not justified is at fault because over the years, with all these incidents and cases, the drivers and team managers asked the FIA in the open way of discussion for clarification of what is allowed and not – down to millimetre and micrometer movements,” Wurz explained.
“In this whole process over the years, that is where we arrived.
“The just, rational decision of looking at a situation and making a decision based on, yes, underlying rules, but not in such fragmented, small little details, has gone.
“So it is hard to blame the FIA and the stewards for this, and this is what I don’t like in the conversation – that it goes a bit personal in this whole debate.
“We are an industry that strives for the ultimate perfection, advantage or disadvantage and penalty or not penalty.
“So we arrive at such a situation. One struggles almost to judge one situation without having to refer to six or 10 other similar situations.
“In reality each and every situation is different because there are so many influences.”
Wurz believes Vettel did not commit any offense, but the underlying rules, a recourse to precedents and the need to be consistent, made it impossible for the stewards not to punish the Ferrari driver.
“You could see it was sort of physics, going over grass, correcting the car until well back on track in a logical trajectory. Hence it wasn’t intentional to close the door and squeeze Lewis,” added the Austrian.
“Of course, if you push it to the limit, one driver makes a mistake, if the mistake is in front of you, you have to react.
“If you make it by, great, if you don’t make it by, missed opportunity. It’s the name of the game. It’s racing.
“I was of the same opinion when Max Verstappen in Suzuka last year went over the Astroturf – which is a bit more slippery, there is more dust – he came back, he slid to the other side of the track, there is Kimi Raikkonen wanting to go on the outside and they touched. Max got a five-second penalty.
“When you look at this, you say, ‘Ah, well the FIA is in this case quite consistent on rejoining the track dangerously regardless of whether it’s in your capability to control or not.
“They have decided it is a five-second penalty’.
“Vettel has a certain speed going off into the grass. Of course at a certain point he will put the power back on, because he wants to continue his race. And that’s his right to do.
“I don’t think he drove in front of Lewis intentionally as aggressive as it might look on TV because his head moves to look in the mirror, after the correction is finished.
“Therefore I would have not seen it as action to be penalised, very much as I would have not penalised Verstappen in Suzuka either.
“However, both cases are very similar and FIA gave the same penalty, so we have to accept that.”