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Drivers share their thoughts on Montreal penalty

NEWS STORY
20/06/2019

Members of the media appeared to have been caught off-guard when Nico Hulkenberg echoed countryman Sebastian Vettel's wicked sense of humour today as the French GP weekend got underway.

Asked what he thought of the penalty issued to Vettel in Canada, the Renault driver responded: "There was a penalty?"

Following several second of silence, he grinned and added: "I did not notice that in the press!

"My opinion and view of that is just that it's racing," he continued, "it is tough to control a car on the grass and how you then make the entry to the race track because we are simply not in full control and we don't have normal grip.

"So for me, yeah, it seemed like a racing incident. In terms of rules, I think there are different judgements every weekend, different stewards so I don't necessarily fear a reason why we need to tweak the rules there now."

"I think everything that we do on track has a line and a rule and then it's very hard to deviate from those," added Romain Grosjean, himself no stranger to controversy. "I believe there are too many guidelines with penalties that are applied to that guideline and sometimes two penalties that can be very different... two incidents that can be very different but with the same penalty.

"I take an example like I crossed the pit exit line in Monaco with part of my wheel, got a five second penalty and one point on my licence and Verstappen got an unsafe release in the pit lane and had a touch with Bottas and it was a five second and one point penalty because that's what is written.

"So I think sometimes it's hard for the stewards just to decide where they want to go, because everything is written but you never know if you're in that case or that case.

"Talking of Seb, I think he's the only one to know if he could have controlled the car better and left more room on the right hand side. We do not know, we do not have access to his telemetry and I think only Seb knows if he actually saw Lewis, went on the throttle on the grass and made his way fully to drive out.

"I won't discuss the penalty or not, I think it's not my job but I can only say that Seb knows if he could have left more room or not."

"I think it's really tough when you cross the line first on track and then after we tell you you're second," admitted Pierre Gasly. "I think it depends which perspective you look at it. I think if you look at Seb's side for sure it's really tough and really harsh penalty. If you look at Lewis, you say that maybe I could have won the race without this incident, but I think at the end of the day, when you race Formula One cars at that speed, pushing to the limit these things happen and it's part of racing so it's difficult to draw a line but I think for me it was quite harsh to lose a victory that way."

"I think like any other fan I was disappointed when I saw a penalty," said Carlos Sainz, "first of all because as a driver I think I would have done exactly the same as Seb. I would just rejoin the track and try and keep first position independently of where the car is.

"Was it dangerous? Potentially, but what's not dangerous in Formula One? There's always a bit of danger, you're always close to the walls and I think that at any point Lewis was on the real threat of having a huge accident so there was not... I think there was no reason to give a penalty but the rule is written and the stewards applied the rule.

"I also don't understand all this criticism that the stewards have received over the last few weeks," he added, "because they are just trying to do their job and they have a rule which they need to interpret and they need to apply and that's what they did.

"So it's the fault of the stewards, it's not the fault of Seb, I think, it's not the fault of Lewis either, it's just that there is a rule that I don't think should be there, which is a bit too drastic and a bit too black and white and doesn't interpret well the rules of racing, that is race hard and enjoy."

Check out our Thursday gallery from Le Castellet, here.

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