It almost looked like Mercedes-AMG's winning streak would be broken at the recent 2019 Canadian Grand Prix. The Ferraris showed great pace throughout the whole weekend, and seemed poised for a win at Circuit Gilles Villenueve.
But after 70 laps around the demanding track, it would be heartbreak for Scuderia Ferrari and Sebastian Vettel.
On lap 48, the rear end of Vettel's Ferrari went loose on the turn 3-4 chicane, forcing him on to the grass. He was able to regain control of his car, narrowly escaping a visit to the wall and Lewis Hamilton's Mercedes. But while Vettel's display of car control was impressive, the stewards had other thoughts. They reckoned that Vettel's re-entry on the track was unsafe, and handed the four-time champion a five second penalty later on.
So it's no surprise that Ferrari and Vettel saw red when they were given the penalty. The Ferrari driver argued that there was no room, as the exit of the turn was a barrier. For him, it was either save the car or hit the wall altogether. “Where the hell was I supposed to go?”, said Vettel angrily over the team radio.
Pitlane pundits seem to agree with Vettel's explanation too, and some have even said that the penalty was either far too harsh or should not have been given at all. The fans are pretty angry too, judging by the comments on social media.
As Vettel was unable to clear Hamilton by at least five seconds, the 2019 Canadian Grand Prix win went to the Mercedes-AMG squad. The win also allowed Hamilton to increase his championship lead as well. But if it's any consolation for Vettel, fan voted for him as driver of the day.
Despite losing out to Hamilton, Vettel told Formula 1 fans not to make snide remarks towards his closest on-track rival. “The people shouldn’t boo at Lewis, because I think he saw what was going on and I don’t think there was any intention to be in his, harm’s way. I had trouble in staying on track. But the people shouldn’t boo at Lewis. If anything, they should boo at these funny decisions,” said Vettel during the press conference.
But whether the stewards of the FIA (Formula 1's governing body) made the right call or not, the race will go down in history as one of the most controversial ones in the turbo-hybrid era. Ferrari has since notified the FIA that they will appeal against the penalty.