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2018 F1

Lauda slams stewards for ‘too little’ Vettel French GP penalty

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Mercedes F1 team non-executive chairman Niki Lauda has slammed the decision by the race stewards to awarded Sebastian Vettel only a five-second penalty for his turn one incident with Valtteri Bottas in the French Grand Prix, who had been nursing floor damage, and the rest of the field.

Vettel and Bottas crashed on the run down to the first curve following the German locked up, hitting the left side of Bottas’ Mercedes. Both cars sustained damaged (Vettel lost front-wing and Bottas lost left rear tyre and serious floor damage) and were forced to pit for repairs.

Asked by Sky Sports F1 if a one-two was on the cards for Mercedes, lauda said: “I think we could have done, and why Vettel only gets five seconds for this enormous mistake I don’t really understand. It is too little.

“There is more time they can give them. That is what I mean. Five seconds is nothing.

“He destroyed the whole race for himself and Bottas.”

Race winner Hamilton was said that Vettel being at fault for the clash when he watched a replay prior to the podium ceremony.

“Jeez, he took him right out,” said Hamilton as he was filmed. “Oh, man, that’s crazy.”

When asked later by Autosport about what he felt about the incident, Hamilton said: “I’ve not seen it in detail but I saw something played back there.

“I’m disappointed because we had a chance to get a one-two finish.

“That’s the ultimate goal within the team and Valtteri had done a solid job this weekend, as he has all year.

“We all went into Turn 1 as hard as we could. When someone destroys your race and then gets a tap on the hand, pretty much… they shouldn’t be able to come back and finish ahead.”

While Bottas could only recover to seventh, Hamilton converted pole position into a dominant victory — a result which puts him 14 points clear of Vettel at the top of the championship.

“We were going kind of side by side to the braking zone and I went for the outside,” Bottas said.

“I braked quite a bit later, left enough room for him to be inside still, but I think he just went and hit me.

“I got a puncture and from the puncture, I got a decent damage from the floor which really compromised the race.”

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