After Sunday's Canadian Grand Prix, one question is on the minds of Formula 1 fans and will be debated in online forums, social media and around water coolers at workplaces around the world.
Should Sebastian Vettel, the man who crossed the line first in Montreal, have been given a penalty for a "dangerous re-entry to the track"? The stewards at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve certainly believed so, slapping the German with a 5 second time penalty, which dropped Seb from race winner to second place.
However, Vettel and his Ferrari team boss Mattia Binotto believe otherwise, and they have announced that they will appeal against the decision.
What happened and what should be done?
On Lap 48 of 70, Vettel lost control of his rear end going into Turn 3 and ran onto the grass on the inside of the corner. Turns 3 and 4 are a chicane and Vettel rejoined on the racing line to attempt to clean his tyres of the grass and dirt that he picked up off the track. Hamilton had serious momentum and tried to go between the Ferrari and the outside wall to overtake but there wasn't enough room to do so.
This is the point that's in contention, as the rules state that you have to leave a car's width for another driver to use, otherwise it's deemed to be "dangerous driving". In the words of Fernando Alonso, "You have to leave the space, all the time you have to leave a space".
However, this isn't that simple, because if Vettel was given a penalty, so should Sergio Perez when overtaking Romain Grosjean, and just about every offensive and defensive move we saw on Sunday. Vettel had to defend his spot, and Hamilton would've done exactly the same- it's why we love motorsport.
If you punish drivers for this, we'll have a situation where everybody can't overtake for fear of getting hit with a punishment. This isn't a case of this being a Verstappe-style move either, as Vettel left enough space for Hamilton to run into- there only ever would've been a crash if Lewis failed to brake.
Binotto feels this way too, stating the following post-race: "He didn't have any bad intentions there, he stayed ahead the entire race he took the chequered flag for us, he is the winner. You cannot take it further, he was driving at the limit in each corner, and we are on the border line of the tyres. When he was coming back on the track he went on the grass and there was nothing he could do."
Regardless, though, the stewards have said in recent times that they will only penalise a driver if they are clearly at fault, and personally, I can't see how this is a black or white scenario- this is as clear as mud.
Has this ever happened before?
What immediately jumps to my mind (if the results are changed, that is) is the 2003 Brazilian GP, where Kimi Raikkonen was erroneously given the race victory, a decision that was later changed in Giancarlo Fisichella's favour. On that occassion, it was a count back error due to a late red flag that caused the mistake. For a time in which a steward's decision changed the race winner, you might well have to go back to the 1989 Japanese GP, where Ayrton Senna was cruelly cheated out of a win and that year's driver championship.
It should be noted that if Vettel's penalty is reversed, he will move on to 107 points in third, 48 behind leader Hamilton, who would be 22 ahead of Bo
No matter what happens with the appeal, this is something that will divide the Formula 1 fanbase. What do you think is the correct decision, though? Let us know in the comments below!