MONTREAL: Ferrari team chief Mattia Binotto declared Sebastian Vettel and his team as the winners of Sunday’s Canadian Grand Prix irrespective of the classified result that saw a stewards’ penalty hand victory to Lewis Hamilton.
They will appeal against the five-second penalty that cost Sebastian Vettel victory in the Canadian Grand Prix.
Five-time Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton maintained Mercedes’ record winning start to the season when he was handed the controversial victory courtesy of a disputed stewards’ decision, despite crossing the finish line just behind the German.
Vettel was deemed to have forced a charging Hamilton towards a wall after running off at a chicane and rejoining across a strip of grass.
The Briton had to brake and pull out of his overtaking manoeuvre, prompting the stewards to impose the time penalty on Vettel.
“Where could I go?” protested Vettel. “They’re stealing the race from us.”
Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto later said the team would be appealing against the penalty.
“At the moment, we, as a team, are naturally disappointed,” said Binotto in a statement posted on the Ferrari official website.
“As for Seb, I don’t think he could have done things differently, which is why we have decided to appeal the Stewards’ decision.”
Under the sport’s regulations, Ferrari have 96 hours from the end of the race to gather evidence to support their appeal.
Vettel drove his car back to the garage instead of into parc ferme and refused to attend the post-race interviews.
He stormed off to the Ferrari motor home before being persuaded by his team to return for the podium ceremonies.
On the way he walked into parc ferme and swapped the number one for the winner from in front of Hamilton’s Mercedes with the number two in front of the empty space for his car.
The pro-Ferrari crowd booed Hamilton on the podium, but Vettel told them: “Don’t boo Lewis –- you should boo these decisions, not him.”
It was a record seventh victory in Canada for Hamilton and the 78th of his career. It extended Mercedes’ season-opening run to seven successive wins.
Vettel was classified second ahead of his Ferrari team-mate Leclerc.
Valtteri Bottas was fourth in the second Mercedes followed by Max Verstappen of Red Bull and Daniel Ricciardo of Renault.
Hamilton had suffered problems before the start. A hydraulics leak, discovered in the morning, required two hours to strip down and repair his power unit and then a slow getaway for the formation lap created more alarm.
But as the start lights went out, he kept cool to resist Leclerc and stay within sight of Vettel who built a lead of 1.6 seconds on the opening lap from pole position.
Tyre wear was a key factor on the Isle Notre-Dame as track temperatures touched 50 Celsius and Hamilton bided his time.
Vettel pitted from the lead for hard tyres on lap 25 and rejoined in third leaving Hamilton to push on his worn rubber as Vettel clocked the fastest lap behind new leader Leclerc.
Leclerc led Vettel by 11.4sec on lap 30 but three laps later the gap was slashed to five seconds prompting Ferrari to bring in the Monegasque.
Vettel led again by 2.3sec from Hamilton, who had also pitted, with Verstappen third, 10sec adrift as Leclerc rejoined in fourth. But on his fresh hard tyres, Hamilton looked revitalised and closed in on the German.
Vettel responded with another fastest lap but with Hamilton applying constant pressure he finally twitched under braking at the first chicane with 22 laps of the 70-lap race to go, forcing him to cut across a strip of grass before squeezing Hamilton towards the wall.
Stewards deemed him guilty of an “unsafe re-entry forcing another driver off the track” and the five-second penalty decided the outcome as Hamilton crossed the line 1.342sec behind Vettel.
“Where could I go?” said an angry Vettel on team radio. “I had nowhere to go… They are stealing the race from us… This is the wrong world. This is not fair.”