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Revisiting the Iconic Sebastian Vettel v Lewis Hamilton Drama and the Stolen F1 Victory

Published 06/09/2022, 2:25 PM EDT

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What could have been a win for then Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel turned into agony. A five-second penalty meant that Vettel had dropped from the first position to the second as the race got over. This caused some controversy and as a result, Sebastian swapped the result board in parc ferme. Here is a recap of that incident from the 2019 Canadian Grand Prix.

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How did Sebastian Vettel get a five-second penalty in the race?


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Setting a lap time of 1.10.240 in Q3 of qualifying, almost two-tenths quicker than Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton, Vettel was in a prime position to win the race.  Getting away at the start, Sebastian was dominant throughout the race. In control of the race, he managed to have a great race pace and also kept Lewis out of the one-second DRS zone.

However, fortune suddenly changed on lap 48 when Vettel went off into the grass and cut the chicane at turn four. Re-joining the circuit, he almost ran into Lewis’s Mercedes and the Briton had to back out.  Hamilton was not happy about the little maneuver and on lap 57, Vettel was handed a five-second time penalty. Naturally, this did not bode well with Vettel and made his feelings very clear over the radio after the race.


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Citing it as unfair and insisting that he had every right to be angry, Vettel then went on to swap the result boards. After the race, furious at what had happened, the Ferrari driver questioned why there was a delay in the decision process. “I was surprised because the incident was like five, six, seven laps ago by the time I got that message,” Vettel said.  “I think it’s pretty clear if you commit a crime, you shoot somebody it’s quite clear you are a murderer. I disagree with the decision but I think also the fact they took so long.” 

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“I wouldn’t be happy if I was in the grandstand seeing for 70 laps there was a fight on and then we blow the fight with a decision like that.”

Ferrari failed to overturn Sebastian Vettel’s penalty

This episode did not just end in Montreal. Ferrari went on to protest against the decision and that put Lewis’s win at risk. Submitting a video by SkySports where F1 pundit Karun Chandhok had given his view of the incident, other pieces of evidence like telemetry data, camera angles, and witness statements were also provided. 


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The FIA ended up refuting the claims as they reported to have most of the evidence required to dictate the penalty. The FIA was also of the opinion that Karun’s opinion was personal and could not be considered as an argument.  

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As clear as day, both Ferrari and Sebastian weren’t happy with the outcome. Vettel talked about the rules and was of the opinion that if the FIA wasn’t happy with the racing then they should build different tracks. 


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WATCH THIS STORYWhen F1 Drivers Had a Blast on Top Gear Featuring Hamilton, Vettel & Ricciardo

And while both parties expressed their disappointment with the ruling, both were of the opinion that moving on is the best path to take.     

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Written by:

Vaibhav Aatreya


One take at a time

Vaibhav Aatreya is an F1 author at EssentiallySports. His ever-growing passion for the sport, combined with his willingness to learn the inside workings of Formula 1, led him to pursue his graduation in Mechanical Engineering. Having been following the world of motorsports for many years now, Vaibhav loves to pen down his thoughts, giving his take on the ongoings in the sport.
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Edited by:

Ankit Sharma