Mercedes non-executive chairman Niki Lauda is of the opinion that Sebastian Vettel got off very lightly. The Austrian was referring to the opening lap collision with Valtteri Bottas, he said that Vettel needed a harsher penalty.
The two collided on the run down to Turn 1 after the German locked up his front left tyre. In the process, he hit the side of Bottas’ Mercedes as he slid. Both cars sustained damaged and were forced to pit for repairs, dropping them to the back of the pack.
The stewards awarded Vettel a five-second penalty for the incident. However, the penalty had little to no impact on the race as the Ferrari driver managed to build up a substantial gap over Bottas. The latter had been nursing floor damage in the aftermath of the collision.
”I think we could have done and then why Vettel only gets five second [time penalty] for an enormous mistake, I don’t really understand. It’s too little,” Lauda said. “There is more time they can give them. Five seconds is nothing. He really destroyed the whole race for himself and Bottas.
Bottas managed to recover but could only muster seventh place. Meanwhile, Hamilton converted pole position into a dominant victory. As a result, the defending champion is 14 points clear of Vettel at the top of the championship.
”Sometimes he [Hamilton] was pushing but he had the race really under control,” Lauda added. ”He did no mistakes and the team worked perfect, so fantastic. It’s the right result but it would have been better if Bottas had been up there too but nevertheless I thank the whole team and everyone for the result.’
The race came to an anti-climatic close when Lance Stroll’s tire exploded and the resulting debris ended up with a Virtual safety car being called out.