Damon Hill and Johnny Herbert believe a more hands-off approach from officials to wheel-to-wheel racing would benefit the sport, as the debate continues over Sebastian Vettel’s controversial Canadian GP sanction.
Sebastian Vettel’s five-second penalty, which lost him the victory to Lewis Hamilton, has reopened a long-running argument about the regulations concerning driver conduct on track and the type of incidents that should be investigated: “My own view is that there was the option not to bring that penalty. No harm was done, no one actually collided,” said Hill, the 1996 world champion. Lewis forced Sebastian into an error which I’m sure Sebastian would rather have avoided. Sebastian recovered himself to get back on the track and probably did try to stop Lewis from passing, but they were racing and we were denied the opportunity of seeing a very exciting final few laps. It should be in the power of those judging to say: ‘No harm done, we’ll just play on.'” – he explained.
Sebastian Vettel was punished on two counts: returning to the track ‘unsafely’ after running wide and then ‘forcing another car off track’. Fellow Sky Sports F1 pundit Johnny Herbert has previously served on the stewards’ panel as the driver representative and says: “In terms of rules that purely govern the racing on track, there are too many.
“The rules say you cannot crowd another car but racing, to a degree, is about intimidation and not making it easy for someone to overtake. ‘Leaning’ on someone is something I did in Formula Ford, Formula 3, Formula 1, sportscars, GT cars – that’s part of racing. These are the very, very best drivers and they have the best judgements, so let them show their judgement and their skill. If they take someone off on to the grass, sure, then you need to have a word but you should be able to show your race craft.” – he said, as reported by skysports.com
Hill added: “If you were to go and ask Lewis and Sebastian ‘do you think you could conduct yourself sportingly and race hard and fair for the length of a grand prix without crashing into each other?’ they’d say ‘yes’. They are probably the most-skilled racing drivers in the world. They can do it, so you don’t want intervention if it’s not necessary. If one of them deliberately crashes into the other and it’s obvious that’s what has happened, then they need a penalty. But in this case, there was no harm done. Lewis narrowly escaped taking his front wing off, but he went for the gap, as much as Seb tried to defend it.” – Damon Hill concluded.