AUGUST 30, 2010
Whitmarsh: Vettel got off lightly
McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh was highly critical of Sebastian Vettel's misjudgement which took second placed Jenson Button out of the Belgian GP.
Button had climbed from fifth place on the grid to second, behind team mate Lewis Hamilton in the damp conditions caused by rain early in the race. He sustained slight damage to his left front wing endplate on the opening lap, however, and was not able to run at Hamilton's pace.
Nevertheless, Whitmarsh believes that the incident with Vettel robbed his team of a potential 1-2 finish and the lead of the constructors championship. McLaren trails Red Bull by one point in the teams' competition after Spa.
Vettel lost control of his Red Bull under braking for the Chicane on lap 16, after Spa's high-speed Blanchimont section, and cannoned into the side of Button's car, damaging the radiator and eliminating the world champion, although Vettel was able to continue.
Whitmarsh commented: "It's not what you'd expect to see in Formula 1, it was more reminiscent of the junior formulae. A Drive Thorugh penalty seemed like a pretty light punishment to me."
Vettel admitted: "I'm not proud of it, but what happened, happened, and I can't change it."
Race stewards, of whom 1992 world champion Nigel Mansell was one, had a range of options open to them, and in the light of Michael Schumacher's Spa penalty for the Hungarian GP move on Rubens Barrichello, Vettel may have gone home relieved that he is not contemplating a 10 place grid penalty at Monza in a fortnight's time...