Ferrari team principal Maurizio Arrivabene claimed a podium finish for his team was “taken away by bureaucracy” following Sebastian Vettel’s penalty.
Vettel finished fourth on the road at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez but was promoted to third place when Max Verstappen was given a five-second penalty. However a few hours later Vettel was given a ten-second penalty which relegated him to fifth, putting Daniel Ricciardo on the rostrum.
“Today could have felt special,” Arrivabene complained, saying the team “fully deserved this podium, which was taken away by bureaucracy.”
“The whole team had showed great stamina by staying united and focused in a difficult moment. Our strategy had made it possible to make good progress through the race and both drivers did a very good job.”
“Unfortunately, we were penalised by stewards’ un-appeal-able decision which, in my opinion, is too harsh and somehow unfair,” Arrivabene added. The rules do not allow for penalties handed out in the race to be appealed against.
Vettel was penalised for changing his line in a braking zone while under attack from Ricciardo. “I respect him a lot,” said Vettel, “it is never ideal when you touch.”
“On my defence, I was fighting hard, and trying to give him some space, which I think I did.”
Vettel was originally promoted to third position after Verstappen went off the track while under pressure from the Ferrari.
“We were quicker, so we put Verstappen under pressure,” he said. “For sure it was not easy to pass, but he did a mistake, cut the track and didn’t give the position back even if he was told to do so.”
The radio messages broadcast by FOM during the race indicate Verstappen was told he may have to relinquish the position but after the Red Bull driver said “let me know” he was advised “OK, stay there”. Ferrari then told Vettel twice that Verstappen had been told to let him through. A furious Vettel then swore repeatedly on the radio, including at race director Charlie Whiting.