By Alan Baldwin
LONDON (Reuters) – Ferrari will not formally appeal the penalty that cost Sebastian Vettel victory in the Canadian Grand Prix, the team said on Thursday, but could still seek a review of the decision by presenting fresh evidence.
The deadline for the Formula One team to lodge a formal protest was Thursday evening, 96 hours after the end of the race in Montreal.
“We have withdrawn our intention to appeal and are evaluating the right of review,” a Ferrari spokeswoman said.
The team had said on Sunday they intended to appeal after stewards handed Vettel a five-second penalty for going off track and returning in what they deemed to be an unsafe fashion.
Vettel had led from start to finish but lost out to Mercedes’ championship leader Lewis Hamilton after the penalty was added on to the German’s time at the checkered flag.
“They are stealing the race from us,” Vettel, a four-times world champion, had said over the radio when told he was under investigation.
The stewards’ decision triggered an immediate controversy with some defending the penalty while others felt the officials had killed off an exciting race by over-zealous application of the rules.
Some ex-drivers, who felt Vettel could have done nothing different, questioned whether the rules were fit for purpose with Formula One trying to encourage better and more entertaining racing.
“He stayed ahead the entire race, he crossed the checkered flag first, for us he’s the moral winner. We won today,” said Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto at the time.
The sporting regulations do not allow for in-race penalties to be appealed but Ferrari can seek a review of the stewards’ actions under article 14.1.1 of the FIA’s International Sporting Code.
This allows for further action in the event of any “significant and relevant new element” coming to light that was not available to those seeking the review at the time of competition.
Ferrari have 14 days since the publication of the final race classification to produce fresh evidence, if they do decide to take that course.
The stewards then have sole discretion to determine whether such a significant and relevant new element existed, with their decision final.
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Toby Davis and Ed Osmond)