MX23RW : Friday, September 21 22:02:22

Niki Lauda: 'Sebastian Vettel penalty too lenient'

Lauda: 'Vettel penalty too lenient'
© Reuters
Niki Lauda thinks that the FIA let Sebastian Vettel escape with a lenient penalty after a first lap crash at Paul Ricard.

Niki Lauda has claimed that the FIA let Sebastian Vettel escape with a lenient penalty after a first-lap crash at Paul Ricard.

Vettel and Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas collided at the start of Sunday's French grand prix, and the Ferrari driver was given a five second penalty.

"Why did Vettel only get five seconds for a huge mistake?" F1 legend and Mercedes team chairman Lauda said.

"Five seconds is nothing. It destroyed Valtteri's race. We could have had first and second places."

However, FIA race director Charlie Whiting defended the penalty.

"The stewards had four options," he revealed. "A five-second penalty, a 10-second penalty, a drive through and a stop and go.

"Five seconds seems logical given other incidents of this kind in the past. If you take into consideration the consequences of the incident, you could argue that it should have been different, but that's not what the stewards did."

Vettel finished the race fifth, with Finn Bottas in seventh.

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