By Alan Baldwin
SILVERSTONE, England (Reuters) - Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel spoke out against 'unnecessary' Formula One grid penalties on Thursday, saying drivers were now being penalised for incidents that were once considered a normal part of racing.
The championship leader accepted, however, that drivers should carry some of the blame for complaining in the past of inconsistencies in stewards' decisions which had led to a more rigid approach.
"In my point of view motorsport is not black and white," the German, who collected a three-place grid penalty in Austria last weekend for impeding Renault's Carlos Sainz in the second phase of qualifying, told reporters at the British Grand Prix.
"Not every decision can be the same, and I don't see the necessity to decide every time. But that's what the sport has developed into. Every incident needs to be looked at, so-called racing incidents for some reason are not allowed to happen any more.
"So we end up with a massive rule book which I think could have the header 'We're not allowed to race', because that's sometimes how it feels."
The Austrian penalty was imposed despite both Vettel and Sainz progressing to the final phase of qualifying without any difficulty.
Vettel said the Spaniard had completely understood what had happened, was relaxed about it and said it was no problem, but the stewards still felt the need to act.
Their published ruling emphasised that they had reviewed all alleged impeding incidents since the beginning of 2016 and their decision was consistent.
Vettel said the decision had "sucked on the day, it probably will suck for somebody else at some point in the season.
"I just think all these things are unnecessary, because sometimes... it's not that you lose your mind or you do something crazy because you intend to, but you try to push the limits and sometimes you might make a mistake."
The German leads fellow four times world champion Lewis Hamilton, winner for the last four years at Silverstone, by a point ahead of the 10th round of the season.
"I guess we're not the favourites going in but still I believe we should have a good car," said Vettel.
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Ken Ferris)