By Alan Baldwin
LE CASTELLET, France (Reuters) – A newly-married Sebastian Vettel and his Ferrari Formula One team hope to persuade stewards on Friday to review a controversial decision that cost the German victory in Canada two weeks ago.
Sporting director Laurent Mekies, who previously worked for the governing FIA as head of safety, will represent the Italian team at a hearing after first practice for the French Grand Prix at Le Castellet.
Neither Ferrari nor Vettel, sporting a wedding ring after marrying long-time partner Hanna last week, were giving anything away about what new element they might present to make their case.
The right of review calls for a team to present significant and relevant new evidence that was not available at the time. Ferrari have given no details “due to the sensitivity of the matter”.
“Ask the team,” said Vettel when pushed for more information on Thursday.
The stewards have sole discretion to determine whether such a new element exists and will either dismiss the request or accept there is a case for a further hearing.
The decision to give Vettel a five-second penalty in Montreal, for going off track and returning in an unsafe manner while defending the lead from Lewis Hamilton, triggered a controversy that rumbles on.
Vettel had led all the way and finished first before being demoted to second when the penalty was applied, giving the victory to Mercedes’ five times world champion Hamilton.
Vettel, a four times world champion, is now 62 points adrift of the Briton.
Vettel was furious afterwards, replacing the ‘1’ marker in front of Hamilton’s parked car with a ‘2’ before reluctantly going onto the podium.
He said on Thursday he had not changed his mind about what happened but shrugged when asked if he was confident Ferrari might be able to get back the victory.
“First of all it’s to open the case again and have another look, bring some information that maybe the stewards didn’t have at the time and see what happens,” he declared.
The German would not be drawn on comments by compatriot and 2016 world champion Nico Rosberg, who won his title for Mercedes, backing the stewards and criticising Vettel’s behaviour.
“No view. No view is a good view in Germany,” said Vettel, his smile wearing thin as the questions about Canada kept coming and the Ferrari press officer tried in vain to steer the conversation elsewhere.
Mercedes have won all seven races so far this season, and nine in a row in total when the last two rounds of 2018 are included.
The Canada controversy has at least distracted attention from that domination, while Vettel’s reaction also took the focus away from his own mistake.
The German rejected a suggestion that his repeated errors under pressure from Hamilton in recent seasons might be a bigger concern.
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Toby Davis)