Villeneuve ‘bothered’ by driver mistakes getting punished

Jacques Villeneuve says the stewards were wrong to punish Max Verstappen for his contact with Lewis Hamilton at Monza, insisting too many penalties will risk  having a detrimental effect on the racing.

The stewards held Verstappen accountable for the contact that took both the Dutchman and Hamilton out of the Italian Grand Prix.

But Villeneuve suspects the stewards were influenced by the consequences of the crash rather than on the causes of the incident.

“Max should not have been punished,” Villeneuve told Italy’s Corriere della Sera. “So many mistakes from Lewis, you can see that he was no longer used to having an opponent.”

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“At Monza there were two players. Max was aggressive: he could have cut the chicane but then he would have had to give up his position. Lewis could have left an extra 10cm but he wanted to stay in front.

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“It felt like a judgement on mere merit. You can’t punish someone for doing it on purpose when the contact starts metres before the manoeuvre becomes intentional.

“They gave him the penalty because the Red Bull’s wheel went over Hamilton’s head. For the consequences of the action… they said you shouldn’t judge by the consequences but they did.”

The run-in at Monza between F1’s two title protagonists was the second high-profile clash between the pair, with Verstappen suffering the consequences of their first on-track skirmish at Silverstone.

On that occasion, Hamilton was hit was a 10-second time penalty. Villeneuve believes too many sanctions are being handed out left and right to drivers.

“I don’t know, that was also an involuntary manoeuvre. It was a mistake, and it bothers me that mistakes are punished,” said the 1997 F1 world champion.

“These two can’t stay with the limits. Lewis doesn’t usually make these mistakes, it only happens to him with Max.

“Verstappen is always very aggressive, with Hamilton he’s even more so. If you put them together in the same corner, they exaggerate, but these moments are part of F1.

“If a penalty is triggered every time, there won’t be a race, because no one will try to overtake.”

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