Don't blame the stewards, blame the rules – Toto Wolff

Toto Wolff during the 2019 Canadian Grand Prix

Mercedes' chief Toto Wolff says fans are wrong to criticise the stewards for the penalty they imposed on Sebastian Vettel, and their anger should instead be directed at the rules.

Ferrari's Vettel lost out on what would have been his first win of the 2019 season after a five-second time penalty was added to his race time, demoting him to second place behind Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton.

Fans took to social media to vent their frustration at the decision, with many pointing the finger at the stewards. However Wolff insists they have simply followed the rulebook and suggested that the rules themselves may need to be addressed in the future if fans want hard racing to go unpunished.

"My view on the incident is that it’s very difficult for stewards to interpret regulations so that everybody is satisfied," he explained. "I think on that particular incident you can judge 60-40 either side.

"But what we must not do is put the stewards under pressure in a way that they will struggle more in the future to come up with decisions. We need consistent decision making from the stewards, and we need to support the stewards in their objective to reach that.

"Sometimes it goes for you, sometimes it goes against you. It went against us in the past."

Asked whether he thought the penalty was fair, Wolff replied: "I think the penalty was what the rule says. It was according to the rules and the stewards are thinking according to the rules.

"If we’re not happy with the rules, because we like harder racing, [we should change them]. Then the stewards will take another decision because the rule will be a different one.

"So let’s look at the rules and see how we can get it right so we encourage hard racing and then the verdict will be a different one."

Though the Austrian warned that changing the rules to appease everyone will never be easy and such decisions will always have fans on either side of the fence complaining that their team or driver has been hard done by.

"Making rules is such a difficult exercise and your verdicts will not always please everybody. In [Sunday's] situation like I said, the interpretation was according to the rules.

"It’s clear that when you’re Mercedes-biased you will say that probably it’s the right decision and when you’re Ferrari-biased you will say it could’ve been interpreted in the other way around. It’s a little bit like the referee in football. There will aways be - decisions will always polarise. And in the end, I think it’s great for the sport that we have emotions around it."