THE controversy over the five-second penalty awarded to Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel has dominated the fallout from the Canadian Grand Prix and is likely to be debated long into this season and beyond.

Fans, pundits and drivers are split as to whether the punishment, which handed Mercedes Lewis Hamilton a fifth victory of the season, was the correct call from the stewards or was, as some are describing, another death knell in the over regulation of the sport.

Regardless of whether you deem the decision fair or not there can be no doubt that if Vettel hadn’t cracked on lap 48, there wouldn’t have been the need for a penalty to be handed out and the rest, as they say would be history.

What unfolded on Sunday afternoon was simply another addition to the catalogue of errors made by the four-time world champion that have threatened to unhinge his reputation as one of the sport’s greats.

The crash at the start of Singapore in 2017 was followed by a string of high profile errors last year. Whether it was crashing out from the lead in Germany, tangling with Verstappen in Japan or losing out in combat with Hamilton in Italy, the list is long – and costly.

This year the theme has continued, the spin in Bahrain another example of the German’s inability to cope with pressure and in particular Lewis Hamilton.

As team boss Mattia Binotto said post-race, the German was driving over the limit on every lap as he was continually harried by the Mercedes. But eventually Vettel’s luck - or skill - ran out as he went rally-crossing over the grass.

Hamilton was forced to back off as Vettel careered back onto the circuit and the stewards had a decision to make.

The fact is Hamilton never needed to pass Vettel. Experience over the past three seasons has shown him that if he applies the pressure, the error will come and he will always come out on top.

Canada proved this yet again and it will only give more confidence to the Briton if the two drivers find themselves in a battle for a grand prix victory again.

Following the race the pantomime began as Vettel swapped the position signs in front of the cars in Parc fermé and the crowd lapped it up.

The antics followed into the podium ceremony as the German kept one foot on the top step of the podium after briefly sharing the winner’s spot with Hamilton.

But all the uproar and discontent has only managed to disguise the fact why the penalty was handed out in the first place. It was because Vettel made another crucial mistake when the pressure was on.

He is now 62 points behind Hamilton in the championship standings and looks on course to watch a Mercedes wrap up another title for the third year running.

Following the race the German accused the FIA of ‘stealing the victory’ away from him. But what he failed to acknowledge was that he had already left the keys in the door.

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