|© Vladimir Rys/Getty Images/Red Bull Racing
Sebastian Vettel was given a 20-second penalty for a late overtaking manoeuvre at the German Grand Prix, pushing him down from second place to fifth.
The defending champion went past Jenson Button from outside the track as they vied for second place over the final few laps. The penalty promoted Button from third to second, with Kimi Raikkonen getting third place in his Lotus.
Vettel however reasoned that he was trying to ensure that the two did not make contact with each other by making a safe move.
“At the end of the race, Jenson’s tyres were gone and we were able to close the gap,” the Red Bull driver said. “It was then a question of when, rather than where, and I tried to outbrake him.
“I was up the inside; I wasn’t sure where he was, I couldn’t see him in that moment, so decided to give enough space and went off line on the slippery paint and I was able to stay ahead and get past him.
“The only intention was not to crash and to give him enough room. I have respect for him and I didn’t want to squeeze him,” he explained. “It was good to be on the podium at the home race, but I have to respect the steward’s decision.”
Button was straightforward about the matter suggesting that Vettel should have backed off as the German could have passed him easily soon after.
“There’s nothing to say really, I think the TV cameras say it all,” the McLaren driver said. "The rules state that you can’t go off the track to gain an advantage.
“The thing is, there would have been more opportunities for him before the end of the race as my rear tyres were damaged,” Button revealed. “That’s because I had to push hard to try and catch Fernando Alonso, which meant I had nothing left for the end of the race. We pretty much ran out of rubber two laps before the chequer.”
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner though found nothing unfair in Vettel’s attempt adding that the penalty was too harsh.
“He goes to the outside under the braking area, he then gets clearly ahead, he gives Jenson room on the right. Jenson runs him out wide and ends up over the kerb himself,” said Horner explaining his perspective.
"I think it's unfair to say he got an unfair advantage from that. I think it's a racing incident," he added. "Jenson's actually wheelspinning out of the corner. He's got no traction."