McLaren sporting director Sam Michael believes that Sebastian Vettel would not have been able to complete the pass on Jenson Button without going off the track, meaning that a post-race penalty was inevitable.
Vettel overtook Button around the outside at the hairpin on the penultimate lap of the German Grand Prix to take second place, but used asphalt run-off beyond the track limits to do so.
This led to Vettel being hit with a 20-second time penalty post-race in lieu of a drive-through, which promoted Button to second place and relegated the German to fifth.
"The stewards decided in Jenson's favour because Vettel left the track and gained an advantage," said Michael when asked by AUTOSPORT about the decision.
"Without leaving the track, he would not have been able to complete the manoeuvre and the stewards thought the same thing. That's why they gave him the penalty."
Michael added that Vettel could not legitimately claim that he was forced to go wide because of where Button positioned his car.
"Jenson left plenty of space," he said. "He did not crowd him off the circuit and Vettel took the decision very early at the apex of the corner not to stay on the racing line, you can see that from the way he accelerates out and heads straight off the track.
"There's no violent steering angle where he is trying to stay on the track. That's why the stewards decided in Jenson's favour."