Mexico City - Under-pressure Ferrari team chief Maurizio Arrivabene said he was surprised by Sebastian Vettel's "unfair" penalty that relegated him to fifth in Sunday's Mexican Grand Prix.
The Italian outfit's principal said the decision, which cannot be appealed, was too harsh and unfair. He said Vettel's podium had been "taken away by bureaucracy".
READ: Vettel's expletive-laden radio rant in full
Vettel was given a 10-seconds penalty by race stewards long after the race was over and after the four-time champion German driver had celebrated on the podium with the victorious Lewis Hamilton and his Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg.
Vettel himself had only been promoted to third provisionally, replacing Red Bull's Max Verstappen, immediately after the race when the Dutch teenager was given a five seconds penalty.
Australian Daniel Ricciardo of Red Bull was classified third in the final result.
Vettel was penalised for moving under braking as he defended fourth place at Turn Four against Ricciardo in the penultimate lap of the tumultuous race at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez.
The pair banged wheels and Vettel retained his position.
The stewards investigated the incident and found that Vettel made an "abnormal change of direction" that was "potentially dangerous" and handed him the time penalty.
He was also given two penalty points on his licence.
"I'm surprised by the decision," said Arrivabene.
"We gained a podium on the track and they removed it with their bureaucracy - fantastic. When they give a five or ten-seconds penalty, you can't appeal.
"You just have to listen to what they decide..."
He added: "It could have felt special... The whole team showed great stamina in staying united and focused in a difficult moment and our strategy made it possible to make good progress. Both drivers did a great job.
"Unfortunately, we were penalised by a decision which in my opinion is too harsh and somehow unfair."
The decision confirmed that Ricciardo will finish third in the drivers championship while Ferrari now trail second-placed Red Bull by 62 points in the constructors' championship with two races remaining.
The stewards' decision came just one race after the initiation of a clampdown on drivers moving under braking - a tactic brought to notice by Verstappen.
Red Bull boss Christian Horner said: "There has been so much debate about movement under brakes since Japan.
"A clear directive came out this weekend and a clear movement was made under brakes - if it had been prior to this weekend, it would possibly have been OK, but the rules are clear.
"So we've had the slightly unusual scenario where Max finished third on the road, made it as far as the green room, only for Sebastian to go on the podium and take the plaudits and then for Daniel to be taking the trophy home!
"But I'm glad to see the stewards have made the right decision in the end."