Haas team principal Guenther Steiner described a three-place grid penalty imposed on Romain Grosjean following his Spanish Grand Prix crash as "kicking the guy in the face when he's on his knees".
Grosjean lost control on the first lap of Sunday's race, wiping out Nico Hulkenberg and Pierre Gasly as he spun across the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya track with his foot on the gas.
The French driver was punished by the FIA for the dramatic early incident, and Steiner was not impressed with the sanctions handed out by the governing body.
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"That's kicking the guy in the face when he's on his knees," said the Haas boss.
"He tried to get out of the way, that is his explanation. He tried to get across the track to get out of it and he hit two. He was turned and he said 'I had a decision to make, do I stand still or do I go through?' He went through and he knocked two out.
"If he had stood still maybe he would have knocked five out, we don't know. It's never a good position to be in, the middle of a car track, whatever you do. For me it's a start incident.
"Yes, it doesn't look good when you accelerate when are in the middle of the track, but it's a millisecond decision that you need to make and he made the decision to run across.
"I feel sorry for them that they were taken out but he didn't try an overtaking manoeuvre to take them out or understeer into anything. At the moment his reputation is not the highest one to do things he shouldn't be doing so maybe he's an easy target."
A disconsolate Grosjean defended his actions after his race was over soon after it started.
"I lost the rear end of the car and I tried to put it back as long as I could but it just didn’t work," he told Sky F1.
"I don't think there was much I could do. If I had braked, the car would have slid the same way. I tried to stay on the throttle to spin it to try not and face other people. It didn't work but I don't think there was anything different [he could have done].
"It's a human reflex if you look at Rosberg in 2016 and Schumacher in 2010. If I had braked I would have stayed in the middle [of the track] and it would have been the same thing. Unfortunately once the car started going forwards again onto the track, it was very difficult."