Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Red Bull Ring, 2018

Austria penalty shows “racing incidents aren’t allowed to happen” – Vettel

2018 British Grand Prix

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Sebastian Vettel believes his grid penalty at last weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix shows Formula 1 stewards feel the need to assign blame for every incident they investigate.

Vettel was given a three-place penalty for impeding Carlos Sainz Jnr during Q2, despite the fact the incident did not prevent Sainz from progressing to Q2.

He told media at Silverstone that penalties are being issued too frequently in F1 for incidents which should go unpunished.

“In my point of view motorsport is not black and white so naturally not every decision can be the same,” he said. “And I don’t see the necessity to decide every time.

“But that’s what the sport has developed into. Every incident needs to be looked at. So racing incidents for some reason are not allowed to happen any more so we end up with a massive rule book which I think could have the header ‘we are not allowed to race’ because sometimes that how it feels.”

Vettel believes he should not have received a penalty because Sainz was not disadvantage.

“In that situation in quali nobody was hurt. Carlos said it was no problem and he completely understood, he was very chilled. And still it ended up with a penalty.

“Obviously for me it sucked on the day. Probably it will suck for somebody else some point in the season.

“I just think that all these things are unnecessary because sometimes it’s not that you lose your mind or you do something crazy because you intend to but you try to push the limit and sometimes you might make mistakes. It’s happening everywhere else. I think there’s a trend everywhere else that things are being investigated, I really don’t like the word but that’s what it is.”

The stewards acknowledged Vettel had been unaware Sainz was catching him because his team had not warned him about the Renault. But Vettel said he does not blame his team for the error.

“No I think it’s part of racing. As I said I probably disagree with the penalty but I think in general that things happen, it’s part of racing. I think it’s pointless, when it happens, to look back and say OK, who do I blame?’ I think it’s weak.

“There’s so many things that happen throughout the season. I think for us it’s a matter of time, we need to remain patient and just move forward, do the races that are in front of us, enjoy them.”

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35 comments on “Austria penalty shows “racing incidents aren’t allowed to happen” – Vettel”

  1. Vettel fan 17 (@)
    5th July 2018, 20:19

    I see his point, but I don’t think the result should affect the penalty given.

    1. Vettel’s impeding of Sainz at speed was dangerous. Luckily nothing happened, but why wait for the first casualty before handing out penalties.
      Penalties are handed out to change behaviour; not to make good on harm done.

      1. Vettel’s impeding of Sainz at speed was dangerous

        This, if that had happened in Baku (a la Hartley/Gasly) Sainz would have been in the wall or in the back of Vettel, and both would have been serious accidents.

      2. @coldfly Than why didn’t they give a penalty to one of the cars blocking vettel in Canada

        1. ColdFly (@)
          6th July 2018, 6:41

          You are asking the wrong person, @armandf1v.

      3. Also they’re certainly not gonna change the behavior any more than they have already, because Vettel couldn’t see Sainz. Right?

        And they have already changed the behavior. The comment from Vettel about “we are not allowed to race” is pretty telling, and any fan of the sport should feel worried about it.

        Actually, any fan of the sport can see the results very clearly in the last couple of years and the drastic drop in the quality of racing. The stewards are a problem, the lack of consistency is a problem, and they are destroying the sport. They have been doing it for years, they’ve always done it, but when drivers actually change their behavior because of the way the stewards behave, THAT’s when we see the real damage to the spectacle and the competition.

        1. ColdFly (@)
          6th July 2018, 6:45

          because Vettel couldn’t see Sainz. Right?

          Even more reason to be cautious and penalise dangerous behaviour.

          Vettel wasn’t racing; he was on a cool down lap! You think fans want more racing on cool down laps? @nathanbuilder

      4. This is not about the danger of impeding a faster car, but that you ruin the fast cars lap time.

    2. RP (@slotopen)
      6th July 2018, 3:21


      I have a different take.

      Dangerous behavior, like driving slowly on the racing line, should be penalized. I thought this case was pretty straight forward.

      I also think consequences should matter. The penalties should be adequate to make sure crashing, impeding qualifying, or other BS are not viable strategies.

      I would have been ok with just a reprimand and the points. Nobody crashed, and it had no strategic value.

    3. I don’t get his point at all. “racing incidents” would clearly be something happening while competing. This was just Vettel getting in somebody’s way at quite a dangerous place when he really did not have any good reason to be where he was. it is called impeding.

      Had they been racing, the incident would not have happened. @vettelfan17

  2. I believe the data would show the stewards make no penalty decisions a lot more than they find cause to issue a penalty.

  3. I saw Brundle & others on Sky last Sunday talking about how the penalty needed to be applied for consistency…… Yet a driver getting a penalty in that situation is not consistent & I can’t remember the last time that a penalty was given for this sort of scenario.

    If a driver is held up & does not get through to the next round when he otherwise might have done then a penalty is justified but I don’t recall many penalty’s been handed out for occasions like Austria where nobody was disadvantaged.

    In Canada for instance Vettel had a lap ruined in Q2 by cars on the straight yet no penalty was given because he made it through to Q3 anyway.

    1. Bet if Hamilton accidently gets in someones way this weekend Sky and the stewards will call a different tune.

    2. @stefmeister

      > In Canada for instance Vettel had a lap ruined in Q2 by cars on the straight yet no penalty was given because he made it through to Q3 anyway

      This should summarize everything, I keep on saying it since last week and yet nobody gave me a satisfactory answer. Where is the consistency?

      1. Me too, the closest I found to a satisfactory answer is one on reddit who sarcastically made me understand they might’ve decided on safety grounds, not on impeding grounds, as in that from what he said vettel had it much easier to see the cars on a long straight, while sainz risked more cause it was after a corner, obviously I still don’t think it’s fair, I’m not much about safety, I’d give a penalty only in case it really damages someone’s performance.

  4. Yet another Vettel whinge and one that is more than a tad rich coming from the guy who is always bleating that back markers did not leap out of his way as soon as he got within a few hundred meters of them.

    1. Not really the same thing. Apples and Oranges my friend, guys getting blue flags a couple of times and not going out of the way while you are racing for Victory. Or you may or may not blocked someone unintentionally in quali and for that got a penalty for it.

  5. Hey Lewis, here is a good example of how to express your frustration without throwing your team under the bus….

    1. I don’t think he’s reading

      1. @philipgb of course he’s not. You should use @lewis to notify him!

  6. I refuse to believe Vettel is so naive. F1 isn’t a Sunday drive. Capital, money, brand image and jobs are involved.

    The rule book is their to keep competition fair, to ensure no sly advantage is discovered and exploited. Nobody cares if Sainz doesn’t mind if you cut him off. Renault cares, it affects the potential performance. Racing incidents in F1 have consequences.

    1. Agree, Penalties are in place for a reason and should be, however the system used is a little crazy.
      Why? There are 2 championships happening (Driver & [Manufacturer, this is the Team championship]). Why should the Manufacturer suffer due to a driver cuased penalty and why should the driver suffer due to Manufacturer fault?
      Penalties should be time based and applied to either Manufacturer or Driver independantly depending on which is at fault (Both if both).
      I.E. add time to finish and apply points indepoendantly based on result + Time for either.

  7. clickbait

  8. pastaman (@)
    6th July 2018, 0:00

    Don’t drive slowly on the racing line, it’s dangerous.

    1. RP (@slotopen)
      6th July 2018, 2:45


      Sums it up nicely

    2. Add a caveat that this rule applies for Ferrari drivers as well. That should sum it up perfectly.

    3. This is why Vettel was too blame together with the team. He kept the racing line

    4. Indeed @pastaman, not the place to dawdle with the dials

  9. Eh, rules are rules. Stay out of the way.

    A ruling based on what effect it had would be even harder to get fair.

    Also, things seem to equal out in the long run (or quite fast if you keep being involved in incidents like Vettel).

    In France Vettel got penalized for bumping into Bottas. Calls were made that he should have got a bigger penalty because of the effect it had on Bottas.

    In Austria, we have this and we keep hearing that it’s a bit harsh.

    So, stick by the rules.

  10. If everyone agrees that the incident was the team fault (by not informing Seb that Carlos was starting a hot lap), why not just penalise the team (similar to an unsafe release) ??

    Having said that, I also think that Sebastian is incorrect in “Formula 1 stewards feel the need to assign blame for every incident they investigate.“. It has seemed to me that this year the stewards are making the ‘no further action required’ call more than ever before…

    1. @potsie159, in this particular case, the general attitude is that the penalty for the incident is generally levied on the driver rather than the team, perhaps in part because it is more usual for the driver to be at fault.

      I do agree that there has been pressure on the stewards to adopt a more relaxed attitude towards drivers, and there have been complaints that there is pressure to be especially lenient when the driver involved is a more popular front running driver whose fan base will kick up a major fuss.

      Had it been a different driver – let’s say somebody like Grosjean – who’d been involved in a similar incident, would we see quite as many comments in Grosjean’s favour, or would we have instead seen a number of fans saying that he deserved the penalty?

      1. Mr Anon – I thought presently it was Magnussen being accused of blocking all the time :) .

        Another thought I had was was there evidence of any Blue Flags at the time of the incident ? If so, then a penalty is totally warranted. If not is there a case to answer for the stewards/track marshals being partly to blame for an unsafe situation ??

  11. @potsie159 no need for further action AFTER having investigated!

  12. If you’re on a slow lap and aren’t sure whether someone on a flying lap is behind you or not then ‘stay off the racing’ line just in case, there is someone behind because there could very well be.

  13. I don’t agree with Vettel here, whether there is an impact or not on the result should not matter.

    Still inconsistent – why were all the drivers in Canada not penalised for impeding Vettel at the end of Q2? Yes, he would probably have backed up after the last chicane, but he was still on a hot lap when impeded.

    Furthermore, I wonder whether it would make sense to have a grid drop relative to the position. Going from 1st to 4th on the grid is much more of a punishment than being dropped from 10th to 13th. So maybe for a relatively minor infringement it should be a drop of 1 grid position for the first three, a drop of 2 grid positions the next three and so on.

Comments are closed.