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Sebastian Vettel was confused by his reprimand for absence on the time of national anthem ahead of Japanese Grand Prix, calling the FIA’s decision “a bit of a joke” and he was surprised when heard – reprimanded for anthem absence.

The German’s absence was comprehensible given the commotion around his car on the starting grid – but at that time, Vettel left the grid for a toilet break while as the Italian team’s mechanics hurried to fix a spark plug problem with the clock ticking.

The non-driving reprimand for the rules breach, as opposed to one handed out for something that happened on the track, was Vettel’s first of the season.

There are two types of reprimand, for driving and non-driving offences, with three reprimands in a season triggering an automatic 10-place penalty for the next race.

The penalty, however, is only imposed if at least two of the three reprimands were for a driving infringement.

Vettel already has one driving reprimand, imposed at the Monaco Grand Prix for crossing the yellow line at the pit lane exit during qualifying.

“I didn’t understand it,” Vettel said when asked about the Suzuka incident in the US GP paddock on Thursday.

“I was a bit late, but for half of the anthem I was there. I was surprised when I heard I was reprimanded for it.

“Maybe I should have pushed aside the guy ahead of me and not wait until he was done on the toilet!

“A bit of a joke, but OK.”

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