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2018 F1

Vettel handed grid penalty at Austrian GP for delaying Sainz

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Title contender Sebastian Vettel has been penalised for impeding Renault’s Carlos Sainz during the Q2 of qualifying for Austrian Grand Prix.

Vettel was impeding Carlos Sainz on the exit of Turn 1 during the second session of qualifying, while both are entered through to the top-ten shootout. The German given three place grid drop and it was combined with a single penalty point on Vettel’s superlicence, bringing his total to six over a 12 month period (12 results in a race ban).

The Australian GP stewards explained the decision in a statement issued to the press.

“The Stewards reviewed the video evidence, team radio and heard from the driver of car 5 (Sebastian Vettel), the driver of car 55 (Carlos Sainz) and team representatives. Car 5 had just finished a push lap and was on an in lap, travelling quite slowly into and around turn 1, on the racing line. The driver conceded that he had passed car 55 between turns 7 and 8 but assumed it had pitted after.

“However, car 55 was actually commencing a push lap and closed on car 5 rapidly along the pit straight and into turn 1. During evidence, the driver of car 55 stated that he felt the driver of car 5 was completely unaware of his approach. This was confirmed by the driver of car 5 who stated he was unable to see car 55 in his mirrors and that his team had not informed him of its approach, by radio. The latter was confirmed by the team representative.

“It is the belief of the Stewards that notwithstanding the absence of a radio call, the driver of car 5, being aware of the issue of rear vision with his mirrors, should not have been so slow and on the racing line, during a slowdown lap in Qualification.

“Having reviewed all alleged impeding incidents since the beginning of 2016, the penalty of a drop of 3 grid positions is consistent with all other similar incidents.

“All Competitors are reminded of their right to appeal certain decisions of the Stewards, as set out in the International Sporting Code and related regulations, including the time limits for such appeals.”

Speaking before his penalty, Vettel admitted he was not informed of the Renault’s position on track and apologised to Sainz.

“I passed him on my fast lap in Turns 7 and 8 and I was looking down the main straight and I didn’t see him,” Vettel explained.

“I was turning into Turn 1, trying again [to look] because I was thinking he must be there somewhere, I didn’t know if he was pitting or starting his lap.

“But as it turned out obviously he was trying to go for a fast lap.

“I couldn’t see him, I wasn’t told on the radio, so I can only apologise to him.

“There was no intention. I was looking down the straight, I turned around Turn 1, I was done with my lap and just wanted to make sure and there was nothing [in the mirrors] after Turn 1, which was obvious because I saw in the replay that we were side-by-side.”

Vettel was orginally qualified third behind the Valtteri Bottas and championship leader Lewis Hamilton but he will be demoted to sixth on the grid, behind team-mate Kimi Raikkonen, Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and the Haas of Romain Grosjean.

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