United States Grand Prix – Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel has been given a grid penalty ahead of Saturday qualifying, after the stewards felt the German driver drove too quickly under red flag conditions.
The red flags were shown during the FP1 session, due to Sauber’s Charles Leclerc spinning off the track in his Sauber. The conditions were wet and miserable and, with visibility quite poor, the stewards felt it safest to temporarily halt track action. With all drivers on track immediately slowing to return to the pits, Vettel came back around having encountered the flags at Turn 6.
Immediately after the session, the stewards announced that they were investigating Vettel for having driven back to the pits too quickly under the red flags and later gave him a three place grid penalty – doing further damage to the Ferrari driver’s already tenuous championship hopes. He was also given two penalty points on his superlicence, taking him to five in total.
Documentation from the stewards stated: “The Stewards found that Vettel did, in fact, fail to stay above the minimum time set by the FIA ECU in marshalling sectors 6 and 7. As the regulation states, Art. 31.6 was added this year to ensure that drivers reduce speed significantly during a red flag. Breach of this regulation is seen to be an extremely serious matter. To be consistent with previous decisions on similar incidents this year, the Stewards assessed the penalty specified above.”
Vettel finished FP2 in P10, with a best time of 1:53.912, although conditions throughout practice were never representative due to drivers opting keep out of trouble and stay in the garage for the majority of the session.