Sebastian Vettel has called on Formula 1 to adopt more common sense following the three-place grid penalty he received on Friday afternoon in Austin. The German was deemed guilty of not slowing sufficiently when a red flag was deployed during FP1.
The red flag was deployed after Charles Leclerc spread stones on the exit of Turn 10 following a trip into the gravel trap. The three-place grid penalty has put a major dent in Vettel's title hopes, as rival Lewis Hamilton could seal his fifth championship on Sunday.
"They [stewards] were very specific, saying I took 27.7s to slow down,” said Vettel. “I saw the red flag and slowed down, had a look around to see if there was a car potentially stuck in the wall or if there was one around Turn 9 or 10 and then slowed down significantly to comply with the rules.
“They found it took too long and I think it’s pretty straightforward. I think on top there might have been an issue with the timing, with the system. I was aware I slowed down and not much more to say."
He continued: "I think there should be common sense with the rules that we have. Lining out 27.7s precisely as an act of not complying with the rules… I think it’s wrong, I think I slowed down, I had a good look around.
“I think the rules are clear as well so we know but I think this is the first time we had this in the wet and in the wet the target is a lot slower so you literally have to stop to 30kph or 40kph to bring down the delta, which probably I should do next time. But in my opinion, it’s not the right thing because if there is a car behind you it might run into you but it’s more important that you don’t get a penalty.”
Red Bull team boss Christian Horner defended Vettel, adding that he believes the red flag rule is "rubbish". He suggested that the ruling should be something less severe - such as a fine - as to not disrupt the competitive nature of the field come race day.
"It is a rubbish rule but they have got to have consistency because otherwise it makes a little bit of a farce of all the regulations if you have a penalty for one race but not at another,” Horner told Sky Sports F1. “But it is not a good regulation. If a driver commits a crime like that, speeding under a red flag, the biggest thing that will hurt the driver is fining him.
“Give him a penalty, a wrap on the knuckles, a fine or something and give the money to charity. To give him a three-place penalty for – how much over the limit was he, not very much – similar to Daniel. It effects the race, effects qualifying and it is not a good penalty.”
Bahrain International Circuit - Winter testing
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