Vettel hit with grid penalty for ignoring red flag

2015 Canadian Grand Prix

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Sebastian Vettel has been docked five places on the grid for failing to obey a red flag during final practice.

Vettel was found to have overtaken Roberto Merhi when the final practice session was halted due to Jenson Button’s McLaren stopping on the track, which he admitted when asked by the stewards.

The Ferrari driver had only qualified in 16th place following a problem with his power unit in qualifying. He has also been given three penalty points on his licence for the infringement. He did not previously have any.

Vettel said his technical problem in qualifying was not related to a similar problem he had during final practice, and he expects it to be fixed in time for the race.

“Right from the start we didn’t have the full power available,” said Vettel, “so when I went out for the first run we tried to fix the problem, but we couldn’t. Due to the lack of power we couldn’t make it further.”

“For sure we have to investigate but I don’t think that there’s anything to do with the engine. I think it has more to do with the electronical side, but I am confident that we can fix the problem in time for tomorrow’s race.

“We have plenty of tyres and anything can happen. We have a strong car and a strong pace, so I should be able to score good points. The problem we had this morning in FP3 was completely unrelated.”

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    Keith Collantine
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    55 comments on “Vettel hit with grid penalty for ignoring red flag”

    1. Now who’s gonna start dead last? Vettel or Verstappen? I’m confused.
      Are they both gonna take a penalty during pit too?
      Race down the drain…..

      1. Vettel because Verstappen’s penalty was applied first I think, and Vettel just has the grid penalty

        1. Will he have time penalty as well? As he still would have to serve the remaining 1 place grid penalty (from 16th to 20th)

          1. Well Ferrari thinks they are starting 18th so im not sure, and because Button never set a time I don’t know where he will start.

          2. @mjf1fan Maybe not.

            Vettel is 16th
            Verstappen penalised -> Vettel 15th
            Vettel is penalised -> Vettel 20th

            1. @mike-dee you are right, sky reporting that he will start alongside button, so there wont be any time penalty. But really a stupid error by him.

            2. Button is said to be starting from pit lane. Soooo?

            3. Seems Max might still be at the back of the grid–he has 10 places for the engine so that would put him behind anyone else on the grid. If Button starts from the Pit, then Max starts from P19 and Vettel starts from P18. Either way, I’d expect him to be up around P10 by the second lap or so and with DRS in the Ferrari? That should take him easily into the top 10 by lap 5 or so.

              Or one of the Manor’s might take him out at T1/T2.

          3. The extra time penalty when the full grid drop cannot be served only applies to the engine components, not sporting infringements.

            1. Good info. Thanks mate!

      2. Formula Penalty… Japan 2009 is the blueprint ;)

    2. Here is the footage. Quite clearcut, the Manor was not going that slow:

      1. Very funny. You must have very special eyes to be able to determine the speed of cars. Like the guys who watched Gro-Ver videos from Monaco and clearly saw Grosjean was slightly brake-testing or going a bit too slow.

        1. You just went full potato. Never go full potato.
          Nothing “very special” about spotting a speed indicator in plain sight in the replay.
          And what did the speed indicator tell us? That the Manor accelerated to roughly 245 kph before Vettel lost his patience and went past him, accelerating to a maximum of 314 kph.
          Is any of this slow under red flag conditions? NO.

          1. It’s like some of the debate about speed following Bianchi’s accident – exactly what speed is acceptable? We seem to agree that 300kph during a red flag isn’t acceptable, regardless of whether the driver has passed the incident. Is 245kph acceptable? Should they be issued with a maximum speed limit when returning to the pits?

            1. @sharoncom
              I wouldn’t even generally say 300 kph is too fast under red flag conditions. It certainly wasn’t slow, but then again, it was on a long straight with clear sight and no danger whatsoever. So I wouldn’t say that was wrong per se.
              My point was that under no circumstances can a car that’s going almost 250 kph (and it looks as though Merhi was still accelerating when Vettel went alongside him) be considered as going slowly, much less slowly enough to be overtaken under yellow or red flags. There was that incident with Rosberg and Kvyat last year, and Rosberg was only cleared because Kvyat slowed down to less than 40 kph. That should put things into perspective.

              As for a general maximum speed limit under red flag conditions:
              I really don’t think this is necessary. That would be yet another rule that doesn’t improve safety or anything, but leads to more penalties not because of reckless driving, but because of negligence.
              The rules are, in that case, sufficient. They require the drivers to use their common sense and not to overtake or drive close to the limit of their cars and abilities. If anyone fails to listen to their common sense, they must be punished. That’s exactly what happened, so I think there’s no reason for any kind of rule change.

            2. @sharoncom
              However, yellow flags, like the ones that Bianchi didn’t respect, are a different story. I could well imagine a WEC-style speed limit applied to an entire “sector” (not to be confused with the 3 timing sectors), possibly in combination with a VSC. I think that would go great lenghts to improve the safety of the track personnel.

    3. Can Vet use old engine now, when there is no chance for top spots?

      1. It’s Canada, anything can happen

    4. @mike-dee There is red-flag in the hairpin but the next couple of digital flags are yellow. Could not have escaped under technicality? :)

      1. @evered7, even if it were just a yellow flag, Vettel would still have breached the regulations and would still have a penalty (there is a precedent for that – back in 2006, the stewards took the unusual method of adding a time penalty to Alonso’s best times – which was functionally identical to a grid penalty – for passing another driver in a yellow flag zone during a practise session for the Hungarian GP).

        1. KCUF! No way of escaping it :)

          Anyway, hoping that his quota of ill luck for the season is over with this race.

          1. To be honest, I would say it is more poor judgement than ill luck. Given that he had passed multiple marshals posts showing warning flags and given that he was also passing Merhi in an area of track where marshals would have been going trackside to deal with Nasr’s car, I can see why the FIA would have decided to be fairly harsh on Vettel.

            1. He was pitting at the end of the straight though. It was also after Nasr incident. This was the red flag for Button at the end of the session. Vettel said he thought Manor was unusually slow, even under red flag. I guess he hadn’t fully realized how slow those cars really were until now.

            2. vtf, the fact that he was pitting at the end of the straight is completely irrelevant – it is the way in which Vettel was acting that earned him his penalty.

              As for Merhi, he was driving exactly as the regulations say that you should – the regulations quite explicitly state “all cars shall immediately reduce speed and proceed slowly back to the pit lane”.

              We know from the onboard footage that Merhi was driving at about 240kph (or around 150mph) down the back straight. There is no reason for Vettel to think that is abnormally slow for a red flag situation, so frankly I do not think his explanation is justified by the facts.

    5. Sweet. Why the heck did he do that? The red flag was out for ages by then… There goes the DotW as well as his so far carefully guarded realistic shot at the title.

      1. I don’t think that move will have much of an effect on his shot at the title. That shot was gone the moment his MGU-H gave up on him. Though who knows, remember 2010. But don’t think something like that is anywhere near possible.
        On DotW, as long as there is anyone else who has any remote chance of getting it, he doesn’t get it anyway. It is sort of a rule or something. Vettel doesn’t count for many reasons people would love to share with you.

        1. Yeah, it’s pretty much a sympathy vote these days.

          1. Even though I pitied Vettel on his desperate laps at the end of Q1 more than anyone, Vettel wouldn’t be getting anything called a “sympathy” vote. Though he’s not been winning for a long time now, people seem to like him more now.

    6. What a miserable miserable weekend for: Sebastian Vettel, Felipe Massa, Jenson Button, Max Verstappen and Felipe Nasr. It is permanently miserable for McLaren drivers anyway, so Fernando Alonso is also included, but at least he is starting ahead of SebVet lol.

      Maybe they should also give a penalty to Manor. Why are they on track again? I thought you have to be racing to be allowed on track.

      Vettel went onto pit anyway, not like he continued on track. Does that even count as overtake? I think they are just creating drama. Kick somebody when they are down! Were they holding onto that tape and waited until the end of qualifying to use it in order to create more drama?

      1. not like he continued on track. Does that even count as overtake?


        Kick somebody when they are down!

        He broke the rules, the penalty is fitting, there was no need for him to overtake, the Manor was crawling or anything like that so why he did that I’m not sure.

        Were they holding onto that tape and waited until the end of qualifying to use it in order to create more drama?

        The stewards really don’t care about that.

        1. wan’t crawling*

          1. wasn’t* jesus, one to many beers to be talking on a forum.

        2. He broke the rules, the penalty is fitting

          Last season Rosberg broke the same rule and got a reprimand. Ricciardo broke the same rule and got nothing. Vettel got a 5-place grid penalty and 3 penalty points. FIA is so fair and consistent.

          1. I’m not sure of the examples that you give and the circumstances that happened to be honest so I can’t comment on those however I never said the FIA were consistent with it’s ruling. But that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t of given him the penalty.

            1. Last year in Silverstone, Rosberg was pardoned because the Stewards decided that Kvyat was going so slow (and was so far off the racing line) that Rosberg was entitled to pass him.
              To quote the Stewards:
              ‘The stewards determined that: the driver of car 6 had driven the lap fully within the regulations and was traveling at a safe and reasonable speed throughout; that at the moment of the overtake, car 26 pulled fully off line and slowed to as low as 38kph in what appeared to be a very unusual manner, in an area of the track that was visibly completely clear; and that the driver of car 6 took reasonable avoiding action of a car, that the stewards accepted that he reasonably believed to be in difficulty.’

              Slowly driving past a car that suddenly slows down to 38 kph is hardly an overtake.
              In Vettel’s case, however, accelerating to more than 300 kph to drive past a car that was already going 245 kph and still accelerating – that’s an overtake.

            2. You said Vettel broke the rule and the penalty is fitting for that. Rosberg and RIC broke the same rule, so circumstances shouldn’t matter if breaking the rule is the only thing that matters. As for Vettel being too fast, he wasn’t the only one who was fast under a red flag. The entire grid should be punished then.

            3. Is there a limit to how slow the car out front must be in order to justify your overtake?

            4. @lance You misunderstand, I didn’t say that RIC and ROS shouldn’t have been given penalties, far from it…if they broke the rules they should of been given a penalty as long as it was their fault they broke the rules, which there is no question of with Vettel, Stewards have often made calls for one driver and then another call for the same incident with another driver, this is nothing new. With all that said it doesn’t mean that Vettel shouldn’t have been given this penalty, he should of and there really is no way around that.

            5. You misunderstand, I didn’t say that you said RIC and ROS shouldn’t have been given penalties, far from it… I was talking to Nase.

            6. @lancelot:
              That wasn’t my point. What Vettel did was a clear infrigement against the rule and its spirit. Rosberg in Silverstone, however, didn’t intentionally overtake Kvyat, but assumed the latter was slowing down beacause of a technical issue. The relevant rule, as far as I know, contains a section that allows the Stewards to investigate instead of having to penalise automatically.

              @ vtf
              No, there isn’t. You can overtake a car when it leaves the track, or when it’s going so slow that you can reasonably assume that it has a major technical issue. A car that goes well over 250 kph can’t be reasonably assumed to be in serious trouble. Whoever overtakes such a car under red or yellow flag conditions can’t expect to be spared by the Stewards.

    7. McLaren are like artificial kerbs. Always causing teams problems, every Damn race. If your car isn’t fit to run on a high-speed track then maybe you should stay at home.

      1. McLaren + Manor:
        Since McLaren gave up on track and caused the red flag, and Manor is just plain slow.
        I understand Ecclestone’s strong dislike of Manor now. There is always a drama while they are getting lapped AGAIN. Maybe they are doing it on purpose, because it is the only way they are gonna be on TV.
        Btw, Ferrari customers have been causing some headaches for the works team since the beginning of the season.

    8. 2 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1’14.702
      3 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1’15.014
      4 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Mercedes 1’15.102
      16 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1’17.344
      17 Felipe Massa Williams-Mercedes 1’17.886

      Since both Vettel and Massa didn’t have MGU-H, can we say that Vettel could have been still 0.5sec ahead of Williams. And if we applied the same logic to Bottas, Vettel might have been ahead of Rosberg?

      1. Yeah, I’m sure P2 was possible for Vettel.

      2. You could take away 2.5 seconds each and get:

        2 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1’14.702
        3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1’14.844
        4 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1’15.014
        5 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Mercedes 1’15.102
        6 Felipe Massa Williams-Mercedes 1’15.386

        So if MGU-H is worth a bit more than that, or less, on each car.. it’s conceivable, yes.

      3. Wellt, it’s more complicated than that. Vettel’s problem was indeed caused by the MGU-H, leading to extremely poor driveability, but not affecting his top speed (his car was the second fastest on the straight). Massa’s problem, however, must’ve been related to a different part of the power unit, as his top speed was the slowest of any car, some 22 kph slower than his team mate Bottas’s.
        So, while it’s true that both their problems seem to have cost them similar amounts of time, this similarity is pure coincidence and has no significance whatsoever for the comparison with Rosberg.
        One could reasonably argue that Vettel could’ve been more than 3 tenths faster than Räikkönen, which would’ve been enough to challenge Rosberg. But there is no evidence to back up this assumption, apart from reading tea leaves.

        1. Massa’s problem was also MGU-H mate. They were both down on MGU-H. So I don’t think it is incomparable. You might say we don’t know whether Massa was pushing just as much as Vettel, but you can say the same thing for Bottas/Raikkonen, so who knows….
          Moreover, Mercedes were expecting Ferrari to be couple of tenths off their pole time. I don’t think Mercedes is reading tea leaves to get their information. At least as long as the GPS is working.

          1. Ok, I stand corrected on the part involved, but my conclusion still stands:
            If one car has an issue that causes poor traction, but allows the car to reach almost 340 kph (just like the team mate’s car), while the other car has an issue that makes it go more than 20 kph slower than the team mate’s car, their performance simply isn’t comparable anymore. Their lap times happened to be pretty similar and their gaps roughly consistent with what we would’ve expected beforehand. But we have no means of knowing if Massa’s issue was in fact more or less crippling than Vettel’s. What if Massa’s issue cost him 2 tenths more? We can’t confidently rule that out, can we? Their gap would’ve been down to a bit more than 3 tenths, which would still be in agreement with our predictions. But then, Vettel wouldn’t have been able to challenge Rosberg.

            That’s why I compared this calculation to reading tea leaves.

            1. @ sally
              As things turn out, I didn’t stand corrected at all. Yes, Vettel’s issue was MGU-H-related, but Massa’s bane was the turbocharger.
              Both parts are adjacent and their functions intertwined, but they’re far from playing identical roles and affecting lap times the same way.
              The MGU-H feeds off the turbocharger’s heat to generate electricity that can be used to bridge the turbo lag when getting on the throttle, thus affecting the driveability.
              The turbocharger, however, comes into play when the engine starts to rev higher, using exhaust gas to “squeeze” air into the engine’s combustion chamber, thus increasing the engine’s maximum power output.
              And that’s why Vettel had trouble getting out of the corners, but didn’t lose top speed, while Massa’s engine was as responsive as ever, but had a massive power deficit.

    9. LOL it looks like Vettel will start from 18th after qualifying for 16th and getting 5 place penalty. Congratulations to him for getting a 5 place grid penalty and somehow managing to drop only 2 places.
      Provisional grid for Canada after penalties: Hamilton, Rosberg; Raikkonen, Bottas; Grosjean, Maldonado; Hulkenberg, Kvyat; Ricciardo, Perez; Sainz, Ericsson; Alonso, Nasr; Massa, Merhi; Stevens, Vettel; Verstappen, Button.

      1. Maybe someone else will get a penalty from out front and he will start the race from 16th anyway lol. Someone said formula penalty, indeed.

    10. I hope someone doesn’t crash into Vettel at start.

      1. He’s probably OK at the back. It’s the midfield where the damage is most likely to occur.

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