Start, Hungaroring, 2017

Ferrari discovered Vettel’s steering problem before the race began

2017 Hungarian Grand Prix

Posted on

| Written by

Ferrari was aware of the steering problem on Sebastian Vettel’s car before the Hungarian Grand Prix even started.

Vettel revealed after Sunday’s race that the problem was discovered during the formation lap.

“Driving the car to the grid was fine but then for the formation lap we [realised] that the steering wheel was not straight,” Vettel explained.

The race was neutralised by the Safety Car soon after it began. Within a few laps of the race restarting Vettel discovered the problem was costing him time.

“I did the start and then there was a Safety Car and then during the opening laps I felt that it wasn’t right but it didn’t impact too much because it was only small.”

“Then it did get worse and towards the end of the stint it started to ramp up and gradually get worse. It was more and more difficult.”

Vettel’s lap times began to slow after lap ten of the 70-lap race. “It was difficult,” he said, “but the mindset that I had half way through the race was ‘it doesn’t matter. I can’t change it now – I’d love to but can’t. We keep going and just try to hang in there as much as possible.'”

“The race felt very, very long. Every lap I was looking down, it didn’t end. The last couple of laps I was able to find a bit of a rhythm, opened a bit of a gap, which helped me to take the very last bit of the race a bit easier through the traffic and controlled the race to the end.”

“The result is great. How we got there was very tense but very happy, obviously great result for the team.”

2017 Hungarian Grand Prix

Browse all Hungarian Grand Prix articles

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

Posted on Categories 2017 F1 season, 2017 Hungarian Grand PrixTags

Promoted content from around the web | Become a RaceFans Supporter to hide this ad and others

  • 50 comments on “Ferrari discovered Vettel’s steering problem before the race began”

    1. Didn’t Vettel’s steering problem already start in Baku…

      1. Haha, Good one…

      2. Omar R (@omarr-pepper)
        31st July 2017, 12:13

        Yeah but to the right.

      3. COTD + COTY
        I died laughing when I saw this.

      4. Holy… awesome man..

      5. Zing! Good one Leo!

      6. Thanks man, I needed that good laugh!

      7. LOL
        Guess last weekend it was over compensating to the other side.
        Isn’t it dangerous to drive a car with a failing steering?

    2. On a serious note, the steering wheel is obviously a key component to control the car…. Shouldn’t this be a safety issue similar to letting a driver leave pits without tyres fully attached? Luckily Vettel managed the problem, but it could quite possible have led to an accident if he wasn’t able to control the car at some key moment during the race…

      1. Yeah you’re right, disqualify him!

        1. Look what happened to the great arton senna vettel team should have called him in to check

        2. Omar R (@omarr-pepper)
          31st July 2017, 12:14

          @swh1386 hahhaaha loved your sarcasm.

        3. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
          31st July 2017, 12:30

          @swh1386 if the steering was getting increasingly worse in the race, they should investigate this…

          We saw Hamilton have to come in to change a headrest. They will be adding halos to all cars next year.

          Is it ok to drive a car with a steering problem throughout the entire race that is getting worse and worse?

          I suppose if you are ok with that, you’d be ok with a driver hitting another car on purpose under the safety car because he’d already run into said car.

          I’m not sure how the FIA can play the safety card again – it’s more of a “weapon” to justify anything which is the exact opposite of what safety should be.

          1. You’re so obvious that it is not even funny

            1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
              31st July 2017, 13:50

              @oletros if you believe safety is a laughing matter, you should probably work for the FIA then:-)

              No one questioned that changing the headrest was the safer option and the right decision by the FIA at Baku. We questioned the timing and the delay in Vettel’s penalty.

              This is borderline ridiculous when you look at Baku, the Halos and now this… Why are we using the word “safety”. It’s practically a political weapon for the FIA and the racing direction and a means to engineer results.

            2. I didn’t hear you to stop cars with overheating brakes.

          2. Well imagine if that headrest felt from the car, hit a moving car and… people could have died… not really but things can happen. On a serious not, the halo is a stupid and moronic idea and it has nothing to do with security but more with the trial in which Bianchi’s parent sued the FIA and to be honest that was a mistake. Bianchi was to blame and the race was to blame, the weather was to blame, that moment in itself was to blame but the FIA can’t be really blamed it. Bianchi’s death was just a event that went from bad to worse in like 5 seconds, when he hit the tractor… with a speed of around 220km/h. Since he hit the tractor in a lateral way the car’s protection was well not that great and Bianchi hit his head with the right side of the car, due to that… he was in coma and well… there was no way to recover from that incident. It was a sad event, for everyone, but blaming on FIA will not solve anything, since it wasn’t FIA that arranged the whole incident but rather… fate.

          3. Hamilton’s problem with the headrest is more severe in my opinion. The headrest is there to protect the driver’s head and neck. If they allowed him to continue it would be as extreme as allowing someone to continue with a damaged helmet for example. Vettel’s issue was clearly not a safety issue as it only caused him to go at a reduced pace. He won the race after all so it cannot have been such a major issue.

        4. No, just having so dangerous and unreliable component in a car just in front of driver’s head (for a second, the most important thing in a human body) already is too much risk. Remember Petrov’s steering wheel detached after going wide over kerbs? Steering wheels should be banned, it’s the next problem to solve for FIA after Halo introduction next year.

      2. I agree. Steering being that off and seemingly getting worse as the race progressed is surely a major safety issue. I am a little baffled that it was allowed to go on as Vettel would have had significantly less ability to turn left to avoid accidents and could have even caused an accident by reacting in a normal manor with an abnormal steering issue.

        I would have been disappointed to see the result affected by this even as someone that does not like Vettel, however I can’t help but think that this should not have been dealt with.

        1. So should they also stop drivers with overheating brakes? Or with excessive brake wear?

        2. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
          31st July 2017, 14:02

          Well, the issue now becomes that Ferrari knew about it BEFORE THE START of the race and they knew that Sebastian couldn’t correct it and by his own admission the issue did become more severe during the race.

          Overheating brakes are inevitable during the race and we’ve seen them fail with crashes – it’s a risk that the FIA accepts because there’s no other solution until brakes are manufactured that will never fail.

          Steering, however, is something that can be corrected on a car and the important part here is that any manufacturer could and should have not started the race with a car that had a steering issue. The FIA should also have not allowed them to start the race that way. They should have tried to repair it and started the race from pit lane or been forced by the FIA. Anything could have happened in Turn 1 and people could have died.

          That’s without talking about the entire race.

          Now here’s a counterpoint – did the steering issue affect this race? Imo, this would have been a very different race if Kimi had been able to race Lewis. In many ways, allowing an ailing car to start the race from the grid wasn’t just a safety issue but an issue with the people who attended the race and the millions of viewers. We all paid (one way or another) to watch a proper race, not a race of a car with a steering issue being defended by the sister car. That’s borderline fraud from the FIA and Ferrari.

          If someone says that they didn’t enjoy the race at Hungary and asks for a refund, the FIA and Ferrari may be liable to pay that person their money back because they defrauded them of a race knowingly.

          1. People could had died? In the 1st lap of a Formula 1 race? I don’t think so. 1st, I don’t think that Vettel knew the extent of the problem, also since most people don’t really know how F1 steering wheels work, it’s not really a problem. FIA was informed for sure, but since Vettel never made a mistake, he was quite in control, which cannot be said about “flaming” brakes that can lead to some… interesting and dangerous accidents. Vettel’s steering wheel was pulling to the left, which on a right going circuit is a problem but since the car’s balance was ok, he was able to control it and not lose that much time to let’s say Raikkonen. Also due the nature of the circuit, Hamilton or Bottas were never able to attack Raikkonen thus, Vettel did a very very good job with that problem.

            Now in regard with “flaming” brakes.. well that’s a problem since Formula 1 cars… need brakes to stop… if one has a problem with the brakes… things can happen and a car can hit other cars and maybe… people can die… not really lol.

            Anyway Hamilton and Verstappen had a problem with the tires at the start of the race, which could had led to some serious problems in the 1st lap, people could had died… not really lol (again joking here). FIA should had forced Hamilton and Verstappen to change the tires, since they were endangering other drivers, but as we’ve seen… only Ricciardo was in a real danger and none died. So all is ok, the race was ok, the fans were happy, except you problably :P

            1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
              2nd August 2017, 4:56

              @neogalaxy the danger with your logic that Vettel managed it is that you can rationalize “any” dangerous situation using it.

              There was absolutely no reason for Lewis to come in at Baku… The headrest was not going to come off and he could have managed it…

              Vettel hitting Lewis under the safety car was a good safety test of the Mercedes done under the safety car for extra safety – he actually did them a favor :-)

              And yes, we all know that Lap 1 of races are the safest laps in the race with no incidents recorded ever in the history of F1 (again joking here) …

              It’s not up to the driver to make that determination. It turned out that it was fine but what if Vettel could not steer by turn 1 (which is far more likely when you have a steering issue as anyone will tell you in any field) and hit another car in an unexpected manner?

              They could never imagine that Vettel’s steering wasn’t working and avoid the accident. Perhaps that information should have at least been shared with all the drivers to at least be on alert in case Vettel’s car goes left while he’s turning right…

              I seriously doubt in a court of law that the FIA would win a case against reckless endangerment and fraud for the Hungarian race. They put the lives of every driver on the grid at risk knowingly and screwed up the entire race for anyone who paid to watch it – that’s assuming that the FIA knew about it.

              The FIA is beginning to make Putin and Sepp Blatter appear like really, really swell guys that you want to grab a beer with…

      3. Tazio Nuvolari drove to the end of a road race once without a steering wheel, as it had come off completely. This is nothing in comparison. Take your health and safety garbage elsewhere.

      4. If cars are called into the pits based on any possible safety issue with the car, the logic addition to “safety related issues” would be the tires. How often to drivers flat spot their tires and continue to drive with sometimes noticeable vibration? And how often do drivers drive on seriously blistered tires? Tire problems are a frequent cause of accident but I honestly can’t remember when a cars was ever ordered into the pits even when there was visible vibration due to tire issues. Often tires fail and in more severe cases suspension failure results in accidents. Yet cars are allowed to run with tire issues, only pitting based on the team and driver’s judgment.

      5. Maybe, as a rule of thumb, any issue you have controlling the car isn’t a safety issue if you are also leading the race.

    3. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      31st July 2017, 12:24

      @nomadindian I have to agree with you – a steering issue is a serious matter, not just for Vettel but for the other drivers.

      Fortunately nothing happened but we’ve seen that the FIA will always err on the side of caution.

      1. @freelittlebirds Thanks for getting my point… I am sure that the probability of a broken steering wheel causing an accident is higher than a driver being in an accident where the Halo is a deciding factor in protecting him…

    4. Biskit Boy (@sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk)
      31st July 2017, 12:49

      The stewards should have at least asked Ferrari what they thought the issue was and the likelihood it would break completely.

      Ferrari obviously thought the issue could have been made worse by hitting the kerbs so it does beg the question if Lewis’s head restraint in Baku required a stop to check/fix why not this?

      1. Because its not the Fix that is possible with out completely stopping the car from the race. Its the hydraulics which are at fault in first place hence why they changed the Hydraulics prior to race start but it still gone wrong. the Steering wheel is working as it should be, the problem is coming from the valves of hydraulics which is pushing the center off. Its really a gusty drive from Sebastian to fight through ever changing wheel center. Even a slight change means you have to re adjust the lines every time.

        1. Biskit Boy (@sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk)
          31st July 2017, 16:03

          Ok so its not how dangerous the situation, its if it can be fixed or not! That’s a weird logic.

          I think Vettel’s skill in dealing with the situation was amazing but sounds very dangerous to me.

          I’m not a Hamilton fan. I can’t stand him actually but I do like to see stewarding consistency.

      2. > The stewards should have at least asked Ferrari what they thought the issue was and the likelihood it would break completely.

        How do you know that the stewards didn’t aks Ferrari?

        1. Biskit Boy (@sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk)
          31st July 2017, 15:58

          Hopefully they did

      3. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
        31st July 2017, 14:07

        Did the commentators even mention it during the race?

      4. Because apparently the FIA is less of a safety nut than you are, which is quite incredible. I’m assuming you’re also a staunch supporter of the HALO device.

        1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
          31st July 2017, 17:28

          @marciare-o-marcire if a steering wheel issue identified before the race is not a safety issue, then what is? It’s the only way the user can control the car. If steering is compromised then the car is not safe.

          It is not normal for a steering wheel to be off-angle that much and for the issue to be getting worse. Just about every car you buy for 20,000-1 million has correct steering.

          It is normal to flat spot wheels and overheat brakes – it’s like saying that turns are dangerous and we should drive straight which actually is not a bad idea if Ferrari is allowed to race with a failing steering wheel. Adding racing lanes like swimming or running might also make sense if we want to delve into the realm of absolute safety…

          1. Yea well I’m convinced that if someone other than Vettel had won the race we wouldn’t have heard a peep out of you about an unsafe steering wheel.

            1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
              31st July 2017, 19:18

              @marciare-o-marcire You mean if that had happened to Lewis? The headrest issue happened on Lewis’s car (incidentally after being banged by Vettel) and like I said no one complained about the FIA’s decision to bring him in. Sure, it was unlikely it would come off BUT it’s not a risk anyone should take.

              We all complained about the FIA’s penalty for Vettel which came after asking Lewis to come in at a time when it had minimum impact on Vettel. If they had given it to him during the Red Flag (plenty of time), he would have been at the end of the grid which is where the penalty was supposed to put him.

              I’m fine with teams engineering wins for Vettel but this is borderline absurd. The FIA cannot engineer results and throw away the safety book after asking for the halos on the cars.

              People pay money to watch this sport and go to races – the last thing we want is the stewards trying to strategize and come up with a solution to benefit Vettel and the championship…

              The FIA can’t say anything about the steering wheel now because they have to take the result away and punish Ferrari with a massive penalty especially if they’d withheld the information to the tune of 5-10 million Euro (any other amount is like asking for $5 from your parents).

    5. FIA did not deem the steering issue cause to stop Vettel’s race, so clearly they weren’t concerned of a catastrophic failure. There was radio chatter about it so Charlie was aware. Either way, I can remember a few seasons back when the Pirelli’s were delamimating almost across the board with the teams…and they still raced

    6. Good to see the debate here as usual, but unfortunate that some think my comment is motivated…. Just to be clear, its not because of who was driving or who won… In fact I like Ferrari (if you see my profile) and am very happy for the 1-2, although I would have preferred Kimi to have prevailed over Vettel for once…

      Neither is it for being a safety nut… I dislike the Halo very much (but I feel it is up to the drivers to decide what degree of risk they want to accept… if they don’t want it it’s up to them to protest, not me who is just happy for the entertainment they provide anyways)…

      My comment is purely academic/theoretical curiosity… If a loose wheel is deemed dangerous to fine or disqualify a team, if a loose headrest means it has to be changed even if it means the driver looses the race win, the steering wheel is equally important that a car should not race if its seriously broken… The fact that Vettel could win the race says a lot for his skill… all I am saying is, it should be evaluated what level of risk was present by a malfunctioning and further deteriorating steering wheel…

      If the FIA did look into it, even if it was after the Race, and were happy that there was no significant risk, I am happy (but really surprised)…

      1. In my opinion Steering wheel is a safety issue only when it could fall of (senna’s case). This one was not the case. Vettel steering wheel was not centered. In this case is up to the driver to do his best and adapting the drive style.

        1. Nikus, which Senna case are you referring to?

          1. Senna’s last race in Monza….

            1. It was Imola.

      2. A headrest that is out of position will not protect the driver in the event of an accident in the way that it is designed to. It is similar to when a driver’s seatbelt comes undone, something which has occasionally happened in the past and has always led to the driver pitting to have his seatbelt done up. Headrest and seatbelts are considered essential safety equipment, a driver would not be allowed on track without them that is why a problem with either means that a driver must pit to have the problem rectified.

        A car issue, handling issue etc. is something that happens fairly frequently to all teams. In every race there will be some cars running with an issue. The teams can monitor any such issues via the telemetry from the many sensors on the car, sometimes teams do tell drivers to retire the car if the situation is getting too dangerous. Race control usually only interferes if there is a substantial amount of bodywork hanging off the car that could cause a dangerous situation.

        Vettel’s problem was hydraulic, not a physically broken steering wheel. He could still lap at a decent pace (lapped everyone from 7th place and below) and had no problem controlling his car (no off track excursions). I am sure it wasn’t easy to drive and he had to adapt his driving to compensate for the issue but it is a big stretch to say that the situation was dangerous. I read somewhere that the issue might have been related to the power steering, drivers have certainly raced before when their power steering has failed without anyone considering it a safety issue.

    7. Vettel’s steering wheel problem was not a safety issue since it was merely not aligned properly as opposed to coming-off (unlike Hamilton’s loose headrest at Baku, which could have come off). In Hungaroring, the problem forced Vettel to adjust his driving style, including taking come corners more slowly to avoid mounting the kerb. During the race it was noticeable that the gap between P1 & P2 dropped as they approached right corners and bends but it increased a bit after they came out.

      I think Vettel drove excellently to win the race under the circumstances. Without his steering issue, Raikkonen would have been nowhere near Vettel.

      1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
        2nd August 2017, 13:42

        @loup-garou how can a wheel not be properly aligned and that not be a safety issue? Was the steering wheel even properly attached? Did the FIA confirm that from pit lane or they relied on Ferrari to make that determination?

        I cannot imagine a FIA official signing off on that at the start of the race unless his posterior is bulletproof :-) He/she would be guaranteed to lose their job and be blamed for the entire incident if anything happened. I’m assuming the FIA was NOT informed as we didn’t see any delay or investigation before the race from the FIA officials to determine if Vettel’s car was in racing condition.

        If you have faulty steering before the race, you should NOT be racing until you fix that. Period. If you can prevent an accident, you have to err on the side of caution.

        Why are we even discussing this at this point and why has the FIA not called in Ferrari to give them punishment? That’s the bigger question at this point. There’s something definitely wrong there. Checks should be cut in 8 digit realm and point penalties should be given to the team and driver.

    8. Checks should be cut in 8 digit realm and point penalties should be given to the team and driver.

      Of course, such an action in Hungary would have suited certain hyperbiased parties (who pretend to give analytical opinions) to a tee. Fortunately, the Stewards and FIA have more sense than those other people.

    Comments are closed.