Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Circuit of the Americas, 2018

No need to change red flag rules after Vettel’s penalty – Whiting

2018 United States Grand Prix

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FIA race director Charlie Whiting sees no need to revise Formula 1’s rules on red flags after Sebastian Vettel picked up a three-place grid penalty during yesterday’s practice session.

The Ferrari driver was penalised for failing to reduce his speed sufficiently when first practice was stopped. Vettel described the decision as “wrong” and one of his rivals said his penalty was “harsh”.

However Whiting told Sky the rules had been enforced consistently in line with previous incidents.

“I have some sympathy of course because it’s quite a big penalty,” he said. “The precedent was set in Australia this year when Daniel [Ricciardo], he got mixed up between positive and negative as I understand it, but that was the precedent that was set and the stewards have been trying to follow that precedent.”

Asked whether the rules needed to be revised to give drivers more time to reduce their speed, Whiting said: “It shouldn’t need it.

“Seb actually took nearly 28 seconds to get down to the reference time which is quite a long time, quite honestly. It’s normally well under 10, i.e. less than one of our marshalling sectors.”

“We’ve got a loop at every marshal light so here we’ve got 20 different sectors,” he explained. “We look in real time, we can see, we know what the reference time is and the drivers’ time for that sector is green if he’s positive, red if he’s negative. It’s very simple to check.”

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The rule requiring drivers to reduce their speed to a target lap time during red flag periods is new for this season.

“It’s just an extension of the rules that we apply to Virtual Safety Car] and [Safety Car] situations. What the drivers have to now under red flag is exactly what they’ve been doing for years under VSC and SC.

“They follow a speed that’s been sent to their dashboards, they have a reference lap and they have to stay positive to that reference lap., i.e. slower. And Seb didn’t.”

RaceFans understands Formula 1 teams previously expressed to the FIA that red flag speeding infringements should be punished with grid penalties rather than fines, to prevent drivers hurrying back to the pits under red flags to save time knowing they aren’t at risk of a sporting penalty.

All three drivers who have been caught driving too quickly under a red flag have resulted in three-place grid penalties. The stewards also do not take the championship situation into consideration when deciding on penalties.

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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...
Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...

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  • 16 comments on “No need to change red flag rules after Vettel’s penalty – Whiting”

    1. Vettel fan 17 (@)
      20th October 2018, 19:31

      I bet that if it was someone like Ericsson there wouldn’t have been any worry over the rule. Just because a top driver gets a penalty for it doesn’t mean it’s wrong all of a sudden.

      1. @vettelfan17 Well, Ocon isn’t a title-contender either, and yet, he still received precisely the same penalty for a similar incident last time out in Japan as Seb did yesterday.

        1. Vettel fan 17 (@)
          20th October 2018, 19:49

          @jerejj yes but what I’m trying to say is, if Ericsson got a penalty for this no one would have said the rule needs changing and as with Ocon I believe again not many said anything against the rule, or called for it to be changed anyway. Now Vettel gets penalised and Whiting has to say that the rule won’t be changed shows that drivers are being treated differently which shouldn’t happen in my opinion.

    2. Monetary penalties, no matter how high, would never enough disincentive. The only alternative to grid penalties that might work are removing championship points… which has all sorts of complications associated with it.

    3. Charlie may as well wear a big red nose, carry a honking horn and wear oversized brightly coloured shoes to race weekends.

      1. Why? All he’s done was clarify the rule that suddenly a small group are complaining about just because Vettel has been caught by it.

        Is your remark because they’ve dared to penalize Vettel for breaking the rule that applies to ALL drivers.

        1. @nikkit seriously… How dare he enforce the rules consistently, doesn’t he know that Ferrari fans expect preferential treatment?

    4. I’m pretty baffled by any of the backlash to it. A rule exists. The rule was broken. The standard punishment for breaking said rule was applied. Done.

      If any team or driver had a problem with any of the rules, they should have raised it before the event. By entering the event you are accepting the rules. By breaking the rules you receive a punishment.

      There can be no room for interpretation; it doesn’t matter what the red flag is for and it’s not up to Vettel, Ferrari or anyone else to decide whether it’s “worth slowing down for”. The rule is the rule. Obey it or take a penalty.

      1. @ben-n I entirely agree with you.

        1. these rules are stricken due to Bianci incident and to prevent anyone else have similar situations in the future

      2. There’s been a backlash because of the driver involved.

        Rule is broken by Ricciardo or Ocon, a penalty is applied, and nothing else is spoken.

        Rule is broken by Vettel, suddenly the rule needs changing, and poor Sebby has been “treated harshly”.


    5. I’m glad he is willing to explain all this whennthere should not be any need for it. It’s quite clear. Besides, it’s practice, and a wet one that saw very little running. You wonder, what’s the hurry anyway? Just slow down…

    6. It’s a RED FLAG, just slow down FFS! Don’t spend 30 seconds deciding if it’s dangerous enough for you to bother with it.

      1. @diogenese – go easy on him. I wonder if he plans to quit F1 racing, and sign up as the safety car driver. He’d do well there to drive around and inspect the scene of the incident.

        1. 30 seconds is an epoch in F1, why on earth did it take him that long to slow down, considering he knows the rules?

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