Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Circuit of the Americas, 2018

Vettel’s grid penalty is “harsh”, says Gasly

2018 United States Grand Prix

Posted on

| Written by and

Sebastian Vettel’s three-place grid penalty for failing to slow sufficiently for red flags during practice yesterday is “harsh”, according to Pierre Gasly.

The Toro Rosso driver was one of 14 competitors who were on the track when first practice was red-flagged yesterday. Vettel was the only one who was found to have not slowed down enough to meet the target minimum lap time which drivers must obey to ensure they do not drive too quickly.

Vettel claimed the speed limit is set too low during wet sessions, a view Gasly had some sympathy for.

“The tricky thing with this time to respect is that actually it’s a really slow lap,” he said. “If the crash is in turn nine and for some reason you don’t pay attention or someone speaks to you, then towards the end of the lap just before you come into the box you can be a couple of tenths up.

“It’s quite a harsh penalty. If you’re being really careful when you pass in front of the crash and just after you didn’t pay attention so you get a penalty like this.”

Vettel is the third driver to be penalised under new rules which were introduced for 2018. Daniel Ricciardo and Esteban Ocon also received three-place grid penalties for incidents in Australia and Japan respectively.

“In this situation before when there is a crash and there is a red flag you just slowed down a lot in the place you have the crash and then after that you drive carefully but it’s not like you need to respect a certain time,” said Gasly.

“It always worked in the past. Now it’s quite strict. But at the same time rules are rules, you need to respect them.”

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

“There is probably something we shall do because three penalty points for something like this is where you have been actually careful in the place you are to be is quite harsh,” Gasly added.

Vettel’s penalty is a further blow to his dwindling championship prospects. “It’s a shame especially looking at the situation, still fighting in the world championship and now he gets a penalty,” said Gasly. “It’s not so exciting.”

However Carlos Sainz Jnr, another driver who was on track during the red flag period, said Vettel had little argument against his penalty.

“I haven’t really looked to what happened with Seb honestly too much in detail,” he said in respond to a question from RaceFans.

“It is true that when there is a red flag on a wet session our lap time delta is really slow so you really need to slow down. Same rule for everyone, though, so there’s not much of an argument.”

@Josh5Holland contributed to this article.

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

2018 F1 season

Browse all 2018 F1 season articles

Author information

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...
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.

13 comments on “Vettel’s grid penalty is “harsh”, says Gasly”

  1. I can see their points although it still doesn’t change the fact that a red flag is a red flag. No one made a big fuss about Ricciardo getting penalized equally for a similar type of incident at the season-opener in Australia nor Ocon for the same just two weeks ago in Japan.

    1. @jerejj
      I agree that red means red and rules are rules – Vettel’s penalty is deserved, however I do definitely remember a lot of people making a fuss about Ricciardo’s penalty in Australia.

      I think partly folk had more sympathy cos it was his home race, and also because it was the first race of the season when they thought Red Bull might be in the mix. Also maybe it was the first time the delta time had been applied for red flags, so a bit of confusion and opinions that the penalty was too harsh.

      But you’re correct on Ocon. I don’t remember a single person complaining about that.

  2. If drivers have a problem with specifics like the timing deltas, they ought to pick it up with Charlie in a drivers’ briefing, or after the session, but stick to the rule when on track.

    This is like not paying income tax, and when busted by the tax authorities, complaining “Oh, your tax rates are too high!”.

    1. @phylyp

      Agree. They could discuss these kinds of issues in the driver briefings. But to break the rules and then blame a problem that you didn’t voice earlier is just silly.

      I understand that it spoils the championship battle, and it’s not what fans want to see, but that doesn’t mean it’s ok to break the rules and escape punishment.

  3. @todfod Well, TBH, the Championship battle was spoiled a few races ago already, so this is merely icing on the cake.

    1. @jerejj

      It was over in Singapore.. But people would still rather see Vettel try and battle Hamilton in the last few races for pride. His silly errors are making it even more boring.

      1. @todfod Monza rather or perhaps even Hockenheim already, but Monza definitely more so than Singapore.

  4. I kinda feel this is why a ‘one size fits all’ style of rule enforcement sometimes doesn’t work and sometimes it should be dealt with by a case-by-case basis? This problem seems apparent to all of them and it’s not just Vettel that’s been caught out on it before.

    Unfortunately for now a rule is a rule and he broke it so he got a penalty, end of. But moving forward it’s clearly something that’s got to be looked at more closely.

    1. sometimes it should be dealt with by a case-by-case basis

      @rocketpanda – oh, dear God, no.

      I appreciate your intent to bring about a bit of nuance in how the sporting regulations are interpreted, but I prefer the black and white approach. And my reticence to agree has nothing to do with you, and everything to do with the pitlane.

      The 20 drivers and their team principals are arguably the biggest bunch of moaners when they have a microphone shoved in their face. Even fanboys come second. Children denied a chocolate (even a Freddo!) are far better. And to allow subjective interpretation of the sporting regulations will just open us up to hearing more moaning from all of them in the pitlane than we already do today. Accusations of bias amongst the stewards, accusations that specific stewards “have it in” for a particular driver/team, etc.

      In a red flag situation like this, do note that the timing system used is exactly the same as that used under a VSC – a system of deltas for individual marshalling sectors. If teams and drivers are able to exploit the letter of the law to gain an advantage under the VSC, then they are equally capable of obeying those deltas for a red flag.

    2. No penalty for a rule broken should be open to bias. The punishment should always be consistent for everyone breaking the rules. Case-by-case leads to bias, which is why countries like America has such slanted sentencing for similar offenses its disgusting. We all can agree that we don’t want championships decided on bias.

    3. I don’t see a problem with the rule or its interpretation: Vettel himself said he will obey the rule after receiving his punishment. The only question is could Vettel have avoided this situation, and it seems he could have.
      Gasly’s argument was Vettel couldn’t have avoided this situation, but looking at his argument I’d have to disagree. He said, “If you’re being really careful when you pass in front of the crash and just after you didn’t pay attention so you get a penalty like this.” My suspicion is Vettel did what Gasly said could happen, he forgot to pay attention to the delta after passing the crash and went faster than he should have. Driving slow and then faster is an avoidable situation. This wasn’t a situation where the cars remained on the track for multiple laps of the circuit, no, the cars were to exit the track when they got to the Pitlane entrance, so it isn’t as though he was doing 10 laps of the circuit and forgot on one of those laps. He needed to concentrate for a maximum of one lap until he got to the Pit Lane entrance, whereupon Pit Lane rules apply.
      As I think about this, there’s no reason why the car can’t have a setting like a cruise control that adjusts the speed automatically to drive just above (is it “above” or “below”? I think it’s “above”) the delta.

  5. Sky brought up during FP2 that they implemented the delta time for Red Flags for this year at the request of the drivers who wanted a hard rule.

  6. Once there is a red flag, you have to pay attention.
    Like the national anthem, you stop everything you are doing and focus on that. Same way with the red flag. Vettel didn’t get his penalty because he was initially going too fast, but because he didn’t correct his earlier mistake in 28 seconds. And since he gets a delta readout on his dash, it was just plain carelessness. Or he believing he can decide what speed is sufficient.
    So not paying attention is not an excuse even though I hate the rule.
    I believe sticking to exact times is not the way to go, but there should be a leeway of a few seconds.

Comments are closed.