Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Interlagos, 2018

Vettel given reprimand for weighbridge incident

2018 Brazilian Grand Prix

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Sebastian Vettel has been given a reprimand for the Brazilian Grand Prix after damaging a set of scales at the weigh bridge during the session.

The stewards ruled Vettel did not break article 29.1 (a) (i) of the Sporting Regulations which requires drivers to pull into the FIA garage area and turn their engines off when summoned to the weighbridge. “The driver both stopped at the FIA garage and eventually stopped the engine,” the stewards noted, “although not at the time usually expected in the established procedure.”

“A weight was obtained,” they added.

Vettel then used his car’s MGU-K to restart its engine and drove away, which the stewards noted “is not the procedure because it can damage the scales, which in this case he did.” Although no one was hurt, and the stewards ruled Vettel’s driving was not “reckless”, they found he caused a “potentially dangerous situation” and failed to follow the officials’ instructions.

He has been given a non-driving reprimand – his first of any kind for him this year – and fined €25,000.

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Stewards’ verdict

The stewards reviewed the video evidence from the on-board camera and pit lane CCTV, viewed team engine telemetry and heard from the driver of car 5 (Sebastian Vettel) and team representative.

The Stewards first considered whether there was a breach of Article 29.1.a.i. As the driver both stopped at the FIA Garage and eventually stopped the engine, although not at the time usually expected in the established procedure, and a weight was obtained, these elements satisfy the requirements of the regulation and therefore the stewards find no breach of this article.

Nevertheless, the officials give directions to the drivers at the scales in order for the weighing procedure to be accomplished in an orderly and safe way, without the possibility of damaging the scales.

The stewards observed that the driver did not stop the engine at the time he was directed by the official at the scales, knocked over the cone placed to stop the driver from driving onto the scales, which he then did. At the time he was being shown a sign to have his “Brakes On” by an official that was standing in front of the car, and while not hitting the official did force him out of the way while driving onto the scales. He then turned off the engine.

Once the weight was taken he then did not wait for the officials to push the car off the scales, and while the Stewards accept that he may have mis-understood the indication from the official, he then re-fired the car and drove off the scales, which is not the procedure because it can damage the scales, which in this case he did. While no one was hurt by the scales being thrown out from behind the car, and while the Stewards accept that the driver did not drive off the scales in a reckless manner, the procedure is established exactly to prevent damage to the scales or a potentially dangerous situation, which is exactly what was caused.

The stewards found that the driver failed to follow the instructions of the relevant officials for the safe and orderly conduct of the Event and order a Reprimand (Non-driving) and a fine of €25,000. Competitors are reminded that they have the right to appeal the decisions of the Stewards (with the exception of those referred to in Article 12.2.4 of the FIA International Sporting Code), in accordance with Article 15 of the FIA International Sporting Code and Article 9.1.1 of the FIA Judicial and Disciplinary Rules, within the applicable time limits.

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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...

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  • 47 comments on “Vettel given reprimand for weighbridge incident”

    1. Good decision.

    2. Can someone explain how he could re-fire the car? I thought the engine couldn’t be started by the driver.

      1. @squaregoldfish – the newer hybrid PUs can use the energy store to restart the car, drivers have done so at times.

        It was the older (pre-2014) PUs that didn’t have a battery/ES large enough to turn over the engine, and were the ones that needed recovery after the engine stopped.

        1. Small note: the Mercedes and Honda engines can’t be restarted by the driver as the manufacturers decided to sacrifice this feature for better packaging. This was the case in 2015 at least, don’t know if they’ve made changes ever since

          1. @xenif1 – that’s interesting, thank you for letting me know, I wasn’t aware until now :)

          2. “This feature” is the MGU-K, which is bolted to the output shaft of the PU. I’m not sure how you sacrifice it for better packaging.

            There does seem to be some confusion about whether the cars can use it for starting, though.

            In essence, since the MGU-K is a 160 bhp electric motor bolted directly to the engine’s crankshaft, I would assume that if the car’s in neutral, the ERS is charged, and the MGU-K spins, the car can theoretically start– assuming the software will allow that combination of actions.

            1. Are you sure it’s the MGU-K that’s doing the starting? I’m curious cause in that case what you said makes sense, but some websites were reporting that Mercedes and Honda engines can’t be started manually by the driver when, i think it was Carlos Sainz, stalled. I’m not sure which race it was but i think it could’ve been the 2016 Malaysian GP

          3. Where did you get that information from?

            1. Some websites were reporting it when a driver stalled on the grid. I think it was Carlos Sainz at the 2016 Malaysian GP but i’m not sure

        2. Thanks :)

    3. Vettel, and especially the officials at that weight station, are lucky that his childish behavior didn’t injure someone. Not too long ago, American Tony Stewart did something similar and equally childish, and someone died as a direct result. Vettel’s punishment was extremely light, and I can’t help but wonder if a lesser driver would have been punished much more harshly, … and more appropriately.

      1. Wasn’t the guy Stewart ran over on the influence of drugs though. I don’t think he was of sound mind. It is still reflects badly on Stewart and Vettel though.

      2. I don’t see how these incidents are related.

        One is a driver semi ignoring an official and/or not following SOP in the pit lane, during quali.

        The other is an on track incident, where a driver got out of his car on a live race track during a caution period, and got hit because the other driver, as you pointed out, Tony Stewart, didn’t see, or expect another driver to be out on the course.

        Both are case of hot headedness. One got Seb a reprimand, the other cost some Sprint car racer his life. Yes, they found pot in his system, so you would hope it would have calmed him a bit. I guess we will never know. I know it haunts Tony Stewart till this day though. I don’t wish that on anyone.

        1. “..they found pot in his sytem” . That doesn’t mean he was stoned. Cannabis stays in your system for up to 30 days after smoking it.
          Both these incidents were down to out of control drivers rather than anything else.

          1. I believe cannabis traces can be found up to 3 months after use in hair samples

      3. After watching replays of the weighing incident, I have to tone-down my negative opinion of Vettel’s action, at least a bit. The stewards’s call for a weight check at that exact moment was a very poor decision, especially considering the very tight time constraints the team’s were under due to the conditions.

        To make matters even worse, the officials weren’t even ready for Vettel’s car, and the official who moved the cone out of the way walked slower than my granny, and she’s been dead for years.

        But still, Seb should know by now that the best way to make beer-bellied track officials move even slower is to signal them to move faster. … (That’s one of Sir Isaac Newton’s lesser-known laws of motion, by the way)

        1. @chuckl8

          The stewards’s call for a weight check at that exact moment was a very poor decision

          To be fair, it wasn’t a decision as such, it’s a selection made at random.

          1. Keith: I’m sure that you are correct about the decision being random, but I’m equaly sure – and I think that you’ll agree – that those random decisions can be and often are modified based on extenuating circumstances.

            For example, if a car returning to the pits is limping along on four blown tires, with flames and smoke billowing from the engine, I tend to doubt that the officials would insist that the car stop for a weight check, … at least not until the flames died-down a bit.

            … but I could be wrong. After all; … rules are rules. ;)

            1. But trying to make the argument that – the rules shouldn’t apply to me because I will be able to win if I can break them – is not the same as – trying to enforce the rules is dangerous in this situation.

            2. Was the ferrari in such a state? I’m sure exceptions would be made in the instance you mention on the grounds of SAFETY. No such exception applied to VET.

            3. A car on fire would not be driving into the pits in the first place and a car with for blown wheels would not be driving full stop. Not exactly sure what point you’re trying to make here.

              Vettel was inconvenienced by the call to the weighbridge no doubt about it, but unless you’ve personally complained about every other driver who has been inconvenienced by the exact same procedure since it was introduced maybe you should just stay quiet.

          2. I can understand the rules, but why do the officials try to mimic a zootopia scene?

      4. how can you compare this to a Sprint car race on dirt at night with an idiot driver in a black race suit running onto an active racetrack, not smart. Tony is one of the finest drivers to ever suit up in any car type, very Foyt like in winning championships in everything he drove from dirt, open wheel, nascar. He gives back more to racing than about anyone in the sport worldwide.

        F1 did not penalize further because they know they were at fault as well and should not have called Seb in during an inclement Quali. Any driver would be mad. It was not fair in those circumstances. I wish the FIA had some credibility and taken some blame. It would have raised respect for them. That said, no problem with Seb’s punishment, glad it did not ruin quali and race for the fans.

    4. They were wrong calling him in because of the rapidly changing weather conditions and he hadn’t set a laptime… I think (for once) he was justified acting as he did……also not 100% certain he actually switched his engine off…as it looked by the lights of the steering wheel to be ticking over….bring on the race

      1. Wow, your comment literally couldn’t be more wrong.

        Firstly, they call the cars to be weighed in a random order. Ferrari choose to pit when they did to get a better tyre strategy. The stewards didn’t just decide to pull a Vettel in ! It was just how things worked out and they 100% did nothing wrong or make a wrong call.

        Vettel did turn the engine off. It is possible for the electrics to be on without the engine running so seeing the lights on the wheel means nothing. I’ll trust the fia and Ferrari data on that one.

        1. I did say I was not completely certain the engine was switched off….and even Di Resta said he hadn’t…and even Ted Kravitz thought the same until he had spoken to the PR Ferrari man….and after watching a replay I reckon it went off now for around 10 seconds….enough for a shaky reading.

          Regarding being called in to the weigh bridge….at that point it would have been impossible for an out lap…a timed one..and back to the pits lap….and as the object is to take off your lap time if under weight…why were they calling drivers in that early???

          Poor work by the F!A this time…..but think that Seb was fortunate not to receive a race penalty….again….”tell Charlie to……..” comes to mind

    5. Now we know where the loose screw fell from yesterday.

    6. Vettel was obviously agitated as could be seen by his hand movements. I think it was not not the best time to carry out a random weight check as Vettel was under pressure because of the weather and his own ultra competitive nature. A little more thought should be take before these type of actions are taken.
      Having said that I think Vettel would have a very good knowledge of the rules and I take the claim of a misunderstanding with a grain of salt.
      As Keith Collantine tweeted that last person who did this (or similar) was sent to the back of the grid, so Vettel should not complain about this. I hope he justs keeps quiet and drives well tomorrow.

      1. No thought is taken on the weigh ins. This is the important aspect as it means there is no room for shenanigans. So it is totally random and so vettel just had bad luck. He knows this and should be adhering to the rule which he will k own very well. It again shows his hot headed attitude. He got away lightly. Other have been punished more and it was potentially dangerous.

        1. Wasn’t the last guy to be penalised for missing the weighbridge Maldonado in Brazil 2012 after qualifying 4th?

    7. I think in light of the issues today, cars should only be eligible to be weighed after completing a timed lap. Would have avoided the situation today which arose because Vettel hadn’t set a time. The random weigh is on the pit entrance because the assumption is that any car entering the pits has set a timed lap. Small tweak, would avoid compromising people due to climatic conditions.

      1. Ferrari took the decision to come in, so they roll the dice themselves. No need to change the procedure.

    8. Lenny (@leonardodicappucino)
      10th November 2018, 22:20

      Interesting note to take on that weigh-in. I’m not exactly sure how it works but I’m pretty sure they were just going to call in the next car after Raikkonen for weighing, but weren’t expecting anyone to come in until they had completed their flying laps, as shown by the fact that they hadn’t yet removed the cone in front of the weighbridge. They were clearly expecting to weigh the next driver in, but they didn’t expect someone to come in at the time Vettel did. Also, as others have noted, the procedure is completely random, so there’s really no bias or anything here. Reprimand is very forgiving, as is the complete lack of anything for Hamilton.

    9. i thought they only called a random car at the end of each session not in the middle of it, also given the weather situation, i understand vettel’s feeling, many drivers can even get KO out of q1 or q2 in a matter of seconds, even posting 1 fast sector before it rain can save your ass

    10. So that’s twice now in 2 years Vettel took deliberate actions that put lives of others at risk but got away with relative slaps on the wrist, Baku 2017 being the other one where he used his car as a weapon against Hamilton.

      What message are the FIA sending to junior drivers? It’s ok to lose your cool and ram your opponents with your car? That getting your timed lap is more important than the safety of an FIA official at the weigh bridge who was in front of the car?

      What a farce.

      1. Yea @thepostalserviceisbroke Vettel is a killer and deserve a visit in jail. The poor innocent cone being hitted recklessly.

      2. Whose life did he put at risk yesterday?

    11. One question that this issue raises is why are the cars weighed during Qualifying? Why can’t they be weighed after Qualifying is over, or at least over for them if they were eliminated at the end of Q1 or Q2?
      Drivers will always have an excuse, even an urgent excuse, that they believe necessitates them being on track to set a faster time than what they currently have achieved. In this case it was the weather, but maybe some driver is on the cusp of being eliminated, or maybe the team wants to change or adjust some bit of the car.

      1. Because Ferrari used to change weights of Alain Prost’s car mid session, then change them back again at the end.

        1. Cars are in parc ferme once qualifying starts and you cant remove or add anything to them.

    12. €25k, will that even cover the costs to repair/replace the weighbridge?

    13. It all creates the indelible impression that Vettel is an entitled, childish you know what.

    14. Having just watched qualifying, imo the FIA can shuff that €25k up their rear.

      1. Yeah, how dare they penalize a driver for ignoring the officials and then destroying equipment.

    15. “I’ve got a message for your weighbridge Charlie!”

    16. The weigh-in is random. All the drivers know this. All the team principles and engineers know this. It doesn’t matter what the time is, a weigh-in is a weigh-in. Do it like you have been instructed to by the FIA officials.

      You are in the pit lanes. At that point safety is of the upmost importance. Not the weather, not the time, not tire strategy. Safety. Sebs attempt to get on the scales and the little hesitation on moving forward he had with the official when he came and got the cone should have been grounds at the exact moment Vettel should have been told he is starting from pit lanes just for the safety aspect of it alone.

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