FIA’s delayed penalty call was “not very professional” – Vettel

2021 Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix

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Sebastian Vettel was unimpressed with how long it took the FIA stewards took to hand him a stop-go penalty for a rules violation which occurred before the race began.

Aston Martin had not fitted tyres to his car ‘five minutes’ signal was given prior to the start of the race, in violation of the rules. This was because Vettel’s team was working on a brake problem which affected both their cars during the reconnaissance laps.

While Lance Stroll was able to take his place on the grid, Vettel had to start from the pit lane so further work could be done.

“Obviously the guys tried everything on the grid and I think they did really well,” Vettel told Sky. “So they were really alert. But I think we could have had a better race if the FIA was more alert.

Vettel was given a 10-second stop-go penalty, which he served on lap 22, in line with rules requiring drivers to serve such penalties within three laps of being issued.

“We broke a rule, that’s why we got a penalty” said Vettel. “They didn’t bother [issuing it] until way into the race. So by that time the penalty cost a lot more than it would have earlier in the race.

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“So that’s not very professional. But it certainly wasn’t a decider for us today.”

However FIA race director Michael Masi wasn’t convinced the penalty decision had been slow.

“I don’t know about taking longer than it should have,” he said in response to a question from RaceFans.

“It was obviously reported by the technical delegate. I’d have to have a look at the report but once it was reported by the technical delegate, the paper report that he presents appears in the document management system, at that point the stewards had a look at the regulations, confirmed the evidence and determined what the penalty was.”

Both Aston Martin drivers later suffered gear selection problems. Vettel was eventually asked to retire his car with two laps to go while running outside of the points.

“We had plenty of issues,” Vettel summarised. “Not a trouble-free race that we were hoping for. Tough day.”

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2021 Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix

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Author information

Ida Wood
Often found in junior single-seater paddocks around Europe doing journalism and television commentary, or dabbling in teaching Photography back in the UK. Currently based...
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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22 comments on “FIA’s delayed penalty call was “not very professional” – Vettel”

  1. Agree with Vettel. They were also ridiculously slow in issuing Stroll’s penalty, why not do it during the race? We all watched him keep the position after going wide, they could have just issued the penalty on the next lap… but no, Masi knows best.

  2. Will copy my previous comment here since it’s directly applicable…

    Not saying it was intentional by the stewards but the timing of Seb’s stop-go penalty was brutal! I appreciate there was a fair bit going on at the start with crashes and the safety car but still seemed a bit delayed than it should have been if it was a cut-and-dry pre-race infraction. I’m no Seb fan so not being salty but there would have been uproar if that had happened to one of the frontrunners (remember last year in Imola when fans felt the stewards helped Lewis by declaring VSC at the ideal time for him).

  3. Masi disagrees with criticism.
    well that’s a shocker right there!

    1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      19th April 2021, 1:27

      +1:)

  4. Martin Elliott
    18th April 2021, 20:22

    Masi is generally losing any control/respect making ‘I’m in charge excuses’.

    More than 25 minutes to report and confirm a technical infringement doesn’t compare well with the response to track offences which have to have some judgement in a few minutes.

    That’s even before the double penalty associated of a pitlane start!!

  5. Cristiano Ferreira
    18th April 2021, 20:32

    Masi is pathetic as race director. I hope FIA puts someone in his place.

    1. Never learned from that Turkish GP qualifying restart.

  6. I very rarely support Sebastian, only when he is right, and this time the truth is on Sebastian’s side. It took forever to penalise Sebastian. Maybe it was attack on Aston Martin for their attack on FIA recently?

  7. Yeah Vettel is right and another penalty that should not have had a sporting effect. They are punishing a team by fixing a brake issue…
    Instead when drivers with car dangling parts risking being dropped on track because of a collision nothing happen until a tragedy will occur.

  8. Massi needs to go.

    1. Remind him of the Turkish GP qualifying restart.

  9. It’s a disgrace to use 22 laps to figure that out

  10. I found impossible to enjoy the race after a while because of the bad job of FIA and the stewarts. It’s common but I believe this is the worst I have seen:

    1. ¿Twenty something laps to issue a penalty for a grid violation?
    2. ¿An 10 seconds stop and go served on a pit stop while the same penalty was served as the rules per other driver?
    3. Hamilton in reverse.
    4. The rolling start. I find ridiculous the standing start but it’s what the rules say.
    5. The post race penalty to Stroll for a violation on lap 7.
    6. The change of front wing flaps on Pérez car during the red flag. One of the little things the rules book specifically says can’t be changed in such conditions.
    7. The explanation of Kimi’s penalty. Doesn’t it explain that the penalty to Pérez was wrong (not sure if he recovered his position before the Safety Car line).
    8. At the end of the race the team personnel in the pitwall, but if I’m nto wrong that rule was only enforced for two or three races.

    Strangely the time of the lights going off at the start was within the ruled time, it hasn’t been the case in 80% of the races in the last two seasons (and 100% of the races on F2 and F3).

    1. Perez’s penalty was for overtaking under SC during race conditions, and that is a pretty clear cut. The statement from stewards was… yeah… but this is my understanding:

      when Kimi spun it was before a restart and considered a formation lap, on a formation lap you can get your position back by a certain point in the lap. If you don’t, you’re supposed to pit to start from the pit lane. The team initally told him to pass to get the places back, but then reversed that, Kimi failed to pit > penalty

      However this rule doesn’t make sense at all if you have a rolling restart as the driver has to basically do a drive through while everybody powers on. And also there’s the fact that when rolling starts behind SC are done, the laps behind SC count as race laps, not formation laps.

      Anyway, it’s a huge mess, and the incapablity of race direction to tell if the start’s going to be stationary or rolling until last moment certainly did not help.

    2. That post race penalty for stroll only came after the protest as during the race it wasn’t even noted.

    3. Reversing on to the race track is permitted if done safely. Reversing in the pit lane is not allowed.
      I don’t think they change Perez’s wing flaps. They put the same ones back on after checking them.

    4. The kimiko and Perez penalties come under different rules. Kim’s was done on the outlap for a rolling start so the normal outlap rules apply as if they where going to the grid. He should have taken his original position or entered the pit lane. Perez was under a safety car so different rules i.e no overtaking at all. Its convoluted and needs looking at so people know where everything stands.

  11. 1. was pretty rough considering they’d already lost 7 places and time before the flagfall.
    2. was broadcast as a Stop and Go but by the time it was served it had been clarified as a 10sec penalty only. Not sure if the error came from the stewards or the broadcaster.

  12. Was Vettel in this race?

  13. I’m quickly losing confidence in Masi. As they say in other sports, a good referee is the one you don’t notice. Well, Masi has been exceptionally noticeable ever since he stepped into his role.

    1. Cant argue against that. Way to referee prone sport. Has to do with legacy legislation. In the Bernie Ferrari years things got complicated more and more as Ferrari successfully pulled many on the others getting into favorable positions, having a veto being the epiphany of all this. It got so complicated even Ferrari hardly benefits any more. Time to get a new regulatory body and say farewell to FIA or some big reforms in this old school institute.

  14. I have to admit that since the infraction would have been obvious 4 3/4 minutes before the formation laps, I am in doubt as to what good reason would exist not to issue the penalty before the race began. Granted, if it really was so tough as to leak into Lap 1, I can see where the other 20 laps went.

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