Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin, Red Bull Ring, 2021

Vettel given grid penalty for impeding Alonso as Sainz and Bottas are cleared

2021 Austrian Grand Prix

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Sebastian Vettel has been given a three-place grid penalty for impeding Fernando Alonso during Q2 at the Red Bull Ring.

The stewards have also cleared Valtteri Bottas and Carlos Sainz Jnr of driving unnecessarily slowly in the moments leading up to the incident.

The stewards ruled Vettel caused Alonso to abort his final qualifying run.

“Alonso was on his fast lap just before the end of Q2,” they noted.

“When he approached the last two corners (nine and ten), there was still a queue of three cars preparing for their final qualifying lap. Vettel was the last car in this line and impeded Alonso and as a result, Alonso had to abort his final qualifying lap.”

Vettel was also given one penalty point on his licence for the incident.

Following further investigations Bottas and Sainz, who were running ahead of Vettel in the queue, were cleared of driving unnecessarily slowly in the same session. The stewards said both drivers’ actions were in response to multiple drivers ahead of them slowing down.

Sainz and Bottas “slowed down at the entry of [turn nine] to create a gap” for their final laps, the stewards noted. “This is contrary to the race director’s event notes 24.2a.

“However, given the situation that many drivers ended up queuing at this part of the circuit, the stewards determine that too many drivers contributed to the situation.” As a result Sainz and Bottas were considered “not fully to blame” for slowing.

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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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37 comments on “Vettel given grid penalty for impeding Alonso as Sainz and Bottas are cleared”

  1. What the? Vettel was the last one on queue behind Bottas. How does he get a penalty whilst the others ahead don’t? Clearly the track map showed multiple drivers slowing down causing a constatina effect.

    1. Seb’s penalty was for blocking a driver on a fast lap, not slowing

      1. And he blocked him because the cars behind them made him to slow

    2. This is good news for Seb. He can now start on mediums instead of the soft he qualified on. The best scenario for tomorrow

    3. Yeah that’s crazy. Typical F1 stewarding.

  2. Well surely someone was to blame… presumably the first car to slow…?

    Someone should get the penalty or what’s the point to the rule

  3. While i don’t disagree with Vettel’s penalty, i believe the two cars in front that literally parked it on the apex of T9 after passing him, should get their share too.

    1. So Bottas and Sainz overtook Vettel, who was slowing down where they were allowed, to get himself a clean gap.
      Then they slowed down to create a gap in a place where it wasn’t allowed, forcing Vettel to slow down too, ruining Vettels chance of starting a flying lap in time. Bottas being in a Mercedes gets a pass, Sainz in a Ferrari gets a pass.
      Vettel being unaware (or at least too late aware) of Alonso, gets a punishment. My guess is that AM hasn’t got the FIA-superpower status yet.
      It reminds me of those guys in traffic that keep the speedy-lane until they’re close to the exit lane & then slam the brakes, causing traffic accidents with trucks that need to avoid them.
      They should delete the laps of the pass&brake guys. That would prevent them from making such d??k-moves.
      Had they done so, Bottas would’ve finished 11th in Q2 (too late to start his F.L.) but Fernando might have been in Q3.

      1. Well said that fits my thoughts about this too (and apparently, Alonso’s)

  4. The only way to stop this would be to punish every single one that slowed where they were explicitly told not to. Letting it pass for everyone except for the one that was possibly most innocent in that clusterf— will help absolutely nothing.

  5. Sure, a few cars going 5 kph down the race line is not a dangerous situation. And of course, if there are many that breaks a rule, the rule don’t apply. FIA logic.

    1. Massi is more bothered about Verstappen celebrating after the checkered flag…

  6. this is ridiculous. either penalty for everyone or for nobody. i can’t find words, something must change within fia

  7. For creating the queue, all drivers should have their fastest lap corrected with a penalty reflecting how much they slowed down in these two final corners during the preparation lap. IMHO, it would be fairer and probably a better way to enforce the rule to not slow down there.

    1. You’ve just given me an idea….
      Your qualifying time is the average of your out lap, flying lap and in lap! 😁

      1. Honestly, EuroBrun, your proposal is much better than Sprint-races!

  8. So the rule about not slowing between 9 and 10 turns out not to be a rule then. If its not enforced, it’s guidance at best. Missed opportunity to clamp down on this stupidity.

  9. I wonder why the FIA can’t set a minimal delta time during quali? Wouldn’t that avoid these shenanigans?

    1. RandomMallard (@)
      3rd July 2021, 18:55

      There is a minimum lap time from pit exit to lit entry. The problem is that it is only a minimum lap time, so they can go quicker than it through sectors 1 and 2 and then slow down in sector 3. I’m assuming you are proposing a kind of VSC-style earliest/latest time of arrival delta?

      1. @randommallard Maximum, not minimum. The opposite would only encourage slower driving.

        1. RandomMallard (@)
          4th July 2021, 8:43

          @jerejj Of course, that’s me just getting confused.

  10. what a joke..the only one who slows after turn 8 as agreed, everyone passes him and slows down in turns 9, 10 and Seb gets the penalty..everyone should have been penalized!

    1. PMccarthy_is_a_legend (@pmccarthy_is_a_legend)
      3rd July 2021, 19:19

      Fair enough, Vettel did block Alonso. Whether that’s because someone else was slow in front of him, that’s besides the point. You must not block someone on a fast lap, Vettel’s engineer did a poor job of keeping him informed.

      1. Updated guidance issued to drivers on Saturday morning states: “During any practice session, any driver intending to create a gap in front of him in order to get a clear lap should not attempt to do this between the entry to turn nine through to the exit of turn ten. Any driver seen to have done this will be reported to the stewards as being in breach of article 27.4 of the sporting regulations.”

        i agree, it was very dangerous indeed. funny enough Seb’s engineer did say after Seb complained he did not tell him about Alonso: “I did. ok?”

        but if you look at the footage from Seb’s onboard (but not sure if it was from the second run), he slowed after exit from turn 8 and complained that “yeah, now everyone pass me and create a mess”..

        so i find it a bit unfair he is the only one penalised. but i have to agree with his penalty of course, it had to be..

  11. Maybe I missed something here, but the way I understand it, the FIA asked the drivers to slow down after turn 8 (which Vettel did), and not later on (which everyone else did). So the stewards see that a whole host of drivers first overtakes Vettel, then slows down exactly where they were told not to, and once Vettel runs into this group ahead of him – and slows down – not only does he miss his own shot at another Q2 run, he is also singled out for a penalty?!

    That sounds absurd even by the FIA’s low standards.

    1. Seems we’re all agreeing here… Must be someone has lined the pockets of the referees/stewards/judges

  12. … And the FIA strikes again… not suprised at all

  13. Life is stranger than fiction. At least life in F1. ;)

  14. “However, given the situation that many drivers ended up queuing at this part of the circuit, the stewards determine that too many drivers contributed to the situation.”

    In other words, same old, same old.

  15. They need to make up rules about quali lap preparations. The situation is getting dire. Vettel was clearly helpless in this circumstance. It was Bottas who bunched up the cars behind him but Vettel is the one who gets penalised only because he was placed at the back of the queue.

  16. This is why Liberty is keen to introduce reverse grid sprint sprinkler qualifying. To avoid Massi and the stewards having to employ fair and logical processes.

    F1: The Pinnacle of Crazy (Motorsport).

  17. A joke.

    “the stewards determine that too many drivers contributed to the situation”

    So, the more violations, the lesser the punishment?

    What’s the use of all the regulations and race notes?

  18. Just like in Baku with a more dangerous situation, when a lot of drivers are in the wrong, it is suddenly right.

    What a joke! The race director and stewards are getting worse and worse every race. I miss the old days of the late Charlie Whiting.

  19. That is stupid. Specifically told them not to do that at that part of the track and then penalise the one that did it the right way.

    Actually, Vettel should have re-overtaken them and start his lap regardless of any gentleman’s agreement. They already stuffed him anyway so the agreement was already out the window. It would probably mess up all their laps… but now only his got ruined. …and he got a penalty for it.

    Also: the engineer is a complete and utter nincompoop. His most important job at that moment is warn for upcoming cars. . He completely forgot what he was doing. Frustrating

  20. Alonso’s team could have warned him of traffic ahead, but his lap was blown anyways cause the line in front was wayyy too slow. The other teams could have told their drivers that Alonso was on a flier, but they were queued up kinda stuck waiting on Bottas. Penalty is unfair and an amazingly hard hit for Alonso. It went stupid.

  21. Yes, I hadn’t seen that vettel was also slowed down by others, but then again I’m not a f1 steward or director, they should be able to see this stuff, and penalizing only the last driver in the queue is unfair, they should’ve penalized them all.

    Also I’m very curious, what happens when there are multiple 3 grid place drops? Could the driver in 11th place on paper jump cars in 7-8-9-10th place if they all get a 3 place grid drop? Because obviously if the 7th gets a 3 place grid drop he can’t be overtaken by the 8th and so on, so one would assume the 11th takes his place, sounds very odd.

    And obviously unfair to alonso, who lost faaaaaaaar more because of that impeding.

  22. The only way to get passed this is to send out everybody on their own quali lap individually, or to speed things up two at a time with a 10 sec gap.

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