10-second penalty for blocking drops Vettel to fifth place in Mexican GP
The four-time world champion was found to have blocked Ricciardo in a breach of a rule which bans drivers from changing direction under braking.Updated: Oct 31, 2016 12:49 IST
Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel, who was third in Sunday’s Mexican Grand Prix, was penalised 10 seconds and dropped to fifth place, officials said as the former champion’s controversial race took another dramatic twist.
The move promoted Australian Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo to third place and his teammate Max Verstappen of the Netherlands to fourth in the final standings of the race won by Lewis Hamilton ahead of his Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg.
Vettel had originally finished fourth but was promoted to third after Verstappen was penalised for refusing to concede track position to the German after locking his brakes and running off the circuit late in the 71-lap race.
However, Vettel, who had come under fire for a foul-mouthed rant at Verstappen which was broadcast live to a television audience of millions, was then censured by the stewards himself, almost three hours after the race had ended.
The four-time world champion was found to have blocked Ricciardo in a breach of a rule which bans drivers from changing direction under braking.
Stewards said the move was “abnormal” and “potentially dangerous”.
The drama came after a stormy end to the race watched by around 110,000 people at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez.
Verstappen’s original refusal to concede position to Vettel infuriated the German.
Verstappen had joined Hamilton and Rosberg in the pre-podium room before leaving with the arrival of Vettel flanked by a group of Ferrari team members.
Vettel’s language on the Ferrari team radio was so laden in profanities that team chief Maurizio Arrivabene eventually had to tell him to stop talking and calm down after he had lambasted not only Verstappen, but also the Race Director Charlie Whiting.
“He has to give me the position -- end of story,” said Vettel, having referred to Whiting saying “here is the message for Charlie -- fuck off, Honestly fuck off.”
In response Arrivabene said: “Sebastian, Sebastian, calm down, calm down. They are under investigation. I know that it is not fair but calm down. Put your head down and we talk afterwards.”
Verstappen, 19, said that Vettel “should go back to school” to be taught not to swear so much.
Talking about the incident in which he went off at Turn One and rejoined, he said: “I think it is pretty similar to what happened when Lewis went off and got a massive advantage and when Nico went off, when we touched (on the opening lap).
“I didn’t even get an advantage. I was the same length in front so I think it’s ridiculous. They thought I had to give it back (the place), but it was never confirmed.”
“It is ridiculous what he did -- and then he starts shouting on the radio. I don’t know how many times he is using very bad language.
“I will speak to him because this is how ridiculous he is handling it. He is just a very frustrated guy at the moment.”
Vettel’s radio rant, punctuated by a near-incessant series of bleep, bleep, bleeping, was an immediate classic moment in modern F1 transmissions, repeated by broadcasters and social media.
“I think it was very clear. I was very emotional and I have asked already to go and see Charlie Whiting -- when you are in the car, I was full of adrenaline because it is not right what Max did. I was getting upset as you can imagine,” said the Ferrari driver.
Vettel was trapped between the two Red Bulls in the closing stages when Verstappen ‘backed him up’ to make him vulnerable to an attack from his teammate Ricciardo, who was equally angry at the unfolding of events at the end of the race.
Speaking to his Ferrari race engineer Riccardo Adami and team chief Arrivabene, Vettel’s comments on the radio included him not only swearing frequently and directly about Whiting, but adding: “Honestly, I’m going to hit someone.”
First Published: Oct 31, 2016 12:49 IST