Vettel critical of F1 bosses

Sebastian Vettel, one of the directors of the Grand Prix Drivers' Association, drew a scathing parallel between F1 administrators and inept ice cream vendors who are unable to identify the prevailing preferences of their customers.
Sebastian Vettel, one of the directors of the Grand Prix Drivers' Association, drew a scathing parallel between F1 administrators and inept ice cream vendors who are unable to identify the prevailing preferences of their customers. PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

German questions failure to change divisive qualifying system, despite vote by teams

MANAMA • Formula One bosses would get it wrong even if they were selling ice cream and everybody wanted just one flavour, Sebastian Vettel said on Thursday as the sport's qualifying format drew further criticism.

The Ferrari driver told reporters at the Bahrain Grand Prix he was "as disappointed as probably anyone I know" the new system was not changed after failing on its debut in Australia on March 20.

"Put it this way, if you sell vanilla ice cream but everybody who comes to your shop is asking for chocolate ice cream," explained four-time world champion Vettel.

"The next day you open, you (are expected) to sell chocolate ice cream but instead you just sell vanilla again.

"Usually you do what your clients would like you to do but you are not really doing the job if you do the exact opposite. It's something we can't be proud of."

Team bosses and commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone agreed after qualifying in Melbourne that the elimination format had not worked and needed to be changed before Bahrain.

Instead of an exciting battle for pole position in the third and final phase, there were no cars on the track in the closing minutes in Australia as drivers sat in their garages and watched the clock tick down.

Vettel and other top drivers were unified in calling for changes in the sport's decision-making processes and management.

With drivers expressing fears that fans would be turned off, the Grand Prix Drivers' Association (GPDA) wrote to Ecclestone and Jean Todt, president of the governing International Automobile Federation (FIA), after Melbourne to call for a change.

"We made it clear there's something that's not right and something has to change," said Vettel, one of the GPDA directors.

Triple champion Lewis Hamilton, who is not a GPDA member, said he backed the drivers' stance but was not surprised to see the qualifying format stay the same "just because of the way Formula One is".

"There's never like a clear-cut decision," he told reporters. "It is back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. One minute it is one way, one minute it is another way, the next minute it is another way."

Vettel was also notably disappointed that the teams' decision to dump a system that failed was not upheld.

"I think the point we are trying to make is very clear so I don't think there's much to add," he said.

"It's just to rethink what's currently happening. It's clear that if we write a letter, it doesn't change overnight because it's very difficult to give proposals.

"We didn't give any proposals. We made it clear that there's something that's not right and something has to change."

On a day of widespread criticism of the sport's management, Mercedes team chief Toto Wolff added that he expected this weekend's qualifying hour to be much the same as that seen in Melbourne.

"I think Saturday is going to be about the same as we had in Melbourne," he said.

"And then we'll see what the consequences are going to be - and whether the FIA then decides to change the rules.

"There will be another meeting on Sunday once they are all here."

It is understood that Wolff was referring to Ecclestone and Todt.

Both were absent in Australia, where the teams voted to ditch the new system, a decision that was not carried through due to a failure to gain 100 per cent support from the ruling body.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 02, 2016, with the headline 'VETTEL CRITICAL OF F1 BOSSES'. Print Edition | Subscribe