Racing instincts stifled by grid penalties: Vettel

SILVERSTONE (England) • Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel spoke out against "unnecessary" Formula One grid penalties on Thursday, saying drivers were now being penalised for incidents that were once considered a normal part of racing.

The championship leader accepted, however, that drivers should carry some blame for complaining in the past about inconsistencies in stewards' decisions, leading to a more rigid approach.

"In my point of view, motorsport is not black and white," Vettel, who collected a three-place grid penalty in Austria last weekend for impeding Renault's Carlos Sainz in the second phase of qualifying, said at the British Grand Prix.

"Not every decision can be the same, and I don't see the necessity to decide every time. But that's what the sport has developed into.

"Every incident needs to be looked at, so-called racing incidents for some reason are not allowed to happen any more.

"So we end up with a massive rule book which could have the header, 'We're not allowed to race', because that's... how it feels."

The Austrian penalty was imposed despite both Vettel and Sainz progressing to the final phase of qualifying without any difficulty.

Vettel said the Spaniard had completely understood what had happened and was relaxed about it.

The stewards' ruling emphasised that they had reviewed all alleged impeding incidents since the beginning of 2016 and decisions had been consistent.

Vettel said the decision had "sucked on the day", although he conceded it probably would "suck" for somebody else at some other point in the season.

"I just think all these things are unnecessary, because sometimes... it's not that you lose your mind or you do something crazy because you intend to, but you try to push the limits and sometimes, you might make a mistake."

He leads fellow four-time world champion Lewis Hamilton, who has won the past four races at Silverstone, by a point.

"I guess we're not the favourites going in, but still I believe we should have a good car," he added.



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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 07, 2018, with the headline 'Racing instincts stifled by grid penalties: Vettel'. Print Edition | Subscribe