FIA fully explain Vettel’s red-flag penalty

Date published: October 24 2018

Flavio Briatore questions Sebastian Vettel's racing attitude

FIA race director Charlie Whiting has said Sebastian Vettel simply “didn’t do a good enough job” during red-flag conditions in Austin.

Vettel’s United States Grand Prix weekend got off to a dreadful start after he was a given a three-place grid penalty for not slowing down sufficiently for red flags.

The German felt he did so and also received sympathy from some other drivers on the grid, but Whiting has explained that Vettel can really have no excuses for the offence and says the current approach to red flags is a “logical” one.

“I think it’s a perfectly logical approach because there was no principle requirement to say exactly how much you would slow down when a red flag was given, which seemed at odds with having to do it when a Safety Car or VSC is out,” Whiting explained.

“It was a logical thing to do, the teams felt, to use exactly the same system for a red flag. We’ve had three cases now where drivers have failed to stick to that.

“One of them was a mistake from a driver who admitted what he’d done, that was Daniel [Ricciardo] in Australia. Esteban [Ocon] was in Suzuka and Seb this time.

“I don’t know exactly what they did or why they didn’t adhere to the delta time but they seem to manage it perfectly well when the safety car or VSC is out.

“So, I don’t know whether it’s a matter of whether drivers don’t remember, perhaps. It’s pretty clear, as every light panel is showing bright red.

“It’s not as if you can actually miss it. But he did. He didn’t do a good enough job on that particular occasion.”

Whiting then added that Ricciardo’s three-place grid drop in Australia – instead of the five places that is referred to in the FIA guidelines – has set a new precedent this season.

“I think it is better to have the hard and fast rule because we are continually asked how much they have to slow down,” he said.

“So, it’s like with more or less everything the teams do with the cars. They want to know how far they can push it.

“It’s a clear limit and it’s an easy thing to follow. I just think it was a driver mistake. If someone doesn’t slow down for a red flag it’s serious.

“When you look at it in the cold light of day it is a bad thing not to slow down enough for a red flag, however you dress it up.”

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