Michael Masi has responded to Sebastian Vettel’s criticism that the Imola stewards were too slow in reacting to Aston Martin’s pre-race brake problems.
On the way to the grid for the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, the brakes in both Aston Martin cars, driven by Vettel and Lance Stroll, overheated and even set alight.
Repair work took place on the grid but for Vettel’s car, this overran the five-minute warning at which time the wheels must be fitted and the mechanics departed from the circuit.
The work was completed in the pit lane, from where Vettel started the race, and it was inevitable a penalty would follow – but it was only announced when the grand prix was well in progress, thus impacting on the German’s strategy.
Not until lap 22 was Vettel ordered to come into the pits for a 10-second stop-go penalty.
The four-time former World Champion wondered whether the stewards’ attention was elsewhere, maybe that “the filter of the coffee-maker was full and they needed to take care of it”, describing the episode as “not very professional” on the FIA’s part.
However, race director Masi does not think anything had gone awry from the usual process regarding issuing a penalty to Vettel, who was instructed to retire his car two laps from the end to protect the gearbox and was ultimately classified 15th.
“I don’t know about taking longer than it should have,” said Masi. “It was obviously reported by the technical delegate.
“I would have to look at the report, but once it was reported by the technical delegate then the paper report he presents and appears in the document management system, it’s at that point the stewards look at the regulations, confirm the evidence and what the penalty was.”
In terms of the brake issues, Aston Martin were mystified by the cause as their disappointing start to the season – especially on Vettel’s side of the garage – continued.
“What happened was that we overheated the rear brakes and the laps to the grid weren’t at the normal pace we usually go, so we didn’t get the airflow,” said team principal Otmar Szafnauer.
“But we are aware of that and even with that, the settings are such that they shouldn’t have caught fire. We overheated them but we don’t know why or how.”
In the early Constructors’ World Championship standings, Aston Martin sit sixth with five points, already 36 behind McLaren in third position which was the Silverstone-based team’s target for the season.