Sebastian Vettel demoted three places for Austrian GP

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Renault's Carlos Sainz discusses the incident with Sebastian Vettel during Austrian GP qualifying which earned the Ferrari driver a grid penalty

Sebastian Vettel has been demoted to sixth on the grid for the Austrian GP after being found guilty of impeding Renault’s Carlos Sainz during qualifying.

The Ferrari driver had qualified behind Mercedes pair Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton at the Red Bull Ring.

But Vettel has been relegated to sixth after the stewards imposed a three-place penalty for the incident with Sainz during Q2.

But, while stewards accepted Vettel was not warned of the oncoming Renault over Ferrari team radio and could not see Sainz in his mirrors, they ruled that ‘being aware of the issue of rear vision with his mirrors, [Vettel] should not have been so slow and on the racing line, during a slowdown lap in qualification’.

Stewards said a drop of three grid positions was ‘consistent with all other similar incidents’ so far this season. They also placed an additional penalty point on Vettel’s superlicence, taking him on to six for the last 12 months.

Vettel’s penalty promotes team-mate Kimi Raikkonen to third, Red Bull’s Max Verstappen to fourth and Haas’ driver Romain Grosjean to fifth.

Vettel will start sixth on row three ahead of Daniel Ricciardo, with the German now four places behind championship leader Lewis Hamilton who he trails by 14 points.

Revised Austrian GP grid: Top 10 1. Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 2. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 3. Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 4. Max Verstappen Red Bull 5. Romain Grosjean Haas 6. Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 7. Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 8. Kevin Magnussen Haas 9. Carlos Sainz Renault 10. Nico Hulkenberg Renault

Speaking to Sky F1 before the penalty was confirmed, Vettel said: “It’s impossible to see, I wasn’t told anything, normally I get told very well.

“I can only apologise and fortunately it didn’t make a difference for him.”

Sainz, who progressed to the top-10 shootout and qualified ninth, had to run off track at Turn One to avoid the Ferrari, damaging his car in the process.

1:51 Sebastian Vettel says there was no intention in blocking Carlos Sainz during qualifying of the Austrian GP.

“I passed him on my fast lap in Turn Seven/Eight, and then I was looking down in the main straight and didn’t see him,” said Vettel.

“I was turning into Turn One and thinking he must be there somewhere but as it turned out he was trying to go for a fast lap but I couldn’t see him.

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“I wasn’t told over the radio so I can only apologise to him. There was no intention, I was looking with my head down the straight.”

Sainz added to Sky F1: “It’s not always the fault of the driver if you are not told. But it cost me a front wing.”

Vettel struggled at the start of the top-ten shootout, making an error on his first flying lap, but made no mistake on his second run.

“I think we need to make sure that we improve from where we are. I think in qualy, we are little bit behind right now,” he added.

“I think the car should be stronger in the race so it should be a close fight.”

The full stewards’ verdict
‘The stewards reviewed the video evidence, team radio and heard from the driver of car 5 (Sebastian Vettel), the driver of car 55 (Carlos Sainz) and team representatives.

‘Car 5 had just finished a push lap and was on an in lap, travelling quite slowly into and around turn one, on the racing line. The driver conceded that he had passed car 55 between turns seven and eight but assumed it had pitted after.

‘However, car 55 was actually commencing a push lap and closed on car 5 rapidly along the pit straight and into turn one.

‘During evidence, the driver of car 55 stated that he felt the driver of car 5 was completely unaware of his approach. This was confirmed by the driver of car 5 who stated he was unable to see car 55 in his mirrors and that his team had not informed him on its approach, by radio. The latter was confirmed by the team representative.

‘It is the belief of the stewards that notwithstanding the absence of a radio call, the driver of car five, being aware of the issue of rear vision with his mirrors, should not have been so slow and on the racing line, during a slowdown lap in qualification.

‘Having reviewed all alleged impeding incidents since the beginning of 2018, the penalty of a drop of three positions is consistent with all other similar incidents.

‘All competitors are reminded of their right to appeal certain decisions of the stewards, as set out in the International Sporting Code and related regulations, including the time limits for such appeals.’

Sky F1’s Sunday Austrian GP schedule
10.15am: Formula 2 Race Two LIVE!
12.30pm: Austrian GP Pit Lane LIVE!
1.30pm: Austrian GP On The Grid LIVE!
2.10pm: THE AUSTRIAN GRAND PRIX LIVE!
4.30pm: Austrian GP Paddock LIVE!

Can Sebastian Vettel recover at the Austrian GP or will Lewis Hamilton extend his championship advantage? Watch every session live on Sky Sports F1 this weekend. Watch Sunday’s race, underway at 2.10pm, live on Sky Sports F1.

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