Sebastian Vettel’s title hopes have been hit hard(if there was any hope i.e.), as he has been handed a 3 place grid penalty, following an incident in FP1 where Vettel did not slow down sufficiently during a red flag.
Charles Leclerc spinning off had caused some gravel to come onto the track, resulting in a red flag being imposed as the marshals were sweeping the gravel off the track.
Vettel did slow down after being instructed by his engineer but he did not slow down enough, thus getting slapped with a three place grid penalty, something that the stewards have done all season for such an offence.
Vettel was absolutely furious with the penalty, labelling F1’s red flag rules as ‘wrong’.
“There should be common sense with the rules that we have,” he said.
“Lining out 27.7 seconds precisely as not complying with the rules I think is wrong.
“I think I slowed down, I had a good look around at what was going on. The rules are clear so we know.
“It is the first time we had this in the wet, where the target is a lot slower, so literally you have to stop to 40-50km/h to bring down the delta, which probably I should do next time.
“But in my opinion that is not the right thing. If there is a car right behind you, it might run into you. But it is more important you don’t get a penalty.” he added.
Vettel will now have to drive out of his skin on raceday in order to make the title race go to Mexico.
The Ferrari man can at max get a second row spot now, but looking at Ferrari’s pace in wet conditions in Free Practice, that too seems unlikely.
Vettel did slow down but took 27.7 seconds to do so, something that was considered unsafe by the stewards.
Vettel explained how he put forward his case to the stewards.
“They [the stewards] were very specific, saying I took 27.7s to slow down,” he explained.
“I saw the red flag, I slowed down, I had a look around where the car was potentially stuck in the wall or if there was one around Turn 9 or 10. Then I slowed down significantly to comply with the rules.
“They found it too long. I think it was straightforward.
“On top of it there might have been an issue with the timing, the system. I don’t know. So…I slowed down.” he concluded.
— James Allen (@Jamesallenonf1) October 20, 2018
Has a difficult job just become impossible?
— Formula 1 (@F1) October 19, 2018
"I think it's wrong"
— Formula 1 (@F1) October 20, 2018
The impossible task has now become a little more difficult for Vettel. Do you think Hamilton will slip up or will the wet conditions once more favour the Brit. We could see a 5 time world champion walking the streets of America on Sunday.