Sebastian Vettel’s hopes of extending the title race have received a serious dent, as he has been slapped with a 3 place grid penalty for not slowing down during a red flag incident in FP1.
Charles Leclerc had caused gravel to come onto the track and a red flag situation was imposed.
While Vettel and his engineer communicated about the same, Vettel did not slow down enough and was summoned by the stewards.
The stewards have now announced their decision and Vettel has been given a 3 place penalty following the incident.
— James Allen (@Jamesallenonf1) October 19, 2018
The stewards have confirmed that the offence was a serious one as safety could have been compromised and it was in line with how they had handled similar episodes all through the season.
With Ferrari already looking off pace in Austin, this comes as a massive blow, both in terms of the drivers and the constructors championship.
A 3 place grid penalty would mean Vettel could at best start from the 2nd row, that is if somehow Ferrari manage to discover some pace tomorrow.
During a wet practice session today, Vettel was nowhere close to Hamilton, who led both FP1 and FP2.
Vettel and Ferrari were struggling to use the tyres to good effect in the wet conditions and would be hoping that the weather clears out for tomorrow and they are able to at least compete with Mercedes.
The signs look ominous and Hamilton is on course to win his 5th World title at the end of the United States Grand Prix.
A 3-place grid penalty and 2 penalty points for VET for the red flag offence in FP1…
— Adam Cooper (@adamcooperF1) October 19, 2018
— Sky Sports F1 🏎 (@SkySportsF1) October 19, 2018
When you see Sebastian Vettel has been demoted three grid places at the US Grand Prix. pic.twitter.com/wZMyfTRgt4
— bet365 (@bet365) October 19, 2018