Sebastian Vettel has been dealt with a massive blow in his pursuit towards winning the 2018 F1 title, as he has been handed a three grid place penalty for impeding Carlos Sainz during Q2.
Vettel will now start the race from P6.
Sainz had later confirmed that Vettel’s little move did not really affect his qualification too much and had only resulted in front wing damage.
“In the end it didn’t change my qualy much,” Sainz said.
“It made me damage a front wing, which obviously costs money and it takes work to repair and you don’t know if the wing will continue to work as well as before.
“But it didn’t affect me too much.
“I think he simply didn’t see me. He didn’t do it on purpose. He wasn’t warned on the radio.” he added.
Vettel admitted that he wasn’t aware about Sainz coming in behind him on a fast lap.
“I passed him on my fast lap in Turns 7 and 8 and I was looking down the main straight and I didn’t see him.
“I was turning into Turn 1, trying again [to look] because I was thinking he must be there somewhere, I don’t know if he was pitting or starting his lap.
“But as it turned out obviously he was trying to go for a fast lap. I couldn’t see him, I wasn’t told on the radio, so I can only apologise to him.
“There was no intention. I was looking down the straight, I turned around Turn 1, I was done with my lap and just wanted to make sure and there was nothing [in the mirrors] after Turn 1, which was obvious because I saw in the replay that we were side-by-side.” Vettel said.
The stewards however deemed Vettel’s ignorance as an offence and decided to go ahead with the grid penalty.
“It is the belief of the Stewards that notwithstanding the absence of a radio call, the driver of car 5 [Vettel], 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,” their explanation read.
“Having reviewed all alleged impeding incidents since the beginning of 2016, the penalty of a drop of 3 grid positions is consistent with all other similar incidents.” the stewards’ statement read