Scuderia Ferrari F1 driver Sebastian Vettel made himself a vocal critic of Formula One’s penalty culture this week, saying that the sport’s tendency to scrutinize every action and dole out penalties gets in the way of racing. The German driver was issued a three-position penalty at the start of last weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix owing to his driving during Qualifying, which organizers decided had impeded Renault F1 driver Carlos Sainz.
Vettel’s inability to see Sainz and make way for the Renault driver as he attempted to set a new quick lap time arguably had no bearing on the results of the session, except that Vettel, who was third-fastest in Qualifying, was bumped back to sixth position at the start of the race.
“I’ve said I’m not a fan of these penalties, I’ve said as well in the past it’s our own fault as drivers because we sit there [in the drivers’ briefing] complaining about the decisions and consistency,” Vettel said. “Motorsport is not black and white so not every decision can be the same, and I don’t see the necessity to decide every time, but that’s what the sport has become.
“Every incident needs to be looked at, and so-called ‘racing incidents’ are not allowed to happen anymore,” he continued. “So we end up with a massive rulebook which could have the header ‘We are not allowed to race,’ because that’s sometimes how it feels.”
Sebastian Vettel went on to say that it’s only a matter of time before someone else in F1 is hit with an “unnecessary” penalty like he was, remarking: “It’s not that you lose your mind or do something crazy because you intend to, but because you try to push the limits and sometimes you might do a mistake.”
A week prior to the race in Austria, Sebastian Vettel incurred a five-second penalty for causing a crash in the opening moments of the F1 race in France. The driver acknowledged his role in causing the accident, apologizing to Valtteri Bottas – whom he hit – after the race.