Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel has been handed a three-place grid penalty for tomorrow’s Austrian Grand Prix after FIA race stewards ruled that the German had impeded Renault’s Carlos Sainz during the session.
Vetted had qualified in third place behind pole-sitter Valtteri Bottas and the Finn’s Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton but he will now drop to sixth place behind team-mate Kimi Raikkonen, Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen and Haas driver Romain Grosjean.
In the final minutes of Q2, following a flying lap Vettel passed the slower Sainz and then in turn slowed down himself.
However, Sainz was winding up for a final flying lap and quickly closed on the slower Vettel, who was on the racing line. Sainz was forced to take evasive action and his lap was compromised,
Vettel reported that he had ben unaware of Sainz’s presence, believing that the Renault driver had returned to pit lane. He added that his team had not informed him of Sainz’s approach over the radio.
However, the Stewards found 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. 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.”