Sebastian Vettel will start the Austrian Grand Prix from sixth on the grid after being handed a three-place grid penalty for impeding Carlos Sainz.
Sainz was starting a timed lap in Q2 when he came across a slow Vettel on the racing line at the exit of Turn 1, causing the Renault driver to run wide and abort his attempt. The incident meant Sainz could not improve his time, but the Spaniard still advanced to Q3 alongside Vettel.
The stewards started an investigation during the session but waited to speak to both drivers after qualifying before deciding to hand Vettel a three-place grid drop that relegates him from third to sixth on the grid.
Explaining the decision, the FIA says Vettel should have been aware a car could be approaching in qualifying and therefore should have been off the racing line.
“Car 5 had just finished a push lap and was on an in lap, traveling quite slowly into and around turn 1, on the racing line,” the stewards decision read. “The driver conceded that he had passed car 55 between turns 7 and 8 but assumed it had pitted after. However, car 55 was actually commencing a push lap and closed on car 5 rapidly along the pit straight and into turn 1.
“During evidence, the driver of car 55 stated that he felt the driver of car 5 was completely unaware of his approach. This was confirmed by the driver of car 5 who stated he was unable to see car 55 in his mirrors and that his team had not informed him of its approach, by radio. The latter was confirmed by the team representative.
“It is the belief of the Stewards that notwithstanding the absence of a radio call, the driver of car 5, 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.”
The penalty will promote Kimi Raikkonen to third place ahead of Max Verstappen and Romain Grosjean, with Vettel now starting alongside the Haas on the third row.