Sebastian Vettel has been given a three-place grid penalty at the United States Grand Prix for failing to slow sufficiently under red flags during the opening practice session.
The red flag was brought out after Charles Leclerc’s trip through the gravel deposited plenty of stones on the racing line at Turn 9 when his Sauber rejoined. With the track needing to be cleared, the session was stopped and all cars had to return to the pits at a reduced speed, but Vettel was summoned to the stewards for “failing to slow sufficiently during a Red Flag period.”
Following the hearing, Vettel received a three-place grid penalty for failing to slow enough early in the lap, with the stewards stating that “breach of this regulation is seen to be an extremely serious matter.”
The penalty is consistent with previous similar incidents, with Daniel Ricciardo receiving a three-place grid drop in the season-opening Australian Grand Prix. Esteban Ocon had a similar penalty at the last race in Japan, having gone over the delta lap time given to the drivers for a few seconds when returning to the pits.
Lewis Hamilton was fastest in both of Friday’s practice sessions and only needs to outscore Vettel by eight points to win the championship this weekend. If Hamilton wins on Sunday, Vettel must finish second to take the title fight to Mexico.