Sebastian Vettel will start from the front row at the Brazilian Grand Prix after only receiving a reprimand for a bizarre incident involving the FIA weigh bridge.
During mixed conditions in Q2 at Interlagos, Vettel was called to the weigh bridge by the FIA but was clearly animated as he felt the timing was hurting his session. The Ferrari driver ran over a cone and failed to immediately switch off his engine, inching forward to force an FIA member to move out of his way when he was meant to stay stationary before driving onto the scales.
Vettel then drove off the scales under his own power — which is not part of the protocol — and damaged the equipment, leading to a stewards investigation. After hearing from the driver and team, the stewards opted to hand Vettel a reprimand and €25,000 ($28,344) fine, having managed to take an accurate reading during the incident.
“The Stewards first considered whether there was a breach of Article 29.1.a.i. As the driver both stopped at the FIA Garage and eventually stopped the engine, although not at the time usually expected in the established procedure, and a weight was obtained, these elements satisfy the requirements of the regulation and therefore the Stewards find no breach of this article,” the decision read.
“Nevertheless, the officials give directions to the drivers at the scales in order for the weighing procedure to be accomplished in an orderly and safe way, without the possibility of damaging the scales.
“The Stewards observed that the driver did not stop the engine at the time he was directed by the official at the scales, knocked over the cone placed to stop the driver from driving onto the scales, which he then did. At the time he was being shown a sign to have his “Brakes On” by an official that was standing in front of the car, and while not hitting the official did force him out of the way while driving onto the scales. He then turned off the engine.
“Once the weight was taken he then did not wait for the officials to push the car off the scales, and while the Stewards accept that he may have mis-understood the indication from the official, he then re-fired the car and drove off the scales, which is not the procedure because it can damage the scales, which in this case he did. While no one was hurt by the scales being thrown out from behind the car, and while the Stewards accept that the driver did not drive off the scales in a reckless manner, the procedure is established exactly to prevent damage to the scales or a potentially dangerous situation, which is exactly what was caused.”
Vettel’s reprimand is non-driving, and he will be allowed to start from the front row alongside Lewis Hamilton on Sunday.