Sebastian Vettel says he has “zero tolerance” for the mistake made by FIA race director Michael Masi in allowing cars out for the second session of qualifying at the Turkish Grand Prix with a crane still on track.
Nicholas Latifi spun off at Turn 8 at the end of Q1, with the session ending under double waved yellow flags. Once all cars were back in the pits, the marshals could recover the Williams in the break between sessions, but the crane had yet to make it to a gap in the barrier before cars left the pit lane for Q2. Masi said he was told by the Clerk of the Course that the track would be clear by the time cars reached that part of the track.
The first cars still passed the recovery vehicle on their out laps — with the sector still covered by double waved yellow flags — and Vettel says there is no excuse for such an error.
“I think we are all human, mistakes happen, but this mistake has zero tolerance,” Vettel said. “So I think we’re all well aware and I hope and am very confident it will not happen in the future again. But we will for sure talk about this and disclose the reasons why.”
Teammate Charles Leclerc agreed, saying he was “shocked” by the situation and expecting further discussions about it, having seen his mentor Jules Bianchi suffer severe head injuries that he died from nine months later when he crashed into a recovery crane at Suzuka six years ago.
“Well, for the crane obviously I think we have all been a bit shocked to see that,” Leclerc said. “We will probably speak together at the next briefing to try and avoid this type of situation. No need to say what happened in the past with these sort of situations, I think it shouldn’t happen and we’ll make sure that it doesn’t happen again.”
Masi concede he would have dealt with the situation differently in the immediate aftermath, but also insisted the decision to restart Q2 expecting the crane to make it behind the barrier in time was the right one given the information he had.
“It was quite close to the barrier opening and the crane was on its way,” Masi said. “We were given assurances that it would be well and truly clear and looking at everything, I was more than comfortable with the local assurances on that basis.
“As I said, (with) the benefit of hindsight, you would do something different but based on it all with the available information at the time, that’s the call that we made. Obviously it was a double-yellow flag anyway — that’s normal protocol even when there aren’t cars on the track. For that sector, it was extended even further and it was an out lap.”