Sebastian Vettel has been handed a three-place grid penalty for impeding Fernando Alonso during qualifying for the Austrian Grand Prix, but Valtteri Bottas and Carlos Sainz escaped punishments.
The Aston Martin driver was moving slowly on the racing line at the final corner after being held up by a queue of cars waiting to start their flying laps at Turn 9, and Alonso came through at the end of his timed effort but was forced to abort as a result. The Spaniard was angered by the incident and Vettel apologized after blaming those ahead for creating the situation, but the stewards handed him a three-place grid penalty after a lengthy investigation.
“Alonso was on his fast lap just before the end of Q2,” the stewards’ decision read. |When he approached the last two corners (9 and 10), there was still a queue of three cars preparing for their final qualifying lap. Vettel was the last car in this line and impeded Alonso and as a result, Alonso had to abort his final qualifying lap.”
Bottas and Sainz were both summoned for driving unnecessary slowly as part of the same incident, but the stewards opted to take no further action as they deemed a number of cars did similar and none where wholly to blame.
Explaining the situation, Vettel believes it was actually drivers overtaking at the wrong part of the circuit that created a problem.
“We agreed that we slow down between (Turns) 8 and 9, which is what I did — everybody passes me and jumps the queue,” Vettel said. “And then they all slow down between 9 and 10 where we agreed not to slow down. So now you know the rest of the story.
“You know, Sergio (Perez) and myself, we dropped back between 8 and 9, and everybody was just passing us. So I don’t think Sergio was in the way; I think I was just the last one — and the first one that Fernando was meeting.
“As soon as I looked in the mirror — because it’s not a nice place to meet some traffic — and I saw him coming, like half a second later, just after I saw him and sped up, I got the radio call. So I tried to avoid him, and basically cancelled my lap. So in order to give him room the maximum I could at that point, I sacrificed my own lap.
“We didn’t make it, so not much I could have done. I think from my side, I didn’t do anything wrong. I was the last one in the queue. But I think the others should not jump the queue in the place where we agreed to slow down to then slow down after that. So I don’t know if they were not listening.”