Vettel handed Japan grid penalty after first corner clash

Sebastian Vettel - Credit: Scuderia Ferrari

Sebastian Vettel will lose three places on the grid for next weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix after stewards in Malaysia deemed him responsible for the first lap crash that spun around Nico Rosberg.

The Scuderia Ferrari driver was attacking Max Verstappen on the inside of turn one as he attempted to make up ground early from fifth place on the grid, but was unable to slow down enough to make the corner without hitting Rosberg, who was minding his own business ahead of him.

Vettel retired with a broken suspension as a result of the clash, with the German apologising to Rosberg for the incident post-race.

“We had a good start, then I was going side by side with Max,” said Vettel about the incident. “We were both battling for position into turn one.

“Nico in the front was turning in and he obviously decided to pick his line, which is absolutely fair and in his right. At that point with the speed I had I couldn’t slow down anymore and I was also pushed by Max to the right.

“I did my best under braking but I couldn’t avoid the impact. It was an unfortunate chain reaction which ruined my race and Nico’s one. I can’t do more than apologize to Nico, because the accident had nothing to do with him being in front.”

Vettel was highly critical of Verstappen at Spa-Francorchamps for a first corner move that spun his car around, but the German felt the incident in Malaysia was not the same as it was in Belgium.

“I think it was different to the case in Spa with Max and Kimi [Raikkonen], as Max and I were trying to fight for turn 1, and Nico was trying to do a different thing ahead,” said Vettel. “I don’t have to comment on what Max said afterwards.”