Sebastian Vettel called the cooling down lap incident with Lance Stroll ‘completely unnecessary’ after the German broke his rear suspension and rear wing in the incident at turn five of the Sepang International Circuit on Sunday.
Stroll was attempting to pick up rubber, as everyone does on the cool-down lap, only for the Scuderia Ferrari to come unsighted around his outside, with the two clashing, which forced Vettel to stop on track and get a lift back to the pit lane from Pascal Wehrlein.
“I went on the outside to pick up a bit of rubber,” said Vettel. “I think Lance wasn’t looking and wanted to do the same. I think he was looking at his [steering] wheel. I gave him enough room.
“But it was too late, I was there already, and then there was contact. Completely unnecessary. He just didn’t look and decided to pick up some rubber.”
Whereas Vettel blames Stroll, the stewards in Malaysia took a different view, and felt no action was needed on either driver, although they did make it clear that drivers still need to take caution on track, even when the race has finished.
“The Stewards consider that no driver was wholly or predominantly to blame for the incident and will therefore take no further action,” read the statement from the stewards.
“The Stewards also consider that even though the race has ended, caution still needs to be exercised by all drivers on the slow-down lap.”
Ferrari have sent Vettel’s gearbox straight back to their Maranello base to access whether it was damaged enough in the incident that it would need replacing, with a possible penalty coming the German’s way if it cannot be salvaged, unless his team can convince the FIA that it is a case of ‘Force Majeure’.
“We’ll check but yeah, for sure that could be another bad surprise this weekend,” said Vettel, who could lose five places on the grid for the Japanese Grand Prix.
“I hope not because as I said it was completely unnecessary.”