Sebastian Vettel apologised to Carlos Sainz Jr. after causing the Spaniard to run off track during the final stages of the second segment of Qualifying at the Red Bull Ring on Saturday, with the German earning himself a three-place grid penalty for the incident.
The Scuderia Ferrari driver had just completed his final fast lap in the session when he slowed on the racing line heading into turn one, only to unintentionally block the Renault Sport Formula One Team driver exiting the corner, with Sainz running across the kerbs to avoid hitting him.
“I’m sorry for Carlos,” said Vettel, “it was never my intention to ruin his lap.
“You can’t see well straight back in the mirrors, with the rear wing and everything, and this time I was not told that he was coming.”
Vettel would go on to qualify third behind the two Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport drivers but felt he did not have the extra pace in the car to make a true challenge to either Valtteri Bottas or Lewis Hamilton. But with the penalty he will start sixth, falling behind team-mate Kimi Räikkönen as well as Aston Martin Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen and Haas F1 Team’s Romain Grosjean, with the aim to move back up the field to continue his championship challenge.
“As for my qualifying, I think I had another tenth in my pocket today, but probably not enough to become a threat,” admitted Vettel.
“In my first run in Q3 I knew I had to ramp it up, so I pushed very hard and made a small mistake that turned into a big snap, so I tried to recover concentration for my last attempt, which is always difficult, and probably held something back a little bit.
“Now let’s focus on the race tomorrow.”