Vettel Handed Grid Penalty for Blocking Sainz during Austrian GP Qualifying

by Paul Hensby
Sebastian Vettel - Scuderia Ferrari

Sebastian Vettel has been handed a three-place grid penalty for Sunday’s Austrian Grand Prix after being found guilty of impeding Carlos Sainz Jr. during Qualifying at the Red Bull Ring.

The Scuderia Ferrari driver had initially qualified third, but will find himself starting the race from sixth on the grid, with team-mate Kimi Räikkönen, Aston Martin Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen and Haas F1 Team’s Romain Grosjean all moving up a spot as a result.

Vettel was deemed to have blocked Sainz at the end of the second segment of Qualifying when the Renault Sport Formula One Team racer was forced over the kerbs at turn one after coming across a slow-moving Ferrari, which had just completed its final run in the session.

Vettel admitted that he did not know Sainz was coming behind him, and confirmed that there were no warnings over the radio from his pit gantry that the Renault driver was on a fast lap behind him, but stewards deemed he was guilty of the offence and handed him the grid drop and a penalty point on his Superlicence.

“It is the belief of the Stewards that notwithstanding the absence of a radio call, the driver of car 5 [Vettel], being aware of the issue of rear vision with his mirrors, should not have been so slow and on the racing line, during a slowdown lap in Qualification,” read the stewards decision.

“Having reviewed all alleged impeding incidents since the beginning of 2016, the penalty of a drop of 3 grid positions is consistent with all other similar incidents.”

The penalty point means that Vettel now has six to his name in the past twelve months, with any driver who receives a total of twelve in any rolling twelve-month period earning himself a one race ban.

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