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Vettel Receives Fine Ahead of the First Race

The results from the investigation are in

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Sebastian Vettel returned to racing today in Free Practice sessions, but he is already under investigation. The result of the investigation is that Vettel has received a fine of 5,000 euros. 

Photo by Bryn Lennon – Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images

The Australian Grand Prix weekend marks the first race of the season for Sebastian Vettel. After testing positive for Covid-19, Vettel missed the opening two rounds of 2022.

However, he is back for this weekend and is excited to race on the Albert Park Circuit. He said that it feels a bit like he is “late to school”, as he is yet to drive a 2022 car in an actual race. So far, he has only driven the AMR22 in pre-season testing.

This morning, we saw the first two practice sessions of the weekend. In Free Practice 1 (FP1), Ferrari proved their speed once again with Carlos Sainz going fastest. The Spaniard put in a lap time of 1:19.806, which was followed by the current championship leader, Charles Leclerc. Leclerc had a time of 1:20.377.

For Vettel, FP1 was his 2022 F1 debut, which saw him place 13th with a lap time of 1:21.661. However, it was not the start to his season that the German would have liked.

Two Red Flags:

During the session there were two red flags. The first was caused when Sergio Perez’s Red Bull lost a bit of bodywork. That was quickly resolved as marshals removed the debris from the track.

The second red flag came towards the end of the session as Vettel’s AMR22 lost power. As a result, he had to park the car on the side of the track at Turn 10. This brought Vettel’s FP1 session to a premature end.

As the car was stationery, smoke could be seen coming out of the rear, which led to Vettel using a fire extinguisher from a nearby marshal post. The events following this are what have caused Vettel to be under investigation.

Why Vettel Is Under Investigation:

After the first practice session had finished, Vettel drove a scooter around the track so that he could return to the paddock.

Whilst riding the scooter, Vettel waved to fans, who not only support the three-time race winner at Australia, but “every single driver” as reported by Rachel Brookes on Sky Sports coverage.

Once he had returned to the paddock, it was announced by race control that Vettel would be under investigation. It is for entering the track without permission.

The FIA document for this incident states that Vettel needs to report to the Stewards at 17:45 local time. It had the reason as:

“Alleged breach of Article 26.7 of the FIA Formula One Sporting Regulations by the driver of Car 5, unauthorised use of a scooter on the track at 14:04.”

Article 26.7 comes under ‘general safety’ in the regulations. It says that in no one is allowed on the track – or at the pit entry or exit – in the five minutes after every practice session.

Those who are allowed are: Marshals or other authorised personnel carrying out their duties. Team personnel when they are either pushing a car or clearing equipment from the grid. They are also allowed if they are assisting marshals in removing a car after the start of a sprint session or race.

Drivers are allowed on-track by driving or on foot, but only if they have received permission from marshals to do so.

The Result:

The Stewards have decided that for Vettel’s infringement of the regulations he has received a fine of 5,000 euros. The FIA document reads that once the session ended, Vettel “asked if he could drive the scooter” to return to the paddock.

Vettel was “expecting the marshal to get on behind him”, but had to depart “alone for the pit” as the marshal did not in fact get on the scooter. The document reads that when Vettel departed, it was “without the prior approval to do so”.

Vettel missed the second Free Practice session due to the mechanical failure on his car. He said that the car in FP1 felt “good” but it would have been “nice” to get some “more laps”.

Feature Image Credit: Twitter @F1 

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