Sebastian Vettel criticized the FIA stewards officiating at Imola, saying the time they took to inform the Aston Martin team of a penalty handed to him was way too long, reflecting a process that was “not very professional”.
Vettel’s Emilia Romagna GP was practically over before its started when both Aston Martin cars suffered from overheating brakes on their way to the grid.
While Lance Stroll’s troubles were dealt with swiftly, the team’s crews could not solve Vettel’s similar problem on the grid by the deadline that requires all four wheels to be fitted to a car, a shortfall that implied a penalty for the German driver.
Vettel’s AMR21 was therefore wheeled into the pitlane where the work was completed and from where the n°5 Aston Martin started its race.
However, 22 laps went by before the team was informed of the pre-race penalty. Vettel was eventually forced to retire from Sunday’s proceedings two laps from the checkered flag, but the German still felt frustrated by the belated call from the stewards earlier in the race.
“I don’t know why they were so late, it was pretty clear from the start,” Vettel told Sky Germany.
“I don’t know what the stewards were doing – maybe the filter of the coffee-maker was full and they needed to take care of it!” he joked.
“I think we could have had a better race if the FIA was more alert because I think we broke a rule, I guess, that is why we got a penalty.
“But they didn’t bother until way into the race, so by that time the penalty cost us a lot more than it would have done earlier in the race. That is not very professional.”
Queried on the penalty delay and Vettel’s grievances, FIA race director Michael Masi said the time between when the technical delegate filed the report and when the stewards assessed the latter and communicated their decision was nothing out of the ordinary.
Regarding the brake issue, Aston Martin team boss Otmar Szafnauer said the team had yet to understand what had cause the unexpected overheating problem on both its cars.
“What happened was we overheated the rear brakes and the laps to the grid weren’t at the normal pace that we usually go, so we didn’t get the airflow,” Szafnauer said.
“But even with that, we’re aware of that and the settings were such that they shouldn’t have caught fire, but they did unfortunately. So we overheated them but we don’t know why and how.”
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