Sebastian Vettel victim of 'rubbish rule' at United States GP
20 October, 2018, 15:41 | Author: Heidi Alvarez
Lewis Hamilton topped the times for Mercedes in Friday's rain-abbreviated second practice for this weekend's United States Grand Prix and was then buoyed further when title rival Sebastian Vettel was hit with a three-place grid penalty for Sunday's race.
Vettel was reported for speeding after Charles Leclerc of Sauber brought gravel back onto the circuit after a spin.
"I think I saw the red flag, I slowed down, had a look around (to see) where was the vehicle potentially stuck in the wall", said Vettel. Vettel finished the wet practice session in fifth place, almost two full seconds off Hamilton's fastest time.
"If a driver commits a crime like that, speeding under a red flag, the biggest thing that will hurt a driver is to fine him. To be consistent with previous decisions on similar incidents this year, the Stewards assessed the penalty specified above". The governing body, the FIA, set the delta time and both Daniel Ricciardo and Esteban Ocon have also violated this rule during the season.
He said: "I saw the red flag, I slowed down, I had a look around to see where the vehicle was, [whether it was] potentially stuck in the wall or if there was one around Turn 9 and 10 and then I slowed down significantly to comply with the rules".
"They found it took too long and I think it's pretty straightforward".
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"Lining out 27.7s precisely as an act of not complying with the rules..." Obviously I was aware, I slowed down.
He was 10th in the second session, but that meant little as only a handful of drivers put in a serious effort to clock competitive laps in the conditions, partly due to a shortage of suitable full wet and intermediate tyres available at the Circuit of the Americas.
"In my opinion it's not the right thing because if there's a auto behind you, it might run into you, but more important that you don't get a penalty".
"I don't know if the 50s was a particularly good time, it wasn't a great time for black people either, so I probably wouldn't have been racing back then", said Hamilton.
The German disagreed with his sanction, saying it was founded in a lack of "common sense" and he had an apparent ally in the shape of his old Red bull boss.
He was more than a second faster than anyone else in the second session as well, with Toro Rosso's Pierre Gasly making the most of the treacherous conditions to take second place on the timesheets.
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Mercedes man Hamilton needs to outscore Vettel by eight points to be sure of his title coronation on Sunday evening. Following the sodden second practice, Vettel told reporters he did slow down for the red flags.
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