SAO PAULO, Brazil — Sebastian Vettel remained tight-lipped about the contentious incident which could cost him a spot on the front row of the grid for the Brazilian Grand Prix.
Vettel was narrowly beaten to pole position at Interlagos by 2018 world champion Lewis Hamilton, but faced a visit to the stewards room on Saturday afternoon for a bizarre incident which occurred towards the end of Q2. The Ferrari driver had been called to the FIA’s weighbridge at the top end of the pit lane, a routine check the stewards perform at random during all sessions across a weekend to ensure cars are running legally.
However, when Vettel arrived at the scales, he refused to turn off the engine of his car as required. The stewards’ note released after the incident says a running engine “makes it difficult to get a stable result” — Vettel then drove off and “destroyed the scales” in the process.
The incident occurred just as the weather was changing quite drastically in the session and replays showed Vettel waving his arms frantically at FIA officials and imploring them to hurry up with the procedure. He then drove away from the scales under his own power rather than waiting to be pushed off the scales.
Speaking after qualifying in parc ferme, where the top three finishers are interviewed for TV broadcasts, Vettel laughed off a question about it.
“I think it’s better if I don’t say anything,” he said. “I mean they shouldn’t call us when the conditions are changing like that, I think it’s unfair when somebody gets called in and yeah, I wanted them to hurry up.”
Vettel was asked about the incident again in the press conference which follows qualifying, but he said: “I don’t want to talk it through. It’s clear what happened. We did qualifying. I think we talk about qualifying.”