Sebastian Vettel has been reprimanded and fined €25,000 for failing to obey FIA officials during a routine weight check at the Brazilian Grand Prix.
The incident occurred during the second part of qualifying when Vettel returned to the pits to switch tyre compounds. Rain was in the air and Ferrari was hoping to make a quick switch so Vettel could return to the track in dry conditions and set a time quick enough to progress to the top-ten shootout.
The FIA randomly calls drivers onto the weighbridge as they return to the pits in order to ensure cars are running legally at all times. However, with time at a premium, Vettel ignored the normal procedure of stopping before a cone and switching his engine off and instead knocked the cone out of the way and drove straight on to the scales.
He then switched his engine off momentarily to allow for a reading before firing it back up using his car’s hybrid system and driving off under his own power. FIA procedure requires drivers to be pushed on and off the weighbridge by officials in order to protect the scales, which sit under each wheel, from being damaged. Vettel ignored the procedure and damaged the scales.
Because he turned the engine off, Vettel did not actually break the wording of the sporting regulations surrounding the weighbridge and, therefore, did not receive a sporting penalty. But the stewards felt he should face a fine and reprimand for ignoring officials and creating a “potentially dangerous” situation.
“The stewards reviewed the video evidence from the on-board camera and pit lane CCTV, viewed team engine telemetry and heard from the driver of car 5 (Sebastian Vettel) and team representative,” a statement said. ”The stewards first considered whether there was a breach of Article 29.1.a.i. as the driver both stopped at the FIA Garage and eventually stopped the engine, although not at the time usually expected in the established procedure, and a weight was obtained, these elements satisfy the requirements of the regulation and therefore the Stewards find no breach of this article.
“Nevertheless, the officials give directions to the drivers at the scales in order for the weighing procedure to be accomplished in an orderly and safe way, without the possibility of damaging the scales. The stewards observed that the driver did not stop the engine at the time he was directed by the official at the scales, knocked over the cone placed to stop the driver from driving onto the scales, which he then did. At the time he was being shown a sign to have his “Brakes On” by an official that was standing in front of the car, and while not hitting the official did force him out of the way while driving onto the scales. He then turned off the engine.
“Once the weight was taken he then did not wait for the officials to push the car off the scales, and while the stewards accept that he may have mis-understood the indication from the official, he then re-fired the car and drove off the scales, which is not the procedure because it can damage the scales, which in this case he did. While no one was hurt by the scales being thrown out from behind the car, and while the stewards accept that the driver did not drive off the scales in a reckless manner, the procedure is established exactly to prevent damage to the scales or a potentially dangerous situation, which is exactly what was caused.
“The stewards found that the driver failed to follow the instructions of the relevant officials for the safe and orderly conduct of the Event and order a Reprimand (non-driving) and a fine of €25,000.”