FIA chief explains Vettel penalty

Sebastian Vettel (AP)
Sebastian Vettel (AP)

Cape Town - Sebastian Vettel's penalty at the Italian GP was more severe than Lance Stroll's because his unsafe return to the track caused a collision, says F1 race director Michael Masi.

The German spun his SF90 in clear air at the Ascari chicane on lap six before driving back onto the track and straight into the path of SportPesa Racing Point's Stroll.

Stroll would be punted off the circuit by Vettel with both suffering front wing damage as a result, before Stroll performed a similarly unsafe return to the track in front of Pierre Gasly who was forced into the gravel trap.

While Vettel was given a ten-second stop/go penalty and three points on his superlicence by the FIA, Stroll received only a drive-through penalty, something which even the Canadian thought was unfair.

However, Masi has explained that Vettel committed two offenses - re-joining the track in an unsafe manner and causing a collision, while Stroll only re-joined the track unsafely and didn't make contact with Gasly, therefore justifying the penalties in his mind.

"Basically with the difference between the two, with Sebastian's one it was one for re-joining unsafely and then the second part of that was for causing a collision," Masi explained via Motorsportweek.com.

"Whereas as with Lance and Pierre, that was just an unsafe re-join of the track and therefore the difference between the two penalties handed out."

Vettel said after the incident that he didn't see Stroll coming, a valid point as vision of oncoming traffic isn't the easiest thing in a stricken Formula 1 car, but Masi insisted that in such an event drivers and teams should be more "cautious".

"When in doubt be cautious," Masi explained. "I think the teams have a bit to play in everything. I think the honest part is when in doubt be a bit more cautious.

"They have all the GPS, all of the positioning, it was obviously broadcast live. They were given all the same pictures that we all got. There's all of those tools at the team's disposal.

"The onus is on the driver firstly and secondly for the teams to help them."

There were some calls for Vettel to be given a black flag and therefore be disqualified from the race, but Masi told Crash.net that a black flag wasn't considered.

"No. Not to my knowledge. It's not something that the stewards brought up," he said when asked if the stewards had discussed such a punishment.

"You've got to something seriously severe to be disqualified from a race.

"Furthermore, you can't actually disqualify under the International Sporting Code without the ability to give somebody the opportunity of being heard.

"So even in that case, a black flag would not be displayed in the race. It would be in a hearing afterwards."

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