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Frustrations showed as Sebastian Vettel called out the FIA’s professionalism after the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix on Sunday. Delays saw the stewards fail to issue the Aston Martin driver with a penalty for a pre-race rules violation until 20 minutes into the race.
The German driver was awarded the mandatory 10-second stop-go penalty for not having his tyres fitted before the five minute signal prior to the start of the race.
Both he and team-mate Lance Stroll suffered brake overheating problems during their reconnaissance laps, forcing their mechanics to undertake last minute repairs.
Stroll was later able to take his place on the grid, whilst the substantial damage to Vettel’s brakes caused him to start from the pitlane. These repairs meant that his team then failed to fit his rear wheels in time.
Regulations state that all tyres must be fitted to the car before the five minute signal is issued. Therefore, this should have been a clear-cut penalty, yet the stewards took nearly an hour to come to a decision.
And Vettel was not at all happy with the FIA, feeling their delays cost him extra time in the race.
The four-time world champion said: “Obviously the guys tried everything on the grid and I think they did really well, so they were really alert.
“But I think we could have had a better race if the FIA was more alert.”
By this point, the race had already been underway for 20 minutes and Vettel had just pitted on lap 20 to switch to medium tyres.
With the rules requiring drivers to serve the penalty within three laps of it being issued, Vettel was forced to box once more on lap 22.
Vettel explained: “They didn’t bother [issuing it] until way into the race so by that time the penalty cost a lot more than it would have earlier in the race.
“So that’s not very professional.”
Managing the challenging wet conditions at the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari, he was able to climb up the order to P14 before the penalty undid all his hard work.
Eventually, gear selection problems forced Vettel to retire with two laps remaining.
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“We had plenty of issues. Not a trouble-free race that we were hoping for. Tough day,” he acknowledged.
A disastrous start of the season for Vettel sees him sit 17th in the drivers’ standings on zero points.
This was not the start of the season he would have hoped for as he searched for redemption with Aston Martin, following his torrid season with Ferrari last year.
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