Sebastian Vettel has shared his thoughts on his five-second time penalty at last weekend’s Dutch Grand Prix, where he was deemed to have ignored blue flags whilst having Sir Lewis Hamilton and Sergio Pérez behind.
The four-time World Champion came out of the pits at the worst place possible after making his pit-stop, as he re-emerged onto the Zandvoort circuit ahead of a battling Hamilton and Pérez.
The Aston Martin F1 Team driver tried to get out of the way at the banked Turn 3; however, Vettel by accident blocked Hamilton from going past.
The tightness of the circuit made life difficult for Vettel, with the race steward’s deeming that the 35-year-old had ignored blue flags.
The German wasn’t happy with the race stewards decision, with the incident having not “cost anyone anything”.
“I knew it was three corners and I was faster,” Vettel told Sky Germany.
“I don’t know who the blue flag and penalty was for.
“I think it’s funny it takes half the race before you get the penalty. It didn’t benefit anyone. I didn’t win anything and I didn’t cost anyone anything.
“Losing some time is normal. It depends on where you come out. Whether it’s three turns or five, I did it (moved aside) fairly and in a place where they don’t lose any time at all. It’s give and take.”
The German, who finished P14, tried to explain that he simply couldn’t “disappear”, but that his opinion “doesn’t matter”.
“Obviously I can’t disappear. I have a different opinion, but it doesn’t matter,” Vettel told Motorsport.com.
Team principal Mike Krack seemingly agrees with the penalty that was awarded to Vettel, with the boss admitting that “if you have the [blue] flag, you have the flag”.
The team’s strategists could arguably be blamed for the entire situation, having pitted Vettel despite knowing he would emerge onto the circuit amongst two considerably faster drivers.
“It’s always difficult when you come out of the pits with fresh tyres and get lapped by people that have older tyres,” said Krack.
“He wasn’t really slower at that point. But I think when you look at it, we went maybe a little bit too long in front of Lewis and you cannot drive one lap in front. So these things happen sometimes.
“We knew we would end up in that situation, we had to pit him. He was made aware, but I think he didn’t see it as bad also because he had the pace obviously, and he told us also I have the pace to drive away. But if you have the flag, you have the flag.”
The race was an overall disappointment for the retiring German, who attempted a very different strategy after having a dismal qualifying.
Vettel was eliminated in Q1 so attempted an enormous undercut; however, it failed to work after his pit-stop was poor.
“We stopped really early trying to undercut most of the midfield, which I think was correct,” said the 35-year-old German.
“Then we had a really slow stop, losing like three or four seconds, I’m not sure.
“But obviously then we lost position to Pierre [Gasly], Alex [Albon], Mick [Schumacher], Zhou [Guanyu]. And it was very close with Daniel [Ricciardo]. So not ideal really, and then that was it really.”