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Vettel slapped with Austria grid penalty

Vettel slapped with Austria grid penalty

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Vettel slapped with Austria grid penalty

Vettel slapped with Austria grid penalty

Sebastian Vettel has been hit with a three-place grid penalty for the Austrian Grand Prix for blocking Carlos Sainz Jr in Q2. The Ferrari man qualified third behind pole-sitter Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton, but will start six, a move that will delight the Silver Arrows.

Sainz was forced to take to the run-off area on a flying lap as Vettel was moving slowly on the racing line out of turn one, although the Renault man was still able to get into the top-10 shootout on a later lap.

The Spaniard seemed happy for Vettel to go unpunished, telling Sky Sports: "I don't want to put too much blame on Sebastian. It has happened to me that the engineer does tell you a driver is approaching and you don't see in your mirror. It's not always the drivers fault."

Vettel also professed his innocence in the post-qualifying press conference: "I couldn't see him. I wasn't told on the radio, so I can only apologise to him.

"Obviously, there was no intention. I was looking down the straight and then I turned around, Turn One, I was done with my lap and just wanted to make sure – and then when I was looking, there was again nothing to see after Turn One, which obviously, which was clear because in the replay I saw then that he was side-by-side."

The stewards took a dim view in their assessment, however, and a statement read: "Notwithstanding the absence of a radio call, the driver of car 5 [Vettel], being aware of the issue of rear vision with his mirrors, should not have been so slow and on the racing line, during a slowdown lap in qualification.

"The penalty of a drop of 3 grid positions is consistent with all other similar incidents."

Vettel's drop promotes team-mate Kimi Raikkonen, Red Bull's Max Verstappen and the Haas of Romain Grosjean up a place.

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