Sebastian Vettel didn’t even make it past the first corner on the opening lap of Sunday afternoon’s Malaysian Grand Prix after a three way collision saw him forced into retirement.
While failing to score any points seemed like punishment enough for the four time champion, the Stewards of the course decided that it wasn’t enough and have now penalized him even further with a three place grid in this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix and given him two penalty points..
According to a report from the stewards, the penalty is for hitting into Nico Rosberg and sending him back to the rear of the field. Even Rosberg claimed after the race that it felt like he had been ‘torpedoed’.
“After the first corner, it was looking pretty dark. I thought my race was over and never thought I'd be able to continue. It felt like an uncontrolled four-time World Champion torpedo had hit me! I reported to the pits that it was a pretty hard hit,” Nico said after finishing third.
Vettel acknowledges that Nico was an innocent bystander in the battle between the Ferrari and the Red Bull as they both tried to claim the corner as their own and has since apologized to his fellow countryman…
“We had a good start, then I was going side by side with Max. We were both battling for position into turn one,” Vettel said. “Nico in the front was turning in and he obviously decided to pick his line, which is absolutely fair and in his right. At that point with the speed I had I couldn’t slow down anymore and I was also pushed by Max to the right.”
“I did my best under braking but I couldn’t avoid the impact. It was an unfortunate chain reaction which ruined my race and Nico’s one. I can’t do more than apologize to Nico, because the accident had nothing to do with him being in front. I think it was different to the case in Spa with Max and Kimi, as Max and I were trying to fight for turn 1, and Nico was trying to do a different thing ahead.”
Verstappen was quite vocal about the incident after the race…..
"He just dived up the inside, braked way too late, he just T-boned Nico. And I had to avoid the crash. It compromised my race as well," Verstappen said. "I could see him behind me. He wants to win the race in the first corner, which is, of course, ridiculous. I saw him in my mirrors, so I just braked late. I was closing up a bit on Nico, but he just dived up the inside.
Sebastian meanwhile, refused to be drawn into an argument in the press with the young Dutchman…
“I don’t have to comment on what Max said afterwards…”
Let’s go to japan and try again…