Sebastian Vettel returned to the pits with the scooter on the track after his engine problem in the first practice session. The fans celebrated the action. The FIA was not so enthusiastic and fined the quadruple champion.
Sebastian Vettel only did short-time work on training Friday in Melbourne. The man from Heppenheim completed 18 laps in his racing car and drove half a lap on the scooter. And that was almost his undoing. The FIA commissioners found the amusing action anything but funny and invited the Aston Martin driver to an interview.
This was preceded by a problem in the drive, the cause of which could not be determined exactly in the afternoon. "Suddenly there was a lack of power. And then smoke came out of the rear. I had to stop on the track and did my best to limit the damage," reported the pilot.
Jaunt through Albert Park
Vettel grabbed the fire extinguisher himself. Then he also helped to push the car behind the gang. So the session for the other pilots could be started again quickly after a short break. At this point there were ten minutes left on the clock.
"After it was clear that the car wouldn't catch fire again, I asked the marshal if I could go back to the pits," Vettel recalls. "They told me I could go as soon as the session was over. Then a guy with a scooter came and said I could jump on. I asked him if I could drive myself. Then he gave me the scooter and sent me off."
To the delight of the fans, Vettel chugged around the racetrack on the scooter with his helmet only half on. The F1 star greeted the cheering spectators with a grin. He even took both hands off the steering wheel for a short time. You don't see images like that very often in the sterile Formula 1 world. "Of course I would have preferred not to have had a problem. I'm not here to drive a scooter," said Vettel after the fun campaign.
FIA summons Vettel
The FIA showed no understanding for Vettel's little show. The rules state that entering the track in the five minutes following a session is strictly forbidden. This also applies when it is clear that no more cars are coming. So the referees initiated an investigation and let the traffic offender dance.
In the end, a fine of 5,000 euros was imposed. The justification reads: "Vettel climbed onto the scooter and expected the marshal to sit behind him. When he didn't come, Vettel drove off alone – without prior permission. Vettel drove to the pits on the track and not up following the prescribed route, he has violated Article 26.7 of the Sports Code, which prohibits entering the track five minutes after a session."
By the way, the day was over for Vettel. The mechanics tried to quickly replace the defective engine. However, the service action could not be completed before the end of the second session. So it remained at 18 laps for Vettel. "It certainly wasn't ideal. I hadn't been in the car for a while. The track is also different. It will work out tomorrow. But a few more laps would have been nice."