Sebastian Vettel says he does not agree with the penalty he was handed at the Mexican Grand Prix for moving under braking against Daniel Ricciardo, while the Red Bull driver feels the punishment was warranted.
The Australian was chasing the Ferrari in the closing laps of the Mexico event and tried a move on the inside of Turn 4 only for Vettel to close the door and force his former team-mate to lock up.
Having been promoted to third following a penalty given to Max Verstappen, the four-time world champion was eventually found guilty of moving under braking while defending from Ricciardo and demoted to fifth.
“Well, obviously I don’t agree with the decision that was made,” Vettel said during Thursday’s FIA press conference ahead of the Brazilian Grand Prix.
“I think I moved over once to defend my position. After that, I think I gave him enough room on the inside. I kept the car straight for more than the majority of the braking.
“The reason why he locked up so bad is because there was no grip on the inside. It’s something that I think we all knew. There were people locking up on other corners when they were off the line.
“It actually looks a bit worse than it was. I don’t think it was actually dangerous for Daniel at the point, but OK I have to deal with the decision.”
Also attending the FIA presser, Ricciardo has given the reasons why he is standing by his criticism of Vettel’s driving in Mexico.
“Obviously I thought [the penalty] was the right decision, but from an outside point of view for fans it’s probably a bit hard to understand and digest it all after the race,” the 27-year-old said.
“When you’re in that braking zone, once you’re committed – especially when you’re overtaking – […] you’re putting the car on the limit if you’re trying to outbrake someone, so you’re already on the edge.
“Any sort of move or something then, you’re not really in control at that stage, hence why I lock up the brakes and it all turns into a bit of a mess.
“It’s the only real part where we can’t really get out of much once we’re on the brakes. When you’re down the straight and someone defends, if they move one way you can obviously move the other or whatever. But then once you’re committed to the braking it’s hard to pull out at that stage.”
The FIA moved to clamp down on moving under braking at the United States Grand Prix following previous incidents this year.
Race director Charlie Whiting, who also took part in the media event to address the fallout from Mexico, explained why the Vettel/Ricciardo incident saw the new regulation being applied for the first time.
“There are three fundamental points there within the rules,” he said. “Firstly, if a driver has to take evasive action; if a driver makes an abnormal change of direction in the braking zone; and if it could be deemed to be potentially dangerous to another driver. If those three conditions are satisfied then the stewards felt that was a dangerous manoeuvre that should be penalised.
“So that’s how the stewards looked at it and they felt that Sebastian had moved under braking – that was very clear from the data but also pretty clear from the video of course – it was potentially dangerous and it was an abnormal change of direction that could have led to an accident.”
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