The stewards of the Mexico Grand Prix are still mulling over whether or not to give Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel a penalty for moving under braking when the Red Bull of former teammate, Daniel Ricciardo attempted to overtake him for fourth place in the final minutes of the race.
Daniel’s teammate, Max Verstappen, ran wide with three laps remaining, as Lewis Hamilton did at the start of the race, and as such prevented Vettel from making the move into third place. Max was then placed under investigation for gaining an advantage off track while Sebastian fumed in the cockpit of his Ferrari, letting some very heated words fly over the radio to his pit crew.
At the end of the race, Verstappen was handed a five second penalty that handed Vettel the third placed he so desperately wanted, and he proudly took the place on the podium away from the young Dutchman.
Speaking at the post race press conference after the race, Vettel tried his hardest to defend his actions, and foul mouth…
“Well I was using a lot of sign language and using a lot of your language I think,” Vettel said to Juan Pablo Montoya, who was also known for getting hot under the collar in various intense racing situations. “ Probably looking back I felt like you when you got angry in the car.”
“No, you have to understand the adrenalin was pumping, I put him under pressure, which was difficult enough, our tyres both were pretty old and then obviously, yeah, he left the track and didn’t move, so you can understand why I really was annoyed. But what a turnaround. I was really disappointed when I crossed the line and then all of a sudden I was told to come up here and being here in front of the crowd is fantastic.”
“I think it’s pretty clear I was quicker. I was closing the gap, got into DRS and put him under a lot of pressure and he made a mistake, which I think was clear he should have moved. He didn’t move. Obviously that battle, that fight, being stuck behind him, losing time, fighting with him allowed Daniel to close in,” Vettel said of the situation with Daniel. “He was on a superior tyre. I think there was one incident into Turn Four which I need to look at again to be honest.”
Once again the =four time world champion tried to defend himself by deflecting the blame onto someone else…..
“ I obviously knew that Daniel is quite jumpy and sometimes a bit optimistic with these kind of situations, which partly fair enough, we’re racing and for him it’s a podium to grasp. Obviously he came back and is now having the advantage on a better tyre. So I need to have a look at that again.”
“ It was very close, we made contact. I was pretty lucky. I thought initially I have a puncture. But obviously lost out to Max again and had to close again and couldn’t put him under serious pressure again before the race ended but I think it was pretty clear that he had to give the position back. As far as I learned on the radio he was told, he ignored that. You can understand that adrenaline was pumping and I was very angry. I think when Maurizio came on the radio I calmed down and tried to finish my race.”
“I knew that when I saw my exit out of turn three which wasn’t great because I was fighting Max into the first two corners and yeah, he obviously tried to trick me a bit. Maybe I could have done better to have a better exit, braking testing me a bit into turn one and then turn two, but nevertheless I didn’t get the best exit so I knew it would be tight with Daniel and I know Daniel in these situations: he’s jumping into the gap even if he doesn’t make the rest of the corner.”
“I think I knew exactly the situation – or in my head – the situation in Barcelona came up where he dived down the inside last minute. I gave him enough room but in fact he didn’t make the first corner. But obviously today’s not Barcelona. He was obviously upset about it and he told me to look at it again. I will do that but yeah, I think I gave him just enough room, it was very late. I think both of us just about made the corner. Obviously it’s never ideal if you make contact because our cars are not built to make contact. I initially thought I had a puncture, I don’t know if he had any damage, he certainly lost a bit of time after that so, as I said, I want to look into it again.
However, despite Vettel’s version of events, Red Bull Racing is determined that their former driver moved under braking when he was defending his position against Daniel and as a result the stewards called all party’s up to investigate the matter further.