Sebastian Vettel has questioned the existence of the ‘gentleman’s agreement’ in Formula 1 qualifying after a blocking incident with Fernando Alonso.
The Aston Martin driver was preparing for his final Q2 run at the Austrian Grand Prix when Alonso, on his final ‘hot’ lap, came up behind him approaching the final corner.
Despite Vettel moving off the racing line, it was clear the Spaniard had been impeded and lost time, costing him the chance to move up into the top 10 and reach Q3 at the Red Bull Ring.
Afterwards, the Alpine driver, who had angrily gestured at Vettel, said the incident had ruined his chance of a points-scoring weekend as he had qualified a provisional 14th instead of a potential fifth or sixth, and that any penalty incurred by those who had contributed to his misfortune was “never enough”.
However, the 39-year-old later insisted Vettel had done nothing wrong, instead pointing the finger at the cars in front of him – just ahead of the Aston Martin on the road, according to on-board footage, appeared to be Antonio Giovinazzi’s Alfa Romeo.
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FIA race director Michael Masi’s revised race notes issued on Saturday morning strictly prohibited drivers from slowing to create a gap between turns nine and 10 – and two drivers, Valtteri Bottas and Carlos Sainz, were called before the stewards for doing exactly that in Q2.
Ironically, Vettel, on his 34th birthday, missed out a final flying lap himself in Q2 as he failed to reach the chequered flag in time, although he still advanced to Q3 in which he was eighth fastest.
It is far from the first race this year in which traffic jams in qualifying have hindered drivers and asked if the ‘gentlemen’s agreement’ was being ignored more than in previous years, Vettel asked reporters afterwards: “Has it ever been in place?
“I only saw him [Alonso] very late, so there was not much I could have done and I think it’s the fault of the drivers ahead that just keep jumping the queue. I don’t think that’s right and it’s not what we agreed on.”
As for what can be done to prevent future incidents of blocking, he added: “There’s not much you can do. We don’t talk to each other. We talk about each other but not to each other.”
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