Sebastian Vettel got into trouble with the FIA stewards for a second consecutive weekend after France, where he was awarded a five-second penalty for clashing with Bottas. This time around, he was given a three-place drop for impeding Carlos Sainz’s qualifying lap.
Vettel and Ferrari’s main rivals, Mercedes, took a 1-2 in qualifying and the drop extends their advantage even further. Speaking to reporters after a terrific Saturday, Mercedes boss, Toto Wolff pointed out what the German’s major fallacy was.
“I’ve said it before, Sebastian’s biggest strength is certainly his ambition but sometimes, like in Le Castellet, it went against him. I think every team is aware that you need to get out of the way in order to not have a penalty”, said Wolff.
“All drivers are instructed by their engineers about what is happening behind him. So that’s not linked whatsoever to Le Castellet.”
Asked if Mercedes were feeling confident ahead of race day, Wolff remained nonplussed. “Kimi is still there”, he said, reminding reporters of Raikkonen’s promotion to third.
“What we have said is that the Ferrari is particularly strong on traction out of Turn 3, and into Turn 3, it will be difficult. That problem is not solved and there is a Ferrari that performs well. Obviously, the situation is more comfortable like this [with the Vettel penalty]”, stated Wolff.
He also opened up on how the title fight will eventually shape up. “I think in order to win a championship you need to be as fast as possible, as reliable as possible and with the least errors. But sometimes, it’s very difficult to put all this together.”
The penalty to Vettel will certainly put a dampener on his plans to catch Hamilton in the race for the drivers’ championship. The Red Bull Ring is not a difficult track to overtake and the addition of an extra DRS zone should help him in that quest.