Sebastian Vettel has been handed a €5,000 fine for taking a scooter onto the Albert Park circuit following the conclusion of Free Practice 1 for the Australian Grand Prix on Friday.
Vettel had parked up on track with smoke billowing from his Aston Martin AMR22 towards the end of the opening session in Melbourne.
But once FP1 had concluded, Vettel borrowed a scooter from the marshals, which he then proceeded to ride onto the track and back to the pits.
The incident was investigated at the end of Friday’s running, with the stewards electing to hand down a fine to the four-time champion, who was deemed to have broken Article 26.7 of the Sporting Regulations.
In their verdict, the stewards wrote: “At the end of the session, VET sought a way to return to his pit. A marshal was at the location with a scooter. VET asked if he could drive the scooter in order to return to his pit. The marshal assented.
“VET got on the scooter, expecting the marshal to get on behind him. When he didn’t get on, VET departed alone for the pit, without the prior approval to do so. Meanwhile, the marshal was trying to contact Race Control for instructions.
“In driving on the track to his pit, instead of the designated route, VET breached Article 26.7 of the Formula One Sporting Regulations, which prohibits anyone from being on the track in the five-minute period after the end of a session, with the exception of specifically identified personnel, which makes no provision for drivers to have such access unless specifically authorized.”
The fine capped off a trying day for Vettel, returning to track action in Australia having missed the first two races of the season due to Covid-19.
The German completed just 18 laps in Free Practice 1 before the issue hit that forced him to park up – with Vettel then forced to sit out FP2 as Aston Martin kitted him out with a new power unit.
“Obviously we had a problem and there was a bit of smoke and I lost power, and we had to stop the car on the track,” said Vettel, who quickly grabbed a fire extinguisher after the stoppage, in scenes similar to his firefighting actions at Zandvoort last year.
“I did the best I could to limit the damage and get it off the track as soon as possible.”
“It stopped our running, which was painful, and unfortunately also cost us the whole session in the afternoon, which is not ideal.”
“I haven’t been in the car for a while plus the track is different. Tomorrow will be fine but it would have been nice to get more laps [in today],” he concluded.