Sebastian Vettel critical of ‘not very professional’ Imola penalty as tough Aston Martin start continues

Sebastian Vettel’s difficult start to life with Aston Martin continued at the Emilia Romagna GP with the four-time F1 world champion struggling for pace and reliability, while also insisting that the FIA were “not very professional” in handing him a mid-race penalty.

After beginning his career with the returning British marquee car brand with a wretched Bahrain GP – where he crashed in the race and also picked up five penalty points over the weekend – Vettel was “positive” of an improvement heading to Imola for 2021’s second Grand Prix.

  • How Vettel fared in Driver Ratings from the Emilia Romagna GP

But Vettel was out-qualified again by young team-mate Lance Stroll, who advanced to Q3, while he then followed up with a nightmare race day.

Both Aston Martins were plagued by brake issues on the way to the grid, with Vettel having to start from the pit-lane as mechanics worked on his car. But the team failed to fit his tyres before the five-minute signal ahead of the start of the race, breaking an F1 rule, and that led to Vettel being handed a 10-second stop-and-go penalty.

It was only confirmed to him just after a pit-stop that left him a lowly 17th.

Vettel, who retired from the race with a gearbox issue with two laps remaining, admitted the penalty “certainly wasn’t a decider for us” but was critical of the timing from FIA race stewards.

“Obviously the guys tried everything on the grid and they did really well, so they were really alert,” Vettel told Sky F1.

“I think we could have had a better race if the FIA was more alert, because I think we broke a rule – I guess, that’s why we got a penalty – but they didn’t bother until way into the race and by that time the penalty obviously cost a lot more than it would have earlier in the race.

“So that’s not very professional.”

Vettel, who joined Aston Martin for 2021 after leaving Ferrari, added: “We had plenty of issues, not a trouble-free race that we were hoping for. Tough day.”

Aston Martin did manage to salvage some points from the Emilia Romagna GP, with Lance Stroll claiming eighth place – but the team have been struggling to replicate their leading midfield form of 2020 following the new season’s regulation changes.

“We need to do a better job in a lot of areas,” said Vettel.

The F1 2021 season continues with the third race, the Portuguese GP, on May 2.

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