Sebastian Vettel says he has “zero tolerance” for the mistake the FIA made in starting Formula 1 qualifying in Turkey with a crane still on the track.
The recovery vehicle had been sent out to retrieve the stricken Williams of Nicholas Latifi, who had spun off at the high-speed Turn 8 in the first section of qualifying in Turkey.
But the Q2 session began with the crane still in front of the barriers and it only being protected by local double waved yellow flags in the slippery conditions.
F1 race director Michael Masi explained afterwards that the situation had been prompted because the clerk of the course had assured him that the crane would be clear by the times the cars got there, and pledged to review its procedures “to minimise the likelihood of similar incidents in future”.
However Vettel, who is a director of the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association, remains unimpressed by the explanation and thinks that there is no room in F1 for such errors.
F1 has been especially mindful about the presence of cranes on the circuit since Jules Bianchi died from injuries he sustained in a collision with such a recovery vehicle during the wet Japanese Grand Prix in 2014.
“We are all humans, and mistakes happen, but this mistake has a zero tolerance,” said Vettel.
“We’re all well aware and I’m very confident that it will not happen in the future again.
“But we will for sure talk about this and disclose the reasons why.”
Despite Vettel’s stance, Masi said he was “more than comfortable” with the decision he took based on the information he was being given at the time.
“It was quite close to the barrier opening, and the crane was on its way,” he said.
“We were given assurances that it would be well and truly clear. And looking at everything, I was more than comfortable with the local assurances on that basis.
“With the benefit of hindsight, you would do something different. But based on it all, and the available information at the time, that was the call that we made.”
Bianchi’s protege Charles Leclerc backed up Vettel’s thoughts that the drivers would want to discuss the matter with Masi in Bahrain, saying “we have all been a bit shocked to see that”.
“It shouldn’t happen, and we need to make sure that it doesn’t happen again,” he added.
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