Vettel denies safety car conspiracy theory

Sebastian Vettel has denied ever suggesting the FIA deployed the safety car at Valencia as a deliberate ploy to spoil his race.

The reigning world champion, and Red Bull’s Dr Helmut Marko, were quoted after the recent European grand prix as implying that Charlie Whiting only neutralised the race to deliberately curb Vettel’s runaway race lead. Shortly after the safety car period, ostensibly to clear crash debris from the track, the furious Vettel’s RB8 failed.

Asked about his reported conspiracy theory, the German said on Thursday: “What I said is that, in my opinion, there was no reason for the safety car to be on the track. Then I said that it ruined my race. I never said that it was (deployed) to ruin my race,” he is quoted by Brazil’s O Estado de S.Paulo newspaper.

“That was written by those who have the habit of removing important parts (of quotes) to make it more sensational. I have reviewed the race and I still have the same opinion, but I do not dispute the decision of the officials. They always have more information than we do in order to make their decisions.

“Agree or not, I always respect them,” said Vettel.

Vettel’s apparent backtracking follows reports last week that the FIA was unamused by the reigning back-to-back title winner’s post-race comments.


Safety car conspiracy theory surfaces

Dr Helmut Marko has confirmed Red Bull’s suspicion that the safety car was called onto the Valencia circuit on Sunday to aid ‘the show’.

After retiring from a comfortable lead with a broken Red Bull on Sunday, an angry Sebastian Vettel said he thought the safety car period was called not just to clear debris but also “to break our neck”. Indeed, the neutralisation of the race allowed Romain Grosjean to catch up and thereby breathed life into the contest, and it also may have contributed to Vettel’s terminal car problem.

“It just went to sh**,” Vettel shrugged. “I think it was clear to see that (until then) we were pulling away without problems.”

Red Bull’s motor sport consultant Marko backed Vettel’s theory.

“Vettel was too far ahead and so the field was brought back together,” the Austrian is quoted as saying on German television, “just as they do in American racing.”

German Sky television pundit Marc Surer, however, doubted Red Bull’s conspiracy theory is true.

“I don’t think it was intentional against Vettel,” said the Swiss, insisting it was right to give marshals the cover of the safety car to clear the track of crash debris. “But I am sure it is going to be discussed,” he added.

Surer also played down the new controversy about the legality of the RB8’s latest developments; namely the ‘double floor’ that was credited for Vettel’s pole gap and winning pace in Spain.

“It is being discussed,” said Surer, “but I remember that Toro Rosso had a false floor like this and no one said anything.”


Vettel criticises safety car call after failure

Sebastian Vettel pointed a finger at the race director after retiring from Sunday’s European grand prix.

The Red Bull driver suffered a car failure having dominated from pole in Valencia. He questioned the call to bring the safety car out, ostensibly to clear away crash debris.

“I think we could have been spared the safety car period,” Vettel told German television Sky. “I think the reason is clear. I don’t think there was a danger. There were pieces on the track earlier and it was acceptable.

“I think in a sense the safety car was to break our neck,” said the 24-year-old German, who at the time of the call was approaching 40 seconds ahead of Romain Grosjean.

Vettel thinks the safety car period also contributed to his car failure.

“It’s not exactly clear,” he said. “Perhaps a combination of the safety car period when you have to drive slowly, and a similar problem that Mark had on Friday. “It just went to sh**,” Vettel shrugged. “I think it was clear to see that (until then) we were pulling away without problems.

“I think the important that is that we have shown that we can be really fast, as we made a step forward this weekend.”

Lewis Hamilton, meanwhile, was keeping his temper under control after being punted out of the race by Pastor Maldonado.

In the cockpit, he slammed his steering wheel before throwing it against the barrier, but when flanked by press officers the McLaren driver told British Sky television he would “suck it up”.

And on the BBC, the Briton said “That’s life. You have to deal with it.”


Safety car is Button’s best hope

Button ValenciaHonda are hoping for intervention from the safety car in today’s European Grand Prix after a disastrous showing in qualifying left Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello languishing at the back of the field with their work cut out in the 57-lap race.

Button and Barrichello will line up sixteenth and nineteenth for the inaugural grand prix at Valencia, both drivers having run into problems in the opening knock-out qualifying session.

Button had impressed in both the Friday and Saturday practice sessions and was looking solid in Q1 on the prime hard tyres. But when the British ace swapped to the option soft tyres in the dying minutes, it all went horribly wrong and he struggled to extract any serious pace from his ill-handling RA108.

“My first run on the prime tyres was good but we simply chose the wrong tyre for my final run in Q1. I had no grip with the option and it just wasn’t very competitive for us.”

“My final run was slower than my prime run, which shouldn’t happen on a circuit which is improving all the time. I’m really disappointed as we have improved the car but we didn’t make the most of that.”

Rubens Barrichello meanwhile struggled with the balance of his car: “We were not able to find a balance on the car in practice this morning which affected our preparations for qualifying.”

“I particularly struggled with rear locking which cost me a lot of time as I wasn’t able to attack the lap. It’s very disappointing to be starting the first race here from so far back on the grid.”

Honda chief Steve Clark admits that the team’s only real hope of salvaging a decent result is if they can make up ground under a safety car period; a distinct possibility given the close proximity of the walls around the new 5.4km street circuit.

“From our grid positions the race will certainly be a challenge,” he said. “If the car is working well tomorrow the drivers will be up against slower cars ahead and we think overtaking is going to be difficult.”

“However race incidents are likely here. It could be very tricky off-line and, as we have seen from the other series, there are places from which cars are difficult to recover so safety cars are a real possibility.”

“We now need to focus on making our strategy as robust as possible to ensure we are well-placed to take advantage of any opportunities.”

Webber brands Safety Car rules a joke

Mark Webber has branded this season s Safety Car rules a joke. Webber believes that Piquet s podium place at Hockenheim was sheer luck, mainly thanks to the Safety Car rules.

“The safety car threw up a bizarre result and I think the rules are a joke,” Webber explained in his BBC column.

“I was happy for Renault’s Nelson Piquet that he finished second, given the start to the season he has had, but F1 is more professional and better than the rules we have for the safety car at the moment.

“It looks very amateurish when the guy who nearly wins the race starts 17th and only overtakes one car, Kazuki Nakajima’s Williams, because he spun. For me, that is not what Formula One is all about.

“Nelson would be the first to agree that it was not a fully deserved second place. None of the drivers like the current system – we don’t like to get flukey results.

“The teams and the FIA are trying to find a better way with the safety car but they are making heavy weather of it.”