Austria F1 drivers’ briefing "going in circles" before Vettel stormed out

The Formula 1 drivers’ briefing was “going in circles” before Sebastian Vettel stormed out and landed a suspended fine from the FIA, according to Mick Schumacher.

Austria F1 drivers’ briefing "going in circles" before Vettel stormed out
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Vettel was summoned by the FIA on Saturday evening over his behaviour in the drivers’ briefing 24 hours earlier, when it emerged he had left the meeting while it was ongoing.

Vettel received a suspended €25,000 fine for the incident, which the FIA said saw him fail to live up to the standard of being a role model to other drivers in motorsport.

The Aston Martin driver and four-time F1 world champion met with race director Niels Wittich on Saturday to discuss the incident and apologise, but refused to talk about the matter with the media on Sunday, simply saying: “Ask the FIA.”

It emerged that Vettel’s frustration lay with the focus on seemingly minor issues in the meeting, such as track limits and pit entry requirements, instead of having other priorities.

Asked about the meeting and Vettel’s exit, Haas driver Schumacher said: “I just felt like we were going in circles with some of the things that were discussed.

“It kind of was getting longer than necessary. I fully understand the direction from Seb, and I think there were a lot more drivers who kind of felt the need to leave the briefing as well.”

Drivers parade

Drivers parade

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo noted the time pressures on race weekends that could make any perceived delays or wasted time in the briefing a source of frustration.

“I don't want to speak for Seb, but sometimes we've got engineering to do,” Ricciardo said.

“So I think sometimes if you're going back and forth, and there's always conversations, if it goes on long and without a definitive answer, then for sure some are like, ‘I gotta go.’

“Obviously Seb was a little frustrated with the back and forth. He obviously felt quite strongly about it."

In the wake of Vettel’s summons, Mercedes driver and GPDA director George Russell highlighted the need for consistency from officials, saying F1 should consider sticking to one race director and ensure there is accountability for stewards making decisions.

The Austria weekend saw the stewards take action over a number of incidents, placing a particular focus on track limits as its rule of using the white line as the edge of the circuit resulted in regular breaches.

There were 43 lap times deleted during the race, as well as four five-second penalties given to drivers for too many track limits offences. Although it was labelled “a bit of a joke” by some drivers, the FIA pointed to the drivers’ request for consistency and this being an example of it.

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