Vettel lost a potential podium at the Spanish Grand Prix by pitting during the VSC period triggered by Esteban Ocon’s engine failure. A slow stop saw the Ferrari driver reappear behind Valtteri Bottas and Max Verstappen.
Whilst Vettel owned up to making a mistake at his pitstop, the German believes that the current system used is easily abused, with some drivers taking unusual lines to help them stay under the required delta.
“It’s the same for everyone but the FIA is supplying us with a system that makes us follow a delta time, and everybody has to slow down by, I think, 40 per cent. But I think everybody’s aware you can have a faster way to go under VSC than just follow the delta – by saving distance. We should have a system that hasn’t got this loophole, because it forces us to drive ridiculous lines around the track. Everybody’s doing it – so I don’t think it’s a secret.”
It’s not the first time this season Vettel has had a right old moan about safety car procedures either as he complained about the “unfair” timing of its deployment in China.
Race director Charlie Whiting rubbished Vettel’s Chinese moans and has done so again here, saying that as long as every driver follows the delta, there is no problem with the current system.
“I don’t know what he’s talking about, honestly. The VSC has a map in the ECU which is 30% slower than a quick lap. Drivers have to follow that lap. It’s measured every 50m of travel along the track. It measures where it is relevant to the reference lap and gives you a plus or minus. Every 50m they are reminded if they are above or below.
“They are allowed to go [quicker], as long as they are positive once in each marshalling sector and at the Safety Car 1 line. Even if someone does go slow, as long as they get to zero by that point it doesn’t matter. I can sort of see what he’s saying, but the racing line is the optimal one.”
Of course, the real problem with the VSC is that it doesn’t mix up the race as much as a full safety car can. If you’re going to complain about anything, Seb, complain about that!