Otley driving instructor handed reprimand to world F1 champion Vettel (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
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Otley driving instructor handed reprimand to world F1 champion Sebastian Vettel
Otley driving instructor Steve Stringwell lived up to his nickname of ‘Judge Dredd’ at the Indian Formula One Grand Prix last weekend.
Stringwell was one of the three race stewards who were dubbed ‘party poopers’ after issuing a reprimand to Sebastian Vettel for the way the German celebrated the victory which sealed his fourth successive world title.
After taking the chequered flag at the Buddh International Circuit, Vettel slowed to a stop on the start/finish straight before spinning his Red Bull round and round in a cloud of tyre smoke.
The 26-year-old then leapt from the cockpit of his car and bowed to the ecstatic fans before punching the air in delight.
He was given an official reprimand, while his Red Bull team were fined £21,000 for Vettel not going straight to parc ferme at the end of the race.
Stringwell – speaking from Abu Dhabi, where he will be officiating in the final round of the Porsche Supercup on Sunday – said: “You must not let personalities interfere with your job, which is to ensure that you follow the letter of the law.
“As a steward you have to look at all the evidence and then make a ruling based upon the regulations. Away from the track I am a magistrate and the same applies there.
“It isn’t about making popular decisions, it is all about making the right decision. That is what I try to do when I am officiating at races.
“On this occasion Vettel didn’t go straight to parc ferme, which is in direct contravention of article 43.3 of the FIA Formula One Sporting Regulations.”
Sunday’s race was the third grand prix at which Stringwell has officiated, following Melbourne in 2011 and India last year.
The punishment for Vettel was not the only incident requiring the stewards to intervene. The Williams team were fined £50,000 after a wheel came loose on Pastor Maldonado’s car during practice.
“They were able to prove it was human error rather than a design fault, otherwise they might have faced stronger sanctions,” said Stringwell, who is expecting an emotional weekend in Abu Dhabi.
It will be the first race since championship leader Sean Edwards was killed when the car he was a passenger in crashed at the Queensland Raceway in Australia.
“I am not sure yet how other drivers will approach this weekend, said Stringwell.
“Sean was a talented young driver and really well liked. His death has come as a real blow to everybody in the sport.
“We will just have to see how things go. I am sure everybody connected with the championship will be thinking about Sean this weekend.”