We know that the FIA frowns on drivers hitching rides on the side of another Formula 1 car but let’s be honest, it makes for great imagery and harkens back to the days of yore with Senna and Schumacher.
What caught the attention of many fans is the removal of the steering wheel of his stricken Ferrari car by Sebastian Vettel prior to jumping on the sidepod of Pascal Wehrlein’s Sauber for a lift back to the paddock. At the time, I thought this was probably a prudent move as the car was going to have to be lifted on a truck and the steering wheel is a $50,000+ piece of kit you don’t want left unattended at the end of a race with fans lurking about.
That hasn’t stopped fans from concocting conspiracy theories of their own and one of the best I’ve read so far is that Ferrari—like Folgers instant crystals—secretly replaced Seb’s car with Kimi’s car and swapped his steering wheel so when Seb left his car, he took his wheel back. Whew! That’s a doozy.
Regardless, Seb cleared up the act that has delivered some funny internet jokes and videos with Kimi’s “steering Wheel” tirade as a voiceover and you can imagine, it’s all in good fun. Here’s what Autosport has Seb explaining:
“I saw Pascal was stopped and I couldn’t get the steering wheel back on because the steering column was completely turned.
“Obviously the car was damaged. I put it in the seat, and it was reflex – sometimes they open the track to spectators, so I thought that’s the only loose bit.
“Because I couldn’t put it on I thought I might as well take it with me just to make sure.
“You don’t want to lose a steering wheel. Was it necessary? Probably not.”
That’s basically what I suspected. The Steering Wheel is easy to remove from a stricken car and as it was the end of the race and you never know if the fans will swarm the car, Seb was just being prudent. The other side of the coin is that there is a hefty fine for not replacing the steering wheel in the case of a stopped car and I have not read anything about a fine being leveraged by the FIA.
There’s also the issue over Seb’s gearbox and whether it was damaged in the collision with Lance Stroll. Ferrari are assessing the damage and nothing has been announced but that would mean a grid-slot penalty if they had to change it. One suspects Ferrari will make a case that it was beyond their control and simply force majeure.
Hat Tip: Autosport