Vettel’s steering wheel; gearbox concerns

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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

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Interesting on the gearbox, if the car was unable to finish the race they would get a penalty free change of gearbox, but I don’t know about not being able to complete the cool down lap to parc ferme.


I forget who mentioned it (I believe it was a post-race interview on SKY), but it was suggested that Seb may have been low or out of fuel at the end of the race and ‘distracted’ on the cool-down lap.


No penalties for Vettel until the end of the season under any circumstances. It will be ruled that he had enough fuel (even if he didn`t) and that the gearbox is OK (even if it isn`t). The FIA are desperately trying to keep the title race alive but Vettel keeps making it hard for them.


Before I say this I don’t think the FIA are in Ferrari’s pocket… I do have some friends who swear the FIA stands for Ferrari Insurance Agency :p


LOL, yeah Ferrari have a lot of influence there but right now FIA just wants people to buy tickets for the final races. If both championships are decided few people will bother watching the formalities.

charlie white

You would think the sight of Vettel getting a ride from Wehrlein on the Sauber would bring Uber or Lyft into F1 as a team sponsor. I hope Seb gave him a positive driver review and tip. But that what I thought when I saw him keep the steering wheel: not a souvenir for the fans. Now it’s assumed Vettel will get a grid penalty for a gearbox change because of that incident.

Roger Flerity

The steering wheel issue is a load of silliness. The sporting regs apply during the race. After the race (checkers had fallen for the entire grid, a car left on track would not be recovered until after all other cars had returned to the pits. The need to “steer” a car that cannot be rolled, at that point was irrelevant. It was not recovered for some time after the race had ended and fans had moved off. As far as Toto and his idea that Vettel purposefully run into Stroll, that’s ridiculous – as has been shown was not the… Read more »


Just one clarification, the steering wheel requirement is a general safety requirement, not a ‘in race’ requirement, so I imagine that it would still apply. But agree with you 100% race is over, who cares what you do with your steering wheel. (well, Kimi may care!)

Guy Fawkes

Can we all agree to refer to the young Canadian as “Lance ‘Force Majeure” Stroll from now on?


I looked up the definition of Force majeure.
Meaning “superior force”, also known as cas fortuit (French) or casus fortuitus (Latin) “chance occurrence, unavoidable accident”
Lance might like ‘superior force’, but I think Seb would go for ‘cas fortuit’

Jeff Stephenson

Lance has put ol’ Phil Massa in the shade since Canada. He has taken that pay driver slander and showed everyone that he deserves his seat. Give him Ocon’s car and he finishes where Ocon does, and I think Ocon is WDC material.