After being unable to compete in the first two races of the season due to COVID-19, four-time champion Sebastian Vettel is finally able to make his 2022 season debut in Formula 1. With 15 minutes left in the first session of practice in Melbourne, however, his Aston Martin came to a stop with engine issues.
Vettel attempted to cool the car himself with a fire extinguisher, but by the time the session ended, it was clear he wasn't going to be able to drive his car back to the pits. So he borrowed a scooter from one of the marshals and rode back to his stall himself, using the track as a pathway to get there. While it made for a fun time for fans at Albert Park, the FIA didn't like Vettel's joyride very much. The sanctioning body announced today it has fined the German driver €5000 (roughly $5400) for entering the track without permission.
Vettel recounted the incident in a press briefing, insisting a marshal allowed him to take the scooter.
“The session was then over, and I asked [the marshals], ‘Is somebody coming?’ They said, 'Yeah, yeah as soon as the session is over.' And then the guy came with a scooter and he said, ‘You can jump on the back,'" Vettel said, according to Motorsport.com.
“I said, ‘Can I drive it?’ Because I prefer to drive myself," Vettel added. "And then he handed me the scooter, so I said, ‘OK,’ and he said, ‘Off you go.’ And I went."
Vettel was able to set a quickest time of 1:21.67 before his car failed on track, putting him 13th quickest in FP1. The 34-year-old's team wasn't able to put in a new power unit in time for FP2, so he sat out that session, unable to set a time.