Organisers of the United States Grand Prix say world champion Sebastian Vettel’s absence from qualifying this weekend is unfortunate, while the reigning world champion has labeled the rule as stupid.
The Red Bull driver will sit out Saturday’s decisive session and start the Austin race from the pitlane, as he takes a penalty for using an unscheduled sixth engine of the 2014 season.
Vettel has slammed the long-life engine rule in Formula 1, “It’s completely stupid, people turn on the television and see a driver who just stands around and has nothing to do.”
Already reeling from the sudden loss of Formula 1’s two backmarker teams just ahead of the race weekend, the Austin circuit’s co-founder Bobby Epstein is also upset that one of Formula 1’s biggest names will not be qualifying on Saturday.
“It’s just too bad,” he is quoted by the Guardian. “I would like to see him [Vettel] start on the grid on Sunday. It won’t affect our ticket sales because most of the people come here for the overall experience but it’s nevertheless unfortunate.”
Formula 1’s loss of Marussia and Caterham, amid the risk other struggling teams could also collapse, has triggered the next round of soul-searching for the sport.
Epstein thinks Formula 1 could learn from America’s top motor racing category, Nascar, “Formula 1 has got to make the sport about personalities. That’s what Nascar does very well. People connect with people. They don’t connect with metal.”