Sebastian Vettel reprimanded for skipping national anthem at Japanese GP

By @saihoops on
Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Japanese Grand Prix
Formula One F1 - Japanese Grand Prix 2017 - Suzuka Circuit, Japan - October 7, 2017. Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel of Germany reacts on finishing third after qualifying. Reuters / Toru Hanai

Sebastian Vettel's world championship hopes took another major dash Sunday as the German retired from the race jut four laps into the Japanese Grand Prix at the Suzuka Circuit. But trailing Lewis Hamilton by 59 points in the drivers' standings isn't Vettel's only concern. 

Vettel, a former four-time World Champion, has run into more trouble with the FIA for skipping the national anthem at the conclusion of Sunday's Grand Prix. And while Vettel's no-show was understandable given the frenzy around his car on the starting grid as Ferrari mechanics tried to fix a spark-plug problem, the German has received flak from Formula One officials and social media for skipping the anthem.

The German is now one race reprimand away from facing a 10-place grid penalty. And while this is his first non-driving reprimand, Vettel has already registered one driving reprimand, imposed at the Monaco Grand Prix in May for prematurely crossing the yellow line at the pit lane exit during qualifying. According to FIA rules, three reprimands in a season trigger an automatic 10-place penalty for the following race.

Lewis Hamilton feels sorry for Sebastian Vettel

Hamilton, primed to capture his fourth World Championship, sympathised with his rival while speaking to reporters after notching up his eighth Grand Prix victory of the season. "It's kind of unbelievable really to think that we are where we are. I was excited actually to have a good race with Sebastian here but he's been incredibly unfortunate through no fault of his own," said Hamilton, who recently revealed he nearly retired from Formula One before the renewed rivalry with Vettel.

The Briton acknowledged that he was blessed to be empowered by Mercedes; the F1 team is on the brink of winning its fourth consecutive constructors title. "In the world of Formula One today, it is a lot about the reliability, it's about the team's whole performance, not just the speed on the track and the team [Mercedes] have shown for years now that we have a very solid platform, the guys do a phenomenal job in terms of how they build the car and also reliability so Mercedes are real leaders in that."

Lewis Hamilton will enter the United States Grand Prix (Oct. 20-22) with an opportunity to seal his fourth world championship. If Hamilton can outscore Vettel by 16 points at the Circuit of the Americas, the final three races of the 2017 Formula One season would become inconsequential. Following the US GP, the F1 calendar would wrap up with the final three races at Mexico, Brazil and Abu Dhabi.