Sebastian Vettel's problems mount after Italian GP penalty
German's Italian GP 'dangerous' driving penalty for Stroll clash leaves him three points away from suspension; Rosberg backs Vettel to recover from "strange" error
By James Galloway
Last Updated: 09/09/19 12:07am
Sebastian Vettel's penalty for 'dangerous' driving in the Italian GP has left him just three licence points away from an F1 ban, as the German was left to reflect on another damaging day in his disappointing season.
While young team-mate Charles Leclerc ended Ferrari's nine-year wait for a win at their home race, to trigger jubilant celebrations for the team and Italian spectators in the packed grandstands, Vettel trailed home 13th after his race was ruined by an early spin and then an immediate clash with Lance Stroll's oncoming Racing Point.
With his return to the track deemed 'dangerous' by race stewards, Vettel was given a 10-second stop-and-go penalty, the most severe sanction available before a disqualification.
Speaking to Sky Sports F1 after the race, a downcast Vettel said: "Obviously I'm not happy with it, I can't be happy with my day.
"I lost the rear and couldn't catch it, as simple as that. After that the race was gone."
Asked if he had seen Stroll coming, Vettel replied: "No. I struggled a couple of times to get the car going, and to get in the right direction as well, so I couldn't see him."
Compounding the in-race sanction were the three penalty points added to the German's superlicence.
Vettel is now on nine for the last 12-month period, three away from an automatic one-race suspension. The next points to be dropped - two, accrued at last year's US GP - do not expire from his licence until October 19, meaning Vettel has to navigate the next three grands prix without collecting three more points.
No driver has reached the 12-point limit over the stipulated 12-month period since the system was introduced in 2014.
Vettel, who joined Ferrari's post-race celebration picture in the pit lane and congratulated Leclerc, has now been overtaken as the team's lead driver in the world championship. Leclerc is up to fourth place on 182 points, with Vettel now 13 behind.
"Of course I still love what I do, but surely when you're not doing well what you know you can do well, you can't be happy," added the German driver.
What happened to Vettel at Monza?
The verdict from Sky F1's Nico Rosberg
"It's unexplainable for me. I can't explain it.
"He's a four-time world champion, he's one of the best guys out there, and to make a mistake like that, on your own and just spinning a car like that in a corner, is so strange.
"Then even worse afterwards, coming back on the track like that - although I understand because what are you going to do? Just sit there and just wait for the whole train to go by? Probably just choose to take a risk and drive out.
"But even that, a double mistake - my goodness. This must be so dark this moment for him. His team-mate just became an absolute Ferrari legend and has just taken the number one status in the team, probably, from him.
"Vettel is one of those guys who has a lot of self-confidence, so that's going to help him a lot through this. And in F1 it's such short-lived that it just takes one race, one really powerful race and you're back. So we shouldn't write him off because he can come back very quick, but not an easy one."