The days of F1 allowing the winners of Grand Prix winners to celebrate with a crowd-pleasing donut on the start/finish straight are long gone. But on Sunday, after clinching his fourth consecutive world championship with victory in the Indian Grand Prix, Sebastian Vettel
thrilled the fans and did it anyway.
Vettel knew full well what he was doing: "My engineer directed for the usual procedure, but I said: 'Not this time!' There are so many people on the main grandstand here, I just had to do it.
"Usually we are not allowed to but it felt so right," he added.
Unsurprisingly it turned out that strictly speaking he wasn't allowed to do it this time either, and he received a summons to break away from the Red Bull
celebrations in the team garage and make his way to the race stewards; office and explain himself. And of course, there was little Vettel could do but cop to the charge.
In the official notice, the stewards decreed that "Car 1 failed to proceed directly from the circuit to the post race parc fermé without unnecessary delay," which was deemed a de facto
breach of Article 43.3 of the FIA F1 Sporting Regulations.
However, it could have been worse - the penalty notice noted that "due to the special circumstance the Stewards accepted the explanation of the driver," and as a result, Vettel was simply handed a reprimand.
Meanwhile Red Bull
itself was fined 25,000 euros with the stewards pronouncing that "the team failed to instruct the driver sufficiently to return directly to post race parc fermé."
Likely as not, Red Bull
owner Dietrich Mateschitz will regard that as the best 25,000 euros he's ever paid out and will be able to find it in the loose change down the back of the sofa.
As for Vettel, as long as he doesn't amass two more in the remaining three races of the season, it's unlikely that the slap on the wrist will live long in his memory either, and will certainly not take the gloss off a perfect day at the office for the 26-year-old four-time world champion.