Sebastian Vettel has been handed a three-place grid penalty for impeding Carlos Sainz Jr during qualifying for the Austrian Grand Prix.

The Ferrari driver appeared to block Sainz midway through Q2 at the exit of the first turn after he had just finished a fast lap while the Renault driver was starting his own flying lap.

While both drivers progressed into Q3, with the issue ultimately having no impact on either drivers' final qualifying position, Vettel has been handed a three-place grid drop for the incident along with one penalty point to his name.

In the FIA report into the incident, both Sainz and Vettel explained the Ferrari driver could not see the Renault driver in his mirrors on the exit of turn one while the German was also not warned of Sainz’s position over his team radio.

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However, the FIA stewards have slapped the four-time F1 world champion with a penalty for driving slowly on the racing line which drops him down to sixth place on the starting grid behind the Haas of Romain Grosjean.

Speaking about the incident before the penalty decision during the post-qualifying press conference, Vettel conceded he held up Sainz but felt it was accidental.

"I passed him on my fast lap in turn 7 or 8 and then I was looking down the main straight, I didn’t see him and as I was turning into turn 1 I was trying again," Vettel said. "I don’t know if he was pitting or starting his lap, but as it turned out obviously he was trying to go for a fast lap but I didn’t see him.

"I wasn’t told on the radio so I apologised to him, there was no intention. I was looking, as I said, down the straight and then I turned around turn one as I was done with my lap."