x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Sebastian Vettel not insulted by allegations of cheating

Sebastian Vettel is laughing off allegations that Red Bull are using illegal traction control to gain a big advantage on their rivals.

Sebastian Vettel sits in his Red Bull race car as his team mechanics prepare it for the Korean Formula One Grand Prix at the Korean International Circuit in Yeongam, South Korea, Practice starts Friday, October 3, ith a third practice and qualifying Saturday and the race Sunday. Lee Jin-man / AP Photo
Sebastian Vettel sits in his Red Bull race car as his team mechanics prepare it for the Korean Formula One Grand Prix at the Korean International Circuit in Yeongam, South Korea, Practice starts Friday, October 3, ith a third practice and qualifying Saturday and the race Sunday. Lee Jin-man / AP Photo

YEONGAM, South Korea // Sebastian Vettel is laughing off allegations that Red Bull are using illegal traction control to gain a big advantage on their rivals.

The German has a 60-point lead in the Formula One championship standings heading into this weekend’s Korean Grand Prix and appears headed toward a fourth straight title.

His huge speed advantage in the previous race in Singapore prompted Giancarlo Minardi, the former F1 team boss, to allege Red Bull are using banned traction control to gain a cornering-speed advantage.

Asked about the allegation on Thursday, Vettel laughed and joked that even a forecast typhoon in southern Korea on race day will not be able to stop him winning because “since we have traction control, it doesn’t matter so much”.

Vettel’s three straight titles and continued dominance this year have prompted a series of conspiracy theories about how Red Bull achieves their tremendous cornering speed, from adjustable ride heights to illegal diffusers and now traction control.

“We are pretty proud of the system and others have to figure out how we have done it,” Vettel said. “That is part of the homework they have to do.”

He said he was not angry over the allegations of cheating.

“I don’t think it was meant as an insult,” Vettel said. “People are interested in the sport and the technology behind it.”

Minardi, who gave name to the team that competed from 1985-2005, attended the race in Singapore – where Vettel was at times a staggering 2.5 seconds a lap faster than his rivals – and said the sound of the car in corners indicated it was using a form of traction control.

Lewis Hamilton, the Mercedes driver, said yesterday the Red Bull were using something that their rivals could only guess at.

“Perhaps they have a lot more in the bag than we get to see,” Hamilton said. “He is full throttle at least 20 metres before everyone else, which is a huge advantage.”

Vettel’s nearest championship rival Fernando Alonso of Ferrari said the different sound of the Red Bull in cornering had been apparent since pre-season testing, and does not account for its growing dominance in the latter half of the season.

“It’s up to us to do a better job,” Alonso said.

A forecast typhoon south of Korea could affect Yeongam and bring the kind of heavy rain that blighted the first year of the event in 2010.

Wild weather could deliver the kind of upset result that is needed to breathe new life into the championship, but Alonso said heavy rain may not help Ferrari much either.

“You never know in wet races who will be the lucky one in that situation,” Alonso said. “With the downforce they [Red Bull] have, in wet conditions they should be stronger.”

Kimi Raikkonen, the Lotus driver, could be a threat under any conditions, but the Finn is not even sure he will be able to start Sunday’s race because of a lingering back injury, saying he will decide after Friday’s practice sessions.

“Once we drive tomorrow I will know more,” Raikkonen said. “It would be pointless coming here if I didn’t race.”