Sebastian Vettel was facing potential punishment Friday after riding a moped on the track at the Australian Grand Prix in violation of the rules, as his season went from bad to worse.
The four-time world champion jumped on a scooter to make his way back to the paddock after abandoning his broken down Aston Martin, which had smoke belching from the rear, in the first practice session at Albert Park.
The 34-year-old German was seen casually driving around the track, smiling and waving to fans, after the other cars had returned to the pits.
At one point he took his hands off the handlebars.
“This is the most iconic end to a practice session we can remember,” Formula One’s official Twitter account posted.
But governing body the FIA took a dim view and ordered him to report to the stewards for “unauthorised use of a scooter on the track”, which could reportedly result in a fine.
It was not the start he wanted after missing the opening two races of the season with Covid-19.
Vettel then failed to appear for the second practice, with his team tweeting that his “car will not be ready to run”, in a fresh setback for the three-time Melbourne champion.
“It was a shame to have to finish FP1 earlier than we would have liked—and then not be able to take part in FP2 — because today was an important day for me in terms of getting back up to speed with the car and learning a new layout,” he said.
“The positives are that I felt I was able to get comfortable quite quickly and that we had a good balance in the car, too.
“It is a shame, however, not to have completed more laps, but it was a power unit issue and that meant we had to replace it.”
The car is expected to be fine for Saturday’s third practice and qualifying, he added.
F1’s youngest world champion is now in his 15th full season.
He first won at Albert Park in 2011 driving a Red Bull, then did so in 2017 and 2018 when at Ferrari.