Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff and Ferrari counterpart Fred Vasseur were both handed formal warnings by motorsports governing body FIA on Thursday for using bad language at the Las Vegas Grand Prix.
The FIA also said that the use of such language was not commonplace for either of them.
Both team principals were speaking at a news conference last Thursday as Formula One made its much-hyped return to Las Vegas. They were irate for different reasons and both used expletives.
The main talking point was a loose water drain cover that badly damaged the car of Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz Jr. and caused the first practice session to be halted after only nine minutes. When talking about the situation and the car’s damage, an irate Vasseur used salty language.
Wolff responded angrily when a reporter interjected that the situation would not be overlooked.
Wolff and Vasseur were both found by race stewards to have breached the FIA’s international sporting code with their “unacceptable language.”
The FIA, however, understood that Vasseur “was extremely upset and frustrated by the incident” and that such language “was not usual” for him.
The FIA said Wolff’s response was also out of character and that there had perhaps been an element of provocation.
“The use of the language concerned was in this case unusual and was provoked by an abrupt interjection during the press conference and therefore cannot be regarded as typical from this team principal,” the FIA wrote.
The $500 million Formula One race in Las Vegas got off to a bad start. It was halted by a delay of 2 1/2 hours before second practice for track repairs. Multiple drainage covers needed to be sealed ahead of the second practice, which was originally scheduled for midnight but didn’t begin until 2:30 a.m. on Friday.
That led to choatic scenes as all spectators were removed from viewing areas ahead of the 90-minute session that ended at 4 a.m. — the deadline for F1 to return the roads to Las Vegas commuters.
Before winning the race, three-time F1 champion Max Verstappen blasted the event as “99% show, 1% sporting event.”
The race was the third stop this year in the United States, more than any other country, as F1 and U.S.-based owner Liberty Media tried to capitalize on the circuit’s popularity driven by the Netflix “Drive to Survive” series.
F1 said the race drew more than 315,000 spectators over the weekend with an economic impact of $1.2 billion for Las Vegas.
The 22-race season ends on Sunday at the Abu Dhabi GP.
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