Sebastian Vettel has questioned Formula 1’s use of the virtual safety car during the Spanish Grand Prix as he believes drivers are finding a “loophole” around remaining to the mandatory delta time.

The German missed out on a podium finish, having run as high as second behind eventual winner Lewis Hamilton, after opting to make an extra pitstop under the VSC triggered by Esteban Ocon’s stricken Force India just before Turn 5.

Although Vettel admitted to remaining in his pit box too long that resulted in him losing two positions, he felt drivers were able to exploit a weakness in the VSC’s system that allowed them to go faster than the rules suggest.

“It’s the same for everyone but the FIA is supplying us with a system that makes us follow a delta time, and everybody has to slow down by, I think, 40%, but I think everybody’s aware you can have a faster way to go under VSC than just follow the delta – by saving distance,” Vettel said.

“So, I think we should have a system that hasn’t got this loophole, because it forces us to drive ridiculous lines around the track and everybody’s doing it so I don’t think it’s a secret.

“Our sport should be in a better shape than supplying software that’s just poor and allows us to find some extra performance that way.”

Despite losing more points in the drivers’ championship, Vettel defended Ferrari’s strategy claiming a one-stop was “not an option”.

“For us it was not an option for us to stay out,” he added. “We were going quicker through the tyres today so obviously it looks different and it looks wrong but from the inside I think it was the right thing to do.”