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Vettel lucky not to be penalised for earlier incident in Germany

NEWS STORY
26/07/2012

Mat Coch writes:

Sebastian Vettel was lucky not to be hit with a drive through penalty early in last weekend's Grand Prix. Starting from second the Red Bull driver appeared to crowd Michael Schumacher off the track, forcing the seven-time champion to lift off the throttle to avoid an incident.

Vettel was subsequently handed a twenty second penalty after the race for a separate incident with Jenson Button, when stewards deemed the German to have gained an advantage by leaving the circuit at the exit of the Turn 6 hairpin.

At the British Grand Prix the FIA sent a note to teams reminding them what drivers can and cannot do when battling for position. The note specifically mentioned moving across the width of the circuit if any significant part of the other car is alongside the driver's rear wheel and drivers leaving the circuit.

The note came after the European Grand Prix, when Pastor Maldonado left the circuit when battling with Lewis Hamilton in the closing stages. Maldonado then re-joined the circuit, only to collide with Hamilton. The Williams driver had originally claimed it was Hamilton who forced him off the track, an argument thrown out by stewards who provided evidence of Kimi Raikkonen pulling out of a near identical move the lap before.

As Vettel and Schumacher exited the now infamous hairpin it can be seen from television footage that the younger of the two Germans moved across to defend in a move that can best be described as borderline.

A number of senior paddock insiders believe had the move occurred later in the race away from the panic and confusion of the race start the stewards may well have taken a closer look. A penalty at that point would have left the German somewhere towards the back, a long way from the second place he was ultimately fighting for when he was penalised.

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