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FIA to investigate Vettel Baku incident

NEWS STORY
28/06/2017

Following days of speculation, the FIA tonight issued a brief statement confirming that an investigation is to be held into last Sunday’s incident involving the two world championship protagonists.

"Following the recent incident at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in which Car 5 (Sebastian Vettel) was involved in a collision with Car 44 (Lewis Hamilton), on Monday 3rd July, the FIA will further examine the causes of the incident in order to evaluate whether further action is necessary.

"A statement regarding the outcome of this process will be made available before the upcoming Austrian Grand Prix."

The incident began with Vettel hitting the rear of Hamilton's Mercedes at the second re-start. The German, claiming the Briton had "brake tested" him, subsequently pulled alongside the Briton and appeared to drive into him whilst gesticulating.

Shortly after the stewards handed Vettel a 10s stop and go penalty - as well as another 3 penalty points, bringing his 12 month total up to 9 - having decided that the German "drove alongside and then steered into" Hamilton, a manoeuvre they deemed "was potentially dangerous".

Vettel served the penalty, despite protesting his innocence, while Hamilton insisted that the penalty wasn't severe enough.

Post-race, while Vettel continued to claim his innocence, Hamilton branded his actions a disgrace, claiming the German’s behaviour set a bad example for young racers .

While the telemetry shows Hamilton did not brake test Vettel, there remains a question mark as to whether his exit from the corner was different to previous laps, catching the German off guard.

While much of the post-race media coverage of the event has been critical of the German, the situation not helped by the fact that despite the penalty he finished ahead of Hamilton after the Briton suffered a headrest malfunction, specualation that he might face further punishment appeared wide of the mark.

However, following last year's Mexican Grand Prix, Vettel faced the FIA's International Tribunal following his expletive laden outburst at (race director) Charlie Whiting, the Ferrari driver aggrieved that action had not been taken against Max Verstappen following an earlier incident.

Though Vettel apologised for his outburst and the apology was accepted, the International Tribunal made it clear that any further misdemeanours would result in some form of sanction.

"The FIA takes this opportunity to advise that, in the event of any future incident similar to the one that occurred in Mexico, disciplinary action will be taken by bringing such incident before the FIA International Tribunal to be judged," said the FIA at the time.

While this incident is entirely different to what happened in Mexico, it is thought that it is Vettel's refusal to acknowledge the fact that he warranted punishment in Azerbaijan that has riled officials... that and pressure from various sources including the media.

Indeed, and with a certain irony, it is understood Jean Todt was particularly keen to see the incident investigated, the FIA president having spent much time on the other side of the fence when heading Ferrari and at the helm when Michael Schumacher was excluded from the 1997 championship following the incident involving Jacques Villeneuve at Jerez.

Possible sanctions Vettel could face could include a race ban.

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1. Posted by Spindoctor, 03/07/2017 6:54

"@Paul RB
If Hamilton "having completed the corner visibly slows" then it's reasonable to expect that a World-class driver like Vettel might notice....

Quite simply, Vettel was wrong, on both counts (irrespective of the speed). Had he simply bumped into Hamilton with minimal damage, then the stop\go was a reasonable punishment: the fist-waving and deliberately bumping was dangerous, even at 50kph. He should have been disqualified on the spot."

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2. Posted by Paul RB, 30/06/2017 16:08

"There are several strange elements to this issue. First and foremost, Vettel was silly with his wheel bumping activity and it’s difficult to argue against a drive through or stop go penalty. The judgement for this should be unsporting/unreasonable behaviour. The histrionics about dangerous driving are silly. This happened at 50kph and these guys bang wheel to wheel (and more) at three, four and five times this speed. Completely unnecessary it was, but dangerous?
Speaking of unsporting behaviour we come to Hamilton. Now the stewards say the telemetry shows he did not brake test Vettel. They’re the arbiter of these judgements so, to an extent, we have to take this at face value. However, just from the video, Hamilton, having completed the corner visibly slows; not by much but plain to see. Add to this the fact that at the speeds involved an F1 car would steer around that corner forever and a day without needing adjustments to speed.
There is also a video doing the rounds showing the graphics of throttle, brake and speed and it is abundantly clear that Hamilton, having completed the corner, continues to slow with the brake indicator being on, then off then a quick on/off dab. From completing the exit and being on the straight Hamilton’s speed reduces quickly by about a further 10 kph. Of course, Vettel, being the guy following has to account for this but Hamilton does have form behind safety cars.
I have no idea of the accuracy of these on screen graphics or of the veracity of the video, but if it’s a put up job, it’s a pretty clever one.
Most worrying though is the stewardship and race management. The event happened and the announcement of being under investigation appeared pretty quickly, with a clear cut event to judge. If it depended completely on telemetry to judge, this would normally be done after the race. In the event of the red flag it could perhaps have been reviewed then, I don’t know how long it takes to collect the related telemetry data to a level for judgement, but still nothing happened and the race re-started. Then Hamilton faced his headrest event necessitating a pitstop and it was then, and only then that up popped the stop go for Vettel, almost to the second that Hamilton pitted. Was this a knee jerk response from the race management?
If so this turns F1 into no less of a circus than Saturday afternoon wrestling with all its play acting. I’m deeply suspicious of the timing of this which is redolent of an attempt to “even out” the game. If so, this represents a disgraceful action from the body that is supposed to be, must be, impartial to all. The fact that it didn’t work in it’s entirety, with Vettel still finishing ahead I can only think is the motive for the threat of further action – all being due to a fit of pique that their plan didn’t work.
The real losers in this are the FIA and race management for loss of credibility.
"

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3. Posted by F One, 30/06/2017 15:38

"If they do not move on and do give an extra punishment then it makes F1 back into a pathetic laughing stock, kills the 2017 world championship and gives even more reason to not watch another Grand Prix this season and to never watch F1 again once it drags its rotten corpse behind the Sky paywall to die."

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4. Posted by ian_w, 30/06/2017 10:14

"First off, let me state what I saw. Based on the prior SC period, Hamilton knew he had to leave more space to go green w/o jumping the SC. He slowed into the turn and did not accelerate out. Vettel meanwhile anticipated Hamilton would do same as before as he could not see around the corner and paces himself as before. He did not accelerate out but did not slow as Hamilton did. Collision. Bad judgement, but possibly just a racing incident or 5 sec penalty. But then, he came alongside, gesticulated at Hamilton and banged into him. It's hard to say this was not deliberate (even if the hands literally followed the head and moved right). That then is the penalized incident requiring further review. In the context of the race incident, possibly the appropriate penalty was assessed as both vehicles carried on racing at the time. A DQF may have been appropriate if there was damage.

But, pause for a second and think what might have been the outcome had the two cars not emerged unscathed? Assume one of the cars was heavily damaged (suspension) and/or lost control at that point and went into the wall. Now, you have the entire field anticipating a clear track after the turn and instead the entire field accordions into the collision, possibly at speed.

Allowing for that outcome to have been a possibility, compounded with Vettel expressing no appreciation what he did (radio msg post-penalty), no remorse after the race and no apology, even after having plenty of opportunity to discuss off-radio in the pits during the red flag and post-race with his team and review the footage and telemetry. If the ding had unfolded differently, serious injury or death could have resulted. What would have been the outcry if the first 8-10 cars in formation were taken out of the race? What if Vettel emerged unscathed (shades of Prost/Senna)?

Regardless of how unsafe having a SC and everything else may have been, that was the known racing rules. You cannot have a driver place the safety of others in jeopardy over his own error and deliberate actions. Even NASCAR would not condone such behaviour. That assessment has nothing to do with who the drivers are, how the rest of the race unfolded or where they were in the standings.

If a driver involved already has a history and had a previous warning on aggressive behaviour, that should come into play only when assessing further penalty after examination and decision on the overall incident."

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5. Posted by Greg, 30/06/2017 9:30

"IF Hamilton had of finished in front of Vettel then it would most likely have gone no further. It was Hamiltons bad luck also that his headrest came unfastened and he had to also pit. The 10s stop go would have cost Vettel the place normally. Enough said move on"

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6. Posted by Chris Roper, 29/06/2017 20:51

"@johnfaganwilliams

I don't think anyone is suggesting the FIA give Hamilton 25 points but you are correct in saying we have a decent contest. That is why I think a disqualification is the maximum additional penalty they should apply.
A disqualification won't put Hamilton ahead on points but if they do promote Hamilton to 4th as a result it will mean that Hamilton and Vettel go to Austria on equal points. It would reset the competition, with hopefully no ill feeling as all grievances have been addressed, and open up the rest of the year to more close racing.
"

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7. Posted by boatdesigner, 29/06/2017 15:52

"The biggest issue I see is the restart rules that allow the leader to open up a huge gap on the field for the restart. Now if he already had a huge lead that doesn't bother me too much, but if he has a 1 second lead he shouldn't be able to increase that to 5-10 seconds on the restart. Being in the US, I used to be a fan of Champcar, where they were told to hold their positions until they were on the start straight and in the view of the starter. If anyone jumped early, the restart was called off and they all went around and did it again. Was Vettel trying to make sure this didn't happen when he hit Lewis from behind?

I didn't hear Vettel hit the gas going into or through the corner, just the opposite actually. So, if Lewis didn't brake, why did it appear his car slowed down quite a bit, causing Vettel to hit him? I think Vettel was wrong in intentionally hitting Hamilton, but this one has been tried and punished, time to move on with a warning to both drivers to drive more professionally. By the way, is it against the sporting regs for Hamilton to ask for his team mate to block his rivals for him? "

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8. Posted by Pavlo, 29/06/2017 15:42

""the situation not helped by the fact that despite the penalty he finished ahead of Hamilton" - sorry, but are you serious? Purely unrelated mistake of someone can't ever be used to trigger the revision of the penalty already served. If they do so, they will have to DQF Bottas just because he managed to finish in front of Kimi.
While I agree that DQF was a very valid punishment, it was valid only at that moment and not valid the next second after Vettel served the 10 seconds. The best that FIA may do in the interest of the sport is to confirm the decision of the Stewards and Charlie, as they really finally did a good job of handling the penalty within the race and allowing us to see the final result on the finish line, not weeks later. If they want to punish Vettel additionally, they should give him a money fine or a grid penalty for the next race. And they have 10 days to decide. After the Q1 starts in Austria - too late, forget it please.
But why can't Vettel simply apologize?"

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9. Posted by nonickname, 29/06/2017 15:38

"Hello all.. Mugmug and Jenson are right.... move on. Todt is just looking after himself, as he did at Ferrari.
He should be removed from the FIA as he is an idiot, only interested n his own future.
One of F1 's biggest embarrassments.
"

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10. Posted by Mugmug, 29/06/2017 12:04

"I agree with mittagongcalling regarding the FIA. Why "investigate" something that is on video and has already been ruled upon. It just shows what a bunch of beaurocratic nitwits the FIA is. One committee after another investigating and over-complicating something that is black and white. I think J.Todt's political ambitions are influencing how the sport is run, and not in a good way."

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11. Posted by mittagongcalling, 29/06/2017 10:17

"Where to start?? FIA what an incompetent bunch of morons running F1. Get rid of the "safety car" If there is an accident or incident wave yellow flags and use the RADIO, if its a serious one wave two flags, if a driver disregards the flags he is red flagged AND misses the next race. STOP the safety car, it is the dumbest thing in F1. It is too slow, the cars can't keep tyre temp, start a wet race behind the SC it is too slow they don't move the water off the track. "

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12. Posted by testa rossa, 29/06/2017 10:06

"Ha Ha former1fan you are so funny you must be dreaming about Lewis the Great every night. Time to come out LOL "

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13. Posted by @R1Racing71, 29/06/2017 6:48

"Have to agree with Chris, a DSQ would be sufficient.
"

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14. Posted by johnfaganwilliams, 29/06/2017 5:56

"I suspect this might be a minority group but I hope that they don't ban Vettel. For the first time in years we have a decent contest at the front of the field and to give Hamilton 25 points doesn't make sense. Give Vettel a 5 pace grid penalty should be maximum in my opinion. In my day we'd have sorted it out behind the gents bogs - harrumph!"

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15. Posted by Chris Roper, 28/06/2017 20:18

"A ban is not needed, especially not retrospectively, disqualified from the race would be sufficient to appease most and would open up the championship without granting a hefty points lead to Hamilton."

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