FIA Issues Ruling On Vettel Following Azerbaijan Grand Prix

Vettel championship hopes hung in the balance as the FIA met on his birthday.

byGabriel LoewenbergJul 3, 2017 3:15 PM
FIA Issues Ruling On Vettel Following Azerbaijan Grand Prix

Today, on Sebastian Vettel's 30th birthday, the FIA held a meeting to discuss his actions at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. After he accidentally ran into the back of Lewis Hamilton's Mercedes under the safety car, Vettel mistakenly thought he had been brake-checked. He then pulled alongside Hamilton and ran his Ferrari into the Mercedes, causing wheel-to-wheel contact. He was given a ten-second stop-and-go penalty during the race and had three penalty points added to his license. However, the FIA called a meeting to discuss further sanctions against Vettel. 

Vettel got the best birthday present he could have hoped for. At the meeting, Vettel apologized for the collision and admitted full responsibility for it. In doing so, the FIA did not levy any additional penalties on him. The FIA now considers the matter closed. 

Vettel is still on thin ice. With nine penalty points currently has on his license, the slightest misstep at the Austrian Grand Prix this coming weekend could land him a race suspension. 

Based on the statement from the FIA, which you can read in-full below, Vettel has caught the eye of the FIA. Any further similar actions will get Vettel brought before the council again, where they will not be as forgiving. 

There will be many heated debates as to if Vettel should have received an additional penalty, or if the FIA gave in to the will of Ferrari. None of that matters now. The facts of the case are clear. A decision has been made. Vettel accidentally ran into the rear of Hamilton's car, then intentionally made wheel-to-wheel contact. He has admitted it, taken responsibility, and apologized. What he did was extremely foolish and dangerous. Hopefully, Vettel will take a deep breath and not dwell on it. 

There is only one thing left to do. Go racing. The Austrian Grand Prix is this weekend. This whole mess will still be a talking point, but hopefully, it doesn't overshadow the race. That is why we watch Formula One, for the racing. So let's do just that. Sure, the drama is fun, to a point; but it's done now. No matter your opinion on the incident, there is nothing that anyone can say or do that will change anything. 

Don't forget that without this particular incident, this Formula One season has been pretty darn good so far. There is an honest-to-goodness fight for the championships between two teams; maybe three if Red Bull find a little more pace this month and Verstappen's car starts finishing races again. On to Austria. Back to racing. 

This is the FIA's full statement issued today:

Paris, July 3 – Following an incident at the recent Azerbaijan Grand Prix involving a collision between Car 5 (Sebastian Vettel) and Car 44 (Lewis Hamilton), Sebastian Vettel was today invited to attend a meeting at the FIA’s Paris headquarters. He was accompanied by his Team Principal Maurizio Arrivabene. He reviewed the incident together with a panel comprised of FIA Deputy President for Sport Graham Stoker, FIA General Secretary for Sport Peter Bayer, FIA Formula One World Championship Race Director Charlie Whiting and FIA Formula One World Championship Deputy Race Director and FIA Safety Director Laurent Mekies.

During the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, stewards officiating at the event issued a 10-second stop-and-go penalty to Sebastian Vettel, the most severe penalty immediately applicable before displaying a black flag notice to the driver. Sebastian Vettel also had three penalty points applied to his FIA Superlicence, taking his current total to nine.

However, while respecting the Stewards’ decision, the FIA remained deeply concerned by the wider implications of the incident, firstly through the impact such behaviour may have on fans and young competitors worldwide and secondly due to the damage such behaviour may cause to the FIA’s image and reputation of the sport.

Following detailed discussion and further examination of video and data evidence related to the incident, Sebastian Vettel admitted full responsibility.

Sebastian Vettel extended his sincere apologies to the FIA and the wider motor sport family. He additionally committed to devote personal time over the next 12 months to educational activities across a variety of FIA championships and events, including in the FIA Formula 2 Championship, the FIA Formula 3 European Championship, at an FIA Formula 4 Championship to be defined and at the FIA Stewards’ seminar. Due to this incident, President Jean Todt instructed that no road safety activities should be endorsed by Sebastian Vettel until the end of this year.

The FIA notes this commitment, the personal apology made by Sebastian Vettel and his pledge to make that apology public. The FIA also notes that Scuderia Ferrari is aligned with the values and objectives of the FIA.

In light of these developments, FIA President Jean Todt decided that on this occasion the matter should be closed.

Nevertheless, in noting the severity of the offence and its potential negative consequences, FIA President Todt made it clear that should there be any repetition of such behaviour, the matter would immediately be referred to the FIA International Tribunal for further investigation.

Commenting on the outcome of today’s meeting, FIA President Jean Todt said: “Top level sport is an intense environment in which tempers can flare. However, it is the role of top sportsmen to deal with that pressure calmly and to conduct themselves in a manner that not only respects the regulations of the sport but which befits the elevated status they enjoy.

“Sportsmen must be cognisant of the impact their behaviour can have on those who look up to them. They are heroes and role models and to millions of fans worldwide and must conduct themselves accordingly.”