FIA Clear Vettel, Ecclestone Criticises Ferrari

FORMULA 1 - Brazilian GP

During all the commotion of the season-ending Brazilian Grand Prix, Sebastian Vettel’s overtaking manoeuvre on Jean-Eric Vergne was seen as straight-forward. However, slow-motion video showed that the lights on Vettel’s steering wheel were flashing yellow, which indicates a caution period where drivers must not overtake, or they face a penalty. As this was spotted after the race, the only possible action would be to issue a 20-second time penalty to Vettel, moving him to eighth in the race results and making Alonso champion by one point.

The footage centered on Vettel's on-board camera as he chased and passed Vergne

The footage centered on Vettel’s on-board camera as he chased and passed Vergne

The crucial part of the video, which was available to those watching the Sky Sports pitlane channel, shows a marshal waving a green flag which means the caution period has come to an end and drivers may pass again. It is after this flag where Vettel makes his move and it is this which puts him free of any danger. Ferrari had written to the FIA, asking for a definitive wording on the matter. They responded, saying there was “no case” to answer and that the move was legal.

“The FIA received a letter from Scuderia Ferrari, seeking clarification on Sebastian Vettel’s overtaking manoeuvre in Sao Paulo on Sunday,”said the statement.

“In the spirit of transparency and goodwill, the FIA wishes to make public the receipt of this letter.

“The Federation also informs it has replied to Scuderia Ferrari, in the same constructive spirit, stating that as the overtaking manoeuvre was not in breach of the regulations, and therefore there was no infringement to investigate, it was not reported to the Stewards by Race Control.”

Ferrari replied with their own statement, in which they said they were satisfied with the conclusion and that it was due to fan pressure that they had requested an answer.

“The request for a clarification from the FIA, regarding Vettel’s passing move on Vergne, came about through the need to shed light on the circumstances of the move, which came out on the Internet only a few days after the race,” added the Ferrari statement.

“The letter to the FIA was in no way intended to undermine the legality of the race result.

“We received tens of thousands of queries relating to this matter from all over the world and it was incumbent on us to take the matter further, asking the Federation to look into an incident that could have cast a shadow over the championship in the eyes of all Formula 1 enthusiasts, not just Ferrari fans.”

“Ferrari duly takes note of the reply sent by the FIA this morning and therefore considers the matter now closed.”


Ecclestone was unhappy with the actions of the sport's oldest team

Ecclestone was unhappy with the actions of the sport’s oldest team

Formula One’s ringleader Bernie Ecclestone said he was disappointed that such a matter had come after the end of the championship. It is not the first time in recent years where the champion has been thrown into some doubt after Kimi Raikkonen’s 2007 title win came under some pressure due to fuel irregularities which were cleared. He took issue with the timing of Ferrari’s action, and did not support the Scuderia’s methods.

“It’s a shame because everything had gone so well,” Ecclestone told the Telegraph. “It was a super race, a super championship. Now everyone is talking about this. The problem is that no one knows what is going on.”

Ecclestone is convinced nothing will happen despite the controversy.

“Personally I think it’s not really like Ferrari to do this. I think they badly wanted to win. But if you want to go back and see what Ferrari have done down the years…

“But nothing will happen. What can they do? Take civil action? Maybe. But the case is flawed before it starts. Nothing is going to happen.”

“In the rules and regs normally you have to protest. They [Ferrari] missed that time,” said Ecclestone.

“Then there is the fact that a green flag was shown, which nobody seems to dispute.

“It’s a complete joke. What they are saying in that letter is wrong. I don’t think there needs to be any action taken. It’s completely and utterly wrong.”


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