Vettel reprimanded but keeps pole

2012 Japanese Grand Prix

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Sebastian Vettel will keep his pole position for the Japanese Grand Prix after the stewards investigated him for holding up Fernando Alonso.

After three hours the stewards decided he had impeded the Ferrari at the chicane during Q3.

However they decided against awarding Vettel a grid penalty, instead handing him a reprimand.

2012 Japanese Grand Prix

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    Keith Collantine
    Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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    116 comments on “Vettel reprimanded but keeps pole”

    1. One obstacle for cruise to win has been removed.

      1. 3rd reprimand in a year? wasn’t a penalty?

        1. I’m not sure, but I think all he had before this GP was one warning.

          1. davidnotcoulthard
            6th October 2012, 12:21

            Plus the fine he got in his debut?

            1. A fine is not something you carry around for the season.

      2. Well , this is holding up

        Don’t we forget!! nothing to do with Vettel today, Alonso is so evil xD

        Hopefully someday F1 will be a proper WC

    2. what about KOB?

      1. KOB lost time in that sector and did not use KERS or DRS … so no punishment there.

      2. He already escaped. Telemetry said he didn’t use KERS or DRS.

          1. That means he wasn’t speeding.

            1. No it doesn’t. Well it shouldn’t. Plus the incident was a bend. Kers and drs shouldn’t be in equation at all

            2. I know Kimi spun at the corner but yellow flag section was straight after that.

            3. TheGreatWanderer
              6th October 2012, 17:00


              straight after

              Shouldn’t a yellow flag section be BEFORE the place(where raikkonen spun), so as to warn any approaching drivers??

              In any case, apparently Sauber feel they had telemetry data that Kobayashi DID NOT set a ‘faster’ sector time to which the yellow flag section belongs to. That does not mean he lifted off for the yellow flags, unless of course, Sauber also have telemetry data that suggests this, but i didnt notice any place where they have specifically confirmed this!

    3. I do not want know how J-E. Vergne would be feeling right now …. sense of injustice? Maybe, but I think the Stewards want to appear apolitical but no matter their decision, it would still look political. In this case the fight for the WDC.

    4. awww, i was hoping he’d get a penalty to make the race more interesting tomorrow.
      he’s gonna win from pole to flag now then.

    5. it would be fine if others got reprimanded for similar incidents. but they do not.

      1. Exactly.

      2. OmarR-Pepper (@)
        6th October 2012, 17:20

        That’s because when others do the same stewards prefer not remembering what happened. But let’s be fair. This years stewards have been right most of the times. I didn’t see this particular move on Tv so I don’t know how strong the move was. To obstacle Alonso? Ferrari is bringing the obstacles to him not giving him a better car!!!

      3. Aha, ask Vergne!

    6. This puts him 3rd on the all-time pole position list.
      And he’s only 25 years old.

      1. 36 right?

      2. OmarR-Pepper (@)
        6th October 2012, 17:21

        What else does Vettel have to do to get credit as a great driver?
        (and don’t say “be second then”)

        1. @omarr-pepper
          Vettel is a good driver (more like Button).
          But he’s not great/superfast/out-and-out-racer. Any honest person knows that Vettel’s success so far has been mostly the car.
          What he needs (and will still need even he gets 3rd WDC) is a worthy opponent in the same car, so he can prove himself.
          His move to Ferrari in 2014 will certainly answer all these questions.

          1. Any honest person knows that Vettel’s success so far has been mostly the car.

            @jason12 @omarr-pepper Any honest person knows that he has performed extremely well throughout his career, even when he was in midfield machinery, therefore his success isn’t any more down to the car than it was for the other champions on today’s grid, or the past.

            However, I do not wish to have another long argument about this issue, especially since I didn’t see anybody on this article fail to give credit where credit is due.

          2. Jason 100% agree with you.

          3. @david-a
            There’s really nothing to argue about here. Different people will assess talent differently. My assessment says he’s at Button’s level.
            There’s a reason though why even Alonso doesn’t rate him (after two successive WDCs).

            1. Different people will assess talent differently.

              You mean the “honest” people versus the other people…right?

            2. There’s a reason though why even Alonso doesn’t rate him (after two successive WDCs).

              Oh, and I almost forgot:


            3. @jason12

              There’s a reason though why even Alonso doesn’t rate him (after two successive WDCs).

              Yes, they’re called mind games. Alonso also said that Massa was one of the best drivers on the grid, in 2012, and that Michael was his toughest rival in 2011, after a disappointing 2010. ;)

          4. Any honest person knows that Vettel’s success so far has been mostly the car

            And Schumacher’s 7 world championships weren’t “mostly the car”, and Senna’s dominance of 1991 wasn’t “mostly the car” etc etc. I really hate it when people use this argument against him. Do you want to know what shows he’s a great driver? He’s second in the world championship this year (even with his retirement in Valencia) when the McLaren has clearly been he fastest car on average. Sure, Alonso may be leading in a worse car, but quantifying Alonso compared to Vettel doesn’t do him justice: Alonso has the experience and is for sure one of the all-time greats.
            34 pole positions in 4 years of full competition; if that isn’t the mark of a great driver then I don’t know what is.

            1. @vettel1
              It’s the mark of a driver who benefited from radical regs changes. Drivers say kind things about each other all the time, however when Alonso has had to make comparisons (this is what he had to say):
              Can’t wait for 2014, or for Lewis to somehow find himself at Red Bull.
              In closing, I wouldn’t be surprised you’re ‘secretly’ hoping none the above actually happens.

            2. @jason12 – I don’t think you’re being fair here. The regs changed in 2009, but Vettel had already won for Toro Rosso by then, and there were also radical changes in 2005- when Alonso’s Renault team benefited. I doubt you’d start holding that against him.

              With regards to the article/video you linked to, you also need to consider that as double reigning champion, Vettel is clearly the target, or common enemy of Alonso and Hamilton. Those comments also contradict the interview that aka_robyn posted.

            3. artificial racer
              6th October 2012, 22:23


              In your first video Alonso says Vettel is one of the two most talented drivers on the grid (presumably excluding himself…)

              This “outdrive the car” meme is usually complete and utter rubbish. Because nobody wins in crap cars, outside of an occasional fluke or weather-related serendipity.

              Great drivers drive to the limit of the car. You cannot go faster. You can make fewer mistakes, you can get closer to the edge, you can find great setup, etc. If Alonso is so wonderful why doesn’t he put his inferior car on pole? Because he can’t outdrive the car. Get over it. He won his championships in the fastest car, or when not the fastest the most reliable. Same with Hamilton, and Schumacher for that matter.

            4. Let’s put an end to all this;

              Question 1: Is Vettel a worthy Champion – Yes.

              Question 2: Would Vettel have the record he has if he had been a non European privateer without sponsors or team backing? –

              No, but he would be on his way, possibly excited about joining McLaren next year.

    7. Is it 3 reprimands and a grid penalty, or is it 3 reprimands for the SAME OFFENCE before a penalty. Because Vettel got a ridiculous reprimand for laying rubber in a pitbox one race and one for a dodgy pit entry when there wasn’t another car on the circuit to endanger.

      1. According to the regs, at least two of the reprimands have to be for driving offences:

        18.2 Any driver who receives three reprimands in the same Championship season will, upon the imposition of the third, be given a ten grid place penalty at that Event. If the third reprimand is imposed following an Incident during a race the ten grid place penalty will be applied at the driver’s next Event.
        The ten grid place penalty will only be imposed if at least two of the reprimands were imposed for a driving infringement.

        1. If the dodgy pitlane entry is counted as a driving infringement then surely it should be a 10 place penalty?

    8. Rubbish.

    9. Victor Bardon (@)
      6th October 2012, 10:59

      Thanks god, it avoid another “ferrari and alonso are advantaged by the FIA”…

    10. Yet again I don’t understand the FIA’s idea of justice. How they can reprimand a driver for illegal blocking while they have applied a grid penalty to the other driver for the very same offense just hours earlier. FIA, make up your mind. Please.

      1. @cyclops_pl – because Vergne’s antics cost Senna a shot at Q2 and cost him a bucket load of time. Vettel’s was obviously a less seriously impediment.

        1. @vettel1
          Then the penalty should be of different severity, for instance 5 for Vergne, 3 for Vettel. A reprimand is a confirmation of actually being guilty of the offense, but it’s by no means a penalty. It’s about whether an offense is penalized or not. It’s obvious that the severity of penalty should be proportionate to the severity of the offense, but such cases as today, when one driver is punished and the other is not, should not be taking place.

          1. Obviously it lacked the severity to merit a penalty, as that would be unfair. A warning was all that was required.

        2. yes but does it say anything in the rules about how the following driver is affected makes it a lesser or greater offence. Same offence should result in the same penalty, another inconsistent decision by the stewards.

          1. @keithcollantine – do you know of anywhere that I can get footage of Vettel’s supposed impediment of Alonso? It would be greatly appreciated.

          2. davidnotcoulthard
            6th October 2012, 12:43


            Yes, but does it say anything in the rules about how the following driver is affected makes it a lesser or greater offence.

            No, and I think that’s why they use Homo Sapiens’ as stewards, not robots. Not everything can be decided as easy as replacing variables in a formula with constants.

            Let’s put it this way: If somebody in the USA speeds 60mph (Roughly 100 km/h) above the, say, 35mph speed limit and as a result 10 people are killed then he’s certainly going to court-10 times, and spend the rest of his life in prison. On the other hand, somebody speeding 100 mph (Roughly 160 km/h) above the speed limit which is, say, 90mph on an empty turnpike at 12 in the afternoon the police there will probably fine the second driver only a few hundred dollars, without the need to be prisoned, or go to the court for that matter.

      2. Has anyone actually seen the incident yet?
        I heard it wasn’t on the live feed.
        Therefore, one should not pass judgement until he/she has seen it.

        1. @xjr15jaaag thanks.

          He made an effort to get out of the way and left Alonso the racing line. Perhaps he was a bit sketchy in what direction he was moving to but I don’t believe that, judging from the footage, Alonso lost a lot of time.
          I don’t disagree with the stewards decision to reprimand him however.

        2. @xjr15jaaag – Some sense, rather than screaming injustice without having seen the damn incident. Thank you.

    11. I think we should wait and see it before condemn Vettel. I Certainly havent seen it but glad he’s still got pole. Too many races being ruined by penaltys

        1. I can see why it’s questionable, but it looks like a block to me. If the team had told Vettel that Alonso was coming, Vettel could have reasonably made it back to the pits before Alonso arrived on the scene at all. You can’t tell me that Vettel was driving slowly to preserve his tyres; it would have taken him all twenty seconds to get to the pit entry, and that’s not going to take even a lap out of the lifespan of his tyres.

          The more challenging question is what Red Bull would have done if Webber had been in Vettel’s position – would they have challenged it, or would they have rolled over and taken the penalty?

          1. doesnt look like a block to me, he saw him coming and kept going straight and didnt take the turn, it was jus slightly bad timing, a slight miscalculation. alonso wasnt up in arms about it, and probably his evidence to the stewards helped the resolution.

          2. I’m not 100% sure it was a block, but Vettel was certainly taking the mickey by taking so long to negotiate a tight hairpin. Fair enough driving at that pace on the nice wide bit of track preceding it, but the slow entry into the chicane/pit does strike me as a little cynical

        2. Well done! Thanks

          He did what he could to get out of the way and even comprised his own run to get out of the way. No Penalty!

          If he was to get a penalty what about the 3 drivers who did less than that and blocked Di Resta’s lap in Q2 that was a mess

        3. Well that was clearly blocking. What the hell, FIA?

          1. Doesn’t look like anything of the sort to me — but hey, maybe we’re all just seeing what we want to see.

        4. Also went left, then wanted to pass on the right, he felt he had to pass the redbull as it was so close, which ruined his line into the corner

          voted block.

    12. Another clear inconsistency here. Maybe the didn’t want Alonso to have a easy ride to a championship win.

      1. @dt Funny, usually the FIA are branded Ferrari International Assistance. I’ll have to bring this incident up next time Ferrari are ‘favoured’ by the FIA.

    13. Here’s where you can clearly see Vettel ‘blocking’ Alonso.

      And the stewards make another joke of themselves…

      1. If you look at the clips posted above and read this article from Espn, than I think it was the right decision.

        Alonso’s lap was already compromised and the ‘blocking’ was almost non-existing, it was over before the chicane, while Vergne blocked Senna all through the whole chicane.

        Fair assessment and decision in both cases.

        1. Reprimand is ok, but others should of got it to.

          Yes he got out the way once it was too late and damage was done. His team would of known alonso was coming for about 20 seconds.

          By what others have got a pen was the only option to remain consistent.

          With red bull advantage it’s vettel’s title to lose now

    14. Well,atleast we wont be hearing “FIArarri” chants tomorrow….

      1. davidnotcoulthard
        6th October 2012, 12:48

        Or a “Ferrari International Assistance” chant…

    15. An utterly unjust decision. Poor Vergne deserved the penalty even less than Vettel did. If Vettel wins the WDC this season,he will probably be the most undeserving and the least meritorious of all the triple champions.

        1. And please do show me a picture taken 3-4 seconds before this one was.

          1. @chicanef1

            Should Vettel have disappeared? How was “poor Vergne” so much more innocent than that?

            1. No need to disappear. Just don’t slow down long before you need to with someone on a fast lap behind you.

            1. this is a clear picture

            2. sorry but i don’t know why the link does not appear

        2. he deserv the penallty is not in that instant the block. look here

          1. @stirper @brace You’re showing me a video where Vettel moves to the left to get out of Alonso’s way as soon as possible. If that is worthy of a penalty, why not just go back to the 1 lap qualifying system from 2003-2005?

            1. I agree, and I understand that this was under yellow flags, doesn´t this mean that Alonso was going faster than he should be?

            2. This is called blocking. Is opinable if it was intentional or unintentional. Peronally im ok with the system 2003-2005, is more fair than this…it’s strange but i never seen Alonso & Ferrari blocking someone when this duo work together…Red Bull knows that Alonso was coming but didn’t notice….this is bad very bad if it’s like this

            3. @fanser – No it wasn’t blocking, when SV moves away from the racing line to leave room for Alonso to get through.

    16. By looking at the video posted in here, it looks to me a clear block. Whether it was intentional or not, that is another matter.

    17. From watching the video it seems Vettel was fortunate to escape a penalty here.

      But the stewards’ ‘explanation’ is so inadequate it’s hard to make an informed comment about it. The reasoning simply says “self explanatory” which is not sufficient when they’ve spent three hours looking into it:

      Fact: The driver of car one impeded car five at turn sixteen
      Decision: Reprimand
      Reason: Self explanatory
      2012 Japanese Grand Prix Stewards’ Decision Document 35

      However I do think it’s significant that Alonso hasn’t – as far as I am aware – said it cost him any time. It isn’t mentioned in Ferrari’s post-race comments. And I’d be surprised if any team passed up a chance to make trouble for their closest championship rivals.

      Perhaps some more information will emerge tomorrow.

      1. Self explanatory is may be referring to the explanations the driver have given to the stewards? If this is the case, then I suppose Alonso didn’t complain about what happened.

    18. Alonso breaked exactly after the 100m mark , which is the normal braking zone. So Vettel didn’t affect his breaking point. But , Alonso had to keep i slightly closer line to the first appex , this maybe cost him about a tenth . Beside that ,when Vettel realized Alonso was on his back he went as left as he could and clearly off the racing line in the entrance of the chicane. This incident has nothing in common with Verge’s- Senna’s and therefore can’t be compared with that. The decision of the stewarts , in my view, is clearly Right.
      Anyway, that lap was compromised earlier by Raikonen’s yellow flags so why would it be fear to penalize an action which had little to no effect to another driver?

      Does anyone know if the two first sectors of this lap where green for Alonso and how much time exactly did he lost in that last sector compared with his previous best?

    19. im sorry but that is a penalty any way you look at it vettel is on the racing line of an approching driver still trying to set a lap time this is impeding. also vergne did the same thing and got a penalty so if the stewards where fair vettel should have received the same treatment in my opinion this is just favoritism towards marque teams. higher teams such as red bull, ferrari and mclaren get away with many decisions in these circumstants which i believe is unfair to other teams. if you look at the penaltys given for this type of incident this year and other years midfield teams are always getting these penalty’s. the fia have to get there **** together and stop playing favorites.

      1. this incident involves two big teams redbull and ferrari , not a big and a small one….. with the big favoring….
        Except you thing RB is a little bigger team and that makes the difference in stewards decision.

        1. in the history of Formula 1 you can’t compare Ferrari with Red Bull…we can compare Ferrari with Mclaren…which are the 2 greatest team. Red Bull have to pass at least 20 years in formula 1 to be compred with this 2 team. So yes Red Bull is a small team with some money… i bet that in 7-8 years they will leave formula 1 or change name…

    20. Verge stayed in the racing line completely and in the whole chicane doing nothing to give room to Senna and destroying his lap and leaving him because of that outside Q2.
      Senna had all the right with his side and deservedly complained.
      I didn’t hear Alonso nor Ferrari complaining about this incident. If they thought they right i don’t think they we didn’t say nothing.
      Vettel’s performance was so dominant that he had to do in each Quallify only one run.
      In total he run 11 laps in all three Q’s . Which is only comparable with drivers that get out in Q1.
      So it would be fair to take this pole away from him for something that didn’t give him any benefit at all?

    21. It´s Ironic that Vergne gets the penalty but SV doesn´t… Talk about inconsistency… doesn´t matter though… it´s obvious that Alonso will not win his 3rd WDC…. With actions like these, it´s obvious which way the wind is blowing….
      Totally unfair!

      1. Strange. This forum seems to be the most balanced fan forum for me in the past but recently things change a little bit in my opinion. More and more balanced will be coverd by biased. As soon as Vettel is in doubt of doing anything many people start blaming him for this and that, more than they do in other cases.
        In this case there is a video footage available and in my opinion it is clearly visible in that video that Vettel leaves the racing line as soon as Alonso appears. What else should he do? Slowing down at the inside of the track? Slowing down at outside of the track? What should he do? Keith, you are also complaining about his driving, where he should be on the track in this situation?

        1. @boomer650

          More and more balanced will be coverd by biased.

          Interested to hear what you think I’ve written in this article which is “biased”.

          Keith, you are also complaining about his driving

          No I’m not – I said (in this comment) that he was fortunate not to get a penalty.

          I said this because he was clearly on the racing line as Alonso approached him and it seems Alonso had to go-off line as a result. I expected the stewards to consider that impeding.

          And they did, yet chose not to give him a penalty, for reasons that were not stated. So I think he was fortunate not to get a penalty. At least until the stewards give us a bit more to go on.

          1. But he can’t just disappear, and when he saw Alonso, he stayed well away from him.

            1. I beg to differ @xjr15jaaag , Vettel kept the racing line and the thing is that, after viewing the video, Alonso might have braked just a tad earlier than he would have wanted to thus, impeding him in completing his hot lap.

              @boomer650 I also find it funny that you think that @keithcollantine wrote this article being biased against Vettel. He is, and I can vouch for this, pro Vettel. I think he was just being objective in this particular issue because Vettel was infact impeding…. “what could Vettel do?” Well, he could have accelerated into the runoff area instead of taking his jolly time to do it! So no i don´t think it was biased.

            2. @xjr15jaaag True, but that’s what the team radio is there for. There is an awful lot of chatter about track position and ensuring drivers don’t impede their rivals. And it must be said that having backed off himself, Vettel had to be aware that there might be drivers behind him still trying to set competitive times.

              @catracho504 Marvellous, another addition to the ‘list of people accusing me of being for/against drivers they dislike/like’. I have been variously accused of being for or against all the most successful drivers at one time or another…

          2. Agree. After writing my comment I ve been watching the sequence again and again and I agree that this overtaking manoeuvre could be handeled better than it did. Vettel could move to the left side of the track earlier than he did. Point.
            But if you want to start complaining about situations like that you should stop watching F1 since this could and would happen quite often as long as more than one driver is been on the track. Then we should start talking about downhill skiing for example.
            Agree that there are better ways to let Alonso pass but disagree to “fortunate not to get a penalty” since this isnt anyting Vettel really needs to penalysed for, he is still there and that is part of the game.

          3. Huge respect for you Keith.. I followed this site long enough to see you’re the most unbiased person on here… but it’s pretty obvious the majority of the USER base on this site is very anti-vettel. I mean you just have to look at some of the comments on the first page to notice it. DOTW voting confirm this as well. It’s a shame really…

            1. Huge respect for you Keith

              Thankyou :-)

              the majority of the USER base on this site is very anti-vettel

              I don’t agree. He’s the ninth most popular driver – granted, he could be higher, but it didn’t stop him being voted Driver of the Year last year.

    22. It looked like Vettel was dozing a bit to me (or his team hadn’t warned him of Alonso’s approach), but you cant really call it blocking, he was never physically in the way of Alonso.

      1. He did not need to slow down that much. His intention is clear.

      2. “Physically in the way”?!?!?

        You mean: He didn’t hit him, so it wasn’t blocking?

    23. Team told him by radio other way is 5000€ like Marussia, VET run out of track so had to slowdown to allow the pass, entering late to the chicane, in anyway more often than not VET gets involved in what supposed to be his “future team to be” and ALO blocking issues, but I guess luca don’t care if he has to choose between them, VET wins right away

    24. After watching the footage again (first saw it on BBC highlights program), I’d say that whilst Alonso probably brakes around the same point he normally would, Vettel’s presence compromises his line. This does affect the braking as he has to turn in slightly earlier. You can’t turn and brake hard at the same time (see the countless lock-ups at this corner as drivers attempt to trail brake into it), so turning in earlier means coming off the brakes earlier. This creates an overspeed into the apex. You can see Alonso turns in twice. I’d call that cadence braking, as in: brake, off brakes, turn, straighten, on brakes, off brakes, turn again. That’s not a quick way to drive a car. And the whole incident was avoidable.

      These things happen though. What is immeasurably more annoying is that it took three hours to get a decision, an inconsistent decision, and then no explanation from the stewards. Vettel and Alonso are doing their thing at 200mph+ and 5G braking, so a slip up here and there is to be expected. I expect the same level of performance from the organisers as I do the participants, and this does not demonstrate that.

      1. Very mature and well thought out comment.. respect!

    25. Fearrari, Ferrari International Assistance, the things will keep rolling on. I’m sure if Schumi’d done something like this he would have been handed a ban.

    26. I know that as a driver you must want to win every race, but as a fan, Sebastian Vettel is so dull to watch. Can’t he do a donut on track or fart in a post-race interview? Just ideas Seb.

      1. @formulaone789

        Can’t he do a donut on track

        You mean like he did at Suzuka last year?

      2. Errrr… I’d call Seb a lot of things (annoying among others), but “dull” certainly isn’t among them:

        He’s the one with the liveliest celebrations, and the funniest interviews.
        He’s the one calling his cars Kate’s Dirty Sister and Kinky Kylie.
        He’s was the one talking about being afraid of “magic buttons” with a big smile when the other cars had KERS behind him (and RB did not).

        All in all, he seems like the one who would be doing all the pranks in the office, if he had a “normal” job.


        1. If anyone is ‘Dull’ it would be Alonso.. that guys has ONE facial expression lol. But hey, he’s still an awesome racer! So is Vettel though..

          Also, you could call Kimi dull, but we all know he’s a legend. ;)

          1. I´m sorry but Alonso is not dull… he might seem that way in the press conferences and other interviews or even at the podium…. the thing is that he is a very competitive individual(he is a lot like kimi in the sense that he could care less about PR, he´s in it to race) and you should also take into consideration he is more mature (30 something years old) than most of the other “kids” on the grid… I guess he just tends to act his age…

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