Analysis: The race ban threat hanging over Vettel in Austria

2017 Austrian Grand Prix

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Sebastian Vettel’s rash move during the Azerbaijan Grand Prix one week ago has left him in an unprecedented situation going into the next round of the championship.

The world championship leader will go to Austria knowing he is at risk of collecting a race ban. Potentially even an innocent mistake at the Red Bull Ring could put his participation at the following round in jeopardy.

This is because Vettel has become the first driver to reach nine penalty points on his licence. The significance of this is that the most points any driver has been given for a single offence to date is three. Another three points for Vettel next weekend would put him on 12, and that would mean an automatic race ban.

Is it a realistic scenario? The stakes are obviously high. The stewards have dished out a total of 183 penalty points since the system was introduced in 2014.

It’s rare to see three points given for an individual infraction. But Sunday wasn’t the first time it’s happened to Vettel:

Past offences which have earned three penalty points

Driver Year Race Session Offence Other penalty
Pastor Maldonado 2014 Bahrain Race Caused a collision (with Esteban Gutierrez) Ten-second stop-go penalty and five-place grid drop
Marcus Ericsson 2014 Italy Practice three Yellow flag speeding Pit lane start
Pastor Maldonado 2015 Malaysia Race Safety Car speeding Ten-second time penalty
Sebastian Vettel 2015 Canada Practice three Overtook under red flags (Roberto Merhi) Five-place grid drop
Max Verstappen 2015 Hungary Race Safety Car speeding Drive-through penalty
Kimi Raikkonen 2015 Russia Race Caused an incident (with Valtteri Bottas) 30-second time penalty
Daniil Kvyat 2016 Russia Race Caused a collision (with Sebastian Vettel) Ten-second stop-go penalty
Esteban Gutierrez 2016 Belgium Practice three Impeding (Pascal Wehrlein) Five-place grid drop
Sergio Perez 2016 Singapore Qualifying Yellow flag speeding Five-place grid drop
Romain Grosjean 2017 China Qualifying Yellow flag speeding Five-place grid drop
Jolyon Palmer 2017 China Qualifying Yellow flag speeding Five-place grid drop
Sebastian Vettel 2017 Azerbaijan Race Caused a collision (with Lewis Hamilton) Ten-second stop-go penalty

There are a few clear points for Vettel to bear in mind hear: pay extra-close attention to yellow (and red!) flags, watch those delta times during safety car periods and take extra care in wheel-to-wheel contact.

His rivals are going to be well aware of that last point, of course, and can take him on knowing he simply can’t afford to risk getting on the wrong side of a stewards’ decision.

Of course there’s also the possibility he could collect multiple penalty points infringements over the weekend which would add up to the dreaded 12. Other drivers have collected three or more points this way before.

In China this year Nico Hulkenberg picked up a total of four for two counts overtaking under the Safety Car. Pascal Wehrlein got four in Monaco last year – two each for speeding during a Virtual Safety Car period and ignoring blue flags. And Max Verstappen collected three at Yas Marina in 2015: one point for leaving the track plus two for ignoring blue flags.

The chance of Vettel incurring a race ban by reaching 12 points by Sunday clearly isn’t very high, providing he keeps a cool head. But a momentary lapse of judgement or a mis-communication with his team could be all it takes to catch him out. Ferrari eyes will be scanning the timing screens for the words “incident involving car five under investigation”.

It is possible the situation may change before the action begins in Austria. Vettel is due to meet with the FIA tomorrow and there remains a chance further sanctions may yet be coming his way.

Vettel is being brought before the FIA
This is something which appears to have a lot of support from fans both on this site and elsewhere. Vettel was warned last year 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”.

It would be a surprise if the FIA chose to do any more than impose a suspended penalty or pressed Vettel to participate in its road safety awareness campaigns.

And there remains the possibility he could be given more penalty points. As things stand he is due to deduct two on the day after next week’s race. If the FIA give him two more tomorrow he would remain within striking distance of a race ban until at least the Singapore Grand Prix – and make his situation next weekend even more precarious.

Penalty points by driver

2017 Austrian Grand Prix

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    Author information

    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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    128 comments on “Analysis: The race ban threat hanging over Vettel in Austria”

    1. In light of what would of ended up being only a 4th place (12 points) for Hamilton, part of me thinks Ferrari wished they were parked in Baku.

      1. Marian Gri (@)
        2nd July 2017, 12:33

        Do not think so. After Baku VET extended his lead, if parked his points lead would have been cancelled completely. And especially now that in the last 2 races Mercedes dominated with HAM behind the steering wheel and nobody knows for sure if it was purely a track/temp/tyre related domination OR Ferrari simply lost the development battle… pretty sure Ferrari/VET prefer the points lead. He’s an experienced driver, his team… no need to talk about it anymore – oldest team in F1, so I think they can avoid this year (when the car seems good enough to have a shot at the WDC) the kind of incidents where penalty points are given to the drivers.

        1. You’ve missed the point. That part of me is on the basis the Vettel is going to do a race on the sidelines.

          Parking at Baku moves Hamilton to 4th, net gain of 12 points over Vettel. Hamilton is averaging 17 points a race, so really the difference between parking at Baku and parking at another race, statistically, is 5 points, and that is before factoring into the equation the only person statistically to have a higher average finishing place wouldn’t be racing.

          Whatever the stats, your argument is very flawed.

        2. @corrado-dub

          sure if it was purely a track/temp/tyre related domination OR Ferrari simply lost the development battle

          Ted Kravitz was saying on Sky over the Baku weekend that the story in the paddock was that the recent FIA clarification with regards to using oil as fuel was sparked by Mercedes asking questions about Ferrari were doing & that Ferrari had ended up having to make changes which had cost them some engine performance.

          1. I’d watch when it comes to ted or sky giving you Ferrari information with the crazy biased they have against Ferrari. I’d wait for a solid news sorce to believe it

            1. @racerdude7730, Sky is not the only source that has claimed that Ferrari have been forced to make changes to their car though.

        3. There have been several if not many ‘accidents’ purposely caused by drivers over the years prior to the point system and no punishment was ever delivered by the FIA authorities as I best recall…. I think the last blatant one involved Damion Hill and Michael Schumacher. Another one is the past involved Alain Prost and there was another incident that Ayrton Senna was involved in………… This is just off the top of my head and I am sure Keith and other more astute fans can correct the list if wrong and probably add to the list, as well. Thanks, Racer Norriski

          1. no punishment was ever delivered by the FIA authorities as I best recall…. I think the last blatant one involved Damion Hill and Michael Schumacher.

            The last blatant one was Schumacher and Villeneuve and resulted in Schumacher’s complete disqualification from the 1997 championship season.

    2. I’m rather torn on what to do with Vettel because what he did was & should be seen as unacceptable & I think may warrant further action in order to show Seb & those coming up the ladder that that sort of thing isn’t acceptable.

      However looking at it purely from a fan, Racing & championship perspective I don’t see a benefit of a race ban, Especially if the race he sits out ends up as an uncontested Hamilton pole/win when Vettel been there may well have provided us fans with a more exciting qualifying/race.

      I know one shouldn’t look at it in that way & that the correct penalty should be handed out regardless of how it may affect a race/championship, But it’s hard not to look at it like that.

      1. @gt-racer, that is the thing though – those same stewards felt compelled not to enforce the regulations in the way that they would have for a midfield driver because they were concerned about the commercial aspects of a decision that would intervene in the WDC battle (one steward from that weekend, Paul Gutjahr, stated afterwards that “we did not want to influence the world championship too much” as the reason why they backed down from giving Vettel the black flag).

        Whilst, on the one hand, issuing a harsher penalty would be seen as influencing the WDC, at the same time taking no action because a driver is too popular to be punished could also be seen as influencing the WDC, since that same driver can get away with actions that would get a lower profile driver punished.

        It might deprive the fans of interest, but it sits worse with me if drivers are treated not because of what they have done, but because they are too important to punish or because they have impacted on popular drivers (such as Grosjean being singled out for especially harsh punishment after his crash in 2012 with Alonso in the Belgian GP, with the stewards report stating that Alonso’s importance in the WDC was one reason for Grosjean’s one race ban).

        1. @anon But in this case they have already taken action against SV. I am completely against any further action other than a stern talking to and as Keith points out perhaps some community safety related hours or something like that.

          1. @robbie, whilst I can understand that viewpoint, what concerns me is the indication from the stewards that, if this had involved a midfield or tail end driver, they would have taken a harsher line and disqualified them because they aren’t fighting for the WDC. That is what rankles with me – the sense that if, for example, we had seen Magnussen lose his temper and intentionally hit Stroll under a safety car period, the stewards would have disqualified him from the race because he isn’t involved in the WDC battle and therefore not important to the commercial rights holders.

            If they are prepared to do that when the driver is, to put it bluntly, unimportant enough not to matter to the commercial owners, they should be prepared to enforce the same level of punishment even if it is to a more famous driver – the penalty shouldn’t be softened because of the negative financial implications, irrespective of who was involved.

            1. They are basically saying it’s ok for Seb and Lewis to bang into each other, drive each other off the road like Nico v Lewis Spain last year, and other bad practice as it looks good on tv.

              I’m sure that if it was Lewis (or anyone else like Jo Palmer or Lance) bashing into Seb they’d have chucked the book at him, likely instant black flag, multiple race bans and stern words from all about his dangerous conduct using his car as a weapon.

              The biggest question is why are they applying obvious double standards.

              The minimum should have been 10 s stop go and grid drop at next race like Pastor got.

            2. @anon I hear you but the reality is that we (collectively) don’t want to see a Championship decided in the boardroom. And this one is shaping up to be between two players.

              First of all it is speculation as to what SV’s final total penalty is to be. There is a meeting yet. Secondly, we don’t know exactly for sure that such a blatant move performed by someone not fighting for the WDC would indeed have seen him banned for a race or what have you. But if they have indicated that would be the case then sure that sounds hypocritical, but again, do we want the WDC decided by the FIA or on the track. I get you, but they’ve never played it black and white. Who knows, maybe they will punish him further, thinking that there is enough season left over that they won’t be affecting it in the boardroom too much. I hope not but we’ll know soon enough.

            3. Michael Brown (@)
              3rd July 2017, 0:05

              @robbie I disagree with these “not influencing the championship” and “championship decided in a boardroom” talking points. It’s a disgusting excuse for letting drivers get away with lesser or no penalties because they’re doing good in the championship. When the steward from the Azerbaijan GP said that he didn’t want to influence the championship too much, he was admitting that there is a clear double standard when judging incidents affecting championship contenders versus drivers not in the championship fight.

              I can’t see how you can dismiss this by saying we don’t want the championship decided by the FIA or in the boardroom. It’s not as though teams are always demanding scrutinizing of other teams’ cars in the hopes that one might have a rear wing a millimetre too long or something petty like that. Anyone can see what happened on TV.

              Just because the stewards have set a precedent with the Grosjean crash in 2012 doesn’t make this okay. Are they afraid of negative press coverage because applying punishment for breaking their rules is “influencing the championship”? Nonsense.

            4. My argument to this is: Vettel did the action on track, his decision, his action, his driving. As long as the penalty is consistent, any action taken by the stewards or FIA is not a championship being decided off track as with any driver error, it’s down to the driver.

          2. @robbie

            stern talking to

            I think Mexico was a tad like that

            some community safety related hours

            Yeah I’d say this is something that can be more clearly seen as more severe than Mexico.

            1. @mbr-9 You may find it disgusting but it is simply a reality of F1. They do try to mould it so that as much as possible the WDC fight stays on the track and is not overly influenced by boardroom decisions. We saw it with LH/NR too. Decisions were made such that the bottom line was let’s let them decide it between themselves on the track. F1 itself ignored severe punishments in favour of letting TW manage the situation within the team. And TW generally administered slaps on the wrist to ensure the global audience wasn’t seeing a Championship won due to their boardroom decisions either. Both the FIA/F1 and Mercedes tried as much as they could to let LH and NR settle it on the track. Why? Because the majority of the viewing audience prefers it that way.

        2. Ban road rage or it will get worse

          1. Doubt it.

          2. Just like Senna after 1990?

            1. @davidnotcoulthard
              Don’t see why people keep bringing this pointless statement up.

              They should have banned Senna for a race. Now they have a chance to do it right with Vettel. Let’s hope they do so.

        3. those same stewards felt compelled not to enforce the regulations in the way that they would have for a midfield driver because they were concerned about the commercial aspects of a decision that would intervene in the WDC battle

          That’s an assumption, not a fact. Hence not a factor in the discussion. Vettel has received a 10 second stop&go (30 seconds back on track) AND 3 points on his license that may end in a race ban. I very much think Vettel realises he’s done wrong, and it’s long overdue the issue is being dropped.

          1. I think there’s one good point to be made here: you say Vettel knows he’s done wrong. How do you come by this opinion? His comments after the race, the only ones we have heard, do not back that up in any way. Without a public apology I disagree that this should be dropped.

            Also, there have been comments by stewards from the race dating they considered a black flag but didn’t because it would interfere with the championship. This backs up the point that punishment should fit the crime, and should not be affected by the competitors championship position.

          2. @xtwl, as I stated above, Paul Gutjahr – who was one of the stewards in Baku – has told the press that that they could have imposed a harsher penalty but said that “we did not want to influence the world championship too much” when discussing why they did not issue a black flag.

            He has made it explicitly clear that Vettel’s position in the WDC was being taken into consideration when they came to their decision on the penalty. It is not the first time that punishments have been adjusted by stewards because it involved a WDC challenging driver – as I mentioned above, the stewards cited Alonso’s position in the WDC as a justification for the one race ban that Grosjean got in 2012 at the Belgian GP after that crash.

            Back at the time, I felt that it was wrong that the stewards should have cited Alonso’s position in the WDC as a justification to ban Grosjean. The decision should have been made solely on the merits of Grosjean’s conduct in that race, and arguably over previous races where he had been involved in other on track incidents if it showed a tendency towards reckless behaviour – not just because Alonso was more important because he was a WDC contender that year.

            It is the same principle here – the position of the driver in the WDC, whether it is in first or last, shouldn’t be being taken into account when deciding on the final penalty.

          3. @xtwl

            Does he realize he has done wrong though? To date, I have seen and read nothing from him taking responsibility for or even making any reference at all the second impact where he swerved into Lewis. That is the biggest issue for me, he seems to be in denial about it to the point where he may have blanked it out.

            Have I missed something where he has taken responsibility? If so, I am happy to be corrected.

            1. @paulguitar I assure you if it was Ham, this guy would be on the 5th gear headbutting him till today… unfortunately, everything he says, he assumes they are like facts, and whatever anyone thinks, according to him, are just assumptions… after Vet’s Charlie shenanigans, he made a public apology as well as in person! does anyone think or seen Vet apologized for what he did? or maybe it was just a conspiracy theory what happened there in the race…

              they didnt wanna intervene with WDC rivals despite the severity of the crime just shows how commercial interests got in the way… and that is a very much FACT and not FICTION or ASSUMPTION….

              Imagine, judge decides a celebrity’s road rage crime is punished with a tap on the wrist because he didnt wanna intervene with his fame? Good luck with JUST and put some ICE in it to go with it…

            2. @paulguitar That’s just it…we don’t know. For all we know he has already shown contrition to the right people. Just because we in our armchairs haven’t heard anymore doesn’t mean he is in denial. So there’s no point assuming the worst right now just as there is no point speculating what would have happened had it been LH hitting SV.

            3. He’s received his penalty so advance far as racing is concerned that’s it for me. However I feel he needs to have some sort of a press release where he apologises for his actions, even if it’s a I was jesticulating at Lewis and didn’t realise I steered towards him but I shouldn’t have done that it’s not professional blah blah blah and I’d quite like to see him do a few driver safety days with kids just learning to drive in Germany, it would ensure that the sport isn’t condoning road rage and would give everyone an opportunity to put this to bed and move on, simple. Hamilton fan btw

            4. But @robbie what he wrote on his website after the incident was a very long way from an apology. He said LH should also get a penalty, and totally failed to mention the incident where he drew alongside and then swerved into Hamilton, as if he did not know he had done it or couldn’t remember. I find that troubling.

              Of course, you are quite right that he may have been making all of the right noises since then and we have not heard about it.

            5. @paulguitar

              what he wrote on his website after the incident was a very long way from an apology

              Vettel doesn’t “write” anything on his website, it’s all copied from the official Ferrari site.

      2. petebaldwin (@)
        2nd July 2017, 14:39

        @gt-racer – How about something that ensures he doesn’t do it again but that doesn’t ruin the championship? Give him a large suspended ban. So in effect, if he deliberately crashes into someone again in the next 2 years, he is banned for a season.

        1. @petebaldwin Personally I think that is way overkill. And besides, even if they wanted to hang that guillotine over SV, depending on how they want to sway the Championship fight over the next few years they could always just deem another incident by SV as ‘instinctual’ just as they deemed MS’s far more dangerous and consequential whack on JV at Jerez 97. MS received virtually no penalty for his indiscretion which was at racing speed during the season finale.

          1. And it also literally damaged JV’s car.

          2. Virtually no penalty? He was disqualified from the championship.

            1. @Al Yup disqualified from the Championship that he had taken himself out of anyway, and still kept his wins and poles and points for the record books, so exactly what penalty did he pay? Answer: nothing!

            2. @Robbie don’t forget that JV still had to finish in the points (5th or better for the 2 required) to secure the championship – had he succeeded in taking JV out (as he arguably did in 94 vs Hill), he would have won the title regardless. I thought the idea of the Schumacher penalty was to make it clear that regardless of JV scoring points or not, the penalty was severe enough to ensure that JV won and wasn’t compromised by blatant cheating.

            3. @skydiverian Bottom line is it was ‘kangaroo court’ type of behaviour by the FIA/F1. Regardless of how it would have alternatively played out, for example, JV’s car is too damaged to continue or to finish high enough to get the points he needed for the WDC, and MS wins the WDC only to have it stripped away and handed back to JV, MS still paid no penalty of any consequence.

              MS took himself out of the fight. FIA deemed it ‘instinctual’. Whose to say if JV hadn’t gotten the required points to win, they would have still given him the WDC. After all, MS merely did something ‘instinctual’. Realistically I’m not convinced even the MS skewed FIA would have been able to get away with that though, and I do think it is likely MS would have been stripped of the WDC anyway as there just would have been too much outrage. Then again there was a lot of public and media outrage with MS in 94 and 95 too.

              MS got to keep his 1997 wins and poles for the record books, and because he failed to eliminate JV from scoring enough points, he received no penalty of any consequence. My main point for bringing this up is to say SV has already received more penalty for a far lesser crime than MS did in 97.

      3. It is quite simple really, if he gets a race ban the he wont do it again. If he gets a 10 second stop and go then he did not really loose anything and still extended his lead.

        It´s too late now though, the time for race bans has passed.

        I want to see racing, hard, cheeky racing, not drivers ramming each other.

    3. Pure «Kindergarden F1»

      F1 ancient drivers are laughing at the cost of this childdish present F1…

      No to this Disneyland F1.

      1. Do you mean Senna having a chuckle at this much outrage over this pitiful little ‘collision’ or Clark, Hill and Moss looking the other way in shame?

    4. Penalty during race was enough, if they wanted to do this why not black flag him at the moment, is very stupid and show how unprepared and inconsistent are the stewards

      1. Martijn (@)
        2nd July 2017, 13:02

        Agreed. There is clearly something wrong at FIA side which leaves room for interpretation. They need more scripting and consistency

        1. @mayrton No no no no no. Adding more rules never solves anythoing. And trust me, they WILL get it wrong.
          Remember last years verstappen debate: Verstappen made a dangerous move (Spa, against kimi). Dangerous meaning that it could have been a massive (and i mean MASSIVE) shunt. FIA goes ahead and basically bans defensive driving. Case in point, Maxico last year, vettel defends with a very hard BUT not dangerous move that allows both to continue their fight but is clearly outruled by the new lex verstappen (But would have been completely legal before.) What we need is a healthy amount of common sense in stewarding.

        2. Jackie Stewart said the first thing he’d do if he was FIA President would be to employ full-time paid stewards, eg, ex-drivers like Alex Zanardi, who would be there at every race and provide the consistency the sport requires. But apparently the FIA can’t afford it, which is odd in a sport that is “capital intensive”.

          1. It seems odd that the FIA would claim they can’t afford full time stewards. The cost of the stewards would born, directly or indirectly, by the teams, not the FIA. How are the stewards currently compensated?

          2. Bluefroggle
            3rd July 2017, 13:08

            What is the difference between paying 1 full time steward for 20 races and a different steward for each race? (Assuming the fee is the same for each race).

            1 x full time steward gets paid £10,000 per race, say, total £200,000 for season.

            Or different steward gets paid £10,000 each per race, say, total £200,000 for season.

    5. One thing that (at least from reading it in this table) is rather striking is the apparent inconsistency in what is a 3-points-offence. Impeding in practice the same as Kimis banzai move against bottas? Thats one reason i dislike this points system.

      1. @mrboerns It depends on the severity of the incident. There’s only been one instance of impeding in practice getting three penalty points and that was because Gutierrez got in Wehrlein’s way on a very quick part of the track at Spa.

        1. @keithcollantine Personally I’d do away with penalties for impeding altogether in practice sessions. There’s virtually no competitive disadvantage if you’re held up in practice, unlike during qually. Unless you’re doing something dangerous, I don’t see why it’s treated as such a massive issue.

    6. Vettel should be not given any extra penalty, firstly he was already penalised in race andvin penaltyvpoints. Secondly mercedes did not appeal.

      1. Did you even read the article on the top of this page?

        1. Don’t know where he got the appeal thing but he is right. What’s done is done. We have seen other drivers do very dumb stuff like pushing people off track (not going to say who) but unless they stick with the stewards in race don’t bother even having them. If we want to mess up a great championship battle have at it but I feel what’s done is done

      2. What do Mercedes have to do with it?

        1. IT’s implied that since Mercedes seem cool with the penalty, they should move on. (Doesn’t necessarily make it so but that’s what the comment said)

          1. @davidnotcoulthard, it could also be the case that Mercedes have decided that, if the FIA have taken matters into their own hands on their own initiative, why do they need to do anything?

            1. I’m with you on that, but I was just saying what kpkart probably was trying to.

    7. Championship would still be tight and he saves some mileage.

    8. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
      2nd July 2017, 13:24

      That graph of this years penalty points is very interesting. Just shows that a lot of drivers we think of as good seem to have collected FAR more than some who we think of as some of the worst. I mean just look at Sainz. 7 points in one year is not good at all. But then that isn’t comparable to Vettel. But I do still actually think that Vettel has overall been the best driver this year. Just not in Baku! Perez also has a and even Hamilton and Verstappen have a small amount. 2 of the drivers who have got so much criticism this year have none! Stroll and Ericsson. Sometimes under performing can help keep you out of trouble. So Sainz and especially Vettel may need to be very careful over the rest of this year. I thought Vettel’s anger issues had been so much better this year compared to last. But they seem to be a little out of control again. Sainz seems to be just trying that bit too hard. I believe he will be fine for the rest of this year if he just focusses that bit more and doesn’t keep making mistakes. He has the ability to have very good weekends too, but he had an equal amount of pretty poor ones this year really.

    9. It won’t be banned and it shouldn’t happen anyway.
      They’ll probably ask Vettel to do public excuses.
      Worst case scenario: grid penalty but unlikely

      1. If he gets a grid penalty it’s a great chance to throw a whole new power unit in because at some point they will need to take the hit so pretty much this penalty would mean nothing which in hindsight would be great ;)

        1. Old_mate_Mick
          3rd July 2017, 1:18

          How do you figure that? Vettel’s not set to take a penalty if he takes a new PU yet, so him taking a new PU now would only screw him over later in the season. Ferrari’s spec 3 ICE apparently isn’t ready ’till Silverstone, so if Vettel takes a new PU here, it’ll be a spec 2 unit, leaving him with only one spec 3 ICE for the rest of the season, and grid penalties if and when he has to take a spec 4.

          More likely: If he’s set to get a grid penalty, Ferrari might either: a) leave him to use his spec 1 unit which has already done almost 5,000ks (this is only in the event that the spec 2 unit Ferrari had to take out in practice at Baku can’t be used anymore), as they’ll have a grid penalty anyway, so they can afford the risk of the PU going pop, and even the spec 1 unit wasn’t too far behind Mercedes in Baku (Vettel was faster in the race than both Mercs), or b) Bring the spec 3 updates forward from Silverstone to Austria, provided they can bring it forward, and use it’s extra power to negate any grid penalty (Spec 3 is rumoured to have 50hp more than spec 1, which should make overtaking in Austria easy).

    10. It would be a surprise if the FIA chose to do any more than impose a suspended penalty or pressed Vettel to participate in its road safety awareness campaigns.

      Vettel already has a suspended penalty for his misbehaviour in Mexico last year, so I would be surprised if he gets another suspended penalty instead of a real one.

      1. +1
        Precisely. The situation also confirms the more general picture that Vettel has a problem with self-control and basic respect for others involved prominently in Formula 1. A tirade of abuse against the race director (how that escaped a rac ban still baffles me) and a road rage episode against his main competitor under safety car conditions with stewards potentially on track. Both are exceptional, unparalleled. In neither case are there mitigating factors (he wasn’t provoked, and presumably he’s in sufficient physical and mental health to be racing in a grand prix). So the only thing left is to downplay the incidents. And how has Vettel reacted to the first incident from last year being downplayed and excused? Exactly.

        1. @david-br and @sasquatch Firstly I don’t think he is under a suspended penalty for Mexico…he only received a warning for that. Secondly, it is overplaying it to say there were ‘stewards potential on track’ as the safety car was just pulling in when the SV/ LH clash happened.

          You are not being accurate with your postings.

          1. @robbie: You are right. It was a indeed warning. But a warning that threatened Vettel with a tribunal if a similar event (misconduct) occured, which I think has in Baku. So I expect a tribunal which will punish Vettel. And with more than a suspended race ban.

            The FIA warned Vettel after an incident in the Mexican Grand Prix last year – when he swore over the radio at race director Charlie Whiting – that he could face a tribunal in the event of any future incident of a similar nature.

            1. @sasquatsch Right. And we will soon know, but a tribunal does not automatically mean big punishment. It can also mean a gathering for them to question SV and then hit him with community service or what have you. I will be both surprised and disappointed if they influence the WDC chase with a race ban, but at the same time I fully acknowledge that if they do something so drastic it will be SV that will have brought this upon himself. However as I have opined, MS got off unscathed from far worse.

        2. The situation also confirms the more general picture that Vettel has a problem with self-control and basic respect for others involved prominently in Formula 1.

          @david-br No. Two incidents don’t ‘confirm’ a general problem. The outrage against Charlie in Mexico was completely warranted. Charlie did not do his job that day.

          That doesn’t mean his action in Baku last week was acceptable, but it also wasn’t a ‘clear sign of self-control issues’.

          1. Taking to Charlie may have been warranted. A tirade of abuse was not. Try that on a football pitch and see how quickly you get punished!

          2. The outrage against Charlie in Mexico was completely warranted

            It’s difficult to take you seriously after that statement. That kind of abuse of someone going about their job is never warranted.

            Likewise, if you think pulling alongside a competitor and driving into them over a (wrongly) perceived misdemeanour on their part isn’t a sign of a lack of self-control, it’s difficult to see how you actually measure self-control.

      2. @sasquatsch

        Vettel already has a suspended penalty for his misbehaviour in Mexico last year

        No, he wasn’t formally given a “suspended penalty”.

        He was basically told ‘do that again and we’ll bring you before a tribunal‘. But when a suspended penalty is issued it is always documented and attached to a time limit. For example in Spain Force India were given a €25,000 fine suspended for 12 months. Vettel didn’t get anything like this after Mexico, his only penalty was applied to his race result.

    11. Neil (@neilosjames)
      2nd July 2017, 14:43

      The penalty I’d expect would be having his Baku result erased, plus a suspended two, maybe three race ban to hang over his head for the next 12 months.

      Taking all factors into account, that comes off as sufficiently harsh without being the one thing they probably don’t want (a huge title-race killer).

      1. @neilosjames

        Baku result erased, plus a suspended race ban

        seems a likely outcome.

          1. @Fran, I just agree with @neilosjames‘ logic: it looks like FIA want the appearance of giving a damn without killing the title race.

            Taking all factors into account, that comes off as sufficiently harsh without being the one thing they probably don’t want (a huge title-race killer).

            Seems like an apt and less controversial route. Then again, with the masses baying for blood, it could be worse.

    12. The FIA should put Vettel on double secret probation…

      1. +1 for the Animal House reference :)

    13. GtisBetter (@)
      2nd July 2017, 17:21

      We should know tomorrow.

    14. Vettel made a mistake and ran into Lewis. The wheelbanging was also by mistake. Stop and go penalty correct. Is that not enough and can’t we move on…?
      This from a Williams fan.

      1. @dutchtreat : do you have Specsavers in Holland ? ;-)

      2. @dutchtreat

        I think we can all agree that The first one was an accident, albeit one that should not have happened and probably warranted a 10 second stop and go or drive through.

        The second one was very much deliberate, delivered with malice intent. If some one did that on the public road I’d expect them to loose their license.

        You are just kidding yourself if you think Seb did that by mistake.

        1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
          2nd July 2017, 18:19

          I won’t say that Vettel didn’t do the 2nd one on purpose but I’m not actually sure. I think he was just so furious with the first one (which he thought was Hamilton’s fault) so that he wasn’t really aware of what he was doing. That is what makes me think that when he was shaking his hand and looking at Lewis that he lost his concentration and turned his wheel without realizing what effect it would have. He just seems to be unaware of the trouble he causes when he is angry. This is why I think he may not have actually tried to hit Hamilton. This may sound silly, but I think it explains him being very puzzled later on in the race when he was wondering why he had got given a penalty for “dangerous driving”. He didn’t even know that he’d hit Hamilton a 2nd time which is what make me think that he thought that penalty was too harsh. He was just focusing far to much on the first incident, which from his view, I think I can understand why he thought he wasn’t at fault from his perspective.
          What he did was clearly unacceptable, but I do still think that the 2nd contact may well have been unintentional.

          1. @thegianthogweed

            So now he’s driving an F1 car with out due care and attention, crashing once then by mistake and not even intentionally he crashes again and doesn’t know that he’s crashed?

            Not the standard of expertise you expect when zooming about at 200 mph with no brake lights.

            What you wrote makes Seb look even worse.

            1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
              2nd July 2017, 21:25

              Weather it was on purpose or not, it wasn’t acceptable. I’m not trying to defend or make him look any worse. I just think that the reason he didn’t know he’d done the 2nd contact could have been just because he was so oblivious to his actions when he was angry after the first contact. He still deserves the penalty, I was just commenting saying I wasn’t sure that the 2nd contact was on purpose.

              Several others thought this too. When Vettel is focused, he is good and he doesn’t make many mistakes. When he gets angry, things sometimes have gone wrong. Either with bad language or unreasonable moves as it now turns out.

            2. @thegianthogweed

              I wouldn’t want to race against someone at 200+ mph with that temperament.

              The rules and regs should be robust enough to ensure those traits are not tolerated on the circuit.

              Talented or not, if your going to deliberately and obviously crash into someone, then not even acknowledge a collision occurred, you don’t deserve to be in F1.

              For contrast see this crash between Kamui and Lewis at spa 2011


              Lewis took the blame for that.

              Looks like Kamui’s fault to me. I think kamui should have been banned for that.

              They barely touched yet the result was race ending for Lewis.


              Eddie J and Coulthard discussing who’s fault that crash was and who deserved what. It’s clearly not Lewis’s fault.

            4. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
              3rd July 2017, 9:33

              We can have different opinions but me and a few others did think that Vettel may not have intended to hit Hamilton a 2nd time. That may make it sound worse, I think it was more him being oblivious to his actions than a deliberate wallop. I really don’t understand why me assuming this is possible is silly as it sort of explains why he was so puzzled later. Even I can’t say his first contact (which I think is all he thought he had done) was exactly dangerous driving. It was worth a penalty but only a small one. If he had deliberately done the 2nd contact, he will have been more aware of it and much less furious on the radio when he got is 10 second stop go penalty as I think he will have understood that that penalty was appropriate for what he did if he realized at the time. But as you say, this is just as bad or possible worse than if he did it on purpose. But he doesn’t make these mistakes at high speed and at the speed he was going (which really was incredibly slow), it really wasn’t that dangerous anyway. I think the penalty was fair and he certainly deserved it. But I am certain he wouldn’t be that stupid that he would pull alongside anybody and do the same at high speed.

              Others can have different views but this is one way I think it may possibly have been.

            5. SevenFiftySeven
              3rd July 2017, 14:38

              I remember that incident between Lewis and Kamui, and I’m surprised some don’t see Lewis moving left to take the racing line to turn for Les Combes when he hadn’t fully cleared Kamui. You have to clear the car to move in his direction. Kobayashi was still on his left. Lewis didn’t need that extra space to turn on that corner, and Kobayashi was still driving straight on his line. If he got a penalty then, it was because he caused an avoidable accident by moving left.

              lol @ using Coulthard’s and Eddie’s perspective about the incident on home TV by home boys for home boys as conclusive ruling about who did what.

          2. I find this ‘he didn’t notice the second impact’ argument hilarious.

            Certain psychological pressures can lead to mental breaks as described, but that wasn’t a situation traumatic enough to blank out oooh I hit a car quite hard and my car somewhat jumped with the impact…

            It’s not silly as an idea it’s ludicrous.

          3. @thegianthogweed If this IS true, then Seb shouldn’t get a race ban. He should have his licence revoked until he can demonstrate he’s aware of what he’s doing in the car.

            What an absurd suggestion.

            He deliberately hit another competitor. He should be excluded from a race – whether that’s Baku or Austria I am ambivalent about.

            1. He should have his licence revoked until he can demonstrate he’s aware of what he’s doing in the car.

              @fluxsource Which to be fair would be a bit of a catch-22.

              Excluding from a race makes more sense though, of course

            2. @davidnotcoulthard Yeah, not sure how he’d be able to do that – race in lower formulas for a bit? Meh, anyway that point only stands if he wasn’t aware that he’d hit Lewis. Which I don’t believe for a second.

              FIA have got ONE chance to regain credibility here – remove Vettel from a race.

            3. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
              3rd July 2017, 17:23

              If you think that, then what Sainz had done twice this year has resulted far worse. And what did that result in? Weather it was n purpose or not doesn’t make that much difference. If it wasn’t on purpose, it looked much less worse than many other incidents this year by other drivers. But if he did intend to do it, why was he unaware later? I only brought this up again because I wasn’t the only one who thought it may not have been on purpose. Loads of other drivers this year have had much more serious incidents this year that clearly were not intended to be done. Like Sainz wasn’t aware of his actions on 2 different occations. Does that mean he should get his licence revoked too as that resulted in much more serious damage than Vettel’s incident. I think Vettel’s penalty was fair weather the 2nd incident was intentional or not. Lets just agree to disagree.

    15. it’s nothing to do with road driving, in the same way that doing 220 mph, spinning wheels, locking brakes, sliding sideways, running people wide in corners, blocking and bumping is also considered illegal on the road…

      Martin Brundle

      1. Under RACING conditions!

        NOT under a safety car!

        Jeez how stupid can even ex racers be!

        1. Safety car or not, It is still wrong to try and apply road rules to race tracks. There is no correlation.

    16. Theoretically, if the F1A give Vettel a suspended ban can he then request to actually serve it and start with a clean sheet? It might be one race out of the window but he could be more at ease for rest of the season.

      1. GtisBetter (@)
        2nd July 2017, 19:10


    17. I don’t get this. It was a stupid, stupid thing to do, but we’ve seen people purposely push people off the track at 200mph and hardly get a penalty, let alone a race ban. Neither car was ever going to retire from the contact, and neither driver was in danger. It was dumb as anything, but a race ban? Come on now. The effective 30 second penalty was fine.
      I can guarantee no one would be having this conversation (except extreme Hamilton fans) if Hamilton’s headrest didn’t come off and Vettel had ended up in 5th with Hamilton winning. But because Seb finished ahead, everyone’s complaining. Why should the stewards change the penalty because of something that happened that was a entirely different issue. Imo the stop and go and the license points was a sufficient penalty, maybe a bit too lenient, but a race ban would be much too harsh.

      1. GtisBetter (@)
        2nd July 2017, 20:28

        Who has been pushed of the track at 200mph?

        1. Just a bit too dramatic me thinks.

    18. If the roles were reversed, Hamilton would be awarded a medal for generating interest in the sport. Anyone who dared challenge his heroic actions would be branded as persecutors.

      1. Evidence, please…

        1. Old_mate_Mick
          3rd July 2017, 1:41

          How about the 2011 Belgian GP qualifying? Hamilton and Maldonado ram each other on purpose, after the checkered flag came out to end Q2. Both drivers clearly swerved at each other, in excess of 150kph, and banged into each other, damaging both cars. both are found guilty of causing a collision by the stewards, who give Maldonado a 5 place grid penalty, and Hamilton a reprimand.

          There’s evidence of a precedent. Vettel intentionally banged wheels with hamilton at under 40kph behind a SC which had been called in (it’s important to point that out, the SC wasn’t live, so there’s nothing unsafe like marshalls on track or anything at that time), and Vettel has already been given a 10sec stop/go and 3 penalty points. For intentionally running into each other at over 150kph, after the checkered flag had come out, Hamilton and Maldonado got nothing more than a reprimand and a 5 place grid penalty respectively.

          So how come Hamilton fans are all crying for Vettel to recieve race bans, dsq for Baku, and some are even calling for him to be banned from the whole season? Lol. Something tells me the British media and Ham fans have a really short memory, since there’s ample precedent of Hamilton doing things that are just as dodgy as what Vettel did in Baku, and get away with them almost completely unpunished. I remember more dodgy incidents from Ham from 2011 alone than I remember Vettel doing in his entire F1 career so far lol. Neither of them are saints, so it’d be great if everyone would stop crying like 5 year olds over nothing and let them race and fight for the title. I remember when controversy like this was just considered part of the sport, and drivers who are now revered as legends and heros used to do way more controversial stuff than Vettel did at Baku.

          1. You should write fiction novels.

      2. @henslayer After 2011 I don’t see how that’d be the case

    19. Did lewis not complain that the safety car was going too slow on his radio. Then he slowed down to cause to cause all this. Considering that Hamilton is British it is no wonder everyone wants to throw the book at vettel lewis should shoulder some of the blame himself. So give it a rest and move on what’s done is done

      1. Old_mate_Mick
        3rd July 2017, 1:51

        Exactly. 2016 Ham fans: F1 is over-policed. The Stewards should just let the drivers sort it out on track, and stop giving out harsh penalties for every single thing.
        2017 Ham fans: The stewards should ban DQ Vettel from baku, give him a race ban, and then remove all his points for 2017, for doing something Hamilton did in the past and only got a reprimand for!

        Something tells me this witch hunt is mostly led by the British media, and fans who are mostly children who are used to getting their own way. I’d expect this from children, bu the double standards from the media is pathetic.

      2. Yeah he indeed complained, but anyone with a functionning brain should realize that the SC just couldnt go significantly faster.

        And that includes Lewis Hamilton.

        1. SevenFiftySeven
          3rd July 2017, 15:02

          It’s ironic to note that just after opining (from a safety point of view) how slow the safety car was going, he, effectively then, became the safety car, went even slower, and got hit from behind. It sounds really funny if you look at it that way.

          1. The fact that the safety was so slow was the reason why he had to gain more of a gap so as not to come close to overtaking it before the line. The only way to gain a bigger gap was to go slower himself than the previous safety car start.

          2. The whole situation is under review and this includes Hamilton’s actions not just Vettel’s reaction.

    20. I think F1 should learn from football. Imagine that the referee sees the Zinedane head butt and for some reason decides to only give a yellow card. It is now not possible to turn this into a red card on appeal anymore, because the referee had the facts and decided on a penalty. Only for a foul that the referee was not aware of, or where he did not have the full facts, can the decision be changed on appeal.

      I agree with this principle. And that’s why I think that there should absolutely no hearing about the Vettel/Hamilton clash either. The stewards had the facts, deliberated over the penalty (for quite long, I might add), and decided on 10 seconds stop and go penalty plus three penalty points. Decision made, move on.

    21. drittfiske
      3rd July 2017, 2:05

      This is all a non-issue and I can’t believe how polarized people are about it.
      Firstly, contact is part of racing. From karting through to touring cars, prototypes, oval racing, open wheel, heck even distance running, contact comes with the territory of fighting for position. That said, in the interests of safety and the spirit of the sport, dangerous and unsporting conduct must be regulated.
      Secondly, what Vettel did was unsporting. It was not dangerous. That’s an important distinction. Intentional contact at low speed is not equivalent to intentions contact at high speed. Whether Hamilton brake checked (whether by using the brakes or simply decelerating suddenly) Vettels action was unjustified and should be punished because it was unsporting, not because it was dangerous.
      Thirdly, more action needs to be taken on actions that are dangerous. Blocking at high speed is an area that the FIA has chosen not to regulate, yet the action of blocking at high speed amounts to intentional contact if the following driver does not brake heavily. The consequences of high speed blocking, including the precedent it sets for lower formula, are far greater than the action that Vettel took.

      1. Make it simple
        1 Hamilton was attempting to check the field before the restart– I’ve done it, it works.
        2 Vettel did not anticipate Hamilton’s maneuver, and rear ended him.
        3 Vettel foolishly made an aggressive action in retaliation. (not dangerous, only stupid)
        4 Vettel was penalized.
        5 Mercedes neck restraint failure was the most “impactful” error.
        That’s the end…
        Next race please…

      2. So many words wasted. You forget something.

        They were NOT racing. They were following the de facto safety car which at that point was Hamilton.

        What do you think would of happened if Hamilton instead of complaining about how slow the safety car was, nerfed it up the rear and then drove alongside and smashed into it? 10 second stop and go? My backside.

        By the way – you nerf anyone like that in any series on a formation or safety lap and your going home. Fast. Check your blue book.

        1. 1 your argument is nonsensical
          2 all laps count, under green or not, all drivers are still under pressure to avoid error
          3 Vettel would never intentionally rear end a car- no motive to do so
          4 Hamilton did not want to be rear ended, but his intentional check of speed introduced that risk
          5 Get over it

    22. Stewards had the chance to black flag him in Baku, which they should of. A little too late now. End of story

      1. @johns23 Except it’s not too late. Hence the Tribunal.

        1. Sundar Srinivas Harish
          3rd July 2017, 16:42

          He should have been brought before the tribunal immediately, or far more severe measures should have been taken during the race. The FIA is simply diluting their credibility by levying a punishment and then deliberating on the matter days after it occurred. There aren’t many people who believe that Vettel’s actions should go unpunished, but there is such a thing as expediency.

    23. Vettels punishment included the loss of championship points 1st down to 4th. That’s a big deal.

    24. Vettel should be required to perform thirty chest-to-ground burpees in full racing gear prior to qualification at Silverstone, overseen by an instructor from British Military Fitness. That would be a suitable punishment and good for the TV broadcast.

    25. The FIA have interfered with championships in the past, when handing out penalties, be they grid drops or race bans. So why make a difference now.
      I of course hope its a hefty fine instead, and of course a final warning.

    26. If they give Vettel a race ban, they should practically scrap the penalty system on the Licence, doesn’t make sense with that kind of a decision.

      Damn, I was expecting a grid drop for the next race but a race ban is overkill !

    27. It’s a really illogical line of thinking, not imposing a penalty becasue of the impact on the championship. Because a deliberate decision not to penalise a driver has just as much influence on the outcome as a decision to penalise, just in the opposite direction. I.e. not punishing Vettel is a decision which has a positive outcome on Vettel’s championship push, compared to one which has a positive outcome for Hamilton. Essentially what they decided to do was to help Vettel’s championship, rather than hindering it.

    28. no further penalty for Vettel ;)

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