Jean Todt, Circuit of the Americas, 2016

Todt defends Vettel penalty decision

2017 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

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FIA president Jean Todt has defended the penalty decision which went against Sebastian Vettel during the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

Todt met with the Ferrari driver earlier this week but decided no further action should be taken besides the ten-second stop-and-go penalty during the race.

Asked whether drivers who cause deliberate contact should be automatically disqualified, Todt pointed out that the FIA had faced calls to treat racing incidents more leniently.

“Number one, each incident will be different,” Todt told Sky. “And you will remember that the FIA and stewards have been blamed that we did not leave enough free racing. Which I can sympathise.”

“And I even heard ‘don’t do anything, let them deal on the track as they wish they want to be’.”

Todt said it would not have been appropriate for him to interfere in the stewards’ deliberations during the race.

“Before the restart, after the Safety Car, it was an unacceptable incident between Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton. Then it’s up to the stewards to decide what should be done.”

“And myself I was very interested, I was watching TV, and I was curious to see what would have happened. And of course it would be completely irrelevant from the president of the FIA watching from his home on the TV to call the stewards and tell them what to do.”

He pointed out the penalty cost Vettel a likely win in the race. “The stewards decided that Sebastian Vettel should have a ten-second stop-and-go [penalty].”

“Which is quite a severe offence, which means it modified the result from being winner to being the fourth of the race. So 25 to 12 points. So it means that Vettel lost 13 points because of that. And again it’s up to the stewards to decide.”

Todt explained he became involved in the FIA’s response to the incident as Vettel had described the decision as unfair.

“The reason why as president of the FIA I felt uncomfortable it was because from what I heard Lewis Hamilton did not do anything different from what he did at the previous Safety Car. So after the race there were some comments from the team and Sebastian Vettel on how unhappy they were and how unfair this decision was made.”

“I thought that we needed to understand better what had happened. That is why I asked the deputy president for sport Graham Stoker [and] the head of Formula One safety Charlie Whiting to speak with Sebastian Vettel to try and understand better. After that they came to me, they asked me to see the driver, which I did.”

2017 Azerbaijan 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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  • 37 comments on “Todt defends Vettel penalty decision”

    1. joe pineapples
      8th July 2017, 16:06

      News flash Jean, that wasn’t a ‘racing incident’.

    2. This sorry excuse for an explanation is really making it even worse.
      So is Todt saying they had a sit down with Vettel to tak the time and show how there really wasn’t any ground to complain? How sweet.
      What is worse, him being fine with road rage being treated under rhe SC as if it’s just something that can happen when racing or completely ignoring that Vettel already was a repeat offender who was warned about that last year.

      1. @bascb I couldn’t agree more. The handling of this incident has brought the sport into disrepute just as much as the original attack.

        In time, the FIA will pay for this.

    3. Reasonable explanation in my opinion. He did not interfere with the stewards. That’s all I wanted to hear. Now lets move on.

    4. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      8th July 2017, 16:42

      Very self-serving explanation…

    5. Well, this incident was obviously not about ‘free racing’ but otherwise this is a very mature response from Jean Todt. It is good that the FIA took a careful and measured approach to the issue instead of jumping on the disqualification bandwagon. Todt is absolutely right by pointing out that every incident is different and that the FIA president must not interfere with the stewards’ job. Todt’s job is not about show and controversy. The “show” that Ecclestone and Mosley were running for years created most of the problems that F1 is struggling with today so I am pretty happy to see an FIA president that does exactly the opposite, stays in the background and makes boring but fair decisions when necessary.

      1. Agreed, anything that happens on track during a race is the responsibility of the stewards.

      2. @girts It’s not a “disqualification bandwagon” – a DQ is the ONLY reasonable response when a competitor deliberately hits another. I really can’t see how anything else is appropriate.

    6. “Todt explained he became involved in the FIA’s response to the incident as Vettel had described the decision as unfair.”
      So this was all for Vettel, to explain why there was 10sec stop n go penalty for Vet at all or why Ham didn’t get one?
      What about the whole safety aspect? He’s supposed to defend the safety in the sport and promote safety on all roads. He’s got his priorities mixed up.

      1. Maybe he’ll invite Lewis to Paris now to explain how the dealing with the issue was fair.

        I fully expect them to throw the book at Lewis at the next infraction (even if it’s not Lewis’s fault)

    7. Just like the WWE, the people in charge turn a blind eye to improve the entertainment. Unlike the WWE this is meant to be serious. Todt is still a Ferrari man and will do anything to protect the ‘chosen ones’. Disgraceful.

      1. So disqualifying Vettel would’ve been “entertaining” ?? If taking a ride in someone’s mind would be possible, yours would be a top selling one.

        1. I think he’s saying it would be less entertaining but a more reasonable response in the circumstances.

    8. “Number one, each incident will be different”

      yeah, next time it might not be a Ferrari he has to protect.

    9. What about bringing the sport and the Ferrari team into disrepute? Unless it’s ok to ram a competitor when not even racing? Perhaps they should start hitting each other in the pit lane in a bid to damage rivals cars before the race even starts ?

    10. The stewards involved in the Baku GP demonstrated the same lack of courage displayed by the center referee in the FIFA Confederations Cup final match, who, after reviewing the Chilean defender deliberately elbowing the German player in the face, decided to apply a yellow card, instead of ejecting the player, what would have been the proper outcome. SV should have been disqualified from the race, pure and simple.

      Todt’s FIA decision just shows that, no matter what they do, Ferrari will always have preferential treatment in F1.

    11. If you follow F1 its best to understand from the start that Ferrari are a special case, they will get more money and the power of Veto, no other team get this treatment.

      I await the next FIA drama.

    12. The FIA brought this upon themselves. They could have saved the cost of whatever was spent on the hearing.
      They could have fined Vettel after the race and demanded an apology and be done with it.
      Instead they made as if there was going to be serious retribution, then fired blanks.
      Lets see how future driver rage is handled.

      1. I absolutely do not agree with giving fines for sporting infringements. It just sends the message that you can break whatever rule you like if you have enough money. I’m glad the FIA didn’t do that.

    13. Totally corrupt decision, but tell me if you are surprised.
      This guy is a disgrace.

    14. Agreed.. a total embarrassment!!

    15. Haha. I love the Waaam

    16. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      8th July 2017, 20:08

      Just curious, how did Vettel come out P4 with 10 second drive through penalty?

      The race was red flagged so he should have been last if they’d given the penalty at the restart, right?

      Sounds to me like he was gifted 10 points by the stewards any way you do the math… Todt should check his arithmetic because this was the best 10 second drive through penalty of all time probably for one of the worst offenses we’ve seen…

      1. Did you even watch the race?

        1. @nvherman I did, and I noticed it took a LONG time for the stewards to award Vettel that penalty. @freelittlebirds makes an excellent point.

          1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
            9th July 2017, 17:44

            @fluxsource @nvherman the US commentators were surprised that they weren’t even investigating the incident and how long it took them to decide that and THAT is one of the issues here because the stewards have said that they didn’t want to affect the championship but the fact that they timed it after telling Lewis to come in, did just that.

            Vettel’s transgression would and should have put him at the end of all but somehow the timing allowed him to keep P4.

        2. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
          9th July 2017, 17:40

          @nvherman – I did and they had an eternity to give Vettel the penalty but they literally timed it to perfection with Hamilton’s headrest drivethrough and repair penalty.

    17. I really don’t understand how people are still bent out of shape on this issue. Let me start by saying I am not a fan of either driver, so this is an unbiased opinion. I think the penalty was pretty much bang on. Yes it was stupid, reckless and dangerous, but the fact is that the move had zero impact on Hamilton’s race. ZERO. If Hamilton had even a tiny bit of damage to his front wing or something, a disqualification or race ban could definitely be in order. Because nothing was affected, I think the stiffest in race penalty was adequate. People need to get over it already, and move on.
      I’ve never been a fan of Todt or Ferrari, but I see zero evidence of bias being displayed here. Certainly have seen it in the past on various issues though. The stewards made the call, not Todt. He can’t be expected to go around challenging steward’s rulings after races, it would undermine their authority.

      1. I’ve just watched Todt’s interview on sky sports news and I suggest you do the same. After watching I am in no doubt that Todt is 100% backing Ferrari . He reminded me of Sepp Blatter and like him he has to go and make way for an unbiased FIA boss. In the interview he is evasive and showing all the body language of someone trying to ‘brazen it out’. A sad day for F1.

      2. John Toad (@)
        8th July 2017, 23:43

        The penalty should be for the infringement not for the outcome.
        Overtaking and colliding with another car whilst under safety car conditions was the offence.
        The stewards chickened out and only gave a stop and go because they knew that the FIA could and would step in if the penalty was deemed inadequate. What they didn’t understand was that the FIA would chicken out as well

        1. The outcome is always considered when handing out a penalty. When Grosjean got himself a race ban in 2012? That was ‘just’ accidental wheel banging. That happens regularly and often goes unpunished. Itas the circumstances and the result that landed him in massive trouble. w That is also the case in the real world.

      3. A motorsports fan
        9th July 2017, 10:23

        “i think the penalty was pretty much bang on. Yes it was stupid, reckless and dangerous, but the fact is that the move had zero impact on Hamilton’s race. ZERO.”

        that’s not a fact at all.

        but even if it were a fact instead of your guess, the logic is flawed. At the time Vettel drove into Hamilton deliberately, Vettel could not possibly know he would not impact Hamilton’s race.

        moreover, there are a whole bunch of actions that would not impact the race result but still be considered an offense.

    18. I have to say that I think Jean Todt is the weakest leader the FIA has ever had and he is so scared of upsetting his sacred Ferrari that is is a joke. His obvious bias is grossly unfair to all the other teams and drivers that make up F1
      When max Mosley was heading the FIA I really disliked the man, but to his credit he took no messing from anybody, Todt needs to grow some balls an do his job impartially and as the head of the FIA he has a duty to the other teams and the sport to step in and say something if the stewards get it wrong.
      I don’t like to see any driver getting disqualified but Seb’s reaction in Baku was way over the top, regardless of the perceived provocation and I am sorry to say the penalty awarded by the stewards for his actions was insufficient and the subsequent slap on the wrist by the FIA sends out totally the wrong message.

    19. Now i got it. vittel was “unhappy they were and how unfair this decision was made”
      So they where checking lewis if he didn’t do anything wrong. He didn’t so so more penalties.
      What a joke
      I hope bottas will drive into red ugly dude.

    20. A motorsports fan
      9th July 2017, 7:51

      Sebbie wouldn’t admit he did anything wrong.
      But mummy Fia threatens little Sebbie with consequences if he doesn’t say sorry.
      So Sebbie finally apologizes, right from his heart.

      Juvenile character.

    21. I think Nikki summed it up perfectly when asked the question ” Lewis race Vettel as hard as he did “even harder” Basically son the FIA set a bar and precedent “Whats good for goose… well in short sort him out!!

    22. This “hearing” for this type of offence should’ve been conducted in the presence of a panel comprisiong team princeples, Charlie and Todt. With millions of F1 fans watching your every move it is inconceivable that you have only “Ferrari’s ex team boss” deciding the fate of a Ferrari driver… rediculous!!

      “Wont be surprised it they wrapped him over the knuckles in a operating theatre just in case he bruised”

    Comments are closed.