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
- Vettel accepts Hamilton did not brake-test him
- “Lost all respect for the FIA” – Hamilton endorses fan’s view on Vettel ruling
- Vettel issues formal apology for Baku clash with Hamilton
- Vettel avoids further sanction over clash with Hamilton
- ‘No change’ at Force India: Drivers still free to race despite costly Baku clash