Sebastian Vettel, Lance Stroll, Monza, 2019

Stewards did not consider disqualifying Vettel for “dangerous” rejoin

2019 Italian Grand Prix

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The stewards did not consider disqualifying Sebastian Vettel from the Italian Grand Prix for his “dangerous” manoeuvre with Lance Stroll, according to FIA race director Michael Masi.

Vettel spun off the circuit in the high-speed Ascari complex, then drove across the racing line in front of Stroll, who collided with the Ferrari driver. The stewards gave Vettel a 10-second stop-and-go penalty for the collision, which is the most severe time penalty available. He was also given three penalty points on his licence for the collision, which the stewards described as a “dangerous incident”.

Masi, who is not one of the race stewards, said the possibility of excluding Vettel from the race results was not considered. “Not to my knowledge and it wasn’t something the stewards brought up,” he said.

The International Sporting Code permits the stewards to show drivers a black flag instructing them to enter the pits and stop. However Masi told media at Monza this would not be used to disqualify a driver from a race.

“The black flag, there’s people in this room that would probably remember it because I certainly can’t,” he said. “You’ve got to do something seriously severe to be disqualified from a race.

“Further, you can’t actually disqualify under the International Sporting Code without giving someone the opportunity to be heard. So even in that case a black flag would not be displayed during the race, it would be a hearing afterwards.”

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
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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28 comments on “Stewards did not consider disqualifying Vettel for “dangerous” rejoin”

  1. Watching Vettel rejoin felt like watching someone messing up their parking at the local supermarket. That level of driving. Seriously, from 4th to last, a Ferrari driver at Monza? 4 time champion? Spinning off track on his own in a race under no pressure? And everyone just shrugs now? He doesn’t look like the wants to be doing this anymore. If so, he should get out for his own good.

  2. “Further, you can’t actually disqualify under the International Sporting Code without giving someone the opportunity to be heard.

    This needs looking at.

    Vettel was so closed to being t-boned in almost identical fashion to the F2 accident last week, and Stroll wasn’t far off committing the exact same error straight afterwards.

    Driving blind onto a high speed chicane, risking multiple lives, strikes me as ‘seriously severe’.

    1. tend to agree that this had the Potential to cause another extremely dangerous crash and i personally wouldn’t have thought of a disqualification as too harsh. not saying the decision was wrong, but i could have seen it going that way.

    2. @sparkyamg

      ‘Vettel was so closed to being t-boned in almost identical fashion to the F2 accident last week….’

      This was exactly the first thing I thought about.

      Thankfully it ended up being not so bad.

    3. I wouldn’t want to be stranded in that position.
      At first glance that’s a big no no however there was no better solution particularly for Stroll.
      Want to know why journos are bias? These questions, presumptious questions. There’s no reason for disqualifications fir this type of incidents. But I hate the finger wagger? So let me make it sound like a pass.

    4. Maybe Stroll and Gasly should check again the rule book, mainly the section regarding “double yellow flags”.

  3. Serious stuff. I get it that VET did not see Stroll or any other driver, but he knew they’re seconds behind… and not 1 minute. I don’t see any feasible solution for something like this, only to black flag them instantly. Every second counts so, nobody will go in reverse and/or take a longer path and wait for every racing driver to pass until is safe to rejoin. Would be kinda ridiculous to be honest.

  4. Fair enough. I’d say disqualification ought to be reserved for egregious cases, where there obvious malice or intent to cause harm.

    Poor driver judgement can be penalized appropriately, and the penalty point system can be used to track those drivers who consistently exhibit poor judgement or driving standards.

    However, Masi and the FIA might want to review how the penalty point system has fared as it has been some years since its introduction, and this is probably good time to take stock of it, along the lines of:
    – Firstly, are the penalty points awarded for individual infractions adequate or too low/high? Looking back at the past (six?) years, were there drivers who consistently kept getting penalty points and who ought to have been banned for a race to drive the message home, but weren’t?
    – Secondly, is there a need to introduce an escalation mechanism? e.g. we’ve seen the case of Raghunathan in F2 where he was reported to be on his way towards a second race ban. Should a driver who earns a subsequent race ban within a year or two of the previous one face a more stringent penalty? e.g. An increasing number of bans, or a loss of superlicence points.

    1. Egregious cases – like intentionally ramming another vehicle? Trying to remember who the last driver to do this was, but the answer seems to evade me )

      1. Precisely. Such as intentionally ramming another vehicle while behind a safety car, because, you know, the track conditions are dangerous and safety ought to be on everyone’s mind?

        1. egregious cases, where there obvious malice

          Varlajo & @dermechaniker – For sure, I’d say Vettel’s actions at Baku a few years ago definitely fall under this category, in my view (and many others, I’m sure). It would have sent a very strong message not just to F1 drivers, but to drivers in the junior series as well, if he’d been immediately black flagged for that.

          I’m not sure why you both had to be so mysterious and tangential about it.

  5. You’ve got to do something seriously severe to be disqualified from a race.

    Like what? Actually causing a death? They need to say what it will take to be removed from the race track by the officials because I can not understand why both Vettel and Stroll were not shown the black flag after what they did. You should not be allowed under any circumstance to drive across the road in front of oncoming vehicles because it is so dangerous. They knowingly put lives in jeopardy, you would have thought after what happened in the Formula 2 race in Belgium that they would have more sense. Flipping unbelievable.

  6. If anything, it highlights the needs for spotters. It’s not like they can turn their heads or see properly even out of the mirrors.

    I’m not denying that the outcome was dangerous and I feel his penalty was justified, disqualification would have been too far.

  7. No problem, if it’s not Hamilton.

    FIA is building some serious standards, impossible to maintain and it’s putting itself in a very danger and perile situation, when they’ll deal with other drivers, with less “reputation”.

  8. I agree with all the comments so far. My first thought was that he should be black flagged; returning your car sideways onto the circuit on the fastest track of the year, in the early stages, with more than half the field in close quarters behind you is brainless. One driver has died and another is critical in hospital from a recent “t-bone” incident that was blameless; Vettel (and then Stroll) very nearly caused one through stupidity.

    It’s unacceptable and I’d have liked to see a tougher punishment. That said, I’m sure Vettel will feel punishment enough from the tifosi chanting his team-mate’s name while he finished almost last…

  9. Sebastian Diesel and Romain “The Rock” Grosjean to star in “The Fast and the Spurious : F1 Drift”?

    1. Philippe Vandemeulebroucke
      9th September 2019, 16:11

      “Very funny fonzy”

  10. “Further, you can’t actually disqualify under the International Sporting Code without giving someone the opportunity to be heard. So even in that case a black flag would not be displayed during the race, it would be a hearing afterwards.”

    Wait, so even if someone did have the red mist descend on them and intentionally rammed another car (oddly enough, Vettel was the last person to do that, too), the only way to get them in the pits and give them a talking to is to red flag the whole race?

    F1 rules….

  11. So if a team won’t take immediate action regarding a safety issue with one of their cars, the black flag can’t be used until after a “hearing”. Recently one driver bemoaned how difficult it was to drive after being rear-ended because his seat moved forward everytime he braked. Before that we had another driving around 250-300k trying to hold a safety device in place before finally pitting and having it “fixed” with “sticky tape”. Says a lot for how teams really feel about the priority of safety for their driver or anyone elses.
    “But it would spoil the race”!
    At least they would have the chance to continue racing. I know nothing serious happened, but when you least expect it from something seemingly innocuous….

    These recent weeks should be a wake-up call and a chance to salvage some “good” out of an appalling time, not an opportunity to stick our heads in the sand.
    As they say “Things change. Change things”

    Bit off topic, some bad memories flooded back, but rant over now.

  12. The black flag wouldn’t have been entirely unjustified, though, given the potential severity of the incident. The outcome could’ve easily been similar to the fatal Spa F2 feature race crash had the timing of Stroll’s arrival been a bit different. I struggle to buy Seb’s claim that he didn’t see Stroll, but if he really didn’t, then it should’ve been clear-cut to him to wait a bit longer rather than rush. Not knowing for 100% sure if someone’s approaching from the side is a strong enough reason alone to be cautious and patient with rejoining the track from a standstill. No excuse can save him given how early into the race it happened, meaning that the gap to behind was only a few seconds rather than half a minute, or something, so he should’ve been more anticipatory that someone could appear from around the corner at any moment. This case is perfectly comparable to joining an intersection/main road from behind a stop and or yield-sign without checking first. You can’t just do these by solely relying on guesswork as that can always go wrong. One should only do these type of moves if 100% sure it’s possible to do them safely, not even 99% sure is enough on these type of situations. What he did at the Ascari-chicane was definitely worse than what he did in Baku in 2017, and yet he got the same penalty for both.

  13. That all sounds very reasonable. It also feels like ‘but the show must go on’ a bit too much, and leaves me, like apparently many commenters, and the author of the article, with a feeling the FIA, stewards, and race director should take a breath and see whether they are in a slightly different bit of space to us , and if there’s a way to regroup and get back to the actual reality.

  14. I’m actually shocked that at that track yesterday the stewards didn’t call for all other cars to stop and let the Ferrari get back to its original position. It does explain why the leading Ferrari was allowed 3 violations later in the race.

  15. I don’t feel Vettel deserved a black flag for the way he rejoined the track as an incident on it’s own, but I do feel they are ridiculously lenient on him considering how many crashes he keeps causing.

    The point is that he didn’t just cause one incident, but he keeps on causing them. He just doesn’t seem to understand that there are other cars on track around him. This incident is just one in a long line of incidents showing that he doesn’t understand this. Or refuses to accept it.

    There has to be a way to put a stop to his on track insanity.

    For instance Hakkinen also had a time when he kept on driving recklessly causing incidents. At some point he received a probational race ban for one of those. Which was then actually triggered when he made another reckless move at the start of a Hockenheim race. Hakkinen truly changed and became one of the most responsible drivers of the field.

    Same with Grosjean. He also became a much more respectful and less crash prone driver after his race ban. Although he seems to have lost his ways again.

    A race ban does seem to knock some sense of understanding into the drivers. Yet for some reason they just let Vettel get away with crashing into other people over and over and over.

    This whole nonsense with penalty points is supposed to do something similar, but a driver can basically cause 4 or even more heavy incidents before the race ban is triggered.

    And the times when Vettel was about to banned, the stewards bent over backwards to make sure they didn’t give him the last needed point.

    1. I think that is what the penalty point system is good for, he keeps doing this stuff, he will get a race ban.

      For the record, I am of the opinion that their penalties for him has been fair and correct so far this season (including the 5 second rejoin in Canada, that many people railed against. There would have been a crash if Hamilton didnt brake in time).

      1. Well it’s clearly not good for that. He should have had plenty race bans by now.

  16. Just a reminder what has been “worth” a black flag in the past :

  17. What everyone seems to be missing here is that neither Seb or Stroll would knowlingly drive back across a circuit if they could see traffic coming.

    And that’s the problem… they can’t see.

    It’s the mirrors which need fixing, not drivers berated.

  18. :D Good luck with that, disqualify Ferrari in Monza for reckless driving?

    Good luck getting home after that.

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