Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Interlagos, 2019

Stewards take no action over Vettel-Leclerc collision

2019 F1 season

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Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc will not be penalised over the collision between the pair of them in the Brazilian Grand Prix.

The two drivers collided on the straight between turns three and four. The damage put both out of the race.

After speaking to both drivers and a representative of Ferrari, they ruled both drivers could have avoided the collision.

“The stewards determined that both drivers had the opportunity avoid or mitigate the incident and therefore that neither driver is predominantly at fault,” they noted.

Following the collision Leclerc said he left enough room for his team mate but Vettel claimed he did not have much space. Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto said both drivers were partly responsible for the collision.

Asked for his explanation for the collision Vettel said: “It doesn’t matter now. We know we both didn’t finish the race, which obviously is bad for us as a team.

Leclerc said he left room for his team mate to avoid contact. “He went around the outside, there was little space, but I left the space.

“He took [me] and then towards the end of the straight he started to squeeze me a little bit to the inside and we were very close. Everything happened very quick and as soon as he went to the inside we touched and I had a puncture.”

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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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45 comments on “Stewards take no action over Vettel-Leclerc collision”

  1. Utter nonsense. So if someone drives towards you and you don’t move, it is equally the fault of both drivers? Complete tosh.

    1. No, Hamilton got 5 sec. penalty for Albon incident. But then again, Hamilton is not Ferrari International Assistance driver…

      1. Indeed. In the same breath Albon was equally responsible because in the words of the stewards…

        “both drivers had the opportunity avoid or mitigate the incident and therefore that neither driver is predominantly at fault”

        Albon should have steered away from the incoming Hamilton. Schumacher Vs Villeneuve, they should have told Villeneuve to swerve out of the way… Vettel into Button @ Spa, Button should have braked 50m before so that Vettel would have missed him. It’s such an odd statement to make when Leclerc was driving in a straight line and Vettel moves into him! Clear as day!

          18th November 2019, 4:34

          Both incidents were similar, vetel moved into Leclerc and Albon drove into Hamilton. Really should stop watching F1 as stewards not consistent.

      2. @bulgarian what on earth? If it was as Ferrari International Assistance as you want to say, the incident would have been found to be erroneous and both drivers allowed to put together a backup car with fresh tires and have a restart.

        1. They spoke to a representative of Ferrari about such a possibility, but it was too late and the race was over. Otherwise, I see no reason why they should have spoken to a representative of Ferrari…

      3. @tonyyeb

        This is what I thought too. Hamilton and Albon both could have done better. Hamilton was mostly to blame, but as the Sky crew debated it wasn’t clear cut. Both were legitimately racing, Hamilton making a move and Albon defending.

        More importantly to me, they were in a lower speed corner, so there was less risk.

        But Vettel just swerved into Leclerc. Why? He was left more room than Verstappen would have given him. He didn’t need to edge Leclerc to get past. The only real purpose was to intimidate him, either to push him offline, or just for mind games. In my view the swerve had no racing purpose.

        It was also at speed and carried a great risk. It might have been ok this time, but it was only another cm from being a serious crash.

        So I continue to object to letting them weave on straights and breaking zones. I think he should have gotten at least the same penalty as Hanilton and Riccairdo.

    2. @tonyyeb The stewards will never get into an incident like this.

      Remember the Turkey 2010 incident where Vettel wiped Webber out (exactly the same scenario as during yesterday’s race)?

      Remember when Button put Hamilton in the wall in Canada 2011? The normal racing line doesn’t even go that close to the wall. Yet the stewards simply accepted the “I didn’t see him” excuse from Button while it was clear he had a bad exit at the chicane and would have known Hamilton was there from that alone.

      Or when Rosberg put Hamilton on the grass in Spain 2016. Clear foul of a rule instated exactly because Rosberg pushed other drivers off track on straights before. Yet they let Rosberg go unpunished because Hamilton hadn’t been alongside that long.

      Or Spa 2014 where Rosberg even admitted he ran into the back of Hamilton on purpose to prove a point.

      Or the Baku 2018 incident between Verstappen and Ricciardo. Clearly Verstappen was weaving.

      The stewards never penalize even such clear fouls when it’s between team mates. They will let the teams deal with it themselves internally.

  2. It’s the perfect example of a racing incident. Wise decision, IMO.

    1. but if that is the case then so was lewis or dan incidents. They were going for a move. Seb moved on the straight which is universally unacceptable when side by side with another driver.

  3. F1 stewards are total disgrace. I rate the race as 5/10 but seeing this BS I would rate it 1/10. It’s a farce!

    1. Never as fun when the driver you support doesn’t win is it?

  4. If I had to blame one it would be Vettel but I agree it was a racing incident and they usually take a more lenient approach to teammates.

    1. @glynh More of these “racing incidents” next year will give HAM WDC 7!

  5. What is their to penalize? Both of them had their races ruined because of it.

    1. Penalty points, grid drop for next race. Something to make Vettel think twice when trying to squeeze someone like he has a tendency to do.

      1. @tonyyeb i doubt seb will learn from it though even if he is penalized. Way too many errors these last 3 years

      2. I thought the outcome of this was incredibly unfortunate, but i do blame vettel. Although I think Leclerc did pretty much exactly the same on Bottas in Hungary. He went off line on the straight when there was no reason to defend Bottas at all as he had more than enough speed. He clipped bottas when he turned in and gave him a puncture. This could have resulted as bad as it did today with them both. Leclerc got away with this, maybe this is why vettel did today.

        1. Leclerc made an even more violent move on Norris on the opening laps. Vettel was more listing lazily to the left and LEC didn’t move with him. Nothing sudden or swerve-like in it. Racing accident.

        2. @thegianthogweed, as others have noted, Leclerc also did exactly the same thing to Norris in the opening laps of this race, where he cut across Norris’s path to force him off line – the only difference there was that Norris did move out of the way to avoid being hit.

          It looks like you could probably find a lot of examples of other drivers pulling exactly the same sort of move that Vettel did, including multiple examples by Leclerc, over the course of the season. The main difference here is that, when Vettel tried it, Leclerc seems to have decided that he wasn’t going to let Vettel squeeze him any further off the racing line to compromise his entry into Turn 4.

          In that sense, whilst many are certainly going to blame Vettel, Leclerc is not blameless either when it comes to that sort of move – perhaps even wanting to send a message out to Vettel, and to other drivers, that he will not be intimidated by such moves and is prepared to cause a crash rather than moving out of the way.

          1. I do think this was more leclercs fault than Vettels …… the vettel move was slow and nothing compared to how leclerc moves when he overtakes (Norris in this race being only one example) …… however it was always going to end in tears as soon as Vettel was overtaken at turn 1, as this is the only team with a car capable of WDC …. AND two cockrels!!!! Both are trying to gain superiority over the other, and in these last few races its more about next year than it is about now.
            The strange thing really is how such a seemingly innocuous touch caused such damage to both!! I am looking forward to this explanation more than the drivers excuses etc

          2. @anon Pretty much how I see it too. I don’t exonerate SV in the ‘it takes two to tango sense,’ but I also think CL could have done more to avoid the incident by continuing to move left. He had complete vision of SV’s car since SV was ahead of him. He chose to move a bit with him and then chose to stop moving and stand his ground instead.

  6. I can’t recall the last time that, when teammates clashed/crashed, a penalty was given. It is like an unwritten rule to never penalize intra-team situations (Spain 2016, Baku 2018, Brazil 2019)

    1. Have to agree here. Part of me thinks that if Vettel either had fewer penalty points or it was another driver then there would have been a punishment of some description. 3 points would have given him a race ban I think, really hope that didn’t influence the outcome!

      Independent of completely destroying a team’s race, I thought that the FIA would want to discourage this kind of incident in any case.

  7. Unpopular maybe but I kinda agree with the stewards. Like there’s certainly an argument that Vettel started moving across before he was completely ahead and he has previous on doing that before. But you can also say that Leclerc could see Vettel was running out of road and was obviously going to be coming across so had every opportunity to give him a little more room.

    Personally I do think it was more on Vettel than Leclerc, but not overwhelmingly so. In the end both cars went out and both cars could have done more to avoid the collision so I kinda get why there was no penalty for either, but if one HAD to be given… it would probably be to Vettel.

    1. @rocketpanda

      Vettel was not running out of road AND Leclerc did move over significantly. This is 100% on Vettel.

  8. Let’s not forget that F1 stewards for 2020 season created 4 different penalties for a jump start! So, today it’s like they tell us “let’s forget about consistency in penalties already by now”.

  9. After speaking to () a representative of Ferrari


    Never one for conspiracy theories, but now even I start to wonder how independent FIA really is.

    1. Yeh clearly they should have spoken to a neutral guy like lets say Karun Chandhok instead.

  10. I think no action is perhaps fair and the right call. I mean it is not really that uncommon to see a driver do what vettel was and drifting across to squeeze a car you are passing. In this case it is just that it ended with some contact because Leclerc didn’t react enough.

    Look at the 1st laps when Leclerc was passing Sainz and swerved towards him as a similar example which in some ways was a bit worse as it was a quick sudden jink towards Carlos.

    Both are really just a part of racing and something they all do at times so no reason for any action.

    1. Correction it was Lando Norris that Leclerc jinked towards early on and not Carlos Sainz.

  11. Why is everyone banging on that Vettel moved? They were still under power and the cars have steering wheels for a reason; they were not under braking. The movement was a slow movement to push Lec to the slower line, perfectly acceptable. Lec was in full view of Vet’s car when they touched.

    Im not a fan of either driver but I’d err on Lec being at fault but there’s no point in punishing a team who’s race is completely ruined. Good call imo. Some people need to learn a bit of objectivity.

    1. Ed, I agree with you Leclerc should have given Seb more room, he should know that Seb has more speed being on DRS, don’t think he did not saw that repass was going to pass, i think that defense was futile…

      1. Ed, I agree with you Leclerc should have given Seb more room, he should know that Seb has more speed being on DRS, don’t think he did not saw that repass was going to happen, i think that defense was futile…

        1. I agree. I’m no great fan of Seb, but its worth remembering that Seb was far enough past LEC to puncture his rear tyre on LEC’s front wing or tyre. Seb clearly had the greater momentum and the speed. His small drift to the left was nothing like the deliberate swerve into Webber in Turkey 2010

  12. Vettel hasn’t learned a thing in 9 years. This was pretty much a carbon copy of Turkey 2010.

  13. Vettel and max get away with so much it’s hilarious

    1. Max doesnt get away with anything, to a lesser degree neither does Vettel(sure being driver for this team means his penalties arent as harsh). Its Vettel’s teammate who has been getting away with murder but in this case it was self-inflicted wounds between teammates this decision is not that bad.

      1. Like last race when VER first hit MAG, then passed him off track. Stewards had no comments on that.

        1. that was the 1st time he got away with penalty, generally Max gets penalised(Austin 2017, Mexico 2016, Mexico 2019, Monaco 2015, Monza 2018, China 2018, etc…) for his mistakes.

  14. Of course the stewards didn’t penalise them… they were too busy laughing at the stupidity of it all. Totally on Vettel though, it’s a standard move for him. Sure Leclerc could have backed off, but that’s like saying you want to be no 2 in the team. If Vettel had kept going straight he’d still have cleared Leclerc before the corner, but he wanted to put an extra move on.

  15. This was foreshadowed by Leclerc chopping Norris earlier in the race after coming around his outside. Leclerc accurately predicted that Norris would jump out if the way and not arm wrestle him for the inside line into juncao. Or he was lucky. But later he wasn’t ready to take that medicine himself. Vettel for his part misjudged the patient. This behavior is common, this chop to the inside by a passing car, and it should be disciplined. Imagine if Gasly did that to Hamilton at the finish. Both cars could have been in the stands or the pit entry wall.

  16. Yeah well rather soft I think considering Hamilton received two penalty points as well as a time penalty. But anyway done now next race is the last and like this one no holds barred.

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