- Jun 5, 2009
Sebastien Vettel and his Ferrari team have escaped further punishment for the contact between the German driver and his Mercedes rival Lewis Hamilton at the recent Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
Having served a 10 second penalty for the incident under safety car conditions during the race itself, it became clear that the governing body of Formula One wished to look at the incident in more detail following the conclusion of the last Grand Prix in Baku.
The contact between Hamilton and Vettel occurred following what the Ferrari driver considered to be a brake test under safety car conditions, resulting in Vettel making contact with the rear of the #44 AMG Mercedes car. Vettel would then vent his frustration with the British driver by pulling alongside the Mercedes and gesticulating at Hamilton, eventually making wheel to wheel contact before returning to his track position behind his championship rival.
At the time of the race Vettel refused to admit blame for the contact, however it appears that the four time World Champion has gone back on his original position and admitted fault for his behaviour with his main title rival.
In a statement to fans on his website, Vettel said:
"During the re-start lap, I got surprised by Lewis and ran into the back of his car. With hindsight, I don't believe he had any bad intentions. In the heat of the action I then overreacted, and therefore I want to apologise to Lewis directly, as well as to all the people who were watching the race. I realize that I was not setting a good example.
"I had no intention at anytime to put Lewis in danger, but I understand that I caused a dangerous situation. Therefore, I would like to apologise to the FIA. I accept and respect the decisions that were taken at today’s meeting in Paris, as well as the penalty imposed by the Stewards in Baku. I love this sport and I am determined to represent it in a way that can be an example for future generations."Following a further investigation by the FIA it has been decided that no further action will be taken against either Vettel or the Scuderia Ferrari Formula One team.
The FIA's statement in full:
Following an incident at the recent Azerbaijan Grand Prix involving a collision between Car 5 (Sebastian Vettel) and Car 44 (Lewis Hamilton), Sebastian Vettel was today invited to attend a meeting at the FIA’s Paris headquarters. He was accompanied by his Team Principal Maurizio Arrivabene. He reviewed the incident together with a panel comprised of FIA Deputy President for Sport Graham Stoker, FIA General Secretary for Sport Peter Bayer, FIA Formula One World Championship Race Director Charlie Whiting and FIA Formula One World Championship Deputy Race Director and FIA Safety Director Laurent Mekies.
During the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, stewards officiating at the event issued a 10-second stop-and-go penalty to Sebastian Vettel, the most severe penalty immediately applicable before displaying a black flag notice to the driver. Sebastian Vettel also had three penalty points applied to his FIA Superlicence, taking his current total to nine.
However, while respecting the Stewards’ decision, the FIA remained deeply concerned by the wider implications of the incident, firstly through the impact such behaviour may have on fans and young competitors worldwide and secondly due to the damage such behaviour may cause to the FIA’s image and reputation of the sport.
Following detailed discussion and further examination of video and data evidence related to the incident, Sebastian Vettel admitted full responsibility.
Sebastian Vettel extended his sincere apologies to the FIA and the wider motor sport family. He additionally committed to devote personal time over the next 12 months to educational activities across a variety of FIA championships and events, including in the FIA Formula 2 Championship, the FIA Formula 3 European Championship, at an FIA Formula 4 Championship to be defined and at the FIA Stewards’ seminar. Due to this incident, President Jean Todt instructed that no road safety activities should be endorsed by Sebastian Vettel until the end of this year.
The FIA notes this commitment, the personal apology made by Sebastian Vettel and his pledge to make that apology public. The FIA also notes that Scuderia Ferrari is aligned with the values and objectives of the FIA.
In light of these developments, FIA President Jean Todt decided that on this occasion the matter should be closed.
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