A disastrous non-penalty

I have taken a little time before writing about the FIA decision not to punish Sebastian Vettel for his actions against Lewis Hamilton in Baku – because I wanted to make sure that I tried to keep my emotions out of it.

Why? Because I am appalled, even if I am not surprised.

Firstly, I believe that there is a key role for the FIA to play and believe that we should respect the federation’s decisions –  as long as they are sensible. Most of the stewards’ decisions these days are pretty decent and the FIA is not interferring in the sport in the way that it used to do. This is a good thing that Jean Todt has done. However, when intervention is required, one expects the federation to act decisively with appropriate force. If this does not happen, the FIA opens itself up to trouble in the future.

It is disappointing to have to report that this appears to be what has happened. FIA President Jean Todt has spent recent years banging the drum about his road safety campaigns and yet he has allowed what was the equivalent of an automotive head-butt to go unpunished, and this is simply incomprehensible. Where is the consistency?

This is the second time in less than a year that Vettel has escaped penalty for appalling non-sporting behaviour. Given Todt’s past with Ferrari, it is inevitable that questions are going to be asked about this, because if the FIA is this weak with Ferrari, it can only be  similarly weak if there are problems with other teams. If it acts more forcefully against other teams there will be loud accusations that the FIA is once again favouring Ferrari – something which we had all hoped would not be heard again in the sport.

Vettel and Ferrari team principal Maurizio Arrivabene went to the FIA in Paris today and reviewed the incident 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.

The FIA says in its statement that it is “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”.

But it is not deeply concerned enough to do anything about it…

Vettel admitted responsibility for everything that happened (apologists please take note) and he extended his apologies and committed to devote personal time over the next 12 months to educational activities across a variety of FIA championships, to be defined at an FIA Stewards’ seminar. President Jean Todt instructed that Vettel should not endorse any road safety activities this year – which is sensible because his presence would undermine any such campaign.

Todt said that given “the severity of the offence and its potential negative consequences”, should there be any repetition of such behaviour, the matter would immediately be referred to the FIA International Tribunal for further investigation.

When all is said and done, the only conclusion one can reach is that this is an incredibly weak ruling – and a terrible precedent.  If the reference about repetition applies to drivers other than Vettel (it is not clear from the wording), then it is clearly an unfair ruling. Why would Vettel be allowed to get away with something outrageous while other drivers are not allowed to? If the repetition reference applies only to Vettel, then any other driver who commits any such offence will be able to argue that there is a precedent for there to be no punishment – beyond some nebulous comunity service.

There may even be legal implications beyond the sport because punishing any future driver when Vettel was not punished in this case would not be fair and that brings into question whether this is good governance. In the Statement of Good Governance Principles, issued by the FIA in 2000, the federation commited itself to ensuring that procedures should be “fair, transparent, accessible and efficient”. In order to be fair to other drivers, the FIA cannot now punish them harshly – because of what it has done with Vettel. And if it does take action, it could open itself to civil action, and perhaps even claims that the federation has not properly upheld its role in the sport.

And all of this is happening in an election year. Todt may recall that a long time ago Max Mosley decided to stand for office because of what he saw his predecessor Jean-Marie Balestre doing. Excessive strength and excessive weakness are as bad as one another.

The FIA is ruled by club-style politics. No-one says anything bad to the face of the incumbent, but they all bitch about him behind his back. At a certain moment a tipping point is reached and the opponents feel that they have sufficient support to stage a coup d’état – and then rapidly all the president’s allies switch sides.


450 thoughts on “A disastrous non-penalty

  1. It wasn’t an automotive head butt. It was the equivalent of a poke in the chest. Neither party was injured.

          1. Well, I am in agreement with the Stewards at Baku and the FIA , so they must also “understand nothing”. Perhaps they should hire Joe Saward to vet all decisions.

            1. This is ironic because one of the steward admitted that the decision was not right ,and his reasoning is scandalous.

              “Of course we also had a more harsher penalty in our program. The Black Flag for a disqualification or race ban. But Hamilton had no damage and we likewise didnt wanted to influence the championship too much.” -Paul Gujahr

              Mr.Saward is 100% right.

          2. Dear me Joe attacking your own readers.
            You have lost it over this should have waited even longer before writing.
            Stay calm and have a cup of tea.

            1. No, I am not atacking the readers, I am attcking the fact that they cannot see the implications.

              1. The implications are that any driver who gets angry and makes light contact at 30mph should be getting a 10 second stop go, 3 points on their license and hauled in front of a hearing to issue a public apology and have their reputation dragged through the mud. That seems fair to me.

                If it was and angry swipe at 100mph I’d expect a multi race ban and if it was a premeditated full speed collision I’d expect a complete exile.

                Sadly the latter was committed by Senna and went unpunished.

                1. So suppose the next time someone “makes light contact at 30 mph” the offender screws it up? And someone dies?

                  If it was the equivalent of a “head butt” Vettel would have been red carded immediately. Remember the World Cup a few years back? In the finals?

                  1. Suppose you were drunk and decided to drive home, but you get stopped by the Police. You are subject to possible driving bans/fines/prison time.

                    Suppose now you were drunk and decided to drive home, but this time you hit an innocent bystander waiting for the bus and they die. You are now subject to much harsher penalties than before, but for the same root incident.

                    I hope that answers your query.

                    1. (No links allowed) Jean Todt and FIA seemed to forget that between Vettel’s incidents and this weak statement they banned a junior formula driver for, I believe it is 6 months, from racing for ramming another driver. I also see that Todt, et al. successfully swept from most people’s memories that Vettel was also not punished at all for passing under the safety car.

                      BUT. Using your own intellectually disingenuous analogy… Now, suppose now you have a history of drunk driving, have within the year or so of now been fined for an incident, and had points added to your license, due to that incident. Then you, while drunk, have another, far more dangerous incident in which, while drunk you slam into another car twice, damaging said car. You fully expect, not having your license suspended with a trip to rehab for your drinking problem but… MORE leniency?!

                      I sincerely hope you see the illogic in your thinking and resultant statement.

                  1. How? Was Vettell driving under the influence of a Riesling or something?

                    It’s bonkers to even bring alcohol into any comparison.

                    If my aunt had and all that or as Muzza used to say if is F1 backwards. Which of course its not because its F1 and nor Fi.

                2. …and of course you, in your comment, are quietly forgetting that Vettel
                  reacted to HIS OWN ERROR in running into the back of Hamilton’s car.
                  Then severely compounded that error by deliberately driving his car into
                  another competitors car ( and even had the staggering gall to ask his team manager what on earth he had done wrong ! ) In an F1 race. In FIA race conditions.

                  If the FIA’s ( and it’s less-that-impressive leader Mr Todt’s ) claim to to be running a serious, honest and robust governing body ever meant anything of value it has lost all credibility with this cowardly, supine decision.

                  Todt should resign immediately.

                3. Agree. Hamilton’s journalists friends were waiting for opportunity to bring down Vettel and the moment this incident happened they are hell bent on getting Vettel banned.

                  1. Let me explain for the millionth time about journalists, nationalism and fans not understanding.
                    1) Proper journalists try to be objective. They don’t let likes and dislikes get in the way of their judgement. Thus when some fan comes along and accuses them of being biased, they are annoyed. They feel insulted. They also feel that the accuser is ignorant because they do not understand what journalists do.
                    2) Nationalism is the last refuge of unintelligent people. Intelligent people, in this day and age, look at issues not whether they carry a pink, blue or green passport. Those who think that everything is decided by nationalism are, therefore, generally not of the ABC1 demographic.
                    Finally, if you do not understand what Vettel did wrong, you are obviously not very experienced as a fan of motor racing. There are things one does and things one does not do. He has a habit of doing things you do not do. Thus he is criticised.

              2. Joe,
                You seem to have missed on one point. Motive.
                Was it a premeditated hit or was it a just a reflex reaction. If it were to be a premeditated and if there was any damage to Hamilton’s race due to the incident ,then definitely Vettel deserved more severe punishments . But what happened at Baku was just a reflex reaction shoulder to shoulder at a very low speed, for which he received 10 s stop n go ( equals to 30 sec) + 3 penalty points. Isn’t this harsh enough for you ?

                Just questioning the integrity of FIA always doesn’t make sense.

                The sport has already lost its charm in last 3 years with no competition, this year we seem to be heading towards a great finish. This is what was needed for fans.

                Let’s get on with it and starting focusing on Austria instead of Baku.

            2. Joe’s article reads like the ramblings of a mad-man, and his attacking of readers is down right rude. The first is out of character – i’ve always found him to be reasonably objective. The second is pretty normal though.

                1. Joe,

                  Keep allowing comments, in Simple terms I read your words, decide if it makes sense to me or if I agree and if not ignore it.

                  Thanks for giving me that choice.


      1. The ridiculously biased anti-Ferrari media were injured. Hurt. Even devastated perhaps.

        The sport was not injured. The sport avoided an injury. If Vettel had been punished (again) then many people would have given up on the sport (myself included). Thankfully that will now not happen.

        Your article above seems to completely gloss over the fact that Vettel WAS punished already.

        Today the FIA proved it was not biased. It let stand the already inflicted fair punishment of Vettel, which has proved not only that it is not biased towards Ferrari but that it is not biased towards Mercedes either.

        1. That is insulting to me, so goodbye. You’re not welcome here any longer. I am not anti-Ferrari and I am not biased. Read the blog rules.

          1. Can’t believe that’s the response you give someone who happens to not agree with you. What happened to a good debate.

              1. I don’t see anything that would class as obviously rude in that comment. It also seems that you can be rude to others in these comments. For example, accusing others of not understanding anything of the sport, ignorant of the fact that they have been involved for decades.

                Your blog rules say commenting here is like being a guest in your house. That makes sense, but I see this house as a place where people are not allowed to disagree with you or be rude to you when you are allowed to do both these things. Therefore this is not a house I would like to be guest of and I will walk out willingly and not return. I think that would be easier.

                  1. Well, that’s very disappointing. I think SameTheory made a valid point, and also some very sensible comments throughout this long discussion.

                    Joe, throughout this thread, you avoid answering genuine questions and insult those who write very reasonable comments. I really don’t understand the anger…

                    I’ve been coming here for years, and will be sorry to lose what I thought was an objective and informed view on the sport.

                    Good luck.

                    1. Why are you reading this? If you’re not my fan why not go find someone to love? I promise not to weep.

                1. Its the typical Joe Saward response to comments that don’t agree with him: my house, my rules, there is the door…

                  JS seemingly does not understand debate, and his intolerance of opinions that differ from his is quite obvious to anyone who’s read his blog. I’m no shrink, but his trademark rudeness may be an artificial construct to make up for other deficiencies – such as the lack of access to paddock insider information. Maybe readers come to the blog to watch others get insulted by Joe, rather than get real news? Who knows….

                  1. Thank you for your amateur psychoanalysis. I would not have paid for it. Read the blog rules and see that I am happy to debate with sensible polite people who don’t throw insults and accusations around. The point you miss about access is exactly that – access. Those who have it learn more than those who don’t have it. Those who want to be proper F1 reporters get off their backsides and they make it happen. The fact that I give you the benefit of this knowledge and 30 years of experience for free should be something that you might conceivably appreciate, but clearly you take if for granted and think you have a right to be offensive. I wonder sometimes why I do this and it is people like you who make me consider giving it all up and not bothering in the future.

            1. Lorna, it is perfectly ok to disagree with Joe. Your difference of opinion does not mean your are incorrect or not knowledgeable.

              1. Agreed. I am trying to help but rudeness is not welcomed. I try to be calm and not respond in a bad way but now and then it is very hard.

            1. The accusation of bias to a journalist is an insult. Read the blog rules about your welcome here…

              1. It has to be said though that bias is an inherent human trait. Studies have shown even scientists are biased. To claim to not be biased in any way is to reject human physiology. Everyone, even journalists have biases. The trick is to become aware of them, to put them to the light and therefore render them less influential.

                I think the right thing happened here. The pressure Vettel has been subjected to in addition to the on-track penalty he was given should be enough. Besides, any additional penalty would surely destroy this marvelous season we’re having. Who wants to see Hamilton cruise to another WDC?

                I also agree with the many comments here that you still seem to be somewhat emotional regarding this. Please take care not to damage yourself.

                1. As far as I am concerned objectivity is the primary requirement for a journalist (apart from an ability to think and write). Hence I take accusations of bias as something that are only levelled by those who do not any sensible arguments.

            2. It’s funny how people who haven’t even seen Joe in the distance think they know what and who he likes and dislikes. They’re so arrogant it’s funny

          2. Firstly, you’re not my mate. Secondly it’s not a forum and thirdly, being kicked off for rudeness is the blog rule. If people had the intelligence to make their point without resorting to rudeness then I am happy to accept them – but even you don’t seem to be able to do that. If you wish to trade insults it is fine, I have plenty available for those who pretend to be what they are not.

            1. I am not seething. I repeat this is not a forum. It is my blog to which I welcome people unless they are rude or disrespectful. If you think that comparing someone to Kim Jong-un is not rude, you are at best gauche and obviously don’t understand rudeness, which explains why you don’t see rudeness elsewhere.

              1. Joe, just in-case you haven’t seen it…

                1. Keith contacted me. I have taken down the fake comments published in his name. It is alarming that we are now having to deal with this sort of thing. I cannot check every identity on every comment. This creates real worries for the future of commenting.

        2. Pretty much, if anything the FIA should check why the stewards are not handing out penalties for Mercedes and Red Bull lately.

          They let Bottas off the hook colliding with Raikkonen again, let Hamilton and Verstappen Super Star-shortcut the track without repercussion Mario Kart-style and let Ricciardo punt Raikkonen off the track (I’m sensing a pattern here). All with no penalty applied.

        3. Purposely driving your car into another’s is wrong and dangerous. Full stop/period. That he got off with minimal punishment is a farce. As said before, a political misstep setting a perilous precedent which now legally stands as recourse for anyone to do the same…no matter the extent of injuries.

          1. Your a hopeless romantic Joe.If it was a sport there would of been a decision closer to what you expected.It is a business and has been for a long time

      2. The sport is injured by all this prattling on about road safety campaigns and “community service”! If we’re so damned concerned about the FIA’s road safety campaign then let’s shut the whole motor sports show down completely as clearly it’s not safe to drive over 100mph or follow too closely either! For all the stink made about this one might imagine that Vettel had pulled Hamilton bodily from his car and disemboweled him right there on the track! It was a wheel banging. It’s been going on in single seaters for ever – and worse. You see worse than this in the pit lane of your average touring car meeting. Perhaps we should go back to the days of punchups in the pits (or on the side of the track)

      3. I never heard you campaign so hard and be outraged when British Team driver ran into Hamilton in Spa 2011

        1. Those who resort to nationalism are those without the mental capacity to think beyond it. Thus such accusations say more about the accuser than the accused. The accusation of bias to a journalist is an insult. Read the blog rules about your welcome here…

        2. You mean when Lewis drove into Kobayashi (Swiss team) in a clumsy move and was criticized by everyone, including the biased UK press? Idiot. Vettel has yet again got away with childish petulance and arrogance. It doesn’t matter if the contact was at 30mph or 100mph or 200mph. Carbon suspension components can be damaged in relatively innocuous impacts and then fail at higher speeds. So driving into someone on purpose at any speed has potentially big safety ramifications. An absolutely appalling example to young drivers in the junior categories and a bottle job from the FIA. At best.

    1. It is a bit strange to judge a sporting rule infraction based on whether it caused harm (physical or otherwise). e.g. it’s ok to grab a football ref so long as you don’t grab him too hard or too fast, his shirt doesn’t tear, and he doesn’t get hurt?

      Side note/rant: I have seen this argument used by Martin Brundle to support his “Vettel road rage no big deal” argument, but then he goes on and on about track limits regardless of whether or not there is an advantage gained. Don’t exceed track limits regardless of the result, but feel free to drive into another car so long as nobody gets hurt. SMH

    2. Absolutely! I was going to post it wasn’t a headbutt, it was a shove on the shoulder, but you basically beat me to it. It was just a “Hey! A-hole!” tap, if Vettel had wanted to take out Hamilton he could have, but he did not. A shove, not a headbutt or an uppercut.

      Was it right? No. Was Vettel penalized for it? Yes. Done. Do we *really* want little pansy drivers? Did the truly great drivers of the sport stand their ground and play hard? I think they did.

      BTW I am very much not a Ferrari supporter.

        1. I could really not care less if a driver is a “pansy” …although I would argue that anybody driving around a track at 220 km/h in an open wheeled, open cockpit car is decidedly not a “pansy”. What I do want is my drivers to follow the rules, when they don’t that they ruin the sport. And please do not conflate standing one’s ground and playing hard (respectable acts) with purposely driving into another car.

          1. What Vettel did was wrong, and he was penalized for it.

            Harming the sport? Bringing F1 into disrepute? Oh PLEASE. What really harms F1 is taking sacks of cash from despotic regimes, and having second tier drivers buying seats. All this Vettel/Hamilton kerfuffle has raised F1’s profile.

            What brings more dispute to football – Zidande’s red mist headbutt in the World Cup final, or FIFA pocketing sacks of cash to play the World Cup Finals in Qatar in the summer heat?

              1. Americans might argue that no harm has done to the sport because now there’s a heel (to use the wrestling term) that the face has to beat in straight combat, possibly from a disadvantageous position. Definitely not good for the sport itself but great for ratings I’m sure.

          1. Implications are important. It is not time to let go. It is time to point out what a mess has been created.

    3. Anthony Watson wasn’t hurt on Saturday, but Sonny Bill Williams got sent off anyway, and quite rightly too. I say this as a New Zealander.

    4. Poke in the chest ?
      It’s not the point.
      The point is he decided he owned the track the race and he could attack another participant.
      You ever played Rugger Kayne?
      What Vettel did was a tackle from behind when the player is stationary and not in play. Followed by a lateral shoulder charge similar to the Kiwi player did on the British Lions player.
      If that’s was me I’d have flattened him in the scrum or sorted it the end of play before the hand shakes.
      Instead the darling FIA and Todt blew him a Kiss and said in a Father Ted voice “Vettel Stop that now !!”.
      He got away with everything. Any one else would be in shackles and exiled & on their way to Australia by now. God forbid 😉

    5. This is no way equivalent to head butt. After-all nothing happened to Hamilton’s race due to the incident. Had Hamilton’s car got damaged or taken out from this incident then it calls for more severe punishments. Vettel already received 10sec stop & go(equivalent to 30 sec) + 3 penalty points. Is this harsh enough ?

    6. Does this mean that if someone ’causes’ a collision on the public highway as long as neither party is injured it is alright to say “I’m sorry it was my fault” and we all live happily ever after?
      I suggest that you reread Joe’s article especially the part about Jean Todt banging the drum about road safety on behalf of the FIA.

      1. Yes, other than having started going to races in 1969 as my family were race officials, and started racing formula Fords in 1979 and being involved off and on in racing since then, as well as being a significant participant in the commercial and financial side of the automotive industry, I know nothing about racing.

        1. Clearly you do not have a clue if you think this is the right decision. Sorry, but it is plain wrong and I cannot respect anyone who thinks otherwise. Read the article and look at the problems that will follow.

              1. Eahorest2, “I am happy to allow people to air their opinions in comments, as long as this is done in a respectful fashion”, from the blog rules. I believe Gary’s opinion was expressed in a respectful fashion (“A good decision by the FIA and Jean Todt. Now we can get back to racing.”), don’t you?

                1. It is so long ago and I have dealt with so many comments I cannot recall the details but if I reacted there was a reason for it.

              1. Read what I have written about why I cannot respect the arguments and those who peddle them. It is not a question of opinion. It is some very basic things that are vital for the sport

                1. I find it mildly insulting that one of your go to responses when people disagree with you is to tell them to read what you have written. I dare say it is an indicator of arrogance.

                  1. You will find if you read the comments that often the readers have not properly read what I have written. I call it good sense – you call it arrogant. Potato potato tomato tomato. You can finish the song

                    1. I recognise the cases you point out and also note that you put ‘often’, i.e. you accept that it is not all the time. Good sense would be to use this line when you clearly recognise that they have not read your writing. Arrogance is to assume that they haven’t.

                    2. I’m not talking about today. It happens all the time. People don’t seem to read much these days. They want bullet points. Or pictures… they comment without understanding that the issue has been addressed. It’s not arrogant. It is trying to get sensible commenting.

                2. “I cannot respect the arguments and those who peddle them.” – that works both ways Joe………………

                    1. And anyone who doesn’t agree with you is incapable of understanding the argument. Am I getting that right?

          1. Hi Joe,

            This decision has clearly made you angry, at least that is how it seems from your tone. Is it fair to say that the blog rules don’t apply to you? I think some of your comments are quite insulting.

            I also find it hard to believe that you don’t respect anyone who thinks otherwise. Martin Brundle and Jenson Button both say that the punishment was sufficient.

            I think there was a strong argument for charging, and punishing, Vettel for bringing the sport in to disrepute, but the dangerous driving aspect makes little sense to me. If he received a ban for dangerous driving, then what should the punishment be for not slowing sufficiently under double yellows…. a common “crime” from what I’ve seen, and genuinely dangerous.

            We all have our opinions, and perhaps it’s time to let this one go…

            Take it easy, and I wish us all a good ‘clean’ race in Austria 🙂

        2. You may know a few things about the motor racing, granted… but, sport? If you think the penalty Vetted received during the race is sufficient, I’m not convinced about the latter! Vettel’s conduct was dangerous, childish, and, quite frankly, offensive. The punishment he received was vastly inadequate.

          Joe’s post is absolutely spot on.

      2. I’d question whether you understand anything about the sport Joe, given the misalignment of your views with those of the institutions that run the sport….

          1. Joe, although the trolls who have resorted to personal abuse on what is probably the best F1 blog in the world, they are thankfully few, but that is the price of having an opinion.

            Personally, I agree with every word you say and an opportunity has been missed to properly punish this whinging millionaire.

            Interesting that the comments talk about “respect” and “reasoned argument” yet very few actually show it.

            1. @Oldbiker and yet you resort to name calling….where is the respect and reasoned argument there?

              1. I notice Joe doesn’t seem to disagree with my reference to “trolls”, but then he has had to put up with more objectionable comments than I can remember for a long time.

  2. ” while FIA president Jean Todt said the incident means Vettel should not endorse any of the organization’s road safety activities until the end of the year. Bet Vettel is devastated! One wonders how this would have played out if the aggressor had been Palmer or Ocon or Or Vestappen….

    1. The classic Clayton’s punishment. (Well maybe not for those who don’t recall the Clayton’s advertisements……)

      Seb’s dodged a major there by not being permitted to endorse any etc, etc.
      Agreed, he must be devastated.

    2. That is absolutely hilarious. ‘He couldn’t be seen to endorse the FIA’s safety campaign being a petulant road rager, so we’ll let him off doing any work and call it a punishment.’ You couldn’t make it up.

  3. What’s the point of writing this whole article on the premise that Vettel was not punished when he indeed was?

    1. Oh yes, he was whipped with a goose feather. Silly comment from you – entirely expected, of course.

      1. He got the second-worst punishment available to the race stewards, and lost 13 Championship points and a win because of it.

        Nice ad hominem, though.

              1. Sure, but that’s true of so many jobs. That shouldn’t be a sufficient deterrent if you’re hearts really in it.

                And it’s the one job you could actually make a difference in how on-track action is evaluated.

            1. Stewards are supposed to be objective and unbiased. Joe would clearly not meet the fundamental requirements.

    2. What exactly was Vettel punished for? Hitting the lead/safety car under yellows, overtaking the lead/safety car under yellow, deliberately driving into the lead safety car under yellows, bringing the sport into disrepute, or denying the whole thing whilst accusing a competitor of causing an accident, and showing no contrition or apology before being pulled up in front of the tribunal?

      Seems that Vettel got a bargian for a single 10 second stop/go penalty. He must be a demon when it comes to using his vouchers round Tesco, he got so much for such a small price.

      And in the end, after an “investigation”, the FIA instead of policing the rules, decide to condone Vettel’s actions.

  4. But as Button suggested, if he did it at over 100mph and forced another driver off the track, we wouldn’t still be talking about it. It was low speed silliness. I for one am glad he got a penalty in the race but that there will be no further action that can affect the WDC – though I admit I would’t have been disappointed to see Vettel invited to donate a large amount of money to charity as well as give up his time on road safety campaigns.

      1. For which he was punished, not only in the race but with penalty points on his license thus leaving him on the verge of a race ban. I agree with you that it was an unsportsmanlike conduct, but he was punished for it.

        1. As I have written in the piece, the FIA punishment is not sufficient for the gravity of the act.

          1. This is your opinion Joe, you can’t paint it as fact, no matter how highly you think of yourself

    1. One would hope that if both cars had been travelling at 100 mph then der Fingerflingenkind would have been paying sufficient attention to the job at hand not to have torpedoed Hamilton rudely from astern in the first place.

  5. I feared that Vettel would do a mea culpa and the FIA would simply say its allright then. I believe a valid point would have been that he was punished with a 10sec stop and go but the attitude after the race was warrant to further action. Assuming that he keeps his nose clean enough this weekend he will get away with it which will taint his wdc if he should win it.

  6. They have left themselves with a problem – the precedent has now been set so I will watch with interest for the next “incident” and see what the punishment is – not that it matters as the driver will just apologise to the motorsport world (but not the other driver directly) and get away with it.

    Out of interest it looked from the onboard footage that Vettel may have actually overtaken Hamilton under the safety car – has this been mentioned at all in the paddock Joe, if so why was nothing said about this by the FIA….

    1. Totally agree on the overtaking topic. Quite strange nothing was done for this infringement.
      And also totally agree with Joe. Vettel only has 3 points left on his licence. I don’t know the other vultures scorecards but certainly Vettel is not far from leading these standings also. It shows a driver often beyond limits. Assuming limits in sports are certainly defined to respect fairness and sportsmanship, breaking these limits means we have someone not that much caring about sportsmanship. Multi 21 was a pretty good example, Mexico 2016 another, and Baku the last one. 10 seconds is comical. Try it tomorrow on the road to the office. I guess you’ll be a bit more than 10s late at work. Let’s remember France-Italy 2010 for a moment. Zidane head-butting Materazzi, in a totally inappropriate answer to an insult. No need of any shouldwe, couldwe, mightwe FIFA tribunal but an Immediate and only appropriate answer : red card. Punto finito.

    1. Agree 100%. Though 3 corners is perhaps optimistic.

      As that didn´t happen, and further retrospective action would place the FIA in disagreement with its own officials, this outcome is no surprise.

      1. I think they could have easily used the red flag to instruct the team not to bother restarting his car for the restart. That way they would not have had to deal with the risk of an out of control and uncontrollable driver in a car not wanting to obey instructions to stop the car.

        But I wholly agree that it should have been an easy call to pull him out of the race for dangerous driving alone. Road rage should have no place anywhere near a race track.
        And then have a hearing to decide whether being a repeat offender (see the warning they gave him in Mexico) and/or bringing the sport into disrepute warrants sitting out another race, or having more points on the licence, or … etc. Because in a hearing there would have been ample time and opportunity to weigh all the facts, consequences and appropriateness.

  7. Well, THAT was a major pat on the wrist. It is curious that if this was all they were going to do, why summon Vettel to Paris in the first place? The thing is people ALWAYS pust the envelope. If Vettel essentially got away with this, it begs the question how far an you go before the act really has consequences? I’m afraid this may open the door to some bad things.

    Further, the way the FIA does Stop & Go penalties isn’t useful in my opinion. People take advantage of it with the thought process “If we have to stop, we may as well change tires, adjust the wings, etc.”. So, why not do it as into the pits, sit still for the penaly and then back on the track with NO work allowed?

    1. Vettel’s penalty was a proper 10s stop & go though, where no work can be done, not just a time penalty. Though I agree that the stewards have been using the 5/10s time penalties too often when some offences call for a drive-through or 10s stop-go.

  8. Sadly Joe you talk of precedents and, in my humble opinion, the actions of Ayrton Senna against Alain Prost in Suzuka in 1990 set just such a precedent. A man, whom Lewis Hamilton rather hypocritically calls his hero while Vettel’s behaviour is disgusting, was prepared to risk the life of another driver because he was angry and felt hard done by. Schumacher, in 1994 and 1997 also took out another driver in a cynical move. Had both these drivers been banned for five years following any of these incidents, I would have supported a one-race ban for Vettel. What he did was petulant but not the head butt everyone seems to like to call it. I prefer to listen to people like Sir Jackie Stewart and Jenson Button who both seem to agree that, while Vettel was blatantly wrong, he has been punished and, in SirJYS’s case, he said he felt Vettel was provoked. Hamilton has never been punished for actions such as the US Grand Prix in 2015 when he clearly forced Rosberg off the track. I feel, as I have done several times, that Hamilton has got away with what I would call, having grown up watching Grand Prix racing in the fifties and sixties, very unsportsmanlike behaviour so it seems rather strange to now claim Vettel should be blamed for similar behaviour. Vettel did not endanger Hamilton’s life nor win a championship by his actions. If no great penalties were applied for Schumacher;s cynicism and Senna;s complete lack of regard for another driver’s life. we have come too far to start making changes now.. The precedent was set. Vettel was stupid and impetuous but not irresponsible. As Prost said after Suzuka “I’m not prepared to fight against irresponsible people who are not afraid to die”.

    1. Senna´s premeditated attempted murder of Prost (an act which actually does justify the “So I can do this on the M1? argument) really did push the envelope. Hopefully for many years to come.

      OK, different times, but that accident still shocks me and defines how I remember Ayrton Senna. Schumacher was nothing in comparison.

      1. Especially when you consider what happened between Andrew Gilbert-Scott and poor Hitoshi Ogawa in May 1992 during a Japanese F3000 race, at the same corner. It could quite conceivably have ended the same way in 1990.

        1. Richard Rowland. THE key to you and anyone condoning the Vettel stop and go is the glaring omission in not adding the fact that Vettel also passed Hamilton under the safety car after bashing into him a second time. That, combined with the rear smash and the side ramming certainly equates to a black flag penalty. However, it’s so glaringly normal to pretend like the passing never existed despite clear overhead video evidence that Vettel, did, indeed, drive ahead of Lewis after hitting him. It seems the conversation was purposely steered away from this additional incident, counting on people not ever mentioning it and so being able to argue for in favor of the FIA handing out such a feeble penalty.

      1. Maybe it shouldn’t be and wouldn’t be if something had been done. I totally respect all Joe is saying but we cannot just forget something because it was a long time ago, However my respect for Hamilton is less because of his comments about Vettel.

        1. I accept that but the Prost-Senna story is a complex series of events and cannot be taken as individual events.

          1. Does this mean if there was a complex series of events leading up to Vettel’s actions at Baku it would be any different?

          2. All of life is a complex series of events and we are not privy to so much of it, although you, Joe, no doubt know more than I about motor racing, as you continually show in your blogs. I still think that the actions of the FIA that day did set a precedent, regardless of the lead up to it. The action was to deliberately take out another driver, the punishment should have been for that.

          3. I agree. Prost – Senna was much more than the first corner incident in 1990. The events at the same circuit a year earlier are more often than not overlooked or ignored completely. Sadly, there are probably only a couple of people alive from the original quartet that know what really happened so, I fear we’ll probably never know…

        2. How’s your respect for Vettel.? Given that I think this could all been avoided if he had made an apology without having to be hauled up before the FIA.
          Pretty pathetic in my opinion and I actually like his normal candour.

      2. Yes Stueart Clarke, the F1 landscape IS very different today. Thanks also to the fact that Schumacher was penalized in the end for driving into Villeneuve, and more attention to safety etc, I don’t think we are likely to see a driver do what Senna did on track.

        However, what he did, while it would now probably be frowned upon more and would probably be unthinkable, is still far less dangerous than what Vettel did in my opinion. Because Senne never was NOT in control of himself and of his car, he knew perfectly well what he was doing.
        Sebastian did not know why and what he was doing, he lost his temper and seemed unable to control his rage, making him a danger to himself and the drivers around him.

    2. Richard, Lewis is a racer in the same way Seb is. There was nothing dangerous on his moves on Rosberg, Rosberg wasn’t clever enough to wait that’s all. Everyone’s got a bit soft – personally I’d like to see more Villeneuve v Arnoux style combat and I welcome the fact that the stewards have been given more leeway at races. Fans complain all the time about sterile races, lack of action and so forth – well, now we’ve had some!

    3. Pity the corrupt Balestre didn’t disqualify his countryman Prost the previous year in Suzuka after his blatant collision with the aforementioned Senna…

        1. Is that not a defence for Vettell then, his was a reaction to something that happened seconds before and was at worst gamesmanship by Hamilton. Personally i think the speed should be mandated under safety car conditions as the Hamilton life and coast could have had a chain reaction. Whereas Senna took off Prost a year later and it was pre-meditated. Prost could have justified Suzuka 89 with Estoril 88 with that logic. I don’t buy the tangled history defence but cause that just makes it worse. A bit like Schumacher got the benefit of the doubt in Adelaide 94 but when he pulled the same move in Jerez 97 got an even more ludicrous penalty. That was the biggest non penalty since Madonna’s hand of a cheating Argie (he calls it the hand of God) because he kept all the wins, just not the points. Forest Gump must have been on the bench that day.

          I think Vettel deserved a far harsher penalty on the day (and while Fernando languishes in un-competitive machinery I have loaned my support to Vettell) than what he got. But to punish him and then again is double jeopardy. Even after the race if you added enough time as a penalty to lose his points it would have been fairer.

          Perhaps if the FIA had left if a lap longer, Hamilton’s issue would have played out and then the penalty could have been applied, although the FIA were aware of the #44 issue as they insisted he stop for it to be rectified.

          At least now its over and we can all move on, some more reluctantly than others. As my day job often involves writing documents that have to be impartial (and sometimes its hard 😒) but I know why that would make Joe angry, because that’s a slight on your character others are making without all the facts. I don’t always agree with Joe, but always respect his right to his opinion. The moment it becomes personal you lose the moral high ground.

          This is still the best place to read the motor sport news for Formula 1, in fact its first, second and the only.

        2. Yes; absolutely. It’s a key part. It has been almost forgotten by many over the years. I don’t ever remember JYS interviewing Alain about that incident……..

    4. “A man, whom Lewis Hamilton rather hypocritically calls his hero…” Stop with the nonsense. How conveniently Alain Prost in Suzuka in 1989 is washed from the memory. If not for that event and Jean Belestre’s allowing Prost to whinge to him enough to have Ayrton disqualified, and to steal the WDC from Senna, the incident the following season never occurs. Of course Prost, after the 1990 incident acts exactly as you do now… as if there is no context for Senna’s actions.

  9. Joe,settle down. Not the end of the world ,you know? Let them duke it out on the track. Not some tribunal in Paris. This is not nor will it be the last time this happens. Rosberg and Ham did a lot worse last year.

    1. I disagree and I see no reason why I should change my mind on the matter. I have looked at it very logically and there is no justification for the action.

  10. Its the intent/motivation behind the blow. The magnitude of the blow delivered and what that blow could have been. The damage done by the blow and potential damage that could have occurred. A basic framework of decision that could be used to also arrive at the penalty awarded.
    There are obviously to any sensible person more factors that are considered by Stewards as part of a protocol in there decisions.
    Unfortunately I am not aware of it being recorded in any way. Certainly not in International Sporting Code, F1 Sporting Regs, F1 Tech Regs. So how does the federation commited itself to ensuring that procedures should be “fair, transparent, accessible and efficient”.
    Full Time Stewards would not change this beyond giving a full time target for gurus and fans, as all these principle would be personally, rather than organisationally held.
    We have yet to see, but I feel an opportunity, as you wish as well, to improve the underlying organisation has again been sidestepped or ignored.

  11. It’s taken the FIA getting involved for Vettel to even acknowledge there was an incident to answer for. Previously he would only address the fact that he had crashed into the back of Hamilton due to what he believed was brake-testing. That in itself was bad enough and could it even have been possible grounds for bringing the sport into disrespute (if that is the correct terminology)? For Vettel to just say sorry because he has to and for the FIA to decide that’s all he needs to, is baffling. Whilst I would agree any future penalty (grid drop, race ban) would have been inappropriate as it would have been punishing him for the same incident twice, they should have amended the original Baku punishment to race exclusion and amended the other drivers points accordingly. Would it have taken actual damage to either car to have warranted a tougher penalty and is that now the precedent that has been set for similar incidents in the future?

    1. Vettell knew he was wrong after the race, be just could not bring himself to confess it. Listen to his answers and they trying to create a smoke screen. I have used the same taxi. Myself once or twice when I know I was wrong, buy wasn’t too keen to admit it

  12. Joe what are you talking about. You are saying there was no punishment when there was during the race.
    Then you go on to a lot of esoteric concepts which don’t really relate to any specific rule break.
    It all sounds like a round about way of just saying Seb Vettel I don’t like that guy.

  13. According to OED, the definition of ‘disaster’ is “a sudden accident or a natural catastrophe that causes great damage or loss of life.”

    #F1 is just a sport and Vettel did receive a penalty, now how severe, it all depends on how one views it. The entire F1 world is divided over the ruling, so clearly it doesn’t quantify as a disaster. Jenson Button and Martin Brundle doesn’t think he deserves more than what Vettel did on the track.

    Btw.. #Senna was like this (who happens to be Hamilton’s hero till date) in his heyday, however, he was penalised little compared to #Schumacher – and as far as the precedents go, next time when we have a slow-speed clash between drivers, we will see what the penalties are.

    Sometimes working too closely in the sport blinds us from looking the sport as fans, and we stop enjoying. I was in Baku and saw the race on the track as a fan! (I was close to the site of the incident), the experience of watching a race as a fan was an eye-opener and speaking to a lot of fans afterward, we felt Vettel deserved a penalty, and that he did during the race.

    I tend to disagree with your assessment of this case, still, I can continue respecting you as an F1 journalist in spite of this disagreement. #AgreeToDisagree

    Your fan from Switzerland (and I have been watching, reading, visiting and writing on races since 1999 without fail.. and I just entered 30s)

  14. The FIA have been very, very weak. Surely this is now going to simmer away instead of being put to bed. It breaks the discipline process up – there will now be endless arguments about other infringements and how they compare to this one, and why the punishments are not the same.

  15. I was pretty horrified at the leniency of the stewards at the time. There was another driver banned for about 2 years for similar actions (tho possibly at racing speeds). I basically agree with everything JS, and others (Inc Nigel Roebuck), have written. However, I read what Button and Brundle have said and wonder if they or I (and JS), are right. A bit of a conundrum to me:
    a. On the one hand the penalty in race was not a million miles out (but it should have been a black flag)
    b. On the other: lack of a big penalty says it was OK for everyone else to do it (yes, JS, I know that’s exactly what you said).

  16. Grosjean was banned for 1 race for a clumsy move in Spa with no intent, how this isn’t a ban I’m not sure it doesn’t make sense. If this was another driver I can’t help but feel they would have been further punished – not based on fact but gut feel. The only positive being it spices the championship up.

    1. If my memory serves me well, Spa was the incident that broke the camel’s back so to speak, and the ban was a result of a series of similar incidents rather than for one incident alone.

  17. Great article – I’m sure there was a case not too long ago where a driver got banned for 2 years for deliberately crashing into an opponent under a safety. Although that incident was worse, it makes a mockery of this ruling to leave it unpunished. All this states if that if you deliberately crash into an opponent then you get a 10 second penalty. FIA absolutely bottled the decision. I really like Vettel but have lost a huge amount of respect for him, especially with his conduct after the race in interviews. And the forced apology Seb gave is laughable.

  18. I don’t quite understand why the FIA and the stewards show such a great degree of inaction towards drivers who have no remorse for their actions.

    Lets put Vettel aside for one instance. Verstappen too who suggested Grosjean brake tested him at Monaco, when in actual fact Grosjean braked later than the previous lap. If the stewards, and by extension, the FIA can’t be just with the sport, then they are not fit to govern the sport. Surely someone with big enough ‘cojones’ can declare a vote of no confidence in Jean Todt. This is just bad road rage even if Hamilton brake tested him (which he did not). I don’t quite know what any driver has to do so that they’re hit with the book by the FIA. Clearly Vettel and his grovelling has saved him twice now despite bringing the sport into disrepute.

    This is my opinion (irrational or coincidental) but the French leading any organisation is a recipe for corruption or ineptness when it comes to decision making. Did they convene this just for the free tea and biscuits?

      1. No, but it is run by a Frenchman. Read what is written “the French leading any organisation” not that the FA sic (=FIA?) We had these sort of problems with the FIA when it was run by Jean-Marie Balestre.

  19. Should have been black flag immediately.

    Imagine Maldonado doing This. Everybody would have expected him to be black flagged (if not a race ban).

    I’ve always liked Vettel. But this was not proper racing. And as Joe wrote, this is creating a precedent.
    FIA is just too afraid to have another Mercedes domination. Pathetic.

    Once again: What if this had been Madonado ?

      1. Great memory man…
        Just watched the video, and it’s really very similar. Hamilton gave him a little bump too. Strange that there wasn’t such a fuss when that happened.

  20. Joe
    The whole mechanism of the FIA was involved at great expense in this affair. The collision did not injure Hamilton but what level of injury would have triggered sanctions? If this event had happened in athletics, a foot race or dear old Jenson pushed rudely off his bike, would disqualification and a great deal of huffing and puffing not have been expected.

    1. The question of how hard the hit was, is not the point in question. It is the fact that there was a hit at all that is the problem.

  21. “should there be any repetition of such behaviour, the matter would immediately be referred to the FIA International Tribunal for further investigation.”

    I´m not up to speed on how many circles of justice there are in the FIA. How is this “International Tribune” different to the procedure we are commenting on today?

  22. La montagne a accouché une souris. Jean Todt should take care of road safety, not F1 racing rules. The same sort of ridiculous farce happens in all sorts of so-called sports federations.

  23. You speak as if he received no penalty. He received no further penalty. He received a 10 second stop go penalty during the race which ultimately cost him a race victory and 13 points.

      1. Well, it didn’t cost Hamilton anything. Hamilton lost the race because of the loose restraint…

        1. Which he arguably would not have had if Vettel had not crashed into him and left more wreckage on the track. You can look at it that way too.

          1. I’m pretty sure they bumped wheels, so there was no wreckage from the deliberate contact…

            There was some debris from when he ran in to the back of Hamilton, but surely that is no reason for punishment. Hamilton lost the race, through no fault of his own, because of a loose restraint. Vettel lost the race for acting stupid. The deliberate contact did not cost Hamilton anything… it only hurt Vettel.

          2. Yet they still restarted the race after Vettel’s contact and only brought out the red after the two Force India cars came to blows. I find your argument that Vettel caused the headrest problem tenuous at best.

          3. Red flag was because of Force India Crash debris and Kimi’s debris from being hit by Hamilton’s Team mate. The Vettel incident acctually helped Hamilton because it cost his title rival 13 Points. Could have been 27 Points difference without Vettel’s hotheadness, but now it’s just 14. I do understand that Hamilton fans would prefer more Points being deducted from his main title rival, though.

            1. You read too much into this. I want proper justice. I don’t care if it affects Lewis’s points total. I think it did, you think it didn’t. Fine.

          4. You cannot seriously be claiming that Hamilton’s headrest problem was brought on by a tiny wheel tap behind the safety car.

            New low, Joe.

              1. “Well, it didn’t cost Hamilton anything. Hamilton lost the race because of the loose restraint…

                on July 3, 2017 at 9:41 pm | ReplyJoe Saward
                Which he arguably would not have had if Vettel had not crashed into him and left more wreckage on the track. You can look at it that way too.”

                Yet it is what you have implied!

          5. The head restraint (loose) issue was because he got out of the car after the red flag and it wasn’t put back in properly. The red flag was for other on track issues, (too much debris) issues. The bump did not do anything to the status of this piece of equipment as it was already loose from faulty installation.

      2. Surely the effect on Hamilton is neutral? At the time of the incident, Hamilton was on course for a 25 point win. Bad pit work by MB affected his day, not the assault by Vettel. To be clear, I think SV should have been blackflagged, no-one would argue against that.

        But, it didn´t happen and the ongoing controversy resulting from poor FIA management and decision making on the day (rather than today´s decision per se) is bad for the sport.

        Poor use of the safety car created the conditions in which all of this happened. Maybe we should also be questioning how to reléase the race after the SC is deployed. Apart from the LH/SV fracas, there were too many crashes post SC in Bakú. We´ve seen a few in the past as well. Safe, it ain´t, but exciting yes.

        Or shall we just rename the “Safety Car”?

    1. I have to agree with Joe that he talks about the implications that WILL come or happen during the rest of this championship. I also disagree with the outcome of yesterday but how till the championship be seen at the end of the year if Vettel does win the WDC by 13 points or less? Pretty tainted in my view…

  24. An appallingly weak response from the FIA to a pathetic and insulting move from a leading driver. This lack of action will tarnish any potential championship win from Vettel.

  25. What you really mean is it’s OK for Hamilton to punt people off the road – which he has done many times in the past – but anyone else “guilty” of a minor infraction against him must be punished, particularly if they are in the way of his “coronation” as a “great” driver (which he’s not)

    1. If tgis is an accusation of bias, then it is rude and you should read the blog rules. I suggest it would be a good idea.

      1. Just because someone has a different opinion to you on something does not mean they are being rude. If yours is the only “allowed” opinion then why invite people to comment?
        Hamilton is not the “God” you would like to think, he is quick in the quickest car but then moans endlessly if he is beaten.
        Take a hard look, not through rose tinted glasses

        1. I don’t mind an alternative opinion. It is how it is expressed. And if you call me biased I take it as an insult so kindly be polite

  26. the road safety campaign has been totally undermined. chances are vettel will have to have his picture taken with the safety campaign sign at the weekend and thats going to be more than a touch uncomfortable for many of us. the message it sends to other drivers is at best confusing, at worst clear in its bias.

    1. What road safety campaign Graham?

      Can you direct me to any physical campaign underway. I mean more then a few billboards scattered around a track and meaningless words at the bottom of FIA paperwork.

      I’ll know the FIA have done something useful in the name of road safety when visitors to my country who normally drive on the right hand side (we drive on the left) carry accreditation acknowledging the difference.

      I don’t so much mind them knocking themselves off when they forget situational awareness, it’s a bit devastating though when they take us with them.

      1. What you have not seen the Michelle Yeoh posters from safe steps also endorsed by FIA. I do wonder why the FIA thought lets use Michelle Yeoh for road safety seems an odd choice to me. A coconut to the first person that makes the conection.

        1. She is Todt’s wife. She is also on TV ads here in Asia on Fox Sports so very visible when the GP is on.

  27. At least the cretins who couldn’t see or accept what was in front of them are not back on here yet. It’s was clear as day what Vettel did, and now he’s admitted it 100%. Punishment did not fit the crime, FIA bottled it, very dangerous marker put down today, and smacks of bias. Next time anyone but Vettel bangs wheels under SC it’s a free pass as long as you say you’re sorry 😐

    Should have lost his Baku points in addition to the apology and warning about future conduct.

    Now can we get some good racing in this weekend? Hope they’re on the front row together……

  28. Makes you wonder what the black flag is for really. Delibrately driving into your opponent is obviously just a fairly minor infraction and for all those folks saying “but he got a 10 second stop and go” well, he committed three separate infractions so that penalty must be a summation of all three surely…

    It seems that as long as you say “very sorry” even if its dragged out of you when you are finally summoned in front of the teacher and presented with the damning evidence and you happen to drive for the red team then its all ok.The red team is my favourite as well. I am so conflicted 🙂

    I guess I was expecting a backdated DQ for Baku where magically both drivers would end up with the same points and all to play for going forward and the FIA would finally stamp its authority and basically say this is not banger racing but I am not really surprised if I am honest. The FIA strikes again and comes to the red teams rescue.

    I love Seb’s apology to Lewis and the bit where he takes full responsbility for what happened… amazing piece of writing….

  29. Joe all I want to say is that I am not going to criticise your view in fact I fully support it. The people who have posted about you being anti-Ferrari should be ashamed . It seems F1 has put the interests of the show before good old sporting morals and that isn’t right. Todt is a weak leader and not fit to be FIA president? Letting Vettel get away with it just because he created an apology so he wouldn’t be sanctioned .

    The kind of action the FIA would be reasonable if they were dealing with a 5 child but come on Mr Todt Seb is a 30yr old fully grown adult who knew full well what he was doing – and therefore should be be expected to behave better and dealt with more severely when he does wrong. The FIA have set a very dangerous precent which allows drivers to take liberties with driving standards.

    Cheers for an excellent post Joe.
    With regards
    Stephen Taylor

  30. Totally agree. Unfortunately this (lack of) punishment is disappointing but hardly surprising.

    This was a moment for the FIA and Jean Todt to come up with a decisive, stern but ultimately fair decision that would have put the ‘in bed with Ferrari’ accusations behind it. But they didn’t and the accusations will continue.

  31. Come on people, though Vettel’s move on Hamilton wasn’t nearly as appalling as Senna on Prost or Schumacher on Hill and Jacques that’s plain wrong, lame and absolutely a punishment deserving maneuver. His getting away with spending 5 minutes on the naughty corner is great (for him). I am looking forward to seeing him apologizing in public to Lewis and everyone else.

    Too many apologies are issued through twitter nowadays with the infamous ‘i’m sorry if (IF…) i hurt my family and my fans, after some thoughts and reflexion we are praying to overcome the outcomes of my behavior’ blah blah’.

    Maria Sharapova (a money making machine and a darling for tv ratings) got caught cheating and got a nice hanging. It doesn’t matter whether so many other guys previously cheated in the 80s, 90s, 2000s and got away unscathed with heavier drugs. Cheating is cheating and she got what she ought to. Banging cars is banging cars, no matter the speed. Briatore seems to be basking in daylight again, but he got what he deserved (thank you, Nelson Piquet father) though he had lots of clouts and a major corporation behind him. Why can’t Vettel do his time as well?

    1. Pretty sure there will not be a public apology to Lewis of the style you are thinking of. Seb has posted his “apology” that includes him taking “full responsbility” for the incident… for what it is worth. Don’t expect anything further according to the FIA statement that talks about Seb’s apology.

      1. I agree completely. For him, for Ferrari, it’s case closed. Done. Any journalist who tries to push the matter further will likely get Ferrari’s on-going cold shoulder treatment.

        Ferrari’s media reps will make sure he’s shielded and sheltered.

  32. So if a driver now very deliberately drives another off the track it is basically impossible for the FIA to effectively punish them. Its crazy.

    God forbid the next time a driver loses their temper and thinks its OK to repeat Sebs actions that someone gets hurt.

    The FIA needed to make an example out of this to prevent a more dangerous reoccurrence in future.

    I entirely agree with your article Joe.

  33. It’s obvious from the comments I’ve just read that those who believe that Vettel is a good boy and the matter is over and done with, are jumping for joy. Whereas those who believe we’ve witnessed the FIA making complete and utter fools of themselves and more seriously have reopened the belief that Ferrari gets special treatment are somewhat stunned by Todt’s actions.

    I don’t know if I can be arsed with F1 any longer. There have been far too many suspect decisions in recent years. Have I been wasting my time following the 4 wheeled equivalent of WWF wrestling? Has this year’s championship already been decided in some smoke filled Paris backroom?

  34. Good in my opinion , no matter what you say Joe i gathered that the ones pushing for a second punishment and the harshest possible were first foremost and almost exclusively the British Press . That makes it look a little bit like the only point was just political to help Lewis by any way possible . is it because there is fear Ham might not be champ this year on his own merits ?

    Seb could have handle the situation better, i 100% agree,on that but it is true also that because of the penalty he lost the Baku race. no ?

    nb: a proper headbutt does damage … there was none so may be it was just a poke after all .

    Hopefully Austria will see another interesting race

    1. OK, I will explain again (for the nth time).
      1) The accusation of nationalist bias is insulting to any sensible journalist.
      2) The fact that the accuser thinks that someone would be swayed by nationalistic bias is more a reflection of the accuser than the person accused. In other words, they do not understand that nationalism is not an intelligent response to anything.
      3) The act that Vettel did was the important point. The force of that act is not the point in question.

  35. You have done well to keep your emotions out of the article, I was listening only today how the BBC’s Jeremy Bowen had to keep his out of his reporting, it’s a lesson for us all; think first, type later.

    Having watched the incident numerous times, I cannot see how the FIA can draw their conclusions, Vettel was caught out then proceeds to compound his mistake by using his car as a weapon to assault Hamilton’s. Yes, Vettel was penalised during the race but that really did not go far enough. The FIA really should have imposed a further penalty and now look weak and ineffective for future offences…no further action rules the day, do what you like….

    (For the record, I am pretty ambivalent towards the drivers and teams involved, I love the sport as a whole, which is what is being damaged)

  36. I’m surprised in all of the coverage of this incident that no one has mentioned Hungary 2006 and the Friday incident with Alonso. The penalty there was 2 seconds in qualifying, which broadly seems to match what Vettel got in Baku.

    In fairness, Max Mosley at the time did have a different opinion of it all: “For example, I wouldn’t have given Alonso a two-second penalty for the brake-testing (and yellow-flag) episode in Hungary – I would have sent him home. Brake testing is using a car as a weapon to menace another driver – dangerous and a license-loser if you do it on the road.”

  37. Vettel used his car as a weapon, not a poke in the chest , a 600 kilogram weapon. It is an absurd that there is no fia consequence. I can not see any advantage for the sporting spirit of F1 with this decision.

      1. maybe not laughing , certainly he is relieved. And so am I and all people who think that Vettel was already punished during the GP. Even with all the implication for the sport, FIA and so on. As you said, it’s not the force of the impact that matters, but the act (and that act was punished); nonetheless, the act was weak and it has in my opinion a weak impact (zero in my opinion) on the public, on road safety etc.

        I love this blog and your reports Joe and of course I will read it in the future, I’m just a little astonished that you are so upset about this episode, which is in this occasion has a little changed – IMHO – your attitude which is always more open to any kind of polite, balanced discussion

    1. A good point. Just occurred to me; all those years ago when Michael was sanctioned for pushing Jacques Villeneuve off the road at Jerez, he lost all his points for the season. In addition, as a part of the punishment, I seem to remember (I may be wrong) that he was forced to participate in a road safety campaign with Max. So, it now seems that NOT taking part in a similar campaign is seen as punishment for an on-track indiscretion for Seb? Politics, politics, politics…………

  38. Sorry Joe, I respect your opinion but I see a lot more people disagreeing with you than not. I count myself among them. What Vettel did was reckless and foolish to be sure, and he was indeed punished for that recklessness. I am not prepared, however, to say that further action was warranted, absent some showing of intent to cause a collision. Furthermore, the whole incident has created yet more drama in what is undoubtedly the most exciting season in many years. This is exactly the kind of championship battle a lot of people have been starving for and is certainly a good thing for F1.

    1. Read the comments again. I have not added it up but I see as many sensible responses as I see ones that I do not agree with.

      1. Joe, you have the patience of a saint. Quite how you put up with some of this stuff is beyond me.

        Thanks for the blog.

        p.s. Any chance of “An evening with…” in Paris sometime?

            1. If you think about the logistics of the blog you might draw different conclusions. If there are 200 comments a day and I reply to all of them it would take two minutes on average. That is 400 minutes. Six hours 40 minutes. I don’t have that much time available to work for free. But I do my best and it has to happen at speed. So it comes across as brusque which is not how I am. I understand that people get this impression but is it better to stop comments? I publish almost everything unless it is truly offensive – even if it is running me down. I think that is fair.

              1. Fair enough. I had not considered nor understood the effort involved; and with no compensation. I’m sure I would also come across as rude in those circumstances.

                Thanks for pointing this out.

    2. It’s a pretty well accepted online ‘rule’ that a disproportionately higher number of people post comments if they disagree with the argument than if they agree so the number of posts here disagreeing isn’t necessarily indicative of the overall sentiment.

  39. Welcome back Ferrari International Assistance, how we’ve missed you!!

    Oh wait, no we haven’t you corrupt bunch of !!

    Absolutely shocking decision!!

    1. Yes it is certainly the though that rises to the top again, but when they are still allowed to compete with huge financial advantages over the other teams it is not really surprising. Hopefully Liberty will eventually even the field.

  40. Well, I think that was a sensible verdict. Much as I disagree with Seb’s actions on the day I believe the stewards’ decision had to be supported.

  41. Did anyone besides Joe expect the FIA to take a points depriving decision against a driver in the midst of a tight title battle? A battle between teams for the first time in 3 years??

    They took the appropriate action: Called Vettel to task and ended it there.

    Come on Joe, admit it, in your heart of hearts you expected this outcome.

    1. Read the tweets and blog comments and you will find the answer to your question. Come on George, do some research

      1. I concede your point on other people’s opinions, l laid that out for effect.

        What I haven’t heard much of, is what effect an additional penalty would have on future steward decisions. I think the FIA had little choice but to support the race day decision and issue a woe unto you if done again.

        You adroitly (as usual) avoided my question: In your heart of hearts, deep down where you live, did you think the FIA would impose a more severe penalty?

        By the way, thank you for carrying on these extended comments with your fans. Immensely informative and entertaining.

  42. What about wheel contact at 150+ mph that is frequent and goes unpunished. Hamilton had the responsibility to keep moving without sudden speed changes, we all know he lifted off. He has done worse and gone unpunished, but those incidents were ignored. Senna would have sorted hom out, he was a winner in a Tolman, Hamiltons car is the winner.

      1. Except racing drivers also deliberately bang wheels with opponents to get them to back off or just to put on a show for the fans.

        As Ricciardo so eloquently put it after he maliciously tried to harm Vettel in China:

        “I was honestly a bit bored, so I just thought let’s bang some wheels and get the crowd excited. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t intentional, but I knew there was no harm done. A little bit of smoke for the fans.”

        According to you Daniel deserved his points docked and/or a race ban for Bahrain then?

        1. Yes, Ricciardo should’ve received a stiff penalty. No, what D Ric did isn’t the norm in F1 and I don’t quite understand how you could take a single, immature move by an even more immature person and conflate it with Vettel’s acts.

    1. I’ve seen this argument a lot over the past week and I think it’s completely backwards. When you’re in close-proximity racing at 150 mph in the heat of battle, you expect there to be some wheel banging and ‘passionate’ driving, but the fact that this was slow-speed (therefore the drivers have a lot more ‘thinking time’), under a Safety Car (when the drivers are supposed to be extra-mindful of driving carefully under total control) makes it worse than a high-speed incident.

    2. This makes no sense. Every driver has a job to do behind the safety car to heat his tyres and brakes so they work at the restart. He is permitted to brake and accelerate as he chooses as long as it is not erratic.. It is common practice to slow after the safety car has turned it’s lights out and then bolt at a time that suits. The lead car also needs to leave a big enough gap to the safety car so that he wouldn’t overtake it at the restart In all of this it is the job of the car behind not to hit the lead car or overtake the lead car.

      Article 39.13 of the sporting regs cover what is permitted and not permitted once the safety car has turned it’s lights off. ‘no erratic acceleration or braking nor any other manoeuver which endanger other drivers or impede the restart’.

      Hamilton did nothing erratic. This has been shown and backed up by the FIA stewards and at yesterday’s meeting.

      Hamilton decelerated on the corner exit (as he is allowed to do – there is no prohibition on that and if you think about it, unless you expect the leader to be aware of the exact location of all the cars behind him, even if he did wait until after the corner to decelerate someone in the pack would have to decelerate in the corner) but it was not in any way shape or form erratic.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rw23umegK3w this video shows the telemetry from between T13 and T14 through to just after T15 and the second impact.

      You can clearly see Hamilton (confusingly he is the red line and Vettel is the blue line) decelerates in a linear fashion. Nothing erratic. He does speed up by 2kmph after corner apex because the track starts decending. From corner apex (T15) to impact Hamiton decelerates by 10kmph from 62kmph to 52kmph and that is commensurate with his speed drop before the apex and at the apex. That’s about 6 miles an hour. Again, not erratic.If you read the graph correctly you can see that Hamilton (after impact) speeds up because he has just been punted along by Vettel.

      Vettel accelerated just before t15 (at about 9 seconds on the graph)and also continued to slow, but not as much as Hamilton.
      You can see the speed differential going in to T15 and Vettel is clearly travelling faster than Ham all the way through the corner and really had plenty of time (3.5 seconds there or there abouts) to see Ham slow.

      Vettel failed three times over in quick succession – he caused a collision twice and overtook the lead car.

      Finally, why did you throw in the unnecessary irrelevant slur? It simply demeans your own comment.

  43. I like having the result of the race determined at the track, so I’m glad no further action was taken. Admittedly, I’m a very biased Ferrari fan, but I think whatever action is determined by the marshals or stewards should stand. Whether the process is broken or political is another discussion. I still think the whole thing was overblown. Vettel did something stupid and paid a price. I don’t think it’s worse than a driver calculating to push his opponent off the road at racing speeds, which happens all the time. I’d prefer more driver self-policing. If it got out of hand, the teams would step in anyway.

  44. Joe, I am in agreement with you here (am I the only one?) and I think a significant mistake the stewards made that colored this whole situation was in labeling it “dangerous driving” rather than “unsportsmanlike conduct” to begin with.

    By saying the former they allowed for the possibility of people criticizing it as silly because of the low speed and little realistic chance of injury, but if they’d said the latter everyone would’ve been nodding in agreement immediately. “Yup, there goes Vettel again.” What the appropriate in-the-moment, stop-and-go penalty ought to be for such is a different issue and deserves to be debated and settled: 10 seconds? 30 seconds? Black flag? But that’s not the same as naming the offense properly to begin with and reinforcing it with an FIA backbone later.

    I’m unclear off the top of my head if penalty points against a superlicense can carry over from one season to another, but to me this unquestionably should’ve been treated as a second “unsportsmanlike conduct” incident after his Mexico outburst against Whiting. Is there anyone else with obvious comparable unsportsmanlike conduct moments in the last few seasons? I don’t think so.

  45. Appalled and astonished is how i describe my feelings towards this ruling. I wonder how many kids will get injured this weekend on Kart tracks as they drive into their opponents because they saw a Word Champion behave this way and get away with it.

  46. You need to take this into context though. He was punished during the race contrary to what keeps being said. It only seemed a small punishment because of the overall standing with Hamilton which was due to Hamilton’s headrest forcing him to pit. If Hamilton hadn’t needed to pit for that then there would have been a greater difference between Hamilton and vettel (ie; 1st and 4th rather than 4th and 5th) and maybe people wouldn’t be getting so angry about it and saying that the punishment wasn’t affective. It’s not vettels fault that Hamilton then had an issue after his punishment. On another note that people keep stating is that if the cars were going faster then how dangerous it would have been and could have caused a huge accident. This is making a huge assumption that vettel would have done this under race conditions and not just under the safety car which I think is unfair. I don’t believe he would have made this move under race conditions. I am not saying it is excusable but in my opinion I think the punishment is enough and I have seen worse acts from other drivers at high speed in a race but they aren’t quite so obvious because in race conditions but clearly far more dangerous.

      1. Agreed! The punishment should be for the premedidated action, not any (perhaps unintended) consequences. If Vettel’s move had punted Hamilton into the wall and ended his race, would the steward’s ruling have been the same? Because it should have been. And if it had been the same (imagine the even greater outrage if he had received a 10-second penalty for knocking Hamilton off the track), would the FIA’s ruling today have also been the same? Because it should have been, but I suspect one or both would have been different rulings, and therein lies the problem.

        I was shocked when Vettel wasn’t immediately black flagged during the race in Baku, and amazed when reports came out of the stewards saying that they didn’t want to overly influence the championship (paraphrasing here, and I can’t remember the credibility of the news sources right now), and I think that’s where the majority of the blame lies (other than with Vettel himself of course). From then on it’s a compounded problem and I can kinda-sorta understand that the FIA didn’t want to overrule/undermine the authority of the stewards after the fact, so I am a teeny-tiny bit sympathetic to them, but they needed to do *something* (e.g. extended his current penalty points roll-off by 12 months, essentially giving him a longer suspended sentence) because as Joe has said, they’ve essentially painted themselves into a corner responding to any future similar actions.

        I’m a fan of Vettel’s driving talent (as I am of Hamilton’s), his passion for the sport and its history, and his general sense of humour and usual demeanor, and I am not particularly a fan of Hamilton’s off-track attitude a lot of the time, but he’s got a temper tantrum problem and he should get some help with it, as Grosjean did. I also felt that Vettel’s pleading ignorance when questioned by reporters immediately after the race and basically pretending that there was no wheel-banging incident was very immature and the ‘red mist’ that people speak of should have lifted by then, so that is inexcusable as well.

      2. it is the act that decides wether or not you receive punishment.
        its the severity of the act that decides how hard that punishment will turn out to be.

        if you run a red light endangering someone, but do not hurt him or her you will not be penalized in the same way you would if you if you hit someone doing so injuring him or her.

        so the force of any act is very well relevant in any system of justice.
        furthermore i would like to point out that even if it very well looks like it, no intention of his actions have been proven. so it stands as negligence.

        vettel got punished in the race. wether that was sufficient is in question. but it is intolerant to assume that the force of the act was irrelevant.

        speaking of sportsmanship, i don’t think that any of the drivers winning races is particulary a great examlpe.
        hamilton complained during the race urging a harsher penalty. furthermore he asked the team to use bottas to put vettel in bad air and subsequently putting himself over the team, let alone his teammate who could have lost his position in such an act, too.
        not setting a good example of sportsmanship, too.

        this could be said for any highly competitive driver in f1. for decades.

        i thank you for having this discussion with your readers, but in my humble opinion you seem to have thought about this matter from a very narrow angle.

        1. I disagree with the premise of your argument. The force of the act is not relevant. The act itself is worthy of a punishment. I think I am thinking about this from a far broader sense than many of my readers. But, hey, who listens to experts these days?

          1. its alright that you neglect the force. i respect this. i just wanted to point out that in any justice system it would be considered when it comes to defining your punishment.

            i certainly agree that you think of racing relevant matters from a very broad sense (at least for 99%) and i strongly agree that it is not in any way justified to say that you are bias. especially with you putting so much of your time into this matter which justiefies your anger in some replies.

            my intend simply is to say that in a complex system such as the fia the force was a contributing factor in deciding how the punishment would look like.
            in my point of view this was reasonable.

  47. I am astonished Joe is getting a hard time here, for the point he is making is a very simple one – Use a car as a weapon, no matter if that is a tap, or a full blown smash, at any speed and it’s a straight, clear cut Black Flag.

    Vettel has got away with it again. I cannot believe anyone is using the defence, but hey, it was only at 50k’s, no big deal. If this was football, then if it wasn’t a headbutt, it was grabbing a player around the throat, in which both are red and offences.

    It was reckless, it was dangerous and like Joe, I agree that the FIA have created a rod for their own back by setting a precedent – Remember, in Mexico, he was given a final warning. Now he has been given a final-final warning…

    The FIA are a joke. Any more of this clear nonsense, then I may have to take a time out from the sport.

    1. Reckless….I think Verstappens late direction changes at full race speeds in last years championship were far more reckless and unpunished.

      1. Dare I suggest that you are missing the point. Racing is one thing, what Vettel did was behind the Safety Car and not racing.

        1. Joe,

          I am not againts your viewpoint, I think reckless driving at whatever speed and whether behind safety car or otherwise should be punished more severly (vettel got off lightly).

          I was merely pointing out inconsistencies of judgement, both were reckless driving whether commited at racing speeds or otherwise.

          There must be consistency of judgment in what is considered reckless driving, and consistency without favouritism in penalties served which doesnt seem to be the case in F1.

  48. Hi Joe,

    As we were reminded above, Maldonado purposely drove in to Hamilton in Spa 2011. You only wrote 4 short lines, ending with “The punishment seems a little less than severe given what happened”

    What’s the difference in this case? It’s a genuine question, I’m not insinuating anything. You just seem so angry this time…

    I have to say I don’t agree with your view, but I take my hat off to you for posting comments from both sides.

    1. Isn’t it the fact that this was done under the safety car conditions. Ie the safety car was still on track and no over taking is allowed. All those banging on about precedent have conveniently forgot this.
      An opportunity was lost to set a good precedent for incidents under safety car conditions…..now what happens when a driver decides to exact retribution under a safety car, it may not have such an innocuous outcome.
      The FIA and stewards have blown it…….a bad precedent an example have been set.

  49. Clearly the people that think this is OK don’t actually understand the issue properly.

    There are some and this particularly applies to a minority of red fans that their team and drivers are bigger than the sport. They can do what they like. They get more money from the sport therefore their value to the sport is more than any other team or driver. So when one of their drivers displays crass arrogance, appalling misjudgement / complete loss of mental control, and undermines a key part of the past 10 years of the FIA president’s safety campaign they defend him. Great.
    Joe you can’t beat bigotry .

  50. To my mind Vettel completed three acts that contravene the rules without any mitigating circumstances.
    1. Causing an avoidable collision
    2. Dangerous driving
    3. Bring sport into disrepute.
    I think he is a very lucky boy.

    Thanks for the extra posts Joe.

  51. The die that will, henceforth, forever define Jean Todt’s historical legacy as a tragedy of immense proportions, has now, finally, been cast; and, as in all tragedies, it was cast by by JT himself. He has no one else to blame but himself when the historians are through with him.

  52. I agree with Joe. Does someone have to get hurt before you dish out a penalty? As other readers have pointed out, you’d be black flagged for such behavior on a go kart circuit on your stag do. In football, you can get a red card for intent, you don’t have to break someone’s leg to be sent off. Regardless of where Lewis finished, Vettel should have been black flagged, or excluded from the race result in retrospect, with a suspended sentence.

  53. When I read the decision I rolled my eyes. I always assumed that this type of incident would end up in a race ban.
    How can I take the FIA’s harping about Road Safety/Respect serious when they just shrug this one off?
    I firmly believe an F1 car is not the place to lose your mind in.

  54. Todt got exactly what he wanted, exposure for his road safety campaign. HIS road safety campaign. He used this to get Vettel to attend various events for his own(Todt) glorification. He is barely present as the FIA president anyway, so he hasn’t got the fight in him to take on Ferrari and their sycophants. This was simply an opportunity for ol’ Jean to wet his beak from all the drama and look like he was actually doing something. First class politicking, second rate professionalism.

      1. Sadly that is the old paradigm, Joe. He took what he could from the situation because when he’s standing next to Vettel at these events he will look like a hero to the people who barely even remember what the issue was or why they are there. Short attention spans are a boon to the wicked, as we are now all too aware.

    1. A lot of people agree with me too. People have different opinions. I think what I think and I have explained why I think it. I think the decision is disastrous for the rule of law in F1

  55. Joe most of the time you talk sense in thi instant you don’t, it was 30mph coming together that was never going to cause harm. Yes Seb was out of order but passion not sanctions is what is needed in F1. LH plays both ends against the middle all the time, psychological games is what he does best. And now nico has gone he needs a new sparring partner and Seb is the target. Let it play out and enjoy the ride I think like Bernie you may have been around to long based on this article.

  56. It’s fairly obvious that he should have been disqualified for using his car as a weapon. If the FIA’s view is that this should be treated as just a misdemeanour and not a crime, then it can only encourage others to do the same – and it’ll end in tragedy one day.
    The fact that it happened to cause no damage doesn’t seem to me to be relevant – the cars are very fragile and it easily could have done, that it didn’t was just luck.
    Had it caused a crack in Hamilton’s suspension, which had then failed in a big way on the next fast corner, causing a massive accident, all the Brundles and Stewarts would be singing a completely different song and Vettel would certainly have been disqualified, quite likely banned – and yet what he did to cause it would have been exactly the same.
    It’s ironic that Senna should be so much mentioned. Senna is dead. He died because a part on his car broke. Since he died, the FIA has reacted brilliantly in making the sport safer. And yet perhaps because of the success, some people have become complacent about safety and say wheel banging and deliberately driving into your rival is good for the spectacle.
    But if they get their way, then sooner or later somebody else will die and then hopefully they’ll shut up. If they would just shut up now instead, then maybe that person won’t have to die.

      1. Yes sinus. IIRC, the thing that killed Senna was the broken steering column piercing his helmet and hitting his head. Whether it broke in the collision with the wall, or beforehand (causing the collision with the wall) is, I believe, not conclusively known.

        1. I learned from a documentary that the safety car was the reason for the crash, the tyres where not warm enough for the speed he was carrying through that corner just after the restart …

          1. It is one opinion. The reality is that he died because he was unlucky that he was hit on the head by the suspension.

          2. It would be worth reading up on Senna’s death and avoid the tabloid journalism that people seem to embrace as the truth.

            1) Senna was competing in his 161st GP, therefore not a novice.

            2) Senna is widely regarded as arguably the greatest in history – which may suggest he had a little understanding of the limits of his car….

            3) Tamburello was not a taxing corner in any form. Very high speed but not a challenge.

            4) Perhaps most crucially, Senna left the road on the 7th lap. The lap before had been the first after the safety car had returned to the pits and Senna’s lap would remain the third fastest of the race..

  57. OK, so the FIA is involved in “road safety campaigns”, but it also sanctions a series where drivers of open cockpit cars drive at 200mph close to solid walls. Bit of a contradiction, no? Perhaps the FIA should get out of one of those conflicting games…

    Sport is aggressive, winners play to win. I’m OK with today’s decision, which incidentally puts me on the same side as the race stewards, the FIA, Brundle, Button*, and many many more

    *not in Baku therefore doesn’t know what he’s talking about (presumably)

  58. Once upon a time, it would have been obvious to everyone that any driver who uses a car to crash into another car in anger and in front of however many millions of people, many of them yet to take to the roads, merits a more severe penalty than a 10-second stop-and-go from those charged with maintaining the sport’s reputation and the global reputation of motoring. But what we once considered glaringly obvious is so often sidestepped these days, and many elected representatives seem to be incapable of forging an honest and honourable path. As you rightly say, hopefully we will now see a leadership challenge. Despite my distaste for this farce and a few more besides, a small part of me is glad that we live in interesting times. Looking forward to this weekend: have a good one.

  59. Shouldn’t the FIA have “sentencing guidelines”, as the criminal courts do here in the States? Such guidelines include minimum and maximum sentences for specific acts.

    So any intentional contact with another car would incur, for example, a minimum penalty of a black flag, and a maximum penalty of a 3-race ban. Then one only must show the elements existed–intent and contact–and the stewards would be required to black flag, with the only flexibility being to impose a greater sanction.

  60. Well put, Joe. The point you brought up about other drivers’ committing the same offence having to be treated leniently is a perspective I hadn’t considered. It’s great to have a voice that’s promoting the integrity of the sport over the profit of notoriety. Cheers.

  61. That is an appalling decision. The FIA statement about the role of sportsmen, the FIA’s ‘deep concerns’ about the wider implications of this incident, respecting regulations, the fact Todt excluded him from any road safety initiatives, Vettel’s subsequent admission of full responsibility, are completely at odds with the penalty he received (or lack of it.).

    The FIA should have simply said, ‘you can overtake the leader under a safety car yellow to deliberately smack into the side of your competitor, without any justifiable reason, then deny any wrongdoing in your post race interviews, bring the sport into disrepute, and get to keep your points. All we need is a grovelling apology before the hearing (no doubt on instruction from your lawyers) and you should be fine’.

    I think this will tarnish his legacy. And it was all avoidable. Had he kept his head, he probably would have won the race.

  62. I’d like to say that I’m surprised but disappointed is all that’s left. True to form the FIA acts like grandma’s limp biscuit.

  63. There’s something I’m just itching to know. When Vettel walked out of the FIA meeting into the sun, did he say: “Ring-a-ding-ding”? Or did he say: “THAT’S what I’m talking about.”? Indeed, did he perhaps do the penguin walk?

  64. If I’d made a fool of myself nailing my colours to Vettel’s flagpole in complete denial or willful ignorance of the facts, only for Vettel himself to confirm that he wasn’t braketested and that he did hit Hamilton deliberately, I might try to distract attention from my ignominy by going on the offensive against a journalist reporting the facts.

  65. [quote]This is the second time in less than a year that Vettel has escaped penalty for appalling non-sporting behaviour. Given Todt’s past with Ferrari, it is inevitable that questions are going to be asked about this, because if the FIA is this weak with Ferrari, it can only be similarly weak if there are problems with other teams. If it acts more forcefully against other teams there will be loud accusations that the FIA is once again favouring Ferrari – something which we had all hoped would not be heard again in the sport.[/quote]

    The FIA already ruled similarly when Hamilton was called up for his appalling non-sporting behavior in making comments about the stewards (albeit jokingly – the topic was no joking matter) and he too apologized. That was Mercedes. So I think we owe Todt and the FIA the benefit of the doubt with respect to favoritism, as so far the rulings have been fairly level across the board.

  66. Joe,

    I’m a slightly more than casual fan from America. I read your blog because of the excellent insight into the world of F1 and just became a subscriber to GP+ this year (which is fantastic). I have loved cars my entire life and raced on dirt tracks in the US (grassroots NASCAR) and now road race.

    I say all this to give you some perspective on me being the exact type of fan Liberty is trying to attract. I was once a big NASCAR fan, but it is dying because it is a bland product. The drivers no longer have personality and the cars (from a technological standpoint) are more antiquated than what I drove on dirt 10 years ago. The drivers are no longer gladiators…Bill Elliott still holds the qualifying record for Talladega from 1989.

    I am drawn to F1 for the glitz and glamour, but primarily the awesome technology and when watching on board cameras, one can appreciate how good these guys really are. These guys could be gladiators (except for whiners like Gutierrez), but they need the room to express themselves. The brake check from Hamilton was dirty as hell and Vettel had every right to be upset. I’ve never been a Vettel fan before this year (big Kimi guy) but his performances are winning me over, and the fact he’s not afraid to show his emotions has given us all something to debate over…with our own emotions boiling over from time to time.

    The punishment (or lack thereof) has set a precedent under the new ownership that they are going to let these guys be HUMAN…and I’m all for it. I can’t wait to see what happens in Austria when those two get close again, and deep down, isn’t that what the fans and promoters really want?

    I appreciate your stance on this, but I don’t believe the sport has been damaged. Everyone seems to comment about the “old days” as a much better product…this just might be the lynchpin that restores some authenticity.

    1. “The brake check from Hamilton was dirty as hell”

      What brake check? Even Vettel has now accepted that Hamilton did nothing wrong, so you need to re-adjust your thinking based on what ‘actually’ happened. Vettel was totally out of control (again) and that sets a very dangerous precedent to people on our roads and our racetracks who look up to him.

  67. And the brits keep whining… Move on, people. No one was hurt, the contact was at 50kph, Vettel apologised. Is the British press really that desperate to give Hamilton a little hand? He doesn’t need it. Leave the politics out of the sport for once, for god’s sake… It is a good thing.

    1. Those who resort to nationalism are those without the mental capacity to think beyond it. Thus such accusations say more about the accuser than the accused. The accusation of bias to a journalist is an insult. Read the blog rules about your welcome here…

  68. I am a big fan of yours… Always..!! I do however have to respectfully disagree with your view and your stance on this entire episode. Let me be clear… I am neither a Vettel fan nor a Hamilton fan… I find both to be a detriment to the sport with their school biy antics…

    But… To compare the action on a race track with road car safety is not only laughable… It is ludicrous. There is simply no correlation between the the decisions made in the course of race with those made during one’s commute to work… Défensive driving in the manner prudent for a safe driver on the road simply has minimal relevance on the race track… It is actually a clear recipe for failure on a race track where the measure of success is winning and taking substantial risk is a necessary part of that equation. The FIA just perpetuates its general politically self- righteous hypocrisy by trying to link the two… Racing is about taking calculated risks that are not nearly always logical in order to win… Our commutes to work serve a completely different purpose. Simply out… stop comparing the two…

    Hamilton has long been a bully on the race track… Someone took offence to his actions and dealt with him… Rightly or wrongly that is what Vettel did in Baku. The fact that it occured under a safety car at low speed is a bit amusing… Nascar is so much more direct about these things… but at the end of the day this really was nothing more than a competitor losing their cool in the heat of battle and attempting to send a message. The only risk was to two competitors in the heat of battle. Vettel sent a message to Hamilton that likely didn’t go unheard unless Hamilton is even more self-centred than I thought… Looking at Vettel, it was simply a stupid move because the risk to him was significant as it could easily have put him on the sideline.

    What I have seen in the last week is a sport and its participants, and by that I mean the FIA and the F1 media and general hanger-ons, who are simply full of themselves and their perceived importance to the planet. What happened in Baku was essentially inconsequential to the world, road safety and the millions if not billions of us that drive to and from our work every day. F1 is still largely entertainment… With a wack of really cool engineering that may someday have relevance to our road cars. What the drivers donis completely irrelevant to driving on a road. What happened in Baku was to be frank, somewhat entertaining even if it was childish. All the self righteous F1 commentators and the sort need to move on…

    Thought Jenson but it well as always… He seems to get it…

    Much ado about nothing… as if anyone is really taking the FIA’s road safety campaign seriously… Most people do not even know that F1 exists… let alone the FIA…

    1. I wish it was much ado about nothing but it has undermined the rule of law in F1 – and so it is important

  69. Joe,
    I’m new to this forum off yours.

    While you are taking extreme offence when someone questions you of bias (which is fair) you are asking / hinting if JTodt is biased. How is that fair??

    Just to quote 1 incident: Max rule was formed thanks to Max but it was Seb who was punished first.. he didn’t get a warning again – so similarly such things can happen post this incident… nothing wrong with it.

    For the record, I thought Seb was stupid to do something like that and I do agree with FIA / stewards on the punishment given already.. I found Gary Anderson view very balanced on the whole issue… let’s move on – this is shaping to be a great season – let’s decide on track rather than with politics off track.

            1. I still have no clue what you are referring to. I don’t get comments in any logical order.

              1. “While you are taking extreme offence when someone questions you of bias (which is fair) you are asking / hinting if JTodt is biased. How is that fair??

                Just to quote 1 incident: Max rule was formed thanks to Max but it was Seb who was punished first.. he didn’t get a warning again – so similarly such things can happen post this incident… nothing wrong with it.

                For the record, I thought Seb was stupid to do something like that and I do agree with FIA / stewards on the punishment given already.. I found Gary Anderson view very balanced on the whole issue… let’s move on – this is shaping to be a great season – let’s decide on track rather than with politics off track.”

                1. Show me the part where I said I thought Todt was biased? I think he is weak. I wrote that people will think he is biased.

  70. I feel a lot of people are missing the point here. In my opinion track rage is unacceptable in motor racing – especially open cockpit, open wheel racing. I was always very uncomfortable with Pastor Maldonado being allowed on a race track at all and I am also unhappy that Vettel’s inability to control his temper is not being addressed.

    People die in this sport when things go wrong and we cannot tolerate “red mist” incidents like this. It doesn’t matter that it was low speed; the rage itself is the problem. It sickened me when I watched what Vettel did. And again when I saw the FIA were treating it like a normal racing infraction.

  71. My reaction at the time was that Vettel should have been disqualified from the race – It is still my opinion.

    Whilst I think it would be difficult today for the FIA to impose a ‘second’ penalty on Vettel for the same offence, and may give rise to claims of double jeopardy, I would have liked to see them (the FIA) acknowledge that such behaviour is not to be permitted by any driver again and that the current rules of a 10 second penalty are simply not severe enough.

    If I ran the world, then, going forwards: Any driver found to be guilty by the stewards of such an offence will be immediately disqualified from the race and handed a 10 place grid penalty for the next race.

    After the race, they would of course have the right to appeal the decision, however: Any appeal, including all arguments and evidence presented, would be made open access to the public. If the appeal is won, then the disqualification still stands, but the 10 place grid penalty is lifted. However if the appeal is lost, then the 10 place grid penalty is increased to a one race ban.

    Joe, do you know if the minutes of the tribunal are made available anywhere to the public? Obviously we all have the ruling that we can read but it would be interesting to actually hear the arguments that Vettel & Ferrari gave in their defence.

    Also, will Vettel’s ‘sincere apology’ be published anywhere? I’ve read a statement from the FIA quoting Vettel and a statement from Vettel – but neither of these could in my mind be considered a ‘sincere apology’…


  72. If the roles had been reversed and Hamilton had barged Vettel would you have been equally outraged? I doubt it, you are letting your love of Hamilton cloud your judgement Joe

  73. To me, Joes article is all about precedent. The sport was sullied in the past (Ferrari Malaysia Barge boards anyone?) and yesterday if all is fair and above board a license was given by the FIA to tolerate unacceptable behaviour on a race track.

  74. Joe

    I am appalled by the adverse comments made about you and your views about the incident, FIA decision and implications and wish to write in support of your ability to remain objective and see the bigger picture.

    When SV nudged LH in the rear this was his fault for not judging LH’s acceleration (or lack of it) and no harm done. However, his petulant side swipe was quite wrong and should not have gone unpunished for all the reasons you have set out in your posts. At the very least they could have required him to enrol on and complete an anger management course.

    The fact that no-one was injured or taken out of the race is not the point as otherwise the FIA will only take action when someone is seriously injured or killed. Clueless, terrible and weak leadership.

    Please keep up the insightful reporting and do not be put off by those who do not the ability to see things from an informed and neutral perspective.

    I not have a favourite driver or team but love the sport, the inter-team competition and the racing throughout the field so do not have any bias towards SV/LH/Mercedes or Ferrari.



    1. Thanks Martin for articulating my thoughts so precisely.

      Joe, I expect this is one of the times when you wonder why you allow comments but please keep up the good work as the silent majority respect and appreciate the time and effort you put into the blog and for your thoughtful analysis.

  75. Apparently, relatively more lenient sentences are dished our for crimes of passion and Sebastian does seem rather passionate behind the wheel. What is strange about all this is not the sporting aspect but the actions of the FIA and JT who essentially called an ‘election’ that did not need to happen – politically speaking. In other words, he created something that he knew could damage him, strange.

  76. FIA = Ferrari Internal Attorney

    If Vettel had been driving any other car but a red one he would have been shown the black flag immediately just as Schumacher was shown at Silverstone in 1994 for passing the pole car on the warm up lap and not pitting as instructed

  77. I can simply not understand the verdict by FIA – Jean Todt. On several occasions Vettel has showed he loses his temper completely, when under pressure. And refrains from accepting any blame, when he is clearly totally out of order, even deranged.
    TV proof of incidents are plenty. So why does FIA allow him to keep on, when other drivers have been punished harder for lesser infringements..?
    This shows again, the weak management at FIA with a hollow verdict, that contradicts every campaign lead by Jean Todt for safer driving…..
    Vettel should have been punished with at least one race ban, and deduction of points.
    Imagine a driver like Kvyat, Ocon, Magnussen had conducted a similar action…..I am sure they had been disqualified on the spot and several race bans too.
    Several readers write about the low speed, when Vettel performed his action. But it has nothing to do with the speed. It is the intention, and the non ability to control himself, that is worrying about Vettel.
    (His actions are pure road rage, which is just what FIA – in words – have claimed to be fighting)

    1. Completely agree with you Søren and with Joe for that matter. I really don’t understand how the FIA did state after last year’s Mexico GP that a repetition of that behavior would be brought forward to the FIA tribunal, and that now that such a case did occur, that they issue the same statement again that next time this behavior will be brought forward to the FIA tribunal.

      The FIA is inconsistent with their verdicts. If they would act upon what they stated last year, this intentional wheelbanging of Vettel under the safetycar would have been brought forward to the FIA tribunal.

  78. I’m surprised there hasn’t been a football anology yet in this discussion .

    Vettel’s move was akin to physically attacking another player off the ball – even worse, during a moment of no action on the field – that’s a red card .

    No ifs, no buts, no matter how serious the attack or if there was injury, that sort of demeanor alone is deemed so unsporting there is only one possible punishment .
    And rightly so; apart from the moral aspect, the implications can have an impact on the sport as a whole, as Joe has pointed out .

    It’s a matter of sportsmanship – you have it or you don’t .
    Vettels action was the very definition of unsporting behaviour; no grey areas here, no mitigating circumstances, that’s why it is so serious .

    As it is now, a gearbox change gets you a more severe punishment than what Vettel did in Baku .

  79. I fully agree with your thoughts in this article Joe. It’s a very bad precedent.
    I’m sorry about the abuse you are receiving here on your blog, it’s mostly unfair and rude and you’re within your rights to kick people for rudeness. Don’t give up on us, they aren’t representative of us all and we enjoy your opinions!

  80. As soon as the FIA became involved post race there just had to be an extra penalty to what was given at the race or so I thought. It just makes no sense for them to become involved post race and then do nothing. How wrong was I?

    Personally I now think that Sebastian Vettel “got away with it”, why? I really not sure, Ferrari driver? Weak FIA? Politics? A deal? Apologise and you be let off?Put in a reason you can think of !!!

    To me it makes no sense and has set a precedence for the future. If the FIA were going to do nothing then they should of left it alone and we all just moved on to the next race.

    Do not get me wrong I like Seb, I think he a worthy world champion who is currently driving under the pressure of the weight of Ferrari expectations.

    However, I cannot now help thinking that if it been any other driver a different out come would of happened?

    1. Great point. If the FIA where going to not punish him, they would have been better off not having the tribunal. They seem to have found a way to deal with the situation that makes them look less competent and weaken the sport. Are they mildly guilty of bringing the sport into disrepute? This outcome makes me far more annoyed than not having a tribunal at all. It seems so un-proper that it would be reasonable to wonder if there was some shady back room deal going on where pressure was being applied to Ferrari resulting in them relenting on some issue, in order that Vettel would get off. I would hope that not to be the case, but if it is not then it only seems to scream of incompetency on the part of the FIA instead.

      We don’t know all the facts that were presented in the tribunal, so I err on giving them the benefit of the doubt, but this feels like a massive leap for what appears to be an open and shut case for further punishment and setting a proper precedence.

  81. I am disheartened by the number of people who don’t seem to understand the difference between sporting decisions (however aggressive) and VIOLENCE. That’s is what Vettel committed, an act of violence.

    Anyone who use their car as a weapon is not welcome in my sport. Speed is irrelevant, consequences are irrelevant.

    Even if Lewis had done something egregious (which he didn’t) I would feel the same way.

    It’s feels similar to school children who justify punching someone, because “he was mean to me!”

    1. You have obviously never raced, nor been behind a safety car waiting for a restart. From the driver’s perspective, with regards adrenaline and intensity, there is no difference between being under green and under yellow ahead of a restart. In fact, the seconds leading to a Start, or a restart, are more intense than being under green conditions. I’m not excusing Vettel, only clarifying this misconception that it’s somehow different under the yellow versus in “heat of battle”. Believe me, two turns before the restart is very much “in the heat of battle”

  82. I fully agree with your thoughts in this article Joe. It’s a very bad precedent.
    I think the biggest problem here was the original penalty was too lenient. A 10 second stop/go may have had no negative affect on Vettels position if the car behind was further back, and having a CONSISTENT severe penalty is essential here to show that this sort of dangerous behaviour will not be tolerated.

    Using your car as a weapon is a dire and potentially fatal action (and has seen people go to prison in the UK). A disqualification from the race stewards would have been far more appropriate at the time as it was so obviously deliberate, or if there was a question of doubt, discussing it after the race. If it had been dealt with properly at the time, there would have been no tribunal farce setting such a bad precedent.

  83. It seems to me Vettal and Ferrari must be laughing their socks off at getting away with what was a deliberate collision in a fit of anger by simply issuing an apology. Like others here I question if the punishment would have been the same if the driver involved had not been Vettal. As Joe has said the FIA has now set a dangerous precedent and without doubt other drivers, not just in F1, will be using this as their “get out of jail free” card.

  84. I’d say you overreacted a bit in your forecasts.
    Yes, Vettel’s behaviour was unproper, one could say that he applied bodycheck instead of flipped finger. Every driver on the grid will know that a bodycheck at 30 mph will be punished with stop&go plus 3 penalty points, at best. And if any driver tries harder…
    As a lawyer, I would strongly recommend any driver not to claim that he felt entitled to do something clearly forbidden on a basis that ‘Vettel got away with no ban for that’. Especially that if offences arise repeatedly, punishment may become harsher than when offences are rare.
    Waiting to see if Seb’s language improves…

  85. I really like Vettel for his character as much as his talent and he doesn’t seem as dull as some of the other drivers…but to admit to committing the worst possible crime in motorsport and not be disqualified? Smells fishy to me.

  86. Disgraceful precedent set. Joe, you are completely correct about the behaviour that this will both encourage and endorse by way of ignorance.

    Such a mess.

    F1 always finds a way to baffle its educated fans.

  87. I think the main thing here is that there are so many possible implications either way that whatever decision the FIA came up with would be criticised.

    Yes, what Vettel did was stupid and reckless. Yes, it needs calling out and him making an example of. But was it bad enough to impact the world title fight and reduce viewer interest at this stage of the season? I know that is a questionable motive for inaction, but there is pressure from many directions to keep the contest open and not impede either protagonist. While many may argue that it is a sport not entertainment, a sport that is not entertaining draws fewer viewers and gets less revenue.

    The race situation also makes it look like no punishment but in reality had Lewis’s team correctly fitted his head restraint the points would be 154:151 in his favour, a swing of slightly better than a second place finish which has the potential to be significant at the end of the season.

    You can also point to the cases recently where drivers have pushed someone off the track at high speed, for example Perez on Ocon in Canada, Lewis on Nico in Bahrain and so on. These had the potential for much worse outcomes than a tap at slow speed, but like this incident nothing actually came of it and in those two incidents no punishments were handed out.

    I’d also offer an ice hockey analogy to counter the football one often used, this is more like slashing and got a similar 2 minute minor, compared to boarding which would rightly get a game penalty. It’s not right but nothing bad came of it.

  88. It will be interesting to see if Mark Webber comments on this non penalty and Vettel’s driving “style” next time he is on TV. Vettel has acquired a gentle narrative for similar moves under pressure during his career and it does neither him or the sport any favours.

    I also can’t help thinking that if Vettel acted like this in NASCAR he would have found himself in the wall quite quickly.

  89. Hi Joe,
    I am reading your blog long time now, never posted anything.

    First guys this is Joes place to share some of finnest news from formula 1 world, second once in while Joe prepare excelent blog about some politics, wind of changes that you can not read on other places.

    so please stop bashing him about this scenario.

    it is not about Ferrari it is about consequences in near future that can be happened and will much more worse if race champoin stays close.

    In this scenario every other driver can hit on purpose other driver and not be punnished.

    It is not about vettel or Ferrari, it is about image of F1.

    Joe big support to you

  90. But Vettee was already penalised with the 10sec stop/go penalty, why do you insist on saying he wasn’t punished?

    1. Because the punishment was clearly not sufficient for the offence. The FIA recognised this in calling Vettel to this meeting and stated as much in the press release relating to the penalty. Even the FIA agrees that it was a serious offence – but then it fails to make a suitable punishment.

      1. I’ll have to disagree. The FIA investigated and concluded the punishment already given was sufficient. To say otherwise as only an opinion.

      2. Is there a clear written rule which states what penalty should be given for this action? If not, it is a matter of opinion. You think it was ‘clearly not sufficient’ and the punishment was ‘not suitable’. The FIA obviously thinks otherwise.

        It’s perfectly fine to disagree with the FIA, but at least package your opinions as opinions, rather than suggesting that they are fact.

  91. Thanks Joe. I for one really appreciate the perspective you offer as it is informed and helpful.

    My opinion is Vettel has only accepted responsibility in order to escape punishment, having watched his responses on the day and up until the tribunal it seems that he didn’t accept any responsibility or even acknowledge what he had done.

  92. I slept on this before saying my piece and goodness me, there are nearly 300 comments which I have not had time to read yet!

    The FIA’s actions in this case serve to demonstrate that world sport governing bodies grow to the point where their own operation and the personal interests of their officers becomes more important that the administration of the sport. FIA = FIFA = IOC. All have demonstrated blantant corruption and abuse of their self assigned powers. As an example consider the huge spygate fine on McLaren over events where they probably gained nothing commpared to the very limited action against Renault for Crashgate – they even kept the points in the race where they cheated as got a World Championship out of it.

    The FIA have taken a lot of money from the commercial rights process and continue to do so that they cannot act fully in the interestest of the sport. DC said “Its the show baby” referring to SC instead of VSC and that kind of sums it up. Yes, Seb probably should have got a ban but a close championship will help keep the money rolling in. The FIA is effectively in Liberty’s pocket and I do not believe the relationship is in the sport’s best interest.

    I sometimes think that Bernie was partly right when he talked about dictatorship being preferable to democracy as when democracy creates QUANGO-like self serving bodies like the FIA a benevolent dictator would be quite attractive!

  93. “However, if the dictatorial route is the route you with to take with moderating your forum, then I suppose it’s only natural that posters will find their way to other Formula 1 forums. It’s really your call in the end.

    I look forward to your SEETHING reply which I will not be reading, nor responding to.”

    Yes, we’re all going to head over to your website that is confusing, poorly designed and does not work properly.

    I wouldn’t flatter yourself expecting any seething reply, you seem out of your depth and your comment reads like a transparent attempt to gain ‘clicks’ as you position yourself as some sort of champion of the people – The Robin Hood of aggregated F1 news with links that don’t work. Can’t see Joe rising to the bait.

    Morally obligated? He’s a freelance journalist, who are of you to obligate him to burn up his time for free dealing with comments, good or bad. How naive can you be?

    See, it’s not very nice dealing with the public on a blog or in your case in any kind of ‘forum’ that you insist upon in your mantra. Now multiply this by a few thousand and you get an idea of the joy that someone with an actual readership like Joe has to endure, got to admire his patience.

    We don’t all have to agree, but we don’t all have to comment to ‘set Joe straight’ and see how clever we are either, that’s what James Allen’s site is for, we can go there and stroke ourselves.

  94. Joe

    I also write a blog, about country matters not motor-racing, but I no longer allow comments following ill-judged, abusive comments and threats from poorly informed people. I took this decision with great reluctance as I too welcome debate, however that pre-supposes that those entering the debate understand that this entails a civilised exchange of views and not an abusive rant. The matter came to a head when quotes taken out of context were circulated on social media.

    You write an excelent blog but, as you so rightly say, it is NOT a discussion forum. I would suggest that you dissallow comments and have a more peacful and productive time.


  95. So the FIA – who have an agenda or road safety – have just virtually sanctioned playing bumper cars with F1 racing cars, as long as you apologise to the headmaster afterwards. Great. On that basis, on Sunday in Austria drivers lower down the grid can all play at bumper cars safe in the knowledge that they will receive no sanction at all, as long as they sorry to teacher. Yeah, right.

    What an utter disgrace the FIA are.

  96. So Mr Todt has left the door open to anyone to drive into an opponent once. Good luck to all the clerks of courses at kart tracks around the world.

  97. This is what happens when a sport is run by committees upon committees and with endlessly complex rules that fail to spell out clear rules of engagement yet are happy to go into a 125 page dossier about the angle of a piece of carbon fibre. Imagine if Roger Federer had sworn blind at the umpire in front of the world at Wimbledon and then a few matches later, playfully lobbed his racquet at his opponent’s head after losing a point. Pathetic ruling from the so called ‘Governing’ body.

  98. Joe, as always great insight about an important moment in the sport. thank you for your objective analysis and for reminding us to keep the bigger picture in mind. This is exactly why I’m a fervent reader of your blog; there’s just no other place to get that level of width and depth of articles, and dedication to the fans (by giving us all this for free). Thanks!

  99. I’ve given up reading the comments. There are too many people who see this incident in isolation, not in any sort of context. There’s no perspective to their comments either. Sheesh. I’ll come back when the adults reappear, thank you.

  100. Let’s face it, Jean Todt was never going to punish Vettel, he’s a Ferrari driver!!!!!!!! As for Ferrari’s number one fan Martin Brundle, he was never going to condemn Vettel, neither were any Sky pundits. Can’t someone prise f1 from Sky or get in a team of impartial commentators/pundits

    1. There’s a difference between “impartial” and “failing to be biased for/against the same driver(s)/team(s) which I am biased for/against”.

      Surprising how many people on both sides of the fence seem to have a problem understanding this.

    1. It’s not a question of it being fair. It’s a question of it being proportional to a deliberate act of collision and to serve as a deterrent in future. That’s what Joe is banging on about and I fully endorse his view. How on earth can an organisation that is promoting road safety not take any action when a driver – deliberately, I might add – drives into another driver? What message does it send out to the other drivers, and indeed the whole world? How can the FIA now be taken seriously? At what point is a harsh penalty actually imposed? When somebody is injured? When someone is killed? The point is to come down on these things to act as a deterrent to *prevent* anybody being injured or killed in future. Going away with barely a slapped wrist is pathetic.

      I was aghast that Vettel wasn’t immediately black flagged in the race. I’m just as flabbergasted at some of the views of the posters on here saying that he shouldn’t receive a more serious sanction than a 10 sec penalty. As Joe has pointed out, a 10 sec penalty for deliberately driving into another driver was liked being whipped with a feather

    2. Agreed. In fact it was effectively a 30 sec penalty which cost Vettel the race and what’s to say it won’t end up costing him the title. Common sense has prevailed in my opinion, however I can also see the other side of the argument. Can’t please everyone.

  101. Finally someone else agreeing with Joe!

    (No links allowed – even if the support my arguments)

  102. I was also surprised when I saw there was no penalty.
    What was the point of the hearing? To have him apologize?
    If they didn’t want to punish him they should have never had the hearing in the first place.
    I thought they would give him a 3-5 place grid drop in Austria.
    On a side note:
    Joe do You think the big gap in qualifying performance in Baku was just down to the track that suited the Mercedes or does it have something to do with the FIA technical directive to ban burning oil? On the grid walk with MB Horner seem to hint that Ferrari were the team that was doing it.
    It’s hard to believe that such a detail would cause such a performance drop.

  103. Well, it’s done now. Or rather, to be more accurate, nothing’s been done. There is one thing though. Vettel’s reputation has now been degraded to such an extent that there’s no way back. He’s got a bad temper and anger management problems and some sense of entitlement which just puts peoples backs up. One day, those are going to lead to something serious because the FIA hasn’t dealt with the consequences properly. As those 4 world titles recede into the distance, their value has now become diminished. Whether this has occurred to Vettel or not I don’t know, but if he’s laughing after that meeting he do well to think again.

  104. what an appalling precedent for the FIA to have set ; the fact that the stewards were afraid to give an appropriate penalty in case they lost their jolly is
    is there any chance that a certain legally qualified lady recently available could stand for FIA president ?

  105. Hamilton has always specialised in petty acts designed to irritate and get under the skins of competitors (and fans it seems), inducing them into committing self-defeating actions – e.g. Alonso’s Hungary qualifying, Rosberg in Spa, Vettel in this instance, he attempted but failed by publishing Button’s telemetry on Twitter but this backfired thanks to Button’s unflappable nature, and these are just a few from the top of my head.
    I don’t agree with these tactics, in fact it has been one of a number of factors which has led me to switching off F1 altogether, but in all of the above instances barring Button of course, he has been the main benefactor and has cost him very little.
    So, how anyone can feign outrage at an obvious cause and effect is beyond me.

    It surely can’t be a coincidence that the common-denominator in most F1 controversy is Hamilton, can it?

      1. Probably the people who have seen a provocation which lead to a reaction which was subsequently punished then re-examined by a panel of experienced judges who allowed the matter to be dropped.

        Some might say that those judges are biased, maybe they’re right.

        I would argue that the British press (present company excepted generally) are painfully biased – maybe I’m right – the way Karun Chandhok seemed to be coerced into backtracking on the subject on Channel 4’s coverage is reasonable evidence that I am.

        Either way it was entirely predictable that there would be a new pantomime villain immediately after Nico retired and whoa and behold here we are.

        This style of coverage may well ‘get the headlines’ in The Sun but given your own quality writing are you really happy to see yet another Hamilton-saga dumbing down F1 even further?

  106. Joe,
    Like you I’m worried about the sport as it sets a dangerous precedent (again) for the future.
    In my opinion, this is the second time in 12 months that Vettel should have been disqualified. The first was in Mexico for his abuse of Charlie Whiting (if he’d done that in rugby he’d have been sent off). That’s the second time now he’s gone ‘sorry’ and been let off with a slap on the wrist.
    For me, the first incident should have been disqualification and a suspended one race ban.
    Therefore this incident should have triggered the ban, lengthened to three plus a suspended season-long ban, valid for the rest of his career – any further serious transgressions and that’s you done.
    I agree to some extent with the too many penalties crowd (The Perez and Raikkonen penalties felt unnecessary for me given their relative positions and the fact it was a more obscure rule).
    As for people’s reaction to Joe’s stance on aggressive comments. It is his website. You wouldn’t go into a pub and start giving the landlord grief.

  107. Why do you and other members of British media continue to ignore the fact that he was already punished? You completely ignore the fact that he was already punished and that Hamilton had come away with many more points than Vettel had it not been for the headrest cause.

    1. And you ignore the fact that the punishment did not fit the crime. He deserved the black flag. It was his own doing. He admitted it (eventually) and apologised for it and by apologising he understood the gravity of the situation he was in. He knew he needed to be sweet to Jean Todt to avoid a penalty that he feared might come. So he knew he had got away lightly. Why can you not see that?

  108. My two cents…

    Can’t agree more with your assessment Joe – the FIA did the sport a huge disservice with this verdict.

    In all my years of watching F1 races I’ve never seen something so blatantly stupid as Sebastian driving into Lewis in Baku. A black flag would have been my punishment of choice at that time, a race ban to ‘cool down’ certainly warranted.

    Sure… Senna, Schumacher c.s. have shown questionable behaviour over the years. But – and to me that’s a very important nuance: they were racing at the time (Suzuka, Adelaide, Jerez…).

    What Sebastian did (and I consider myself a ‘fan’ of the guy) was completely unnecessary and that during a safetycar situation no less…

    Enough said about what the FIA decided…

    Which brings me to Vettel’s apology – because I don’t believe for one bit that his apology is sincere. That to me is maybe the biggest issue of all. I have no illusions that deep in his heart Sebastian doesn’t think he’s at fault, to blame, responsible… That means that this kind of response on track is bound to happen again, with the potential for a really ugly outcome…

    Dear Sebastian, please give Romain a call and ask for his psychologists number…

  109. I have a question.
    Could Vettel had been punished more by the removal of points to align him with Hamilton on point totals without penalizing the Constructor Ferrari?
    This would seem to be equitable solution .
    Had Hamilton not been forwarned by bumping the rear end of his Mercedes, when Vettel then pulled up and bumped him sideways, possibly Hamilton wouldn’t have been prepared to lose control his car and thereby being bumped off the track.

  110. Joe,

    Let’s take a stroll down memory lane, shall we? In 2007, McLaren was stripped of its constructor championship points and was given a $100M fine over spygate. Max Mosley has given multiple interviews about this subject so the record is clear. I will link to direct video comments from Mosley if you would allow it. McLaren was in possession of confidential Ferrari data that provided a significant advantage not only in 2007 but the development of their 2008 car. Mosley proposed a McLaren drivers and constructors points ban for multiple years but was overruled and was limited to a 2007 constructors ban because of the potential financial implications on McLaren and its 1000+ employees. Mosley believed the drivers should have been excluded from the WDC. Ecclestone has given interviews saying it was his voice on the WMC that prevented it. Mclaren drivers exchanged emails regarding the Ferrari technical data but were granted immunity in part because the FIA didn’t want destroy the sporting championship on track that was developing that year. The drivers were granted immunity for their testimony before the FIA and consequently they were allowed to contest the WDC without punishment. Lewis Hamilton went on to win in 2008.

    In Australia 2009, Lewis Hamilton and Dave Ryan from McLaren intentionally lied to the stewards about the passing of Jarno Trulli. When new evidence came to light in Malaysia, Hamilton and Ryan were summoned again and lied again. Hamilton was stripped only of his points in Australia. McLaren was summoned by the FIA to Paris to explain themselves. Keeping in mind this was barely a year after spygate. Ron Dennis stepped down and Martin Whitmarsh testified before the FIA about changing the culture of McLaren. He admitted that Lewis and Dave Ryan had lied. Ryan was suspended and later released from McLaren, the team received a suspended three race ban and no further action against Hamilton.

    Was Joe Saward disgusted by the precedent this set for the sport to take no real action? Did he campaign for real penalties against McLaren especially given their recent history of cheating? Was he incensed by Lewis Hamilton intentionally lying to the stewards multiple times and admittedly doing so?

    Let’s see..

    From this very blog, 4/29/09 – The McLaren Decision

    “In the short-term, however, the punishment is a sensible one and the sport can now move on, which is important given the current state of the world economy and the need to make changes to F1 in order to keep the sport healthy.”

    I guess it’s only Ferrari that makes you see red when the FIA is concerned..

    1. All very worthy, but there are often things in stories that the public don’t know and which cannot be written. I know you all know better than the people who are there at the coal face… which is one of the reasons this blog exists: to tell the truth as much as it can told. I saw Bernie the other day and he remarked: “Still looking for the truth?” And I replied: “What is the truth? We all have different truths!” So you know your truth based on the things you think are facts and I know my truth based on what I know from being there and talking to the people. To this mix one must add the law. One can only say something one can prove in a court of law. We have our ways to work around this but ultimately we can one tell you so much. So, well done, you have wasted a lot of time to prove JS is a fan of Hamilton more than Vettel. But what have you really proved? Nothing. And the plants in your garden have grown, and the wife and kids complain they haven’t seen you. I offer my opinions and advice for free. I’m not pushing any agenda. I report what I think is right and back it up as best I can. But you know better… can you see how this might be demotivating? Maybe I should charge for the blog or give access only to subscribers… I’d lose all the cheapskates and the poor but at least there would be some reward for the effort.

  111. I agree with you – Vettel’s punishment was not up to the crime.

    As for the unworthy idiots giving you unnecessary grief – to paraphrase an old lyric:-
    ‘I hear their mental voices bawling ‘Bold hack Joe’ ‘.
    They are simply taking you to task for the hell of it.
    To my mind the sycophants are just as annoying.

    Keep up the good work!

  112. I think Joe is a Lewis Hamilton Fan and therefore is very emotionally attached to make a fair comment. It could well be that he is not a Hamilton Fan but anti-Vettal this making him a Hamilton supporter as the old adage goes ‘The enermy of my enermy is my friend’

  113. Joe, has anyone verified whether or not Seb “Passed” Lewis in the incident? Looked to me in the video I have seen (recognize it is not the best perspective) that his wing had advanced ahead of Lewis’ wing.

    1. @WapTraveler – the way things have turned out, had Vettel overtaken Hamilton and roared off into the distance, nothing would have happened – other than Lewis would have probably been given a drive through or some such penalty for looking funny.

      Meanwhile in other news, Peter Sagan, the current world champion cyclist was involved in a dreadful accident at Le Tour, that has seen Mark Cavendish going to hospital with a broken shoulder. Sagan used his elbows in the run into the finish and sent Cavendish into the barriers. Officials have viewed the race footage and Sagan was packing his bags only a couple of hours after the incident. They were ‘only’ doing about 50 kph !!

      1. Probably nearer 70 km/h that close to the line, but anyway… Sagan was initially demoted to last place on the stage, given a 30 second time penalty and stripped of 80 points in the competition for the green jersey – which he almost certainly would have won yet again this year- before the commissaires reviewed the evidence and threw him off the race. Certainly fewer than two hours elapsed between the offence and the announcement of the DSQ.

        Natch the pundits – armchair and otherwise – are as divided on this as they are on the HAM/VET business.

    2. I don’t think it matters. If Vettel is to be penalised for road rage, then let the charge be road rage. Making an issue of having incidentally nosed ahead by a couple of inches for half a second and applying a disproportionate penalty to that as a means of increasing the road rage penalty would be disingenuous on the part of the FIA.

      There are circumstances in which a driver can unintentionally nose ahead of a rival while trundling around behind the safety car – so long as he immediately drops back there’s no issue there. I wouldn’t want to see situations in which multiple drivers are being penalised for having momentarily nosed ahead of the car in front during a formation lap or wet rolling start or something, pursuant to a precedent set here.

      As for the penalty itself. Yep, should have been black-flagged there and then. Using your car as a weapon is way over the line. Letting it go with a slap on the wrist will likely come back to bite F1 on the arse. The FIA gave itself the chance to impose a harsher penalty and backed out of it. On the other hand, we don’t really want race results being decided days or weeks after the fact if we can avoid it.

      Perhaps a directive or statement from the FIA to the effect that any future incident of contact believed by the stewards to have been deliberate will incur a mandatory penalty of disqualification and 12 points (thus exclusion from the next race as well) will offset that.

  114. Interesting to compare the FIA’s reaction to that of the authorities at the Tour de France, who have just kicked the reigning World Champion off the biggest race of the year for causing a crash.

  115. I’m very surprised at the number of people that are willing to disregard Vettel’s actions and only judge him on the outcome of those improper actions…but maybe that is why we have so many problems in places like the US.

    I guess if someone fired a gun at their home while their family was in the home but no one was hit, they would be okay if the shooter got a slap on the wrist….the outcome is all that matters people! And anyone that thinks different must be a gun hater.

    If you want to dissuade dangerous actions, the outcome is irrelevant.

    And for all the fanboys, I am neither British nor American and I was enjoying Ferrari”s resurgence…if the title was decided because of a harsher penalty, it was for Ferrari (enablers of Vet) and Vettel to dwell on…the way you should look at it now is as an artificial battle the FIA created to keep your interested.

  116. I am similarly appalled and disappointed. In this instance they are especially paying for failing to act following the first offense in a manner which would deter a subsequent offense. As a result the FIA looks really weak and has weakened its authority in future incidents as you have pointed out. Penalties must be enforced systematically and in a manner that is blind to the prominence of the team and its drivers

  117. Your blog (and GP+) has certainly left much to reflect on since Baku. The only positive thing about yesterday was the fact that it proved that anybody who was trying to make a case that SV hadn’t done it deliberately were talking the absolute tosh that we knew they were talking. Anybody remember Hungary 2010? No? Thought not. Again, another instance where the punishment (of 10 grid places) didn’t really fit the crime. It could and should have been much stronger. The personalities may change and the years pass by quickly however, some things just don’t change. Politics. The oft-quoted Frank Williams statement, when asked whether it was sport or business; “for 2 hours on a Sunday, it’s sport; the rest of the time it’s business”. Perhaps the 2017 post-Baku version should read; “for 2 hours on a Sunday it’s politics; the rest of the time it’s politics and business”. Joe; on a more serious note; thanks for all the time you put in to this blog (free) and GP+. The vast majority of us still appreciate it.

  118. Ked uz mal Vettel dostat trest diskvalifiakacie priamo v nedelu v pretekoch a nie cakat od FIA. Ked to tak neurobili treba vinit komisarov a to bezprecedentne a jednoznacne. Naco su tam potom, nech ich zrusia. Co je to za sport potom?

  119. Accountability is missing from almost every part of modern society from the top to the bottom and now including F1.
    Todt should feel shame for his blatant political decision but that of course is unlikely.

  120. I respect the work you do even if I don’t agree with everything, but further punishing Vettel would undermine the work of the stewards to the point there is no point having them, the decision of the stewards has to be final same as the decision of a football referee is final, the stewards saw the incident and gave their judgement at the time helped by a highly experienced driver, leave decisions to the stewards or the alternative is trial by media/twitter. Vettel did not leave Baku smelling of roses but he was punished at the time how the referee (stewards) saw fit so time everyone moved on

  121. Hi Joe,

    There are many, many of us who deeply appreciate your analysis and think you are 100% correct.

    Unfortunately, people who disagree with the headline (with or without actually reading your full post) are inevitably louder-mouthed and more motivated to comment than those of us who agree with and support you.

    I’m guilty of this as well: I’ve followed your blog for many years and am continually grateful for the service you provide to F1 fans, but I rarely bother to thank you with a comment.

    Thank you very, very much for running this site and for discussing these issues with your readers in the comments. As of today, I’ll also subscribe to GP+.

  122. It would appear that in order to actually get a penalty, someone has to actualy crash; not a slide slowly across the gravel trap and lightly bump a tire barrier, but a real crash…

    1. Jules Bianchi (RIP) got a real penalty for his crash then was unable to dispute the FIA’s findings when they had their cover up that masqueraded as an enquiry…

  123. Joe, where do you stand on Vettel? He strikes me as a character who has had something of a charmed career and rise through the ranks. He was clearly the apple of Marko’s eye and has seemed to me (admittedly from afar) to be something of a spoilt child. His “happy go lucky” persona seeming only to heighten this.

    Clearly he is a formidable driver (although I fee not quite in the league of Hamilton or Alonso). He does seem to be quite fortunate though and I wonder if he is friends with or say the right things to the right people?

    I’d be fascinated to know your thoughts.

      1. It’ll be very interesting to see how much of a charm offensive he puts on in Austria or if Ferrari goes into “no interviews” mode this weekend.

        I am guessing that the driver’s press conferences will include both Vettel and Hamilton (probably along with Stroll and Ricciardo) and they’ll probably put SV and LH in different halves of the conference to avoid a direct conflict but let’s see if he actually gets any hardball questions, and whether he is mature enough to answer them properly this time.

        Alas, I suspect that Vettel is going to get booed by the crowd at Silverstone, which I find utterly detestable, but I expect is inevitable these days…

        1. I’d like to see him for once be given a tough set of questions and be asked them in a tough manner ie. if he gives the inevitable “politician’s straight bat”, for him to be pushed on the subject.

          I anticipate he will put on his best jovial boyish smile and say it was a mistake, let’s move on..

          I firmly believe he is seriously at fault and his post race deviousness showed very much his true colours. These are the colours of someone who has had little adversity to deal with in his career and is not used to things not going his way. Hence he felt he could easily get away with ostensibly lying about the incident in camera. To deny it even happened was somewhat galling as far as I’m concerned.

          What makes the matter worse is his “apology” was not even deemed to be worthy of public admission by the FIA

          Let’s see if he gets a hard time from the media and actual experts this weekend. I somehow doubt it.

  124. Compare and contrast TDF booting out Sagan – a main contender and likely winner – and the non-punishment of Vettel.

  125. Let’s hang him tight! Obviously he’s already been penalized, hasn’t he? Everybody wants the championship sorted out on the race track, not at à la Concorde. There’s no need for further punishment unless you like endless controversies.

    1. @Wizzer – this week’s decision has all but made Vettel untouchable. When he comes up behind another driver, they will face a choice – get out of the way and finish the race or make Vettel work for it and end up in the kitty litter. There are drivers who get out of Vettel’s way now – Perez & Stroll for example. Come the next race it’ll be 12 more.

      It isn’t how I want to see championships decided on the track. Martin Brundell, who supported the decision, speaks of being in that position himself when he raced against Senna. Perhaps he’s looking forward for more Ramsgate races. As we now know, the show is everything.

  126. It is so sad to see how bad Hamilton hate has gotten these days. The Vettel apologists have been proved, by Vettel himself, to be factually wrong, yet still their blind hatred of the Hamilton continues. Cant help thinking Vettel himself would be embarrassed by this.

  127. Peter Sagan throws an elbow into Mark Davenish at the stage sprint today of The Tour de France causing a horrific crash, he immediately goes to check on Mark at the medics, then goes to the team van to apologize. The Tour refs decided in an hour to disqualify him. Sagan showed grace and contrition, accepted the penalty and exists. His Tour done and dusted for his abhorrent maneuver.

    contrast that to Vettel’s behavior and the weak and inaffectual Todt. Safety first he shouts but Ferrari firster!

    1. This cycling case is another perfect example why it is important what consequence your actions had.

      Firstly this incident was much more of a danger to the life of Cavemdish, and those who dropped over him.
      Secondly this incident took place at roughly 70kph(as fast as it gets without descend), whereas the F1 incident was at 40-50kph?
      Thirdly cyclists are way less protected than racing pilots in their cars.

      But lets recap the tour incident to follow up my first line.

      Yesterday P. Sagan ellbowed Mark Cavendish into the barriers.
      Would he have been excluded or even penalized if Cavendish would not have dropped?
      To answer that you just need to rewind another day. The day before yesterday he ellbowed Kittel when racing for points.

      No punishment was given. Yet in both instances he used his body as a weapon.
      The only difference is that Kittel did not fall as he pulled out of it.

      Minutes before they excluded him he received a 30second penalty for that day.
      Once they learned from the tours’ medical center that Cavendish was injured quite badly, leaving little hope he could finish his tour they revised their decision and excluded him.

      But even in this case there is much controvercy and I think excluding Sagan was too harsh. There would have been better options such as point deductions for the green jersey,… and even most tour professionals agree.

  128. The FIA have a decision making process. Race stewards are responsible for handing out decisions. The current situation has the FIA not agreeing with the decision of the stewards. IMO, the FIA should be taking up the situation with the stewarding process (this whole “let them be more aggressive” in 2017) and not with the driver.

    That said, I would have been more than happy to see Vettel get a black flag for using his car as a weapon. That boy has a bad case of the Red-Mist.

  129. I see a lot of people are attacking the author of this article but basically have nothing to say about the article itself which is bang on the head.
    It reminds me how lot of people have tried to switch the debate on Vettel action into the ‘imaginary brake test’ by Lewis Hamilton.
    Reading a lot of comments in last weeks you had the impression that it was Hamilton crashing into Vettel,non vice-versa.
    Lot of hypocrisy.

  130. Joe,
    Over all I think all this is a storm in a teacup to be honest, the action wasn’t dangerous but it was stupid. The whole thing should be forgotten about and moved on from, however when you write articles like this it just drags the matter on and therefore I was wondering if you would share with us your view on this:
    Lewis has liked a tweet claiming that the FIA “are a biased set of fools towards Ferrari, always have been and always will” and suggesting that if it was him that committed the “action” the ban would have been more severe.

    Do you think that this is acceptable behaviour for a multiple WDC? Claiming the organisation that runs the sport is biased.

    1. If they cannot punish Vettel for such an action they cannot throw the book at Hamilton for thinking they are weak.

      1. Joe,
        Definitely not suggesting that any book should be thrown at Lewis, why should it as the man has done nothing but contest as best he can and for that should be admired. I think liking such a tweet though is a stupid thing and is grounds for questioning. Is he honestly suggesting that the rule makers of the sport are biased and if so where is the evidence.

        The point I am getting at is, as you stated about Ferrari yesterday, when one “enters the World Championship one accepts that one will abide by the rules”. Everyone in this situation has adhered to the rules, both teams and both drivers. Yes Vettel was stupid and arrogant (no more than many a WDC), especially when asking what the penalty was for. That said he has been given a penalty (commensurate under the rules of the sport) and finished the race.

        What I do not understand is why you cannot accept that. What rule has been broken. I would hazard a guess, and apologies if I am wrong, that the reason for the penalty not being sufficient in many eyes is because Vettel still managed to finished ahead of Lewis. That however is to ignore the headrest being an issue in Lewis’ race and if it wasn’t an issue and Lewis won with Vettel fifth, this would have been done and dusted with the 10 sec penalty as per the rule book.

        1. It took 32 minutes for Vettel to receive the stop and go. It was done AFTER the headrest issue. Now, you can call that fortuitous if you want but it is left to wonder whether or not Vettel receives any in race punishment had that not occurred. Additionally, the incontrovertible fact that Vettel passed Hamilton under the safety car has never been mentioned by Todt, Whiting, the Baku stewards, or the FIA… or by the F1 media. If there was no bias for Vettel and Ferrari this obvious breach of rules, as it occurred as a result of Vettel hitting Hamilton from the side, would likely result in a Hungary race ban. But no mention seems to make that issue go away. I’d say that’s quite a bias in favor of Vettel and Ferrari.

    2. If they don’t punish Vettel for telling the race director to F*** off, how can they punish Hamilton for liking someone else’s tweet? As the aggrieved party, Hamilton is entitled to express if he doesn’t agree with the stewards’ and FIA’s decisions.

      1. Wayne,
        There is a significant difference between voicing his view and claiming bias on the part of the organising body.

        1. [Why can’t we move on]
          insulting the race director and indicating that you think the organising body are bias is pretty level, both is a clear insult to the persons it is directed to.

          however vettel adressed a single person back then and lewis just liked this post, which could also mean he does just agree partially.

          it would have however been much smarter and mature of him to (if necessary after all) to like a post calling the decision weak (joe’s words, ideally he could.have referred this blog ;)) instead of bias. thats very true.

          now lets focus on the next race and hope the boys sort it out in a fair manner without playing dirty games.

  131. I think the FIA’s decision is wrong on so many levels.

    1) Vettel has already been warned after being investigated for unsportsmanlike conduct in Mexico 2016 with his disgusting, public radio remarks to a senior ranking FIA Official. Why was this previous offence of bringing the sport into disrepute not taken into consideration? He already HAD his warning prior to Baku 2017.

    2) Following the race at Baku Vettel had 8 days to review the tapes and admit wrong-doing and apologise, but all he did prior to the hearing was blame Hamilton and make out that he himself had done nothing wrong. And then when the possibility of losing further points and or a race ban is on the line, all of a sudden he’s “admits full responsibility” and “sincerely apologizes”. It’s a bad precedent when a hollow 11th hour apology let’s a driver off the hook.

    3) Vettel’s road rage was a result of an incident that he himself had caused, and there can be no doubt whatsoever looking at his hand movements from the on-board video footage that his move was deliberate.

    4) This sets a terrible predecent for the sport going forward for the drivers. Any driver who in future does something dangerous out of petulant rage, who is dealt with more severely than a 10 second s/g penalty, will claim they are being treated unfairly and cite Vettel’s lenient penalty as the precedent. On the basis of this they’d probably win any appeal.

    The standards have just been lowered for the worse by the weak stewards who admitted they gave him a lenient penalty because they “didn’t want to influence the championship too much” and the weak FIA who did nothing to correct it when given the opportunity

  132. Ked uz mal Vettel dostat trest diskvalifiakacie priamo v nedelu v pretekoch a nie cakat od FIA. Ked to tak neurobili treba vinit komisarov a to bezprecedentne a jednoznacne. Naco su tam potom, nech ich zrusia. Co je to za sport potom?

      1. Joe, are you implying that Todt did this just so that he appears to be doing something, or he is actually alive? Much like the qualifying format debacle last year, with the FIA imposing it for the second race?

  133. Given it took a few minutes to scroll down and read this thread, I was surprised just how much I was influenced by this comments section in nevertheless so little time.

    I’m not a personal friend of Joe’s, but I like to think that were we to meet, a basis for worthwhile debate would exist, from the years I’ve been tagging along with his good grace, opinion here. I hope that I have not ever tried Joe’s real patience in any matter, but I am fully aware that I have been beneficiary of his judicious editing, and I have been saved from many embarrassing moments by the non publishing of my more egregious plays in the comments that I have submitted.

    This is not to say that I have been insensitive to a genuine concern for my own personal worry about the broad range of allegations that Joe is somehow insensitive to his readers, or subscribers or merely guests passing through the comments section of his personal blog.

    I dislike commenting on the subject because he is highly respectful of my opinion and I appreciate the privilege of being a guest with the occasional benefit of the doubt when I try to explore the wider expression of my love for motorsports.

    But this preamble is one that I feel necessary to write, because I have held a long standing desire to express my concern that the equity of debate which is that which Joe aspires to be his standard here, is not one he has been finding good means to express. My heretofore entirely private concern is that Joe holds faith in a logical relationship between his authorship and the reader, which is a balance that I fear cannot be counted as given, and is even typecasting him in a bygone generation of career professionals, literally those who profess through their work in expression of their role in society, whose role is forgotten and diminished in the present time.

    I grew up with a innate understanding that true professional men were not separable from the accorded respect that I now know became a victim of the commercial situation in media, and only a victim because the respect accorded was not spoken of. Therefore unable to take any defence of its own virtues. This was once a virtuous relationship between reader and writer in which the profession was unburdened by thought of its own self esteem, because such fruitless introspection was unnecessary in a world where the silent contract was not one of the reader used to sell products, but the not even whispered understanding was that the very assumption of Joe’s profession came with the expectation society to make not product in words,but deliver a communique unadulterated and undiluted in service to the authors calling.

    I’m just of age to have a direct experience of the most rapid and dramatic change of technology affecting our media. I have also been born to parents who lived in Georgian times and my father, himself a author and sports journalist who was employed by the BBC in wartime with all that entails, including censorship of his more personal experience in play forms, the second hand but nonetheless very directed experience I was exposed to in my formative years encompasses much more of the state of what Twentieth Century media has been known to be.

    I’m speaking out of my turn, now. I’m under no illusion of any privilege to which I am entitled to speak to a public audience, commenting on the personal weblog of a accomplished author and authority, and talking about his experiences in the profession he and not I by any means imaginable may only know. I have by writing this comment presumed outrageous liberty with not any supposed relationship which I think is possible to claim, because I have stated the extent of such already and no further should be implied. I have ringing in my ears the scolding my father would be making cause me to shake, were he alive. I would shake knowing that I have seriously erred. This alone is worth a essay, but I must reprieve my soul in vain attempt promptly :

    Reading the comments above which are responded to by Joe with a refrain of the blog rules and etcetera, I have been seeing a unremarked consistency in the formation of the unwelcome comments.

    They all express not argument but adhominem.

    There’s defining character of twenty first century media has been the idealisation of the transposed Id, the willingness to share the feelings felt by readers so that they impart a equivalent or equivocation of their impressions upon the author.

    I remember being a nonplussed receiver of constant espouse how the media revolution was one of individual enabling through new forms.

    But we had that in paperbacks.

    We had that in the new sports journalism that spoke to the burgeoning collegiate national competition World, often condescendingly.

    Well had that in honour journalism.

    We had “post truth” proposed by Martin Bell, much beloved BBC reporter and journalist only second, when not interim politician, and Bell argued that the facts were not relevant to modern discourse, because of the ease of transmission of the data and history from the scene. Bell argued that only the human emotion was the most valuable asset acquired by his safely suburban readers.

    And now, and I think that the record of this weblog is actually a significant part to be more fully understood by the acolytes of media, appointed and self appointed alike.

    Because here, repeatedly and without any rational cause which I can find rooted anyhow in traditional terms of comprehension, we are witness to the expression of commenting readers who have not differentiated at all, the roles and responsibilities of the constituencies involved in this website. I’m seeing the conflation or at least confusion of the author as a authority, a cultural authority whether recognised by them or aught, with the fact of the argument that is written itself and alone this might not have caused me to write as I do tonight. For there’s a distinction much further than I have been able to heretofore comprehend : readers expressing dissenting opinions, irrespective of their factual comprehension of their host’s writing or invitation to comment, are willing to forgo their rational rights to their own expression in dissent, discarding the development of the arguments they are invited to express, and concern themselves solely to the assiduous denigrating of their host and the very qualities of human debate, by unrelenting insinuation with adhominem as merely the springboard to make the hurry of the attack impress the assumed superiority inherent in their rhetoric.

    This is a distinct stage further than mere personal insult and lazy rhetoric.

    Consistently the most important objective of the comments printed here for record in presume, nay know so few publishers permit at all, is a scope of undermining from our host as a man to the actual media itself as represented by this website.

    I see the transposition of a new kind of unease, I was thinking of saying disease and the word is correct in this use, wherein readers purely at ill ease with their own appreciation of the subject of debate (and I think that I have absolutely sensed lack of confidence in many dissenting comments here above) see reflected in the publisher and our host a primal challenge to their own comfort of indecision.

    This is not shooting the messenger, but trying to nuke the questioner.

    I’m tempted to risk generalists I must avoid, but the saturation exposure to which the modern privileged world is inured, not by advertising alone but through the specialist industry pandering to narrow taste, presents ever fewer challenges to the individual.

    I was blessed with a youth of reading authors who were a culture of inquiry and enlightenment. Far from that idll are we today, for we may idle no more in our assumptions about what we make of our relationship with the media. Lackadaisicality is the epitaph of our society. Readers increasingly are affronted by argued debate. To argue has eluded into a pejorative accusation in common parlance.

    I have read in rare excursions abroad for a view of the F1 media, it said that Joe is thin skinned. Understand the above, why he may be sensitive to the most unfortunate comments that we only see few of ourselves. I’m thin skinned at the attrition of the virtues not of the media but the virtues which bestowed upon us modern civilisation itself. I think that Joe can no more be accused of being thin skinned than I of laconicism. No I hazard the wrong feeling is because of the far more disturbing and destructive import of the comments I’ve been trying to understand appearing on this website a long time now. I have no doubt that I no more than shoot in the dark, as to anything that concerns our host. But this is my first expression of interest long held and long observed that I have become more deeply concerned about at every encounter.

    To me, this is about far more than the manners that our mother has never given us to misplace to her shame in public.

    No, this is a tale of a highly erudite and sensitive professional author who has been subject to unpleasant attacks which I believe have unsettled him more gravely, because they indicate a serious and frightening complaint against the fundamentals which found all that we value and nearly have let been raised away with so much old newsprint. A real journalist would be sensitive to such things, would he not? I excuse my presumption by saying that those words are echoing in my father’s most disdainful tones, aghast the ingrate child and fearful of the future my then youth he feared face. I have struggled to find the means at times to make peace with his unhappy predictions. That part of my innermost legacy is why I value what Joe does with no limit whatsoever. I have to speak to you as biased as I am, and yet I know I do nobody else harm if I turn a single mind towards the real human world of precious precariousness. As a friends aunt, a Russian émigré as child in 1917, impressed on me forever, young man, all the modern world you hold dear was made in my lifetime and I warn you that it will not announce when it is leaving, nor wait for you to get your hat and tail nor leave a calling card behind.

    1. I’m sorry I missed the awful typo where I thought I was writing that we had gonzo journalism.

      I have struggled to make the language flow through to my comments which I have in my mind and I hope that you can appreciate the meter and inflection if the tone is lost from my intentions. I’m struggling to find the will to communicate at times like this and I am editing the emotion from my reactions and dumping turgid prose on you all as a result of my inattention. I have every hope that I will find a new fluency before too long. I have a practical excuse that’s unworthy but my life is recently one of a constant effort to release my day from a smorgasbord of strong painkillers, and I have been fully successful only to find myself literally floored without any at all. I have been left to rely on my own research and the inevitable failure of hopes for my accidental learning and unfortunately the system is not well adjusted to manage chronic pain at all. I have to only note the irony of how I’m certain years ago in a comment here, I noted the recent acquisition of a copy of Routeledge Dictionary Of Pain. My friend and Co fanatic F1 follower for whom I obtained that time, interim passing. I’m absolutely not in any such straits by any stretch of the wildest imagination. But I must say that my experience of pain has been even psychiatric in effect over time, and I have been too preoccupied with self study, but I have been thinking of Robert K as he’s been in view recently, and I think that it is not a unrealistic thing to suggest that when subject to long term pain your mental focus is so harmed, and regardless of opiates or no opiates. You are messing about with the most sensitive receptors imaginable and even those associated with feelings of well-being or pleasure are im certain I would never want to drive without. Imagine any interference with your own security self regulation and alertness to dangers. I can only disclaim this as completely as possible but even if Robert K was physically fit and his reflexes match fit, if he was exposed to necessity of pain medication he could have been diminished by those medications in ways that I don’t imagine he would discuss with anyone publicly. Out of respect for his doctors I’m certain.

      Xenon is used in analgesia and I have no previous knowledge before today when I was reading the first articles I found about Xenons many positive potential uses.

      But xenon is among undetectable banned doping chemicals and I have been wondering if it is a factor in F1 now. Even so we may have some experience of doping having a deleterious effect on driving.

      I won’t express my views on the current controversy and I think that anyone who has been exposed to my scribbling will guess correctly my opinion.

      Buy there’s nothing to love in the way this seems to have split the sport, at least a vocal minority of people who have time to comment on websites.

      I’m thinking of Trump.

      In politics I’m not worried if half the nation sees the President as a Hitler and the other half of the country the blue collar champion.

      Because that’s the freedom of choice and the foundation of the world order we enjoy.

      But there can be no such thing as political differences between factions about the outcome of any sport.

      This is what rules are for. In sport and not democracy despite the apparent lack of appreciation of there being no rules for controlling others in a democracy.

      I think this situation is a incredibly dangerous one.

      I can only say that I wished from the outset that the team would have taken the chance to apply much stronger action and communication than this. The team could have been winning the public mindset for their seriously proper and bankable benefit and changed the outcome none adversely and I said how they would be able to take the high ground when this first came up. I’m unable to see past the current omerta on the media into any guess whether they even have anyone interested to make important decisions like that in the team. But now I have concerns about the future of Ferrari. I’m not afraid of calamity but atrophy and erosion of the Esprit de corps they need to be at the top. And while this is not that Austria they neither have the similar ability or goodwill to weather many storms and the mistress of racing fortune is harsh, and the first time ever I begin to imagine the scuderia without their toga praetextus. They have seemingly lent it to their driver and it is being kept and worn carelessly.

      1. @John ( other John) – I need to tell you, life just isn’t long enough to read your stream of consciousness posts.

        1. On the contrary Jonno. Life is not long enough to ignore some writing. While it might be a challenge to work through it, some comments are worth our time.

          Those comments from John (other John) are clearly written with a lot of attention and touches many things worthy of our thoughts, so to me, it is well worth reading

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