Formula 1’s governing body, the FIA, is to take no further action over Sebastian Vettel’s clash with Lewis Hamilton in the recent Azerbaijan Grand Prix. It follows a meeting with Vettel on Monday in which the Ferrari driver admitted responsibility and apologised for the incident.
Vettel was given a 10-second stop-go penalty during the Baku race after what appeared to be retaliatory contact with Hamilton’s Mercedes whilst behind the safety car. It came after the German, who accused Hamilton of brake testing him, had run into the back of the Briton as the duo were preparing for the re-start.
Following further post-race examination of the incident, Vettel’s apology, and a pledge from the four-time champion to devote personal time to the education of drivers in junior formulae, the FIA says it now considers the matter closed.
In a statement to fans on his website, Vettel said: "During the re-start lap, I got surprised by Lewis and ran into the back of his car. With hindsight, I don't believe he had any bad intentions. In the heat of the action I then overreacted, and therefore I want to apologise to Lewis directly, as well as to all the people who were watching the race. I realize that I was not setting a good example.
"I had no intention at anytime to put Lewis in danger, but I understand that I caused a dangerous situation. Therefore, I would like to apologise to the FIA. I accept and respect the decisions that were taken at today’s meeting in Paris, as well as the penalty imposed by the Stewards in Baku. I love this sport and I am determined to represent it in a way that can be an example for future generations."
The FIA's statement in full:
Following an incident at the recent Azerbaijan Grand Prix involving a collision between Car 5 (Sebastian Vettel) and Car 44 (Lewis Hamilton), Sebastian Vettel was today invited to attend a meeting at the FIA’s Paris headquarters. He was accompanied by his Team Principal Maurizio Arrivabene. He reviewed the incident together with a panel comprised of FIA Deputy President for Sport Graham Stoker, FIA General Secretary for Sport Peter Bayer, FIA Formula One World Championship Race Director Charlie Whiting and FIA Formula One World Championship Deputy Race Director and FIA Safety Director Laurent Mekies.
During the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, stewards officiating at the event issued a 10-second stop-and-go penalty to Sebastian Vettel, the most severe penalty immediately applicable before displaying a black flag notice to the driver. Sebastian Vettel also had three penalty points applied to his FIA Superlicence, taking his current total to nine.
However, while respecting the Stewards’ decision, the FIA remained deeply concerned by the wider implications of the incident, firstly through the impact such behaviour may have on fans and young competitors worldwide and secondly due to the damage such behaviour may cause to the FIA’s image and reputation of the sport.
Following detailed discussion and further examination of video and data evidence related to the incident, Sebastian Vettel admitted full responsibility.
Sebastian Vettel extended his sincere apologies to the FIA and the wider motor sport family. He additionally committed to devote personal time over the next 12 months to educational activities across a variety of FIA championships and events, including in the FIA Formula 2 Championship, the FIA Formula 3 European Championship, at an FIA Formula 4 Championship to be defined and at the FIA Stewards’ seminar. Due to this incident, President Jean Todt instructed that no road safety activities should be endorsed by Sebastian Vettel until the end of this year.
The FIA notes this commitment, the personal apology made by Sebastian Vettel and his pledge to make that apology public. The FIA also notes that Scuderia Ferrari is aligned with the values and objectives of the FIA.
In light of these developments, FIA President Jean Todt decided that on this occasion the matter should be closed.
Nevertheless, in noting the severity of the offence and its potential negative consequences, FIA President Todt made it clear that should there be any repetition of such behaviour, the matter would immediately be referred to the FIA International Tribunal for further investigation.
Commenting on the outcome of today’s meeting, FIA President Jean Todt said: “Top level sport is an intense environment in which tempers can flare. However, it is the role of top sportsmen to deal with that pressure calmly and to conduct themselves in a manner that not only respects the regulations of the sport but which befits the elevated status they enjoy.
“Sportsmen must be cognisant of the impact their behaviour can have on those who look up to them. They are heroes and role models and to millions of fans worldwide and must conduct themselves accordingly.”