F1 champion Vettel has ‘no case to answer’ on overtake says FIA as row deepens
FORMULA One’s governing body, the FIA, has said there is "no case to answer" over a move made by newly-crowned world champion Sebastian Vettel on Jean-Eric Vergne during last Sunday's Brazilian Grand Prix.
Questions were raised yesterday as video footage appeared to indicate Vettel passed Vergne on lap four in a yellow-flag zone between turns three and four at Interlagos.
Ferrari today confirmed via their Twitter account, @InsideFerrari, they had written a letter to motor sport's governing body seeking clarification on the pass.
However, the FIA, as well as race director Charlie Whiting, has since made it clear the overtake was legitimate and that no action will be taken.
If the FIA had pursued the matter, and Vettel had been found guilty, there was the possibility of a retrospective drive-through penalty being applied that could have cost Vettel his world title.
Vettel finished sixth in Brazil on Sunday to claim a historic third drivers' crown, the 25-year-old German ahead of Ferrari's Fernando Alonso by just three points.
However, if a penalty had been applied it would have resulted in 20 seconds being added to his elapsed race time, demoting him to eighth, which in turn would have seen him finish one point behind Alonso in the final standings.
However, the FIA has indicated that Vettel did nothing wrong as a green flag was waved at a marshal's post on the straight shortly after turn three.
At all circuits a system of flags and lights are employed, however, at a marshal's post where there is no light, the flag takes priority.
In Vettel's case a yellow light was flashing at turn two and again at turn three, warning him to exercise caution and that no overtaking is allowed.
At the same time lights and the word 'flag' appear on the cockpit system of his Red Bull.
However, 200 metres along the straight Vettel passed a marshal's post where a green flag was being waved, thus allowing him to make a move on Toro Rosso's Vergne.
Vettel completed the move prior to passing another marshal's post at the end of the straight displaying a green light, at which time the indicators in his cockpit also disappeared.
Race director Whiting said: "If the lights are not installed at a flag post the driver responds to the first signal that is shown.
"In Vettel's case, between the last yellow light and the green light there was a green flag being waved.
"The distance is 350 metres here. Vettel responded to the flag and did everything right."
As a matter of protocol, since Ferrari wrote a letter to the FIA, the latter are in turn formally required to respond.