Friday 19 January 2018

Sebastian Vettel escapes further punishment after deliberate collision with Lewis Hamilton

Philip Duncan

Sebastian Vettel will face no further action from Formula One's governing body following his deliberate collision with Lewis Hamilton at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

The FIA held a meeting with Vettel and his Ferrari team principal Maurizio Arrivabene at its headquarters in Paris on Monday.

The sporting federation expressed its concerns at Vettel's actions, but the four-time champion admitted full responsibility for the incident and escaped any further punishment.

The German also apologised at the meeting, and vowed to issue a public apology for the double collision with Hamilton on lap 19 of the chaotic Baku race.

"Top level sport is an intense environment in which tempers can flare," FIA president Jean Todt said in a statement, which was released on Monday night.

"However, it is the role of top sportsmen to deal with the 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 to millions of fans worldwide and must conduct themselves accordingly."

Championship leader Vettel, who turned 30 on Monday, will now start this week's Austrian Grand Prix with his 14-point margin over title rival Hamilton in tact.

Vettel was punished with a 10-second stop-and-go penalty during the chaotic race on the streets of Azerbaijan's capital city after he banged wheels with Hamilton during a second safety car period.

The Ferrari driver, believing that Hamilton had deliberately brake-tested him, drove alongside his rival and slammed into him. However, telemetry from Hamilton's Mercedes proved that the 32-year-old Englishman had not been acting in an unusual manner prior to the first collision.

Vettel protested his innocence following the race, but was forced into an embarrassing climb-down after being hauled before the FIA on Monday.

"Following detailed discussion and further examination of video and data evidence related to the incident, Sebastian Vettel admitted full responsibility," the statement from the FIA continued.

"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."

Vettel is still walking a disciplinary tightrope after he was hit with three points on his F1 licence for the Baku incident, taking his tally to nine. Indeed, if the Ferrari driver obtains three more at Sunday's Austrian Grand Prix, then he will automatically miss Hamilton's home race at Silverstone.

Vettel was warned by the FIA over his future conduct only last October after he told veteran race director Charlie Whiting to ''f*** off'' during a number of heated radio transmissions.

Vettel later published an apology via his personal website.

"During the re-start lap, I got surprised by Lewis and ran into the back of his car," he said. "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 realise that I was not setting a good example.

"I had no intention at any time 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."

Press Association

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