Sebastian Vettel on disciplinary tightrope after F1 stewards hit him for “potentially dangerous” driving
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Sebastian Vettel
Posted By: James Allen  |  25 Jun 2017   |  6:44 pm GMT  |  1,328 comments

Sebastian Vettel will face a one race ban if he crosses the line with stewards again in the way he did in Baku today.

This puts him on a disciplinary tightrope for the next two races, which means he cannot afford any more misdemeanours if he is to have a clear run at the F1 title battle.

Already it is complicated by the possibility of engine penalties later this season, but the four times world champion now has 9 penalty points on his FIA superlicence in a 12 month period, after stewards in Baku hit him with three points and a 10 sec stop/go penalty for deliberately bumping wheels with title rival Lewis Hamilton behind the Safety Car.

Another three points would take him to 12 and, as with road car licences, that means a ban, in this case for one race. The first of the points on his licence will drop off around the time of the British Grand Prix next month.

Vettel was hit with licence points in Silvertone, Malaysia and Mexico last season. Since the licence system was brought in no f1 driver has actually served a ban, but Daniil Kvyat has had 12 non-concurrent points and Carlos Sainz and Max Verstappen have both been on eight points at times. Sergio Perez has incurred points in four seasons, without getting close to a ban.

The Ferrari driver claimed Hamilton ‘brake tested’ him behind one of the many Safety Cars in Baku, (intentionally slowing), leading Vettel to drive into the back of him. Vettel pulled alongside and drove his right side wheels into Hamilton’s left side.

In terms of a retaliatory gesture on the sports field, it was somewhat comparable with the footballer’s ‘head butt’ gesture (above), such as Zinedine Zidane did in the 2006 France vs Italy world cup final (below), which attracts an automatic red card under FIFA rules. The FIA stewards in Baku – who also examined Hamilton’s telemetry and found it to be in order – issued Vettel with the equivalent of a yellow card.

Hamilton described it as ‘unprecedented’ in F1, and said that it sends out a very bad signal to young drivers.

“Driving alongside and deliberately driving into another driver and getting away pretty much scot-free as he still came fourth, I think that’s a disgrace. I think he disgraced himself today,” said Hamilton, who was angered that Vettel still managed to score two points more than he did, after Hamilton was forced to make an unscheduled late pit stop to secure a loose headrest.

Vettel refused to accept that he did anything wrong, or even to acknowledge that he had driven into Hamilton and when told on the radio he had a stop/go penalty, he questioned what the “dangerous driving” was that he was supposed to have committed.

Vettel, Hamilton F1

Vettel said that Hamilton should also have been penalised for slowing on the exit of a corner as they prepared for the restart and also drew a parallel with the world of professional football,

“Probably every Sunday in the Premier League you have referees blowing the whistle and some players agreeing and some disagreeing. That’s sport.

“It’s still respectful (with Hamilton). I don’t have a problem with him,” added Vettel.

“I think it’s just one action today that was wrong and I think if I got penalised then he should get penalised.”

The rules for the leader of the race regard his position behind the Safety Car, maintaining a certain amount of car lengths, but at this stage the Safety Car was due to come into the pits, so he was bunching the field ready for the restart. In general the rule is that it is the responsibility of the cars behind to maintain a suitable gap.

What do you think of the incident and the reaction of both men? Leave your comments below

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@JA. wondering what is your reason(s) no to post LH/SV incindent telemetry posted earlier!!!!

lets show these guys how LH Behaved in turn 15 where his speed dropped dramatically from 80km to 55km


See the arrow where it says “Steady Deceleration”?!?! Sorry but this does not help your cause at all. Vettel has accepted 100% blame today. Perhaps you might want to reconsider.


I always thought Vettel to be a brilliant, but ruthless driver, so I don’t approve of that behavior. Yes Hamilton can act immaturely but not to the degree of seb!


I thought you had to be no more than 10 car lengths from the safety car which was away so far in front you could not see it so surely that was wrong on lewis’s part


10 car lengths only applies when the SC’s yellow lights are still on. When the SC is coming in, Race Control sends out the ‘Safety Car in this Lap’ message to the teams. The SC then turns off its lights as it nears sector 3 of the circuit, and the lead car then sets the pace. They will slow down, to let the SC scamper off, and hopefully get into the pits before the lead car crosses the finish line to restart the race.

Lewis did nothing wrong..


What about the hit soon after ? He had already cursed Charles Witing during the race. It has to be harder on him.


Surprised they didn’t black flag Vettel earlier for continually shedding carbon.


I believe the Vettel unintentionally veered into Hamilton. He was looking at him with one hand off the wheel. He would have had both hands in place if he intended to crash into Hamilton’s car.


So you can hit who you want when you want and it a 10 sec penalty.
Does that even make sense.
Not a race ban. Season ban.
This is not racing. You are not racing. The season is not for you.


Vettel showing his true colors. Hamilton said it best… what a disgrace.


F1 Rumour Mill has it that it is possible that FIA President Jean Todt may summons Vettel to an FIA hearing over the collision with Hamilton. Could be interesting if this is indeed the case.


Totally late to this party at 1008 comments and counting, but here are my thoughts:

1) The safety car appeared to be turning its lights off quite late in Baku – we had the announcement from the commentators, but the lights on the car kept flashing into the third sector. How soon were the drivers aware, given that a large portion of this final sector was a flat out blast from the final corner?

2) I get the rule is the leader assumes control of the pack and the pace, however at best Lewis took a big risk in choosing that particular part of the track (i.e on the exit of a 90 degree corner) to start slowing the pack. This could have been as disastrous for him as Schumacher warming his brakes in the tunnel in Monaco 2004, and could have put him out of the race. I also won’t forget the role Lewis played in Fuji 2007 which put Webber and Vettel out – he was definitely out of line that day. F1 cars at speed can decelerate at 1G just by lifting off, so whether he braked or not is potentially a moot point.

3) Seb was absolutely in the wrong on both counts: he was crowding Lewis and didn’t react quickly enough to avoid the first impact, and the second impact was either road rage or carelessness – both befitting of disciplinary action, particularly in the former case. This is now Seb’s third incident behind a safety car (Fuji 2007, Abu Dhabi 2012), and he probably needs to pay more attention. Given the events of the last 12mths or so, it seems that he is struggling more than ever to keep his emotions in check.


1) when the SC is coming in, they usually will switch off their lights when they enter Sector 3 of the circuit. At Baku though, the 3rd sector starts just before Turn 16, which is where the long flat-out run to the line begins. So the SC was turning off its lights just before or after Turn 15.

2) The issue at Fuji 2007 was that Hamilton was accelerating and decelerating behind the SC, when it had its lights on … when all cars need to stay within 10 car lengths of each other. When the SC lights go off, the lead car sets the pace.

3) I find Vettel’s various travails behind the SC quite peculiar. Hopefully there’s no more repeats this year. Will Buxton did make an interesting point: when was the last time an F1 driver deliberately hit another when behind the SC? I think Vettel’s is the first.


The more I think about Vettel’s behaviour and his penalty the more I realise the power of Ferrari in F1.
Let’s look at the facts; the incident happened on lap19, the stewards would have been aware of the incident from that point onwards. To me it was a clear case of a/ dangerous driving b/causing a collision and c/unsportsmanlike behaviour. In the past these digressions have been punished with anything from a stop and go through to a three race ban and even a complete loss of points for the season (Schumacher Jerez 1997). It was not a hard decision to reach, the evidence was pretty clear, but let’s allow a bit of time to check a data trace from Mercedes to prove Hamilton had not brake tested him (which he didn’t). So why did it take until lap 33 to bring Vettel in for a penalty? A full 43 minutes after the event!! That is some kind of record for assessing a penalty, I am pretty sure no penalty has ever taken that long to apply for such an obvious aggressive act. At the time I was thinking when is this penalty coming? It must be coming now. But even on the C4 coverage they did not really talk much about any penalty being issued, all very bizarre. Thanks to the heavens then when Hamilton’s headrest started to loosen, Charlie could and did immediately insist that Hamilton had to come in for safety reasons. Once this had been acknowledged, then and only then, was the Vettel order made and boy was it done quick!! Almost as if Ferrari were waiting for the opportunity. Vettel came in on lap 33 and gained from the undercut on Hamilton, no harm done.
Immediately the whole thing stunk to me, why has no media outlet clocked any of this, according to the BBC podcast review the incident happened at an unspecified time (they made it sound like a restart after the red flag period) and both drivers came in on the same lap!? C4 didn’t seem to pick up on it, James Allen is too close to Ferraria to raise any suspicion. I had hope Ted Karvitz at Sky would have picked up on it, but no (still love Ted’s notebooks!). Whatever a bullet has been dodged by both Ferrari and the F.I.A., and it would seem no one has the guts to point this out. Vettel also seems to be able to overstep the mark as he pleases, he did something similar at Mexico last year. If there is any justice, he will pick up a further three penalty points and get a 3 race ban, but I doubt the FIA (Jean Todt – ex Ferrari boss of course) will make this decision.
Here’s hoping fate will play it’s part and Hamilton will go on to win his 4th World Championship.


In my view maliciously and deliberately turning into the side of another car on track should always result in an immediate black flag plus a race ban of between one and three races, depending on the consequences of the action.

A ten second penalty is entirely inappropriate for such an action.

Vettel asking the team over the radio what he had done that was dangerous is laughable.

It reminds me of the strokes Michael Schumacher used to pull out and then, despite it being plain as day what he had done, the team and he would then deny having done anything wrong.

Truly great sportsmen do not behave like this.

Of course in both cases the common thread is Ferrari.


Ferrari and Vettel feeling the pressure all of a sudden over a second behind in qualifying and Hamilton controlling him in the race,wonder who was burning oil as fuel…..


Hamilton is Bad for F1, He is a Good Driver But he is constantly whinging to the Team, Charlie Whiting or the Media about something and has had problems with every team mate he has had, He is the common denominator. His driving behind the Safety Car was inappropriate, He may not have Brake Tested Vettel, But he did not accelerate in the way the chasing pack would have been expecting, He knew what he was doing, Vettel was right to be angry.


Find it interesting all the comments here by former F1 drivers… Since NONE of us were in either cockpit during the race. So easy for all the online fan-boys to slag everyone and everything. Let the season run it’s course. Big tires, bigger downforce, what’s not to love in F1 this year?


what’s not to love – Honda 😉


James, perhaps you could answer this: if the stewards did indeed investigate Hamilton and found no wrong doing, why is that investigation not included in the official stewards’ reports for the race? Shouldn’t everything be there?


I wonder about that too. Sometimes it does say that the stewards “note” an incident, which is not the same as them investigating it. I’m a big advocate of more information, more sunlight in dark corners if you will, so I would welcome far more information than the stewards provided in Baku.


Whoever you follow in this sport, there’s no place for that type of petulance or behaviour; these are not weapons, they’re sophisticated race cars and one shouldn’t hold a race license if you can’t use them properly.

Vettel needs some time on the naughty step to clear his head: 10 second stop and go woefully unfit for purpose and stinks of ‘keeping the show’ going. That’s not how penalties should apply and if the FIA are to be taken seriously about Road Safety, Vettels needs ones race with his balls in the pool.


Wolff and Horner are defending Vettel by saying it was the heat of the moment
and the punishment was okay.

I just hope Vettel doesn’t change his mind and does a PR apology. All these
keyboard warriors wouldn’t except it and Lewis wouldn’t either (speaking of spoiled childs).

The next thing Ferrari should do is to make an offer for Bottas publicly.
That would be the trolling of the century. Hamilton couldn’t cry for help
on the radio anymore during the races 😀


Uh, no they’re not. Wolff said he would like to hear Vettel’s version of events … that’s a great move, because Vettel doesn’t want to speak about it at all. For him, the second hit never happened apparently.

As for Horner, he said that it was a “red mist” moment from Seb … he knows how he is, and how he can get. That’s not defending him.


@ KRB…seeing as you are a stickler for evidence could you possibly refer me to a factual comment from Vettel that states that he actually said that he didn’t hit Hamilton’s car ? The fact that he hasn’t offered up a ‘mea culpa’ says nothing.


I think thats the point kenneth. He pointedly neither made mention of it or even acknowleged it took place when directly questioned by at least 3 journalist about the 2nd collision (Sky, Channel 4 and NBCSN)


Watch this video, and read the interview between Seb and Rachel Brookes, in all its glory! He refuses to acknowledge that he hit Hamilton’s car, or that he drove dangerously. Wilfully blind. If you are wilfully blind yourself, are you able to see it in others? That’s not directed at you per se ;-), just a question in general.


Vettel said right after the race he wants to talk to Lewis when media is not around. So let’s see who is the grown up here and who is the spoiled child.

Horner: “But, you know, it’s heat of the moment stuff and, yeah, a penalty was inevitable after that.”

Meanwhile, Wolff thinks that the issue of further penalties for Vettel should not be revisited by the FIA.

“He got his penalty already so it’s over. My head is already in Spielberg,” he insisted.


It seems the stewards awarded a penalty which was conditional on Hamilton’s progress. And with Hamilton in the lead a 10 sec S&G might seem reasonable. I wonder if they had waited another 10 mins and saw Hamilton’s problems, though unrelated, if the sanction would have been harsher.
Personally, is be surprised if he didn’t get some grid penalties at Austria.


Just watched the race Monday night after being away at the weekend. As soon as I saw Vettel intentionally hit Hamilton I thought that it should be an instant disqualification. If you did the same thing on the road you’d have your license taken away and maybe face criminal charges.


Formula 1 drivers can place their car within millimetres at 300 kph, bumping wheels at ~20 kph is child’s play. To call it dangerous is simply ridiculous. It’s akin to bumping chests in football, it’s simply a signal, “I know what you did”. There’s a former race driver on the Panel and he knows that and would have made sure that the Stewards, who often have never raced, know it too.


You have no idea what Danny Sullivan would’ve been advocating for. From what one of the stewards said (not Sullivan), it’s that they were very close to issuing a black flag, but were worried about impacting the championship (i.e. deciding on a penalty not based on the incident in isolation, but in terms of how it would impact the wider season … which is not something that should ever be done). It’s entirely possible that Danny Sullivan was advocating for a black flag … seeing as he was also the steward at last year’s Mexican GP, when Vettel turned the air blue, he might’ve thought that it was high time that someone set Seb right.


@ gary…again, very true and we are now seeing ex drivers supporting that very viewpoint. Well said.


Apart from Villeneurve, who I am aware of, what other drivers have said they would do the same thing?


I’m not sure how many commentators on here are racing drivers but brake testing an opponent is considered the lowest of low acts. One deliberately designed by the leading car to physically damage the following car such that their race is compromised. In open wheeler racing with exposed front aerodynamics it is particularly effective in that regard. Looking at the video any racing driver would come to the same conclusion as Vettel. He believed that Hamilton saw that he was closely following and saw an opportunity to disadvantage his major competition. The speed displayed is contrary to what every racing driver knows and learns very early on, accelerate away from the apex, not slow down further.

Some things to keep in mind, an F1 car will slow by around 1 g without actually using the brakes as a result of their drag, both aero and mechanical. That’s like stomping on the brakes pretty hard in a road car. So whether Hamilton actually applied the brakes or not is irrelevant. Hamilton’s actions were most unusual, unexpected and interpreted by Vettel as deliberately committing a foul act.

That’s not in any way justifying the retaliation, it was totally unacceptable and deserved a penalty. Speaking of the penalty it wasn’t as many have claimed “10 seconds”, it was a drive though penalty with a stationary period of 10 seconds. Which is more like a 30 second penalty. The 3 points against the licence was applied later, after a hearing.

Were the combined penalties sufficient? My view is that the Stewards took into account the reasons behind Vettel’s actions (which I am sure he went to great lengths to explain) with the result that his licence wasn’t suspended whic would be a common result of similar actions.

Lastly, the fact that Vettel wasn’t also found 100% guilty of running into the back of Hamilton indicates that, although Hamilton didn’t do anything illegal, his actions contributed to the contact. Often one has to read not just what the Stewards determine, but what they also don’t determine.


Vettel had no hearing with the stewards before the penalty was announced in Baku.

Gary, can you let us know why Verstappen is such a car-wrecker? He’s now retired from half the races (3 mechanical, 1 collision), having only raced for just under 57% of the total laps to date (only Giovinazzi & Button have raced less laps). Last year you went on at length about how Hamilton was a car wrecker. Surely Verstappen’s dismal record this year is in need of some of your keen analysis. I await your findings.


There was no brake test … Vettel’s admitted that fact today too. Vettel ran into the back of a competitor who was getting ready for a restart, and who Vettel knew would be slowing down. Rookie stuff.

Ricciardo has said that it wasn’t a brake test. Rosberg said it wasn’t yesterday. The overwhelming view is that there was no brake test, and that it was plainly Seb’s fault.

Thanks for coming out!


Looking at the video any racing driver would come to the same conclusion as Vettel.

Ricciardo, didn’t, in fact saying to the the bbc “You’re not going to make the restart out of Turn 15. Seb was probably just a little bit over-excited.”
In another interview
“I don’t think Lewis would have brake-tested him,” Ricciardo told ESPN.

“It just makes no sense because you also risk damaging your car.

“At the end of the day it’s the leader’s right to dictate the pace.


@ gary, i like your summary and i fully agree with it. I have been saying very much the same and have been flamed for daring to question the actions of Hamilton as if he is beyond condemnation for what he did. Vettel’s penalty was for ‘potentially’ being dangerous.That wording needs to be taken at face value and accepted.


Some things to consider,

Lewis never brake checked Vettel.

In fact reports seem to indicate he did more or less the same thing at the previous SC restart. So it wouldn’t be unusal or unexpected if he did something similar at the next restart.

We were still under SC conditions and Lewis had to make sure there was enough space for SC to make it back to the pits before the lead car crossed the C1 line. It was close on a previous restart.

Vettel almost got overtaken by the Pink Panthers on a previous restart so that might have been playing on his mind and this time he wanted to get closer to Lewis for two reasons 1.>So that the Pink Panthers wouldn’t be in a position to overtake him and 2.>He might be in a position to overtake Lewis.

It i the responsibility of the car behind to ensure he is asafe distance away (no other driver went into the back of someone like Vettel did to Lewis perhaps they were keeping a safe distance)

The inital contact between Lewis and Vettel would be classed as a racing incident, so would likly have been overlooked by the Stewards.

What the stewards took issue with was Vettel accelerating alongside Lewis and colliding with him. Now it was either a deliberate action or Vettel couldn’t control his car at a few dozen mph.


Vettel was wrong, period. But why does Hamilton always gets away with his bad behavior??? He braked an instant and slow down dramatically from 80 to 50 in a few meters. He is always provoking other drivers, what he did to Ricciardo in China which I think is the only penalty he has received was an ugly unsportsmanlike behavior. He pushed on purpose several times Nico, specially at Austin and he got away! The problem is nationality, Charlie whiting, and all the most important press are from Great Britain… they always criticize German drivers… The FIA really need to be fair and neutral.


The main concern for Lewis should be that he was not able to overtake and not even getting in DRS range for many laps, while Vettel was driving a 3400km old engine, which also was two upgrades behind. I mean… he had a 2 km straight to get it done and could not.
You can bet that while Lewis will be doing his blasé talking for the next two weeks, that will be the talking point within the team: How in the world our “best of them all” car could not get past that old and tired engine?


I think Seb was lucky to get away with such a minor penalty. Remember when a couple of years ago during testing a trial of the rain light was used as a brake light? That would have come in handy in this investigation. I don’t believe Lewis is innocent in this though. Coming out of a slow corner behind the safety car and appear on TV to slow even further doesn’t look right. Even if the lead driver controls the pace on a restart and the data didn’t show he brake tested. He slowed at the wrong place here.

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