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Vettel risks further sanction after Baku clash

By Reuters - Jun 29,2017 - Last updated at Jun 29,2017

Ferrari’s German Formula One driver Sebastian Vettel (Photo courtesy of crash.net)

LONDON — Ferrari’s Formula One championship leader Sebastian Vettel risks further sanctions after the governing body reexamines his ‘‘road rage’’ clash with Mercedes rival Lewis Hamilton in Sunday’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

The governing International Automobile Federation (FIA) said on Wednesday that it would take another look at the evidence on Monday.

“The FIA will further examine the causes of the incident in order to evaluate whether further action is necessary,” it announced in a statement.

The outcome of that process will be made public before the Austrian Grand Prix weekend of July 7-9. 

Race stewards imposed a 10 second stop and go penalty on Vettel after he hit the back of race leader Hamilton’s car, and then angrily pulled alongside and banged wheels while both were behind the safety car.

They ruled, after an examination of the video evidence, that Vettel had steered into Hamilton in a “potentially dangerous” manoeuvre. 

Some commentators felt the German had got off lightly, with Vettel ultimately finishing fourth and extending his overall lead to 14 points.

Hamilton, who had led comfortably from pole position, finished fifth after having to pit when his headrest material came loose and was angry afterwards.

“For him to pretty much get away with driving into another driver is a disgrace,” Hamilton told reporters. “I think he disgraced himself today.

Vettel accused Hamilton of ‘‘brake testing’’ him by suddenly slowing coming out of Turn 16 as the safety car prepared to return to the pits.

The FIA said on Sunday, however, that the data showed the Briton had “maintained a consistent speed and behaved in the same manner on that occasion as in all the other re-starts during the race”.

The incident has been the talk of Formula One, with considerable debate on the severity of the punishment and fans divided.

“I think the stewards got it right; I wouldn’t have disqualified him or banned him from the next race unless he took Hamilton out of Baku,” said former racer and Sky Sports commentator Martin Brundle. 

Others disagreed and highlighted FIA president Jean Todt’s road safety campaign and Vettel’s past history of losing his cool under pressure.

Last October the German escaped sanction after apologising to race director, Charlie Whiting, for aiming an expletive-laden Mexican Grand Prix rant at him over the radio.

Todt decided then, “on an exceptional basis”, to take no disciplinary action against the four-times world champion but the FIA made clear any recurrence would trigger a summons to its International Tribunal.

 

Vettel refused to accept blame after Sunday’s race while Ferrari team principal Maurizio Arrivabene spoke of “some decisions that were not entirely clear”.

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