Stewart: Vettel was ‘provoked’

The FIA may be knee-deep into a re-examination of the penalty given to Sebastian Vettel for his offence in Baku but there are still lingering questions about some of the details surrounding the incident.

The FIA were quick to get out in front of the issue immediately after last weekend’s grand prix by suggesting that Lewis Hamilton did not brake or do anything untoward but there are several drivers who feel that the retardation of speed was rapid and contributed to the contact between Hamiton and Vettel.

One of those drivers includes Sir Jackie Stewart who said:

“There is no doubt in my opinion that Vettel was completely wrong, irresponsible in colliding with Lewis,” Stewart told Motorsport.tv’s weekly programme The Flying Lap.

“Whether that was a moment of anger, or whatever it may have been, it was still not correct.

“However, there’s another side to that which I think is more important.

“The reason that it happened was that Lewis either lifted off completely from the gas pedal or brushed the brakes at a time when no racing driver behind the leader would have expected anybody to do that it.

“Vettel, even with the fast reactions of an F1 world champion of four times, still ran into the back of Lewis, not by any intention at all, but by the fact that it was such a severe retardation while he, and every other driver for that matter, was ready to accelerate down the straight because the pace car had already disappeared.

“That provoked, no doubt, Vettel’s frame of mind. And the mind management wasn’t working.

“As it developed, in my opinion, Vettel was absolutely wrong to collide with Lewis Hamilton.

“I think that was a large mistake.”

I think most drivers, fans and pundits agree that the banging of wheels was an unwarranted and ham-fisted move on Vettel’s part but there are lingering questions about whether or not Lewis was completely blameless in his behavior just prior to the initial contact. This is what Vettel himself has suggested is penalty worthy. 

I can’t see Lewis getting a penalty but could Ferrari make a case for the rapid retardation of speed and unexpected backing up of the entire field was a dangerous move or at least an infraction of the rules? It will be a hard sale given the blatant nature of Vettel’s reaction but as we’ve discussed before, it is a delicate line the FIA are treading in reversing their own stewarding program if there is no “New” information on the incident. 

Hat Tip: Autosport