The FIA elected to take no further action against Sebastian Vettel for his deliberate collision with Formula 1 championship rival Lewis Hamilton during last the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
Vettel and Ferrari team principal Maurizio Arrivabene were summoned to a meeting in Paris with FIA President Jean Todt and a number of other senior figures from the world motorsport governing body to explain themselves.
The German was handed a 10-second stop/go penalty – the harshest penalty available to the race stewards short of an outright disqualification – for swerving his Ferrari into the side of Hamilton’s Mercedes under Safety Car conditions in the mistaken belief that the Englishman had brake-tested him.
Onboard telemetry proved that Hamilton had done no such thing, and after widespread outrage over Vettel’s behaviour – including post-race where he publicly refused to assume any responsibility for his actions – the FIA elected to review the matter further.
In its initial explanation, the FIA stated it was “deeply concerned by the wider implications of the incident, firstly through the impact such behaviour may have on fans and young competitors worldwide and secondly due to the damage such behaviour may cause to the FIA’s image and reputation of the sport”.
Its concerns did not seemingly extend to further punishment for Vettel, who seemingly adopted a complete mea culpa approach in a bid to avoid the book being thrown at him any further.
The four-time World Champion admitted complete responsibility for his actions, agreed to issue a public apology and committed to devote personal time over the next twelve months to educational activities across a variety of FIA championships.
A subsequent statement from the FIA said: “In light of these developments, FIA president Jean Todt decided that on this occasion the matter should be closed.
“Nevertheless, in noting the severity of the offence and its potential negative consequences, FIA president Jean Todt made it clear that should there be any repetition of such behaviour, the matter would immediately be referred to the FIA International Tribunal for further investigation.”
Despite his offer to help educate young race drivers, Todt has excluded Vettel from endorsing any road safety activities until the end of the year given his involvement would completely undermine any such campaign.
With the hearing delivering no further action – and immediate criticism from the sport’s insiders that it sets a terrible precedent – Vettel maintains a 14-point lead over Hamilton in the Drivers’ Championship standings.
With no subsequent action taken, Vettel retains his 14-point lead over Hamilton in the drivers’ championship.
Image via Scuderia Ferrari