Not surprisingly the internet is buzzing tonight after Ferrari indicated to the BBC that it is reviewing footage of the Brazilian GP which appears to show Sebastian Vettel making an illegal pass under yellow flag conditions.
Should the team bring the matter to the FIA and an appeal be heard – and that is possible despite the results being declared on Sunday – Vettel could in theory earn a 20s time penalty, which would drop him from sixth to eighth place. Alonso would win the title by a single point.
On Sunday the most talked about incident involved Vettel passing Kamui Kobayashi. This blog checked with the stewards who had reviewed it, and they confirmed that it was legal.
At the start of this week attention turned to a lap 4 pass on Jean-Eric Vergne. Full speed onboard footage floating around the net shows Vettel passing Vergne with yellow lights on his dash, and before a green light indicating the end of the yellow flag zone.
It looks clear cut. However, head-on screen grabs, and super slow-mo of the onboard, appear to reveal a green flag on Vettel’s left (see clip at bottom of story).
Usually this human intervention takes priority over the electronic devices in the car and at trackside, and Vettel does not begin the pass or use KERS until he has gone past the flag.
The FIA does of course have access to a lot more data and footage than is floating around the net, and will be able to confirm that the various images we’ve seen do indeed relate to the same incident.
Alonso was generally gracious in defeat on Sunday, but he couldn’t help himself by referring to “strange decisions” by the FIA, while in turn Vettel referred to “dirty tricks.” It could now get very messy.
Clearly Ferrari should be 100% sure of its case before doing anything, but whatever the outcome, taking the matter further could be a PR disaster for the Italian team and for the sport as a whole. Even if it does nothing now, the comment to the BBC and the furore that has erupted will already have cast a shadow over Vettel’s win, which is a little unfortunate. But that may have been the intention anyway…
Of course it could be that the FIA and/or Ferrari state sooner rather than later that no further action will be taken, and the matter closed.
Ironically had a pass under yellows been picked up during the race, Vettel could well have overcome a drive through penalty. It would have compromised Seb’s race, but he would have regained lost ground at the first safety car and still had plenty of time to get himself in a position where he won the title by finishing higher than eighth.
His pal Schumacher was always going to make his life easy, and if necessary RBR also had the option to slow Mark Webber, who finished fourth, to give him an extra place.