Should Vettel have had a penalty? (Poll)

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Sebastian Vettel has already admitted fault for his error during the Belgian Grand Prix that took Jenson Button out of the race.

The stewards took a surprising decision to penalise him for the move – even though in the past drivers have rarely been punished for similar collisions with other drivers.

Vettel clearly made a bad mistake – but should he have been punished for it?


The stewards said Vettel’s penalty was for “causing an avoidable accident”.

His error took another driver out of the race while he continued, so surely it makes sense for him to be punished?


Other drivers have taken rivals out of races in the past and gone unpunished – such as Kimi R?â?ńikk?â?Ânen with Adrian Sutil at Monaco two years ago.

There’s no doubt Vettel caused an avoidable accident – but so did other drivers during the race without being punished. Vitantonio Liuzzi, for example, who hit Vettel while in complete control of his own car. Nor was Rubens Barrichello punished for crashing into Fernando Alonso.

I Say

Vettel made a bad misjudgement and it’s not the first time he’s done it. We all remember his collisions with Webber at Istanbul and Kubica last year at Melbourne.

Therefore I could understand why the stewards might want to censure him for his dubious track record. But that isn’t what they’ve said they’ve done, so I’m taking the penalty at face value – and I don’t like it.

I hope we’re not going to start seeing penalties every time a driver loses control and happens to hit another car while trying to overtake them. It would discourage exactly the sort of wheel-to-wheel racing F1 should be promoting.

Mistakes happen, and if some blameless driver gets taken out by a rival who’s lost control of his car, that’s just part of racing.

You Say

Should Vettel have had a penalty? Cast your vote and leave a comment below.

Should Vettel have had a penalty? (Poll)

  • Yes (57%)
  • No (40%)
  • No opinion (3%)

Total Voters: 2,409

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258 comments on “Should Vettel have had a penalty? (Poll)”

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  1. I voted no opinion. Yesterday i was fuming that he ruined Buttons race, but he’s my countryman, so any Ill that affects him will anger me. BUt ive calmed down now and see it clearer. If Vettel wasnt forced to pit (again) by Liuzzi which completely ruined his race (a case of Karma?) then i think the stewards might have taken a 2nd look, but Vettel wasnt ever going to get anything out of the race once the Drive through was done (putting him behind Liuzzi again) which led to their clash, like i said, Karma.

    Part of me thinks that maybe someone needs to teach him the best way to overtake to avoid these incidents. 2 of these in less then half a season seems too much for someone in a top team. Reform is often the best course of action taken.

  2. Vettel needs a good slap from someone either the stewards or Horner to break him out of his tantrum-throwing and petulence. He has talent to burn but if he keeps making stupid mistakes and running into people he will go nowhere. Horner should have the balls to take him aside and read him the riot act.

    1. Indeed. Horner just keeps on harping on about how talented Vettel is.

      It’s really about time that Horner sets the kid straight. Having talent is nice and all, but if he keeps driving like a rookie he will never amount to anything.

      He threw away a sure WDC last year (took himself out of the points in 4 races in 2009) and he’s doing it again this season (3 pointless races caused by dumb mistakes so far).

      Even if you are the quickest qualifier and driving the fastest car, you cannot afford a bad record like that.

      1. This time I agree… He needs to Buttonise his race craft, calm down and be careful, even if that means going slower…

  3. Vettel is a menace. Time after time he pulls boneheaded things like this. He even hit someone else towards the end of the race. He needs to clean up his act. He took out a championship contender with his blunder and deserves the penalty.

  4. The number of silly people here is incredible. It was a wet track, it was a racing incident. Vettel lost control and then happened to slam into Button. Not like he had set out to hunt him down and harpoon him.

    It’s happened too often for a driver of Vettel’s stature, but surely the stewards could see that it was nothing more than racing.

    I hate to play this card, but it must be the British/McLaren supporters who frequent this place who agree with the stewards.

    1. exactly my thoughts.
      9/10 people who voted yes have to be McL fans.
      I am a McLaren fan myself but i dont see any reason why Vettel should be punished (without considering his history).

    2. Jensen said the track was DRY and nobody else had trouble in that corner at about that time.

      Therefore a lack of racecraft by Vettel, penalty deserved.

      1. Therefore a lack of racecraft by Vettel, penalty not deserved?

        Just because he shouldn’t have made the mistake doesn’t justify the penalty…

  5. I’m a Button fan, and I voted “no.” It’s a slippery slope to start penalizing drivers for racing–especially when people having been complaining about a lack of overtaking.


    2. Why do we even have stewards? Let’s just let the drivers do whatever they want.

      1. … It almost sounds like you think Vettel lost control on purpose…

        1. No, I think people are losing their minds on purpose so they can validate their own imaginary set of rules.

          A textbook example of “avoidable accident” and people start whining about how rules should only applied for cheating. or that enofrcing the rules will kill racing. As if dumbasses taking out other cars doesn’t kill racing (possibly literally even).

  6. Wow take a look at this…..

    Take a look at this video of the incident between Vettel and Button. At 0.50 we see an on board of Vettel’s car and take a look at the front wing movement

    1. You´re right, something got wrong with Vettel´s front wing.


    2. heavens above, i would even go to say that front wing partly caused Vettels accident.

      weight going from one wheel to the other like that wouldn’t help the balance of the car at all.

      1. it was obvious while coming out of the slip stream which caused it to lift like that, but how the hell can that wing move so much and yet still be passed by the regulations?
        i can see some serous problems for Red Bull if the FIA get to see this footage.
        because they haven’t been stringent enough and have let this go on for to long, it may have now been the cause of this accident and if proved right then it is on there heads.

        1. Though I think Vettel totally lost it in terms of driving technique and deserved a mild penalty, I think there’s something in this. The accident did remind me of both Webber going airborne, and Vettel losing control at Turkey. The aerodynamics of the Red Bull seem to favour a sudden loss of control.

        2. Someone at FOM did see the footage at least on Youtube, so I couldn’t watch it anymore – it is deleted :-/

    3. I wonder if anyone other than RBR managed to get their hands on the debris and get a look at it!!!

    4. Yeah, a while ago I saw a couple of super slow motion clips (sorry forgot where) of cars going over the kerbs. The Red Bull wings and the flimsy “tusks” that their wing hangs on make the wing move around (sideways) a huge amount.

  7. No – but he should get a right swift punch in the nose from Button.

  8. As stupid as the move was, and as much as I’ve lost tonnes of respect for Vettel since he joined RBR, it was a racing incident and should not have been penalized. Vettel is a great test driver and qualifier, but he can’t race or pass.

    1. Completely agree.

  9. well u can say he shldnt be penalised, but again the way he pulled his car out to overtake, that move shld be done on really long straights, not at the end of the straight where u have to brake while pulling the car out of the slipstream. without traction control in that rain itz very obvious the rear end wud twitch. and besides it’s not that he wudve never gotten the opportunity again. Button was really struggling.

    Kimi Raikkonen could’ve been penalised for that if he was trying sumthing out. He was almost the same as rubens and alonso where brakes werent working.

  10. i voted Yes.

    if Vettel had managed to make it back up into 4th or 5th i am betting most of you would have been screaming for a penalty, but due to the penalty that was definitely in doubt.

  11. Did Vettel screw up? Yes. Did he deserve a penalty? No.

    I think, as many have said, his rear brakes locked up a little bit as he hit a wet patch and that caused his car to pitch into the side of Button’s McLaren.

    From watching it I didn’t really see where he was trying a manuever that just didn’t work – seemed much more like a racing incident.

  12. Nah… if that’s normal racing, IMO your standard is too low. How many successful overtaking moves had Vettel pulled out from his attempts? It’s not like that other drivers who crashed much less do not dare to overtake? But if all of the other drivers start to “race” like Vettel, yes, Nascar may find a rival.

    1. Vettel has a pretty poor record with passing. I was a BMW Sauber fan and furious when his actions took Kubica out of a podium finish at Australia last year – despite Vettel’s car clearly damaged so badly he couldn’t possibly finish the race. Let’s not even mention his actions taking out his own team mate this year…

      However, from watching it, I didn’t get the impression he was going for a pass on Button. Hence, it was a racing incident due to conditions – not necessarily his lack of ability to pass.

      1. My point was not only the lack of ability to pass. I just can’t remember an other F1 driver crash that often. In your example Vettel wasn’t overtaking either, instead Kubica was charging.

        In a hindsight, his rivals would be better off just leaving him alone or letting him through, not only in difficult conditions but also most of the time. IMO it shouldn’t be like that.

        1. Don’t forget Piquet! But it was difference because his lack of speed just made it comedic

    2. The way you´re thinking then it´s better put Vettel out of F1.
      Then, what about the the others drivers.
      Oh, i see your point, F1 with out drivers should be must better to watch.

  13. The kid is good, but he needs to settle down!

  14. Vettel seems to make a number of rookie mistakes, without actually being a rookie.

    He lacks consistently competent race craft at a level where he should clearly have it. Some of his racing this year has been straight out of a playstation ( consider driving across the track to squeeze another driver and loosing positions because of it, taking Webber, Button out )..

    However, I think on the weekend, he was unlucky, I don’t think he should have got a drive through on balance.

  15. Haven’t had time to read every comment but Keith, I think you are missing one important distinction to make in giving the penaly. Vettel had lost control, but only because his under-control racing was negligent and led to him being out of control. When Kimi hit Sutil he was attempting to brake in a straight line, and I think other such incidents can be distinguished in this way. I also suggest that this is a benefit of having a driver-stewared. He can distinguish between a racing accident and gross negligence, because he knows what it means and what it takes to control the car in different situations.

  16. The problem with Vettel is that this was not a one-off incident. All drivers make mistakes racing hard in the wet but Vettel keeps running into other cars (wet or dry)and making stupid mistakes.

    A penalty might bring him to his senses

    1. I suspect RBR management secretly thinks the same.

  17. Vettel does not seem to be learning from his mistakes or from anything his team bosses should be saying to him. Therefore it is left to the race official’s to teach him a lesson and I don’t think the drive through was sufficient.

    Hopefully I am proved wrong but nothing so far convinces me that it will. Therefore when the next Vettel avoidable accident occurs I think a one race ban would be in order.

  18. I’m sorry 99 times out of a 100 I would have said “no”, but this boy needs a penalty or a talking to just to calm him down!

    He’s losing control, he’s aggressive and he’s shoddy. He’s ruining peoples race and sooner or later he’s going to get someone hurt.

  19. On a weekend where so many other drivers were having off-track adventures and other out-of-control moments due to the changeable conditions, it seems excessive to have penalised Vettel for such a mistake.

    Yes, it was his fault, and yes, it may have been a risky move to attempt, but in any racing series there are frequent incidents exactly like this. I think that penalizing Vettel was a knee-jerk reaction, and I dont like the precedent that it sets (or seems to set).

  20. Pretty disgusted at Martin Whitmarsh again trying to stir things up off track, he seems to be the new Jean Todt. I don’t think Vettel should have been punished for trying to race it’s a very poor precedent, but ok, he was punished, matter over. And there Whitmarsh is whining again that it’s not fair, Vettel should get a bigger penalty, blah blah blah. McLaren need to shut up and get on with winning on track – which Lewis did brilliantly – rather than constantly trying to influence the rules.

    1. @ McLaren need to shut up and get on with winning on track

      Well, I think Button and McLaren are entitled to be a little annoyed with Vettel. As for stirring, I thought it was fairly nicely aimed: he said if Vettel was going to be that stupid (paraphrasing), he’d rather he took out his team mate.

    2. I think he is being restrained; and these are the same comments that were being made against Hamilton in his first two years, with similar justification. When Hamilton made his bone-headed start at Fuji and ran half the field off the road in an “avoidable accident” and was punished, and still tsked-tsked by the field, he deserved it like Vettel does now.

      If we were back in Dennis’s day, we would be hearing rounds of double-barreled snark coming out of the McLaren garage. This is mild.

      1. Now you’re just being ridiculous.

        Hamilton didn’t touch anyone and just about the whole field braked late. It’s not like Hamilton took the whole field out. Alonso and Kubica DID brake on time and managed to get past the lot of them on the inside.

        1. One of my favourite starts, insane yes, Hamilton screaming to a near halt and the whole field having to move several yards to the left in synchronized formation, brilliant! Since nobody got damaged and less people went off track than half the other first corners in F1, still don’t understand the penalty.

          1. Nonsense. If the other drivers had been able to brake they would have and made the corner.

            Just like in the busstop yesterday, most drivers simply braked too late and they all went off.

            Alonso and Kubica didn’t (in Fuji and Alonso in Spa too), so it wasn’t impossible.

        2. Pat is it about what happened? or what could have happened?

          I think it’s really very important the the cause is the issue the stewards look at, not the effect.

          I like Hamilton’s Fuji start as well…

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