Should Vettel have had a penalty? (Poll)

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??ikk??nen 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)

  1. Jonathan said on 30th August 2010, 12:23

    You probably wouldn’t see a penalty like this in the junior formulae. But F1 drivers have to measure up to a higher standard.

    It’s a safety issue. Obviously F1 is inherently risky, but drivers shouldn’t add to that risk by driving irresponsibly.

    It’s a moot point whether Vettel’s move was irresponsible. He moved around in the braking zone in wet conditions, and Mansell and the other stewards clearly took a dim view of it. I can see why.

  2. Bullfrog said on 30th August 2010, 12:26

    I thought it was fair enough. Would have been harsh to spoil Vettel’s Monza weekend as well, and at least the penalty was dished out quickly, which gave him a chance to recover. It was his decision to achieve this by smacking into Liuzzi and giving himself a puncture…
    You could argue what the consequences of Vettel did to Button was worse than what Schumacher did to Barrichello in Hungary, because it ended another driver’s race.

    But why should there be a different rule for championship contenders, as some people are suggesting? Maybe there should be a time, say after 14 races, when a new set of rules applies: extra penalties for interfering with the championship race…and team orders are allowed.

  3. Like I said during the live blog, to me this was a pure racing incident. However, in all matters of justice, people’s records must be taken into account. Vettel has established a pattern of ramming his rivals as a result of careless driving, which is something that cannot be ignored forever. I think that’s why the stewards penalized him, and I agree with their decision. Vettel may have the talent and the speed, but he behaves like a 6 year old on a go-kart track and that’s not acceptable in the top tier of motorsport.

    • Accidental Mick said on 30th August 2010, 17:14

      Totally agree with you. I’ve always hated bullying and attempted intimidation whatever the context.

  4. 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 voted yes because none of the above incidents saw the driver the receiving end dropping out of the race because of it. Also because you can’t forgive a driver for a mistake. Nobody crashes on purpose(with exceptions of course.. erm..)So it doesnt make sense to forgive a driver because he was not in control, to be in control is what being a driver is all about.

  5. disjunto said on 30th August 2010, 12:54

    I haven’t heard either of RBR or Vettel saying the penalty was even slightly unfair. Vettel seems to have accepted he messed up, and has no issues with the punishment.

    If the drivers and team bosses think it was a fair punishment, surely it wasn’t a harsh call at all

    • David BR said on 31st August 2010, 18:59

      True. And I’d guess most of them would think the penalty is actually probably doing Vettel a favour if it gets him to be a bit more cautious in the future.

  6. S.J.M said on 30th August 2010, 13:06

    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.

  7. Ricardo said on 30th August 2010, 13:14

    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.

    • Patrickl said on 30th August 2010, 13:32

      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.

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

  8. enfurnoh said on 30th August 2010, 13:14

    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.

  9. 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.

    • 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).

    • 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.

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

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

  10. Jameson said on 30th August 2010, 14:26

    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.

    • xabregas said on 30th August 2010, 14:32


    • Patrickl said on 30th August 2010, 18:02

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

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

        • Patrickl (@patrickl) said on 31st August 2010, 13:15

          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).

  11. 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

    • xabregas said on 30th August 2010, 14:48

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


    • 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.

      • 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.

        • David BR said on 30th August 2010, 15:53

          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.

        • bosyber said on 31st August 2010, 14:08

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

    • Chris B said on 30th August 2010, 15:53

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

    • Patrickl said on 30th August 2010, 18:06

      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.

  12. Maciek said on 30th August 2010, 14:38

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

  13. slicecom said on 30th August 2010, 14:42

    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.

  14. Anagh said on 30th August 2010, 14:43

    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.

  15. 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.

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