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. 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.

  2. 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.

    • 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.

      • 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.

    • xabregas said on 30th August 2010, 14:57

      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.

  3. Dafizzner said on 30th August 2010, 14:57

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

  4. Hare (@hare) said on 30th August 2010, 14:59

    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.

  5. DaveW said on 30th August 2010, 15:03

    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.

  6. Ricardo said on 30th August 2010, 15:05

    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

  7. 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.

  8. Harry said on 30th August 2010, 15:05

    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.

  9. Hallard said on 30th August 2010, 15:06

    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).

  10. Daffid said on 30th August 2010, 15:22

    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.

    • David BR said on 30th August 2010, 15:45

      @ 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.

    • DaveW said on 30th August 2010, 16:03

      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.

      • Patrickl said on 30th August 2010, 18:56

        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.

        • David BR said on 30th August 2010, 20:19

          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.

          • Patrickl (@patrickl) said on 31st August 2010, 13:17

            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.

        • 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…

  11. I won’t blame him for that incident but that penalty was harsh. What the FIA could have done is to hand him 5 place grid penalty for the next race as Button’s race & championship battle was over back then.

    • bosyber said on 31st August 2010, 14:13

      … and you call the drive-through harsh? Since he already was out of the points after the incident, I think he far prefers having the drive-through during the race. But it might have been a just penalty seen from the perspective of the Championship. I don’t think it would have been very defensible for the stewards though.

  12. the Stig said on 30th August 2010, 16:05

    Button said this to Martin Brundle on the grid before the race:

    “It’s still very very tricky, you know, if theres any wet patches its a big slap of oversteer, and its an uncontrolable slap”

    Case closed.

  13. Tango said on 30th August 2010, 16:12

    Should Vettel be penalised for what he did? I don’t think so. Can’t blame somebody for an accident.

    Should he be penalised for the way his front wing flexed seconds before crashing in Button? Hell yes.

  14. Here is a quote from Ayrton Senna:

    “By being a racing driver you are under risk all the time. By being a racing driver means you are racing with other people. And if you no longer go for a gap that exists, you are no longer a racing driver because we are competing, competing to win. And the main motivation is to compete for victory, it’s not to come 3rd, 4th, 5th or 6th. I race to win as long as I feel it’s possible. Sometimes you get it wrong? Sure, it’s impossible to get it right all the time. But I race designed to win, as long as I feel I’m doing it right.”

    I couldn’t agree more with these words. Yes Vettle made a mistake, but that is to be expected when you drive cars that can reach 200mph+. I don’t want drivers to be afraid to overtake because they might get a penalty if things go wrong.

    • DannyJ said on 30th August 2010, 19:25

      Need I point out that Ayrton Senna is dead, as a consequence of that attitude?

      • BasCB said on 30th August 2010, 20:13

        That’s pretty tasteless. Senna probably died because of a tragic car failure. Not much to do with his will to fight.

        Still i think Manu’s quote does not fit here, look at this bit

        And if you no longer go for a gap that exists, you are no longer a racing driver because we are competing, competing to win.

        Here Vettel looked, so now gap that existed and crashed it into Button (compare him going for a gap that didn’t exist in Turkey and at other occasions as well). If there would have been a gap, he could have made the move, now he should just have waited and given it a try later on.

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

          Thanks, that is exactly my opinion too, and great for using Senna’s quoted words to say it – that is exactly the problem Vettel is showing.

    • judo chop said on 30th August 2010, 22:04

      Except those words aren’t true when applied to the actual incident that they refer to. Senna deliberately took out Prost in 1990 when no gap existed – he tore off his own front wing before even making contact with Prost.

  15. Robbie said on 30th August 2010, 17:10

    I dislike Vettel but I don’t think he should’ve been punished. It was merely a racing incident.

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