Vettel demoted to fifth with 20-second penalty

2012 German Grand Prix

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Hockenheim, 2012Sebastian Vettel has been given a 20-second penalty for passing Jenson Button off the track during the German Grand Prix.

The penalty, for breach of article 20.2 of the sporting regulations, drops Vettel to fifth in the race.

The stewards determined Vettel had “left the track and gained an advantage when he rejoined”. He was given a drive-through penalty which, because it was awarded after the race, became a 20-second penalty.

Button moves up to second with Kimi Raikkonen promoted to third ahead of Kamui Kobayashi.

2012 German Grand Prix

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269 comments on Vettel demoted to fifth with 20-second penalty

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  1. dutch in sweden (@dutch-in-sweden) said on 22nd July 2012, 16:33

    No surprices here

  2. sozavele (@formula-1) said on 22nd July 2012, 16:33

    Defininetly due in this case.

    • HoHum (@hohum) said on 22nd July 2012, 23:27

      I can’t believe I have an ounce of sympathy for Seb but I would have been satisfied had they merely reversed the positions, which of course is what Seb should have done himself so it’s not surprising the stewards decided to add a penalty.

      • I agree, I thought they would probably just reverse the positions although this wouldn’t really act as much of a deterrent in future.

        • vjanik said on 23rd July 2012, 11:47

          they cant just reverse the positions. they have to do what is in the rule-book. reversing the positions is not one of the available penalties in F1.

  3. brum55 said on 22nd July 2012, 16:34

    5 fingers!!!

  4. Correct decision for once!

  5. Seems a bit harsh. I think he should have just lost a position to Button but I can understand it.

    • soulsnats (@stanslous) said on 22nd July 2012, 16:35

      Look Seb has gotten with a lot of judgements and this was long overdue and besides he broke the rule that a novice can clearly read.


    • JCost (@jcost) said on 22nd July 2012, 16:36

      20 seconds will always look harsh considering how tight it is these days.

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 22nd July 2012, 16:36

      I agree, think it would have been enough to hand out a 5 second penalty to drop him behind Button.

      Seems the Stewards don’t want to let him get away without a penalty that costs him anything though, maybe next time a driver in a position like that will really give the place back now.

      • Funkyf1 (@funkyf1) said on 22nd July 2012, 16:41

        He knew he went off the track and admitted it. He knows the rules, his team would have heard the radio from Jenson and they made the decision to risk it. For that I think they were penailzed.

      • Wanon (@wanon) said on 22nd July 2012, 16:50

        A 5 second penalty is impossible. A 20 second penalty is the smallest possible penalty that is available to the stewards. It was 20 seconds or nothing.

        • Tricky (@tricky) said on 22nd July 2012, 17:34

          Several drivers were given 5 second penatlies in Valencia 2010.

          Although it was never explained how that was possible.

          • verstappen (@verstappen) said on 22nd July 2012, 17:46

            There’s always the possibility to give another sort of penalty. It has been made more clear 2? years ago, while in fact the possibility to give any punsishment always existed.

          • f1lunatic said on 22nd July 2012, 19:10

            As per FIA Article 16.3c, a time penalty of any duration, as applicable and deemed so by the race stewards, may be imposed on the erring driver/s.

            But then again, 16.4d also makes room for just a ‘reprimand’. Really, it’s just subjective, but surely subjective with political overtones!

          • Mark (@marlarkey) said on 23rd July 2012, 10:15

            16.3a) is the penalty for gaining an advantage from driving off the track… which becomes a 20sec penalty if in the last 5 laps.

          • F1 Lunatic (@f1lunatic) said on 23rd July 2012, 15:24


            16.3a) is the penalty for gaining an advantage from driving off the track…

            Doesnt say so anywhere, except that IF the stewards choose the option 16.3a or 16.3b, but the incident happens in the last 5 laps, ONLY THEN would the 20sec penalty become an automatic penalty transition.

            However nothing can stop the stewards to instead choose 16.3c as their penalty option, in which case, the penalty may be of ANY time duration!

          • Mark (@marlarkey) said on 23rd July 2012, 15:55

            Except that a drive-through penalty (ie 16.3a) is always the penalty given for gaining advantage from driving off the track….

            For the stewards to give any other penalty would be contrary to precedent, would be inconsistent and would open them up to accusations of favouritism.

      • shmi said on 24th July 2012, 13:12

        they want to give him ( S Vet ) a drive through penalty , but as the race ends soon so it converted into a 20 SEC Penalty … <<<

    • Eggry (@eggry) said on 22nd July 2012, 16:37

      Penalty means much more than give and take. It’s punishment.

      • matt90 (@matt90) said on 22nd July 2012, 16:41

        Exactly, he pulled an illegal move which he didn’t acknowledge, so being dropped down several places seems fair- maybe next time he and others will be more careful.

    • Max Jacobson (@vettel1) said on 22nd July 2012, 16:42

      I think a five second penalty would have been sufficient, after all given his situation in the last laps it was more than likely he would have taken the position anyway had he yeilded.

      • Wanon (@wanon) said on 22nd July 2012, 16:51

        Sorry, but a 5 sec penalty is impossible within the rules.

      • Mark (@marlarkey) said on 22nd July 2012, 17:28

        16.3 The stewards may impose any one of the penalties below on any driver involved in an Incident :
        a) A drive-through penalty. The driver must enter the pit lane and re-join the race without stopping.
        b) A ten second time penalty. The driver must enter the pit lane, stop at his pit for at least ten seconds and then re-join the race.
        If either of the two penalties above are imposed during the last five laps, or after the end of a race, Article 16.4b) below will not apply and 20 seconds will be added to the elapsed race time of the driver concerned in the case of a) above and 30 seconds in the case of b).
        c) A time penalty.
        d) A reprimand.
        If any of the four penalties above are imposed they shall not be subject to appeal.
        e) A drop of any number of grid positions at the driver’s next Event.
        f) Exclusion from the results.
        g) Suspension from the driver’s next Event.

        Effectively they ruled that this would have been punished by a drive-through penalty if it had been during the race but because it was in the last 5 laps that equates to a 20sec penalty.

        • BasCB (@bascb) said on 22nd July 2012, 17:58

          but they could just as well have given option c) a time penalty where the time could have been set to 5 seconds.

          • matt90 (@matt90) said on 22nd July 2012, 18:55

            No, they were treating it as if it had happened at any time in the race from the outset, as they should. There is no reason to give it a different treatment just because it happened at the end and thought he could get away with it. Based on that, the reasonable punishment is always a drive through for such a move. And as a drive through cannot be given, it is a 20 second penalty. Applying option c) would be treating it differently to if the same incident had occurred and been analysed in the middle of the race.

          • JerseyF1 (@jerseyf1) said on 22nd July 2012, 19:42

            @matt90 is exactly right. We’re always complaining about inconsistency in the stewarding, in this case they gave out what was the consistently applied penalty given the infringement which they identified. You might argue about whether he did anything wrong (my opinion is that he did and this seems to be agreed upon by most) – given that then a drivethrough (equivalently 20s) was the only penalty they could give for consistency. If this had happened at any other time (driver overtaking of track and not giving the place back) then it would have been a drive through penalty.

            I was actually surprised that Vettel wasn’t given an earlier warning as he was consistently running off track lap-in lap-out, I remember in the past Massa being given a warning about cutting a corner during a race, how come Charlie didn’t warn Vettel earlier as he seemed to prefer running off track to gain an advantage?

    • spankythewondermonkey (@spankythewondermonkey) said on 22nd July 2012, 17:03

      Not at all. He overtook off the track, didn’t had the place back so paid the penalty. Absolutely the right decision by the stewards.

    • Fixy (@fixy) said on 22nd July 2012, 17:34

      I think that also would have been unfair. Taking regulations by letter this penalty is right, but when Vettel exited the track out of the hairpin, he was alongside Button. I doubt the tarmac run-off offers more grip than the race track, however Vettel had a better acceleration than Button, who lost traction coming out of the corner and lost the position. Vettel gained no advantage unfairly, it was Button who lost a position because of a mistake on his own part. True, Vettel was not on track, but had Button left the space for him on the track the outcome wouldn’t have been different.

      • BasCB (@bascb) said on 22nd July 2012, 17:59

        Taking regulations by letter this penalty is right

        which maybe serves Vettel / Red Bull rigth for EXACTLY going within the letter of the rules on the throttle mapping :-)

      • falken (@falken) said on 22nd July 2012, 18:41

        Yeah, that’s what VET said, but *he shouldn’t have been there anyway* more-or-less grip not with standing. The white line is the edge of the track. Treat it as a concrete wall.

      • matt90 (@matt90) said on 22nd July 2012, 20:11

        By going off track Vettel was able to take a wider line which aided his acceleration. Had he had to turn in more sharply- as Button did- he would not have had the same drive, and whether he would have taken the place is questionable.

      • Conzo said on 25th July 2012, 12:36

        Also, the mere fact of having better traction/accelleration is not in itself enough to claim you’re faster. Button blocked Seb from overtaking on the outside, precisely because he knew he (Seb) had an advantage there and would have easily nailed him if he hadn’t covered. That’s the idea of defending – taking action against to prevent a (locally or overall) faster driver from using his speed advantage to overtake.

    • John H (@john-h) said on 22nd July 2012, 18:48

      @steph He should have let Button pass him back and then it would have only been one position. The fact he passed him off the track (accelerating knowing he was going off the circuit) and then didn’t think he had done anything wrong is worthy of harsher punishment, well in my opinion anyhow!

  6. Eggry (@eggry) said on 22nd July 2012, 16:34

    It’s shame he didn’t wait for better chance. Now Alonso has even more ground.
    Contrat for Kimi’s 3rd and Kobayashi’s 4th(!).

  7. Simon (@) said on 22nd July 2012, 16:35


  8. romeo said on 22nd July 2012, 16:35

    20sec, the right decision. It is almost equal to the time lose due to a stop and go penalty.

  9. racingfanatic96 (@racingfanatic96) said on 22nd July 2012, 16:36

    Good. Everyone knows you can’t pass all 4 wheels off the circuit- Button did it in Australia 2011 and was punished, now Vettel gets it too. This should shut Christian Horner up as well.

    • Kim K said on 22nd July 2012, 16:46

      *Everyone knows you can’t pass all 4 wheels off the circuit*

      Like Alonso did in the last corner in almost every lap near the end of the race? ;)

      • Daniel Brown (@scuderiaferrarifanatic) said on 22nd July 2012, 16:58

        Ahh but did he gain any advantage doing so? I doubt it.

        • HoHum (@hohum) said on 22nd July 2012, 23:42

          @scuderiaferrarifanatic, I’m sure he did gain an advantage, even if it was only to save the tyres, Alonso doesn’t make mistakes like that, but harder to prove an advantage when leading.

          • Daniel Brown (@scuderiaferrarifanatic) said on 23rd July 2012, 19:18

            As others have said, because at no point (as far as im aware) ALO didnt put 4 wheels off track it doesnt class as gaining advantage off track. Im sure Alonso, the wise hack he is, would have been fully aware of that and was – legally, it would seem – cutting two wheels off track to make up time. Im confident that with Whiting’s apparent crackdown and Vettels penalty, if the stewards had a problem, he would know about it.

      • DS (@duncstick) said on 22nd July 2012, 17:28

        Vettel was doing it the entire race at turns 1, 11, 12, and 17…

      • racingfanatic96 (@racingfanatic96) said on 22nd July 2012, 18:34

        Did Alonso overtake anyone? By ‘pass’ I was meaning ‘overtake’ You can’t overtake with all four wheels off the circuit. Track limits however is another matter, it’s up to the FIA to decide who is pinged. In the UK the MSA are really becoming serious about it

        • Kim K said on 22nd July 2012, 21:18

          But VET was already ahead of BUT comming out of the corner, BUT pushed him outside.
          He made the pass midway corner but BUT pushed him off track.

          • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 22nd July 2012, 21:31

            I don’t agree Button did push him off that track. And even if he did, we’ve seen dozens of times in the past drivers are allowed to do that at the exit of corners.

          • matt90 (@matt90) said on 22nd July 2012, 21:56

            Vettel wasn’t ahead until after he’d committed to leaving the track.

          • Mark (@marlarkey) said on 23rd July 2012, 10:19

            He only overtook BUT because he was accelerating off the track, knowing that there was a run-off area.

            A key question here is what would VET have done if the had not been a run-off area – what if it had been a gravel trap ? Would VET have put his foot down to overtake BUT by deliberately driving into the gravel ?

            The answer is no way… he would have backed out ie successful defence by BUT… or VET would have ended up beached in the gravel ie overtaking fail by VET.

      • dkpioe said on 23rd July 2012, 11:23

        he didnt pass off the track, and wasnt taking a short cut.

    • xjr15jaaag (@xjr15jaaag) said on 22nd July 2012, 21:29

      Vettel has overtaken Button off the track in melbourne and wasn’t penalised, Glock overtook someone around the outside at melbourne off the track in Melbolurne, and Buemi overtook someone off the track at turn 4 I think, all 4 wheels off track, and the guy he was racing was side-by-side into the next corner.
      In all instances, no penalty applied.

  10. f1alex (@f1alex) said on 22nd July 2012, 16:37

    Definitely the right decision.


  11. James (@jamesjames123abc) said on 22nd July 2012, 16:37

    20 second penalty sounds a bit harsh to be honest – much like Schumacher’s pass on Alonso at the end of the 2010 Monaco GP, why not just switch the positions? But at least it sets a precedent for anyone else who thinks about such a move.

    I just hope that the decision wasn’t based on not doing anything about the Red Bull car earlier in the day…

  12. Yoshisune (@yobo01) said on 22nd July 2012, 16:38

    I don’t fully agree with this, but I understand the choice. It’s a shame for the championship, because Vettel is definitely the main title contender, but right now he is 44 points behind Alonso, I think.

  13. BaburM (@baburm) said on 22nd July 2012, 16:38

    Kimi thinking: “3rd without having to do post race interview – perfect.”

  14. Andy Redden (@andyredden-on-f1) said on 22nd July 2012, 16:38

    Correct decision. If that had happened in middle of race they would have instructed him to move over. If not he would have had a drive through.

    • sparkus88 (@sparkus88) said on 22nd July 2012, 16:44

      100% agree with this. It had to be 20 sec or nothing 5 sec wouldn’t have been a deterent for the future.

      • Mark (@marlarkey) said on 22nd July 2012, 17:30

        It was nothing to do with being a deterent… it was the penalty dictated by the rules…

        Rule 16.3… a “drive-through penalty”…. last 5 laps = 20 sec penalty.

        • verstappen (@verstappen) said on 22nd July 2012, 17:52

          @marlarkey check option c of your own comment: a time penalty.
          They could’ve done what they wanted. 2 seconds, 3 minutes etc

          • Nick (@nick101) said on 22nd July 2012, 22:49

            And for the sake of clarity, fairness and for the avoidance of ‘favouritism’ this option (c) needs to be removed from the regulations!

            How such and open ended rule can exist in formula 1 beggars belief!

          • matt90 (@matt90) said on 22nd July 2012, 22:58

            Which would be totally inconsistent with the typical punishment for an illegal overtake- that is always a drive through during a race, which is what was given, and was converted to a 20 second penalty. There is no reason to use option c) for an offence which is always treated in the same way.

          • and if they had given him 2 seconds or 5 seconds, what would happen the next time a driver does this? Same penalty? What happens if Hamilton does this the next race, and finished 5.1seconds ahead of Vettel? Would he then lose just 5 seconds, or more?

            The rule is very clear and has been applied in the past. It’s a 20 second penalty.

            Vettel was stupid and arrogant for not giving the place back. he would have got by on the next lap anyway.

          • Mark (@marlarkey) said on 23rd July 2012, 10:09

            Sorry you’re not getting it….

            The penalty for gaining an advantage as a result of driving off the track is a drive through penalty… as per 16.3 a) that becomes a 20 second penalty if imposed during the last 5 laps or after the race.

            c) doesn’t come into it because c) isn’t the penalty for gaining an advantage from driving off the track, a) is.

  15. Peter Baptist (@6329tsur) said on 22nd July 2012, 16:38

    Kobayashi best result in F1!

    • Eggry (@eggry) said on 22nd July 2012, 16:41

      It was even before the penalty! Well done Kobayashi.

      • Idd, congrats to Kamui. He has had some awful look this year. The qualifying wasn’t great but he had a good race and the 4th place is a nice reward. I still believe his car has the potential to win. He just needs a perfect weekend, which i can confidently say he’s never had to date. It’s coming tho… I can feel it.

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