Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Hockenheim, 2012

Vettel demoted to fifth with 20-second penalty

2012 German Grand PrixPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

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

Browse all 2012 German Grand Prix articles

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

  1. Good result, he should have immediately conceded the place, red bull could have told him to do it. So left the stewards to do what he should honorably have done, he deserves the 2 places for being dishonorable.

  2. Correct decision, Vettel must do better.

  3. Maybe a 5-second penalty would have been enough but the pass certainly was not valid. Button didn’t push Vettel off the track and he wasn’t required to leave more room, too. Seb just effectively decided to widen the track for himself.

  4. The 20 second penalty was fair.
    Vettel and Red Bull took a bet – they ended up losing 5 points (3rd -> 5th). Not the end of the world. The problem is Alonso winning, not whether they finish 2nd or 3rd or 5th.

  5. Thank God a year that sees Vettel getting it all wrong!!!

    1. Schadenfreude isn’t a very nice reaction to anything in my view. Maybe you should keep gloating over things like this to yourself?

      1. I have never before seen someone actually use ‘schadenfreude’ in a context that isn’t explaining what it is..

        1. It is so sad that only a few language has word for being happy on others misfortunes, as German-schadenfreude or Hungarian-káröröm. Here you go @alfie

      2. Usually, I’d agree.

        But Vettel, and Horner… Are such b*@%ards, it’s warranted. Whenever anything goes wrong for Vettel, he looks and acts like a scolded child who’s been put in a corner! That is not how a 2 time WDC should act.

        Horner is such a smug little twit, whenever he’s on screen I can’t help put want to punch him in the face. He’ll argue, the elephant over there, “is open to interpretation, so it’s a giraffe. And you can’t write in the ‘spirit’ of the rules, so yes…It’s clearly a giraffe”

        Any Penalty these clowns get it well deserved.

        1. metalman: I don’t think it’s fair to direct hatred at RB/Horner/Vettel for doing what every other team does – hugging the limits of the regulations and attempt to get away with it. Because they are still in many ways the ‘team to beat’, they’re under more scrutiny, so we notice it a lot more, but I can’t say that I haven’t felt similar feelings of nausea when seeing Ron Dennis, Jean Todt, or Flavio, when they were the top of the class.

          I do agree though, that Vettel has not yet proven himself a mature driver when things are not going his way – I find it irritating and disappointing, but then again, I think the jury is still out anyway on Seb, and in particular whether he can actually _win_ a race (as opposed to ‘not losing’ it). Much as I believe that he and Hamilton are probably the fastest over one lap, at the moment, we’ll have to give him time to develop – incidentally, I think Lewis came back a better driver after his horrible 2011, both in pure racecraft, and in his dealing with negative experiences.

          In many ways, I find it very nice that Alonso and Webber, two of the most mature and fair drivers on track, have shown some of the other kids how one drives a proper race and how one conducts a proper fight on track, with neighter of them showing signs of bottyhurt when they were beaten fair and square.

  6. Daniel Brown (@scuderiaferrarifanatic)
    22nd July 2012, 16:49

    Justice has been done, on this occasion. Just because he is Sebastien Vettel, F1’s perfect racer hero of recent years, doesn’t mean the rules dont apply to him.

    A fair and consistent judgement. Anybody else guilty of this would be given the same penalty, so this is fair. If there had been any other judgement, McLaren would have almost certainly appealed, it would possibly have dragged on to the WMSC court of appeal, and the result wouldn’t have been final for months. A good judgement from the stewards, not so much from Vettel.

    In other news, a German has lost on penalties!!!

  7. I don’t think a penalty was required here. Overtaking from the outside is different from overtaking from the inside. Vettel did the same to Button last year in Australia and got away with it.

    Inconsistency again! I agree with @pnunocosta above. FIA just wanted to punish Red Bull for their engine mapping infringement but couldn’t due to their own mistake.

    1. Just because it’s poetic justice doesn’t mean it’s not also actual justice…

  8. ShaneB457 (@shaneb12345678910)
    22nd July 2012, 16:52

    Good result for Kimi and glad that Button retained 2nd..

  9. He would have never have passed at that corner if he did not go off the track, he gained an advantage by going off the track, so he did deserve the penalty, what bugs me though is there is too many inconsistencies eg Oz 2011 vettel passes button on the outside of the exit of turn 4 but nothing was done i think in that same gp one of the str’s was penalised for passing like that.

    1. No; Buemi wasn’t penalised on that occasion, and that pass was a lot less clear cut; he was side=by-side with a Force India into the next corner, whilst vettels move was done before he went off track in melbourne

  10. It’s fair enough really – a clear rule violation with a clear consequence.

  11. To all you people claiming its “unfair” because of the fact that he would have passed Button anyway, think back to when Hamilton had to start behind EVERYBODY despite being a second quicker in qualifying due to too little fuel, did the stewards say “well a few more litres wouldn’t have changed that”?! No, rules are rules no ifs or buts

  12. Why only 20 seconds and why Perez five places behind in the grid?

    1. @f1sauber Because in all likelihood you get a grid penalty for impeding 2 people in qualifying, and the equivalent of a drive through (20 second penalty) for an illegal overtake in the race.

  13. I saw a few drivers in GP2 & GP3 pass cars the same way vettel did without getting any penalty so the decision seems very inconsistent & the fact its 20 seconds rather than simply swapping the places round just seems unfair.

    1. Wasn’t it was one of the RBR drivers (vettel?) in Oz I think that passed by going off track and got no penalty. This the correct decision.

    2. i would say had it happened 10-20 laps earlier there would have been a drive-through penalty costing vettel roughly 20 seconds.. fair punishment.

    3. Retributive theory. The same reason someone who robbed you probably won’t get away even giving back exactly what he stole. A price must be paid to “avenge” the rule.

    4. GP2 and GP3 arent the same as F1…

  14. I agree. Hamilton should have been penilized in barhain. Because he passed rosberg outside the race track . Fair penalty for vettel but Hamilton should have been penalized because it is basically the same manouver

    1. Tete: Penalties aside, I think the moves were very different. Vettel tried the overtake on the outside, and Button stayed on the inside, and ran line edging towards the outside, in order to block Vettel. At no time did Button push Seb off the track – if you look at the replay, Button is actually leaving some space (albeit obviously not enough for Seb to squeeze through).

      Otoh, in Bahrain, Hamilton was in the slipstream right behind Rosberg, and tried to get out of it by going to the inside of the track (right-hand side). Rosberg went the same way, and they veered from the one side of the track to the other, with Rosberg not actually pushing Hamilton off the track, but most certainly being a lot less gentlemanly than Button to Vettel. Whereas Seb could have backed down without much loss, Hamilton was already so committed, and they were veering so sharply that there was no realistic other split-second decision to make.

      I found the Hamilton/Rosberg incident difficult to judge (and thankfully, I’m not tasked with the job), but I can understand the rationale behind not punishing Hamilton. On the one hand, he overtook off the track, but on the other hand, Rosberg’s driving was not really kosher and merited at least a severe slap on the wrist. Maybe the smart thing indeed was to let it go.

      With Button and Vettel, everything was clear.

  15. Perfect Punishment! Exactly as I was hoping!

  16. Although I am extremely surprised, finally we can see some consistency within the FIA… You just can´t let these things go unpunished… And to everybody saying that the 20 secs. are a bit harsh… well punishments are meant to be harsh, that´s the whole point of it so that you think twice before commiting the same mistake twice! Finally some justice!

    And just to clear something up, I have read a lot of comments saying FA continuosly went off track in turn 16; take a closer look, his front right tyre is still on track and therefore perfectly legal.

  17. * this time ^

  18. xeroxpt (@)
    22nd July 2012, 17:25

    Unfortunate, unnecessary but rightful

  19. This decision is really disappointing. It doesn’t matter whether the rules are right or wrong, nor if the stewards’ decision is right, wrong or inconsistent. What does matter to some extent is that it was handed down way too late, after the awards were handed out. But above all, it’s a killer for the competitive spirit of the sport — if you can’t overtake a slower car and ensure safety by running wide when the other driver uses all the track, that puts a serious damper on overtaking. What’s left? Only artificial DRS…

    1. ensure safety by running wide when the other driver uses all the track

      I think you’ve attached too much credulity to Vettel’s rather fallacious argument here.

      He did not leave the track for reasons of safety, he did so because he wasn’t far enough alongside Button at the exit of the corner to force him to leave room, and instead of tucking in behind and trying to get a run at the next corner, opted to use the run-off instead.

      1. I watched it, and obviously what I saw and what you saw left different impressions on us both. Are you really saying that if he had kept at least two wheels “on the track” there would not have been a collision? [btw, I haven’t yet found a replay on line.]

        But, as I originally said about “not mattering whether it’s right or wrong” (in other words, I’m not taking sides for either driver) it’s the manner in which the decision was made and it’s cooling effect on future overtaking that I find abominable.

        1. Sorry but Keith has the correct take on. It as far as I can see. There is more then 1 place to overtake on the track, and this punishment doesn’t do anything to deter people from attempting them, but reminds the drivers of what they can and can’t do. All weekend Charlie Whiting was telling them to keep 2 wheels on the track, all the shame for Seb for no listening.

          1. As seen on the footage of the camera angle from above, after the race, in the exit of the corner Vettel straighten his car earlier and started accelerating prior than Button and therefore had better traction than Button. Button still turning could not accelerate earlier or as much as he has not straighten his car yet. Or at least his traction was less than Vettel’s. If Vettel had kept 2 wheels on the track it would have been a legal pass. But the fact that he straightens his car earlier, he knew that that he had nowhere to go but off track to keep on accelerating faster than Button. He had another option and that was to lift off throttle and tuck in behind Button and try later. The same happened with Alonso in 2010 when he passed Kubica. Ferrari was on the phone to Charlie whether they need to give the position back. As it turns out Kubica car expired and Alonso then had to take a drive through penalty. Red Bull had that option to ask Charlie as well even if they had little time to the end of the race. They did not take it. They should have told Vettel to give the position back and try again. If Vettel was clever he should have stayed in front of button and give back the position just before the DRS activation point and staying tucked behind button and take clear advantage on the straight with DRS to pass. He did go off track with all 4 wheels and he did gain and advantage in doing so to pass Button off track and therefore the standard penalty is justified.


            Photo 4 is the key one…. at this point BUT is not on full power and still turning… VET is on full throttle commited to leaving the track. He only overtook from photo 4 onwards because of the extra traction of heading straight off the track.

        2. @paul-a

          Are you really saying that if he had kept at least two wheels “on the track” there would not have been a collision?

          I’m not making any presumption about what might have happened had they driven differently. You seem to be taking at face value Vettel’s insistence that his only option was to remain alongside Button. I don’t buy that (and nor, it seems, did the stewards).

          This decision compels drivers to confine their overtaking to the racing track and not going of it in search of an advantage. That’s fine by me.

    2. @paul-a

      Ummm I think that if he was faster than Jenson, he should have waited to get past him on the last lap… Just as Maldonado should have waited for the next lap to pass Hamilton in Valencia… This sanction has nothing to do with safety… it has to do with abiding rules… plain and simple… I agree that it has handed way too late… they should have taken immediate action and Kimi should have been up there in third place!

  20. This penalty is simply ridiculous!
    What the stewards would say about the battle between Massa and Kubica at Fuji in 2007 or Arnoux and Villeneuve at Dijon in 1979, when F1 was much more dangerous than nowadays?
    I think these drivers would be arrested and executed in public!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    F1 = balls!

    1. @Danilo
      I agree with F1=balls but your case of the Arnoux and Villeneuve race has nothing to do with this case… In the Dijon race, yes they banged wheels, yes there where moments where they went off track but those off track moments where in straights and they never ever made a pass off track…. I recall Villeneuve showing a massive display of balls trying to hold position on the outside once Arnoux dove for the inside of turn 1…. Dijon can never be compared to what happened in Germany today…
      The punishment is just. People say it´s harsh but since when are punishments intended to be linient?

      1. I respect your opinion, but I stick to what I have said.
        This is not racing anymore. This is turning into a kindergarten because the FIA treats the drivers like spoiled kids that need to be grounded all the time.
        Let them have real racing like 10, 30 years ago, when the drivers had to have balls and not get on the radio to be whining about.

    2. All sporting incidents at any sport are subject to human interpretation. Penalties issued can vary enourmously from venue to venue – official to official but it doesn’t mean there is a conspiracy or favouritism. FIA Stewards are “lay” meaning non professional and are backed by an experienced F1 driver. Although there might appear to be precedents, each circumstance, whilst they might look similar, are very different in a complex sport like F1. I think the stewards decision was absolutely spot on. A previous poster commented that a “runn off area” shoudl be treated like a brick wall. Years ago, it would have been armco and if Vettel had tried that – he would be dead. By using the run-off, he was able to avoid scrubbing off speed and braking to follow Jenson through as he should have done, therefore he gained a significant advantage. It was not a move to avoid a collision because he shouldn ‘t have been there as at that point, he was not even ahead.

      A good catch and as someone else said, they gambled, and lost.

      1. Well Said. +1

    3. I think these drivers would be arrested and executed in public!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      Since when was Jeremy Clarkson a member?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

All comments are moderated. See the Comment Policy and FAQ for more.