Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Monza, 2012

Did Vettel deserve penalty for Alonso move?

2012 Italian Grand PrixPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Monza, 2012Sebastian Vettel received a drive-through penalty during the Italian Grand Prix after Fernando Alonso was forced onto the grass at Curva Grande.

The move was similar to that which took place between Vettel and Alonso at the track last year – though on that occasion it was Alonso who was defending and Vettel who ended up on the grass.

Alonso did not receive a penalty on that occasion, but Vettel did this time. Did the stewards get the call right?


After the incident in today’s race the stewards ruled that “[while] defending his position [Vettel] forced [Alonso] off the track even though [Alonso] had a significant portion of his car alongside into turn three.”

This refers back to the July rules clarification which said: “Any driver defending his position on a straight and before any braking area, may use the full width of the track during his first move provided no significant portion of the car attempting to pass is alongside his.”

Looking at the replay of the incident it is clear Alonso did have a significant portion of his car (defined as any part of his front wing alongside the rear wheels of Vettel’s car) alongside, but Vettel continued to squeeze him.


While Vettel’s penalty cannot be disputed on the grounds that he pushed Alonso off the track, it is debatable whether he was defending his position “on a straight” as per the rules clarification.

The stewards themselves referred to the scene of the incident as “turn three”, also called “Curva Grande” – i.e., a curve. Vettel was following the racing line by moving to the outside of the track at the point where Alonso was forced off.

We have seen many times in the past that the leading driver is allowed to force a driver off in a corner even if that driver has a significant part of their car alongside.

I say

Much has been made of the similarities between this move and the one involving the same two drivers – albeit with roles reversed – in last year’s race. But I don’t believe those two incidents compare, for two reasons.

First, in the 2011 incident Alonso did leave Vettel a car’s width. Vettel ended up on the grass anyway.

Second, that incident came before the recent clarification on defensive driving which the stewards are clearly referring to in their statement.

Had Vettel made this move on the straight heading into the Rettifilio or a similar location, this would be an open-and-shut penalty. But seemingly the stewards consider ‘straights’ to include ‘curves which are normally taken flat-out’ – or at least this one.

Perhaps drivers are told in pre-race briefings which areas of tracks like this are considered ‘straights’. Or perhaps it is taken for granted that any section of track taken flat-out is a ‘straight’, regardless of whether it is straight or not.

Assuming that is not the case, I think Vettel was hard done by here. Maybe it’s for the best that, thanks to his alternator failure, his penalty was ultimately inconsequential.

You say

Should Vettel have been penalised for the incident with Alonso? Cast your vote and have your say in the comments:

Should Vettel have had a penalty for putting Alonso wide at Curva Grande?

  • Yes (54%)
  • No (41%)
  • No opinion (5%)

Total Voters: 764

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223 comments on “Did Vettel deserve penalty for Alonso move?”

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  1. I agree with the penalty, also may I just say that the stewards punished Vettel for this “Involved in an incident as defined by Article 16.1 of the FIA Formula One Sporting Regulations”

    Part of Article 16.1 of the FIA Formula One Sporting Regulations is “Forced a driver off the track.”

    So it does not matter that it was on a corner rather than a straight ;)

    1. By that argument no driver is ever allowed to force another off the track. Yet we see it happen all the time – in corners, without any punishment.

      For a clear example, watch lap two at Valencia again: Maldonado pushes Raikkonen clean off the track in the hairpin. No penalty.

      1. Then either the Sporting Regs need to be tightened up or the stewards need to enforce the Regs as written… which is, it seems, what they did here.

        These stewards can’t be held accountable for what other stewards did or did not do in the past (unless, of course, they’re the same people). I reckon that by penalizing Vettel, they followed the Regs as written, which is their job. If their job is to interpret the rules, and the Regs are mere suggestions, then there’s a serious problem.

        I’m not fond of the way the Sporting Regulations are written; in many cases they’re ridiculously vague. But that’s a discussion for another day.

        1. I am afraid you failed to understand the complicated reality when you wrote this

          I reckon that by penalizing Vettel, they followed the Regs as written, which is their job. If their job is to interpret the rules, and the Regs are mere suggestions, then there’s a serious problem.


          The reason why we have stewards (and judges etc.) is because its all but impossible to write rules that cover every possible situation making it inevitable that someone has to interpret what rule applies in a given situation, and decide on possible infringements.
          If not we could just have sensors and a computer to decide everything.

          1. 16.1 “Incident” means any occurrence or series of occurrences involving one or more drivers, or any action by any driver, which is reported to the stewards by the race director (or noted by the stewards and subsequently investigated) which:
            – necessitated the suspension of a race under Articles 41;
            – constituted a breach of these Sporting Regulations or the Code;
            – caused a false start by one or more cars;
            – caused a collision;
            – forced a driver off the track;
            – illegitimately prevented a legitimate overtaking manoeuvre by a driver;
            – illegitimately impeded another driver during overtaking.

            BasCB, maybe I’m just a simple duck living in a complicated world, but just exactly what about the bolded statement is hard to understand? The stewards did their job, as did the rulebook. Open, shut. That’s an example of a rule that’s written clearly and is easily understood.

            If a rule isn’t written clearly and isn’t easily understood, then there’s a problem. What part of that statement do you disagree with? If the Sporting Regulations are mere suggestions instead of rules to follow, there’s a problem. What part of that statement do you disagree with?

            Would you want to follow a sport where the rulebook can be interpreted different ways for different people at different times? Near as I can tell, F1 was like that once, and I have no interest in going back to those days. As I said before, I’m not fond of the way the Sporting Regs are written, but that’s a discussion for a different day.

          2. @wonderduck, you are right to some extent, and this is covered in @keithcollantine‘s “for” part I think. Still, in the past FIA/stewards have also done things to be “consistent” with earlier decisions, even if the chosen consistency many times seemed to be rather arbitrary. That precedent has a role is the reason the 2011 incident comes up I suppose.

            I think Vettel might not have expected Alonso to be so far ahead of him, as Alonso seemed to take much more speed into the corner than Vettel could. Still, he must have known that Alonso was somewhat next to him, and as you say @wonderduck, pushing someone off the track is not allowed.

            It seems that since last year, the stewards have indeed decided to be more strict and have recently begun enforcing the limits they want in a stronger manner, and that Vettel got caught by that, and he might well feel hard done by, but it wasn’t really undeserved I think.

          3. @wonderduck It’s not a matter of what constitutes an incident, but rather who’s to be blamed for it. There are many “incidents” where neither driver is penalized and I think this should have been such a case. Seb took his line through the corner and Fernando decided to charge into a closing door.

        2. The Rule here is “Don’t Mess with a Tifosi in Autodromo Nazionale Monza” :) . Well it is simple and Straight forward.

      2. @keithcollantine I think you need to look at the two incidents in terms of thier scale. Today, very high speed and grass/gravel run off – Valencia, very low speed and car park sized run off.

        Vettel completely deserved his penalty. Personally I dislike the rules on ‘taking up your racing line’. It doesn’t make much sense to me. How can a driver be claiming THEIR line, if in order to do so it requires forcing another car off that line. Clearly it can’t be the formers line (in todays example, Vettel), if another car (Alonso) is already ON that line. It’s bizarre. ‘Racing lines’ in my view, only really apply to quallifying laps. After all, when cars are racing they are perfectly entitled to use ALL of the track. If one driver is using one empty space on the track then NO other driver should feel even remotley entitled to use that space. If Alonso had not chosen to move off circuit Vettel would have driven clean into him (Turkey 2010, Webber holds line, Vettel moved into him), and we would be discussing whether Vettel should carry a penalty to the next race for wrecking Alonso.

        I think the rules need to serious clarification on this aspect of racing.

        1. I think first the drivers and stewards need to clarify that aspect for themselves, then write up new rules to enforce a reasonable standard, as the muddled rules are a reflection on the unclarity of thinking around this topic, as we can see from decision over the last few years @nick-uk .

      3. How about Alonso pushing di Resta aff the track in Curva Grande on the first lap?
        Add 20 sec to nando’s time :)

        1. Yeah 100% agree…permanent inconsistency by the stewadrs!!!
          what about Di Resta pushing Senna!!!

          1. Completely agree….Di Resta should have been penalized for pushing Senna off track! I must have missed Alonson pushing Di Resta off track, have to go back and watch that first lap replay.

          2. that’s the annoying thing. Inconsistant decisions. alonso gets away withg it, then di Resta got away with it a bit later yet as soon as Vettel goes for it on a ferrari, in Italy, it had penalty written all over it.
            Alonso went for a gap that didn’t exist

          3. Alonso went into a gap, that did exist. Clearly.

            Then Vettel moved over, Despite Alonso being there. I very much doubt that Vettel did it intentionally, but he did, push Alonso off. And that’s wrong.

      4. Yet we see it happen all the time – in corners, without any punishment.

        Maldonado pushing di Resta in Germany and getting punished, comes off top of my head.

        1. @suka I think you mean Hungary, not Germany.

          The key difference there being that Maldonado was behind Di Resta. Whereas if you look at the Maldonado/Raikkonen incident at Valencia, Maldonado was in front.

      5. Just because it wasn’t enforced at previous races it doesn’t mean he didn’t deserve it. He pushed Alonso clean off the track.

    2. if we take a look at every single lap a driver does in Monza, Vettel was on the usual racing line just before Della Roggia. It seems Fernando was just trying to be heroic and choose a place to overtake where he wasn’t supposed to be there.

      the FIA just reacted to sheer pressure from Ferrari IMO.. not FAIR

      1. Even if that’s your usual racing line you never have the right to force another car out of track because is overtaking you in your private racing line

        1. @juij
          Wasn’t that what Rosberg did when he physically pushed Di Resta off at the first corner?

          1. Don’t know, but if it was, then it must have been penalized aswell

        2. And what IF Vettel didn’t had the space to turn and leave some room?

          1. Then you can say, it wasn’t Vettel’s fault, he had no where to go.

            But he did have space, he did move over, he did push Alonso off the track, and likewise, he did get a penalty.

        3. @jujij : They should cut more slack for the defenders.. i remember a certain Bertolli at monaco irritating the crap out of Coulthhard xD
          I remeber also Senna, kepping Mansell?? behind .. with the current regulations the follower can just run deep, and then claim he is ‘significantly’ next to the other so he has rights to be there.. ridiculous rules!

          1. and then claim he is ‘significantly’ next to the other so he has rights to be there..

            No he can’t. Which is the crux conversation near the the top of the comments.

            Alonso didn’t “run deep”.

    3. I think the penalty was because Vettel caused an avoidable incident which could have gone very wrong. Imagine Alonso had died after Vettel pushed him off…

      1. I agree with the pen, in theory anyway. and seb only has himself to blame cos he moaned about fernando last season and what he did today was worse. you cant have it both ways.

        BUT where was paul’s pen for pushing senna off. and a few similar moments with other drivers through out the day

        1. Michael Brown (@)
          9th September 2012, 19:50

          Well I argue that the regulation clarification we got at the beginning of the season only covered straights and braking zones. Vettel pushed Alonso off in the corner, which seems to be acceptable this season (Maldonado in Australia). But Di Resta did it in a braking zone, and a part of Senna’s car was alongside, which is enough to breach the regulation.

          1. Curva Grande is a 330Km/h “corner”, so i wouldn’t classify it as one…and i’m pretty sure they mention this in the drivers briefing, seen last year’s precedent and all the fuss Vettel pulled up about it. Now he got that he wanted, so i don’t see anything wrong with the penalty especially because (in my opinion, but i think other share the same view) it was intentional and malicious. I would ban him for 1 race

    4. Let boys be boys, the ones that gain bad reputation tend to suffer in the future, less penaltys more driving, i voted yes taking in account the regulation, but i don’t agree with the regulation, looking at the mirrors on a curved straight, whilst the car behind approaches in great speed is hard, Alonso picked the wrong side and Vettel could have chosen a side earlier instead of keeping the car at the middle.


      Thats forcing another driver of the track?

  2. I’m really in 2 minds about this issue. Obviously Vettel moving across the track caused Alonso to be pushed onto the grass at high speeds on a corner, which is a dangerous sitaution; BUT Vettel took the same line nearly everyone takes through the corner, maybe he was understeering a bit and would have had to lift & concede the position to avoid the incident (I haven’t seen any onboard footage from Vettel’s POV, so thinking of situations in my head)

    I personally have no issue with the penalty, and wouldn’t have argued for one if it hadn’t been given.

    1. Jean Alesi said after the race that it is impossible to have understeer at that corner.

      1. aah yes, and jean alesi is very familiar with the RB8… smiley and waving to the camera from the ferrari pitbox… :S:S xD

  3. Here goes: Alonso and Vettel were side by side during the entire corner (ala Villeneuve/Arnoux in Dijon) and just at the exit where the straight begins….. Vettel squeazes… To me as an Alonso fan, it is pretty clear but I reckon Vettel fans are always gonna say it´s a harsh call, etc… The truth of the matter is that it would have been a pretty thick pill for Sebastian to swallow if he would have allowed Alonso to take him in the outside in much the same fashion he did last year even though Vettel completed the move in a straight portion…. Alonso´s move IMHO would have been better since they where side by side all along the curve…
    Anyways… that´s just an opinion!

  4. 100% deserved. He was driving like a cucumber.

    1. Ahahahaa that’s a good one

  5. I said yes….but with similar logic, what about Senna & Di Resta?!

    1. Despite sitting on the fence on this issue, I have no clue how DiR didn’t get a penalty.

      1. Poor ol’ Bruno! No-one had much respect for him today. Brutally pushed off the track twice and was given a poor strategy to wash it all down with! He was lucky to score a point today. Let’s spare a thought for young Bruno! :-)

    2. Senna did not have track position there. He just went too much on the outside while Di Resta was positioning himself for the turn.

      In my view Di Resta defended his position within the pages of the rulebook. He didn’t push Senna out but he wasn’t required by any rule to back off either as he had the better line AND track position into that corner.

      If anything Senna was too impatient.

    3. Yep, DiResta should have gotten the same penalty as Vettel

  6. I think Vettel couldn’t use less track as his line was akready going to throw him in the path of Alonso, Also, Alonso made a bold move there and he couldn’t fit his car. Overall, I call it a racing incident with Vettel having a bit more resposibility. In the end, in every other race it wouldn’t have been a penalty. Monza is just Ferrari area.

    1. Alonso made his move too late. If you watch the video again, particularly from the camera behind the two cars, Alonso tried to put his car into a space that was already closing and was always going to keep closing. I say Alonso compromised his own position, he choose the wrong side. Unfortunately it’s all to easy to believe there was some Ferrari/Tifosi home ground advantage.

      1. At least someone who saw the same thing than me … Makes me laugh some Alonso’s fan saying the car was next to Vettel the entire corner. And is only at the end.
        To add something to both comments ahead, that’s also an unusual overtake, other passes have been made at that corner all by the inside which mean we could consider Vettel was letting the room on the inside (again a bit late and forcing Alonso off).
        But it really seems like Alonso didn’t like beeing passed there last year and wanted a revange which he had but that wasn’t a smart move from Alonso anyway.

      2. If Vettel choose to close the door on Alonso, he didn’t do a good job. He had the advantage to use all the track when there was no car next to him. But, he left a gap. After Alonso sqeezed himself into the small gap left (not still closing gap), Vettel kept closing the gap when there was a car next to him. That’s why we got a penalty.

      3. @gdog It wasn’t much different from Hamilton vs Maldonado at Valencia, wasn’t it?

    2. Seb chose his racing line while Fernando was still way behind him. Alonso’s late charge caused the incident. He tried to squeeze his car into a closing door and there was little Vettel could do about it.

      1. There was plenty Vettel could have done but he chose not to…. or do you think Vettel is simply a passenger in the car rather than the master of it ?

        1. I didn’t say he couldn’t do anything, I just said there was little he could do. He could change his racing line mid-corner, sure. But why would any driver compromise his own racing line in the middle of a turn? There is no rule in the regulations that forces him to do that, unless there were some special rules for this particular race that we’re not aware of.

          1. But why would any driver compromise his own racing line in the middle of a turn?

            Because there is another car next to you, and moving over will cause an incident.

            Right, anymore daft questions?

            There is no rule in the regulations that forces him to do that

            What about the rules regarding leaving a cars width?

            Any more?

            special rules for this particular race that we’re not aware of.

            Alluding to things like favoritism, is both unhelpful and shows your own ignorance. If you have any significant amount of evidence that it is the case, then by all means write it down and post it, because it would be a very interesting and important piece. If not, then maybe you should keep away from the tin foil hats. Because between you and me, it’s a bad look.

          2. @mike I don’t know how you could pack any more personal attacks in one comment while completely missing the point. Kudos to you for that.

            Again: there is no rule forcing the driver to compromise his racing line in the corner. There is no rule forcing driver to leave the car width in the corner. If you think there is I dare you to find it. Such a rule would force all drivers to act as if they were shown blue flags all the time.

            I’m not alluding to favoritism, sunshine. I’m talking about the possibility of special rules given to the drivers in pre-race briefings, such as: “treat all flat-out corners as straights”.

          3. @maroonjack

            20.4 Manoeuvres liable to hinder other drivers, such as deliberate crowding of a car beyond the edge of the track or any other abnormal change of direction, are not permitted.

          4. @mike Vettel was on his racing line. It wasn’t “abnormal change of direction” and it wasn’t the rule that the stewards were referring to in the justification of this penalty. They were referring to the rule clarification from July, which refers to straights.

            “Straights” are these unbent, linear parts of any racetrack. Those bendy, curved bits are called “corners”. On a straight the driver is required to leave the car’s width if a significant portion of the car attempting to pass is alongside his. In the corner the leading driver is entitled to his line and doesn’t have to “leava space”. I don’t remember any driver being penalized for sticking to his racing line in the corner, even if the car behind him went off the track.

            In my opinion Alonso charged into a closing space. It was overly optimistic move which didn’t work. I think the stewards were wrong, UNLESS prior to the race they told the drivers to treat all flat-out corners as straights.

          5. such as deliberate crowding of a car beyond the edge of the track

            Well, like the stewards I’m able to warp my mind into such a state where a bendy bit taken at over 300 kph can constitute a piece of track, that due to being used, for all intents and purposes as a “straight” can be considered as a straight. I’m sure the drivers can cope with that strange and bizarre line of thinking without the need for specific instruction on the subject, because, against all popular opinion, they have brains.


    Alonso turns left intentionally… Seconds later, Todt whispers…”Good boy Alonso”.

    1. A stupid thing to say. In that picture he’s obviously correcting the car as it starts to move around on the grass.

    2. This would have shown in telemetry which the stewards have access to.

    3. or maybe trying to avoid a collision with vettel

  8. After seeing the incident this year, and comparing last year on the Sky pad with Davidson, and seeing how Vettel must have seen/known Alonso was there and still moved further towards the boundary of the track, I agree with having Vettel punished for forcing Alonso off track. Especially when seeing how Alonso moved towards the middle of the track after seeing Vettel get on the grass last year and Vettel just raced straight on today.

    But again, in their wording of the justification does leave more questions unanswered about rule clarity and reasoning than it answers (as the part about the Championship contenders did for Grosjean in Spa)

    1. Well said, that closely matches my ideas about this too @bascb .

    2. It was avoidable if Ferrari called Alonso in much earliar in the stint and went for two stopper which would probably have given him more relaxed approach to second-third place but Alonso was showcasing for the crowd today which almost cost him his life. Reminded me of Hamilton at moments.

      1. The 2011 and 2012 passes ae quite different @bascb. If you look frame by frame at the first 6 seconds of this video

        Vettel vs Alonso – Monza Italian F1 GP 2011 vs 2012

        you will see that Vettel in 2011 launches his attack several seconds before Alonso does his in 2012. Vettel is alongside Alonso way before they get to the access road on the inside of the Curva Grande while Alonso does not his attack unti they are past it. Alonso had to give Vettel room in 2011 because Vettel was fully alongside way before the apex while Alonso did not launch his attack in 2012 until they were well past it.

        1. Good point and great video as well … Alonso is clearly making the move in the second part of the curve which is odd, most of drivers overtaking there took the inside line with beter speed and from Vettel point of view I don’t see him react to that as he entered the corner with no-one aside, took his apex still by his own thus taking his line to leave the corner “normally” without considering Alonso could make a late move.
          It’s easy to look at this with replay and slow-mo and say Vettel should have, but that’s going so fast, mainly not a smart move from Alonso there and surprise he got the penalty, should they include a category for penalties when WDC leader is involved ?

        2. Keep in mind the rules regarding defensive driving have changed for this year.

        3. Great video, Alonso pulled out to attack on the apex long after seb was committed to his line. I think seb was anticipating Alonso to get a toe and out break him coming into ascari.

  9. If article 16.1 the stewards referred to, it clearly states:

    16.1 “Incident” means any occurrence or series of occurrences involving one or more drivers, or any action by any driver, which is reported to the stewards by the race director (or noted by the stewards and subsequently investigated) which:
    – necessitated the suspension of a race under Articles 41;
    – constituted a breach of these Sporting Regulations or the Code;
    – caused a false start by one or more cars;
    – caused a collision;
    – forced a driver off the track;
    – illegitimately prevented a legitimate overtaking manoeuvre by a driver;
    – illegitimately impeded another driver during overtaking.

    1. It’s not a matter of what constitutes an incident, but of who’s to be blamed for causing it. There are many racing incidents where neither driver is penalized. I think this should have been such a case.

      1. Vettel has a responsibility NOT to push another car off the track.

        1. Again: according to which regulation? Quote it for us please. They weren’t on a straight, and that’s the only situation where the driver must leave a car width.

  10. It was Aonso fault to put his wheels out of the track, he must slow his car. But hi is King Santander Alonso! Follow the money, always follow the money.

    1. Really? I mean, REALLY? I’m hardly a fan of Alonso… in fact, defending him is making me feel ill as we speak… but come on, you can’t really believe that, can you?

    2. But hi is King Santander Alonso! Follow the money, always follow the money.

      Motorsport is not Football in the sense that loyalty & commitment is irrelevantly created from the fact that the drivers are risking their lives & surely they’re not infected by money (If at all, but inconceivable) to an extent that their lives are in danger

    3. Reminds me of some of the arguments people made against Hamilton last week in that incident with Grosjean.

    4. sounds like a spanish alonso hater (antialonsista)

  11. There was a change of rules after Abu Dhabi this year, this pole doesn’t have any sense at all , it’s not deserve or not deserve , and get use to it because thank god since Abhu dabi tha attempt to make another car crash is now illegal , god bless Nico Rosberg.

    1. I mean Bahrein

  12. I wouldn’t have a problem with the penalty if that’s what the FIA were handing out for all offences of that nature. But the problem is that they’ve been dreadful all year. Not all incidents deserve a penalty, but the “no further action” message is becoming a very rare sight these days.

    The stewards need to lay down some clear rules so that people aren’t left feeling victimised & also to help the fans better understand what’s actually going on. Sometimes you have to wonder if there’s more (money/threats/general bribery) to the story with some of the decisions. And that’s not good for the sport. But at the same time, that is the sport, sadly.

    Vettel pushed Button onto the grass at the start of the Japanese Grand Prix last year and got away with it. Grosjean tried an identical move last weekend but Lewis didn’t take the grass, and failed to avoid an accident. I don’t know about everyone else, but I don’t think the severity of the end result should be penalised, but the extent of the infraction itself. And today we saw Paul di Resta squeeze Bruno Senna off the track without punishment, only for Sebastian Vettel to be penalised for doing the same thing. That’s without even getting into the obvious comparisons with last year.

    In 2011 Italian Grand Prix, Vettel moved alongside much earlier, and because the cars were evenly matched in a straight line, Alonso’s “chop” seemed more gentle/gradual. But this year Alonso had a huge advantage on the straights, and he chose to go left at the same time as Vettel went to cover the inside. Because he was travelling so much faster, he had no time to react and ran off track. Well, that’s how I see it. It was unfortunate. We’ve seen much worse go unpunished, that’s for sure. In fact, I’d say Alonso’s squeezing last year was more blatant than what we’ve seen today.

    So clarity and consistency needs to come before we can even start to understand why some drivers get penalties and others don’t. You can’t really debate something when everything’s so unclear and even identical examples are, according to the FIA, apparently incomparable.

    1. Many of the incidents that you refer to were from last year before they clarified the rule.

      Regarding Di Resta and Senna, Senna wasn’t very far along side, from what I saw, and it was WAY on the outside line at a chicane. One could hardly argue that he had track position.

      1. Buemi did the same thing to Heidfeld last year in Germany, but if I recall correctly, Sebastien received a 10-place grid penalty for Hungary. So if the rules have become seemingly “stricter” since then, why didn’t this even get investigated? Because Senna wasn’t flying through the air? Again, my point is that the FIA only seem to be concerned by the outcome. People won’t stop committing crimes if they know it’s only bad when someone gets hurt by it, because they know there’s a chance it will all work out OK. And then one day it won’t.

        1. @damonsmedley +1 This is exactly what the problem is! Inconsistency.

    2. Did you look at the footage of those two incidents put next to each other @damonsmedley?

      From the front, you can clearly see that Alonso left more than a cars width room (theres space between the two cars), while Vettel did not. And Vettel moved over further towards the edge of the track (did he really not know Alonso was there?) and continued doing so while he was next to Alonso who was on the grass and gravel. Last year Alonso moved over further to the middle of the track at about the same time.

      I agree with you on feeling that not all incidents are judged consistently though. Alonso pushed DiResta in the first lap, and that move between Senna and Di Resta and the one between Rosberg and Senna was on the limit as well and should have deserved the Stewards to look into it, and possibly judge it was ok.

      1. There has been a change of rules since Abu Dabhi this year , so making comparissons before that it’s useless

        1. There was no rule change that would have affected it though. Last year Alonso DID leave enough room, although barely so he was not overdoing it last year and would not have been punished this year. Vettel did not leave enough room, so he fell foul of an unwritten rule that was used by all the drivers and the stewards but was only put to paper in the winter for more clarity.

          1. From the article…

            Second, that incident came before the recent clarification on defensive driving which the stewards are clearly referring to in their statement.

        2. They haven’t raced in Abu Dhabi yet this year.

          1. My bad , i meant Bahrein

      2. @BasCB It always looks worse in slow-motion, though. When you play it through at full speed, you see just how quickly it happened. It wasn’t so much a squeeze as Fernando thinking “OK, I’m going left!” at the same time as Vettel thinking “OK, I’m going left!”. It happened so fast. Alonso ducked out and was headed straight for the grass as soon as he knew Vettel wanted that piece of tarmac at the same time. The speed deficit made it look violent and aggressive, but that’s part of racing sometimes. Vettel has in the past deliberately left people not much room, but I don’t think that was the case today. It was more of a miscommunication.

        1. I am very far from thinking it was deliberate on Vettels side. The moment I saw it I also thought Vettel must have failed to grasp how Alonso could go to the outside of him there. But fact is he did move further towards the edge of the track even when he would have been able to clearly see Alonso was next to him and getting almost completely off the track there.
          He should have pulled towards the middle of the track by then, as Alonso did last year.

          1. Yeah, Vettel continued on his trajectory to the outside of the track when Alonso drew alongside, but I think by this stage he’d lost track of how much space was left and how much further he could squeeze. When so much happens so fast, you’ve got to cut them a little slack. It’s unlikely Vettel would have had any idea why Alonso went so far onto the grass. He darted back to the middle of the track to leave some space eventually, but unfortunately it was a little too late. Can’t help but feel this was a good opportunity for the FIA to give Fernando an extra helping hand, sadly.

          2. I think it was deliberate. This is based on Vettel’s past squeezing tactics on Button in Japan, Webber in Turkey and Hamilton in the pit lane.

            It’s dangerous and quite frankly I’m pleased the stewards are finally taking control of this kind of driving. We should be praising the stewards for making F1 safer following the Rosberg ‘final straw’ incidents at Bahrain.

            Yes the wording in the sporting regs is a little ambiguous, but personally as BasCB argues above, it needs to be because never are two situations exactly the same – there needs to be an element of subjective judgement.

            Vettel could have caused a ‘Burti style’ accident today and for me was right to be punished. He should be thankful he doesn’t have an injured Alonso on his conscience.

          3. I mostly think as @bascb does that Vettel likely didn’t fully credit how much faster Alonso was, and how far beside him he was.

            But as you say @john-h, given earlier incidents, I do think his instinctive reaction in such situations seems to be to squeeze and hope for the best, instead of the opposite reaction Alonso seems to have of giving space. Similar thinking might even have influenced the stewards, and I wouldn’t blame them if it had.

    3. Last year defensive move by Alonso had no reasons to be penalised unlike this years tangle between them both:
      1. Last year Vettel completed the pass, why should it have been a penalty, if he had crashed the manouvre would have been analysed
      2. Alonso left more room than Vettel did
      3. When a driver is alongside one other while making a pass, he can not be impeded and that clearly happened.
      4. Vettel did know what he was doing he just thought that he would get away with it thinking that he was doing the same has Alonso last year.

      The only mistake made by the stewards today, was precisely the infringement that Di Resta did while defending his position from Senna.

      1. 3. Incorrect. When you’re in the corner and you are ahead of another car, then you have the right to take any racing line you want. You can’t be expected to change your racing line mid-corner, just to make room for somebody else. If someone tries to make a pass in the corner, he should take that into consideration.

        1. then you have the right to take any racing line you want

          I think you and Maldonado would get on very well.

          1. I’m glad you’re bringing up Maldonado, because in the Maldonado-Hamilton European GP incident Lewis pushed Pastor off the track, but he could do this because he was in the corner and was ahead of him. He was entitled to take any racing line through the corner. He didn’t have to “leave a car width”. Drivers don’t have to do this while they are in the corner.

    4. Good words! It’s all about power…how many years ferrari race in formula 1? Mclarem? Red bull? If u start win they will change the rules, if they think you deserve a penalty u will get it. Formula 1 is not the same anymore, no the same rules for all.

    5. Michael Brown (@)
      9th September 2012, 21:41

      I think lately the incidents have been based more on the result rather than the action. All the drivers you mentioned are all guilty for pushing another off the track, but they got different penalties.

  13. All the time you hafta leava the space.

    1. Hahahahaha! I heard that pit radio in my head again when the incident happened!

      1. Who didn’t. No actually, I heard Vettel’s impersonation of it in the press conference this year (which race was it, Barcelona discussing the Bahrain incident?)

  14. Vettel deserved the penalty in my opinion, but also Di Resta forced Senna of the track, nearly causing a collision but he wasn’t even under investigation.

    1. That’s true

    2. Agreed. Too bad Senna isn’t a ‘championship contender’ as the FIA like to say ;)

    3. That’s the thing. Just like Grosjean’s penalty was well deserved, this one also was.

      The problem is the lack of consistency (yes, again). It’s hard to compare last year’s incident with this one, as they are very different, but we’ve seen many times people forcing drivers off the line and getting away with it.

      As you say, Di Resta forcing Senna off the track. I don’t think it was even investigated. And that’s no good.

      I like the idea of the FIA penalizing this kind of thing. After Spa it seems as if they are finally trying to correct some bad behaviour on the track, so I expected an action against Vettel the moment the announced it was being investigated.

      But the problem is still the consistency.

  15. I agree for all of the reasons you say in your opinion @keithcollantine, and there are no further reasons. He pushed him off track = unfair = penalty.

    1. Anyway it makes no difference now since his car failed.

  16. I don’t think keeping your racing line may be interpreted as “forcing a driver off track”. Vettel didn’t make any kind of defensive move, he had the same racing line on every lap of the race.

    1. So now he is the owner of that racing line ? even when there’s another car in that racing line takin over him? nonsense

      1. The situation started when Alonso dived into a gap that didn’t exist, since it was evident that Vettel would take the same racing line

        A couple of years ago the problem was that overtaking attempts easily led to a penalty. But now the defending driver gets a penalty, if he doesn’t actively look into his mirrors in order to let the overtaker to take the better line so that he can complete the pass easily.

        1. How could he dive in a gap that didn’t exist , Magic Alonso ajajaja

        2. + 1… I guess this also articulates last years incident between Michael and Lewis at the same track; when Lewis dived into a portion of a track where an overtaking is never possible and at the race speed, it seemed like Michael pushed Lewis off the track and in reality, it was not the case.

        3. The idea is to defend the piece of track to deny Alonso getting alongside in the first place, not moving over once he is alongside and wheels are interlocked.

          It’s a massive difference that seems to be overlooked by some of the comments on here.

          1. Just to add to this, all this ‘racing line’ is really frustrating. What is the ‘racing line’? What about in a wet race where there are many ‘racing lines’.

            Too much reliance on terms that have no solid meaning and can differ depending on context. At the end of the day, Vettel should have allowed a car’s width once Alonso was alongside, so as not to cause an accident.

            In my opinon, Button did the same to Hamilton at Montreal and got away with it, but obviously spray was more of a factor.

          2. In the case of Montreal they looked at Button’s (and other drivers) “line” from the GPS telemetry. Because it was wet the drivers moved off the dry-racing line and thereby the new line they drove became the de-facto “racing line”.

            So yeah it’s a flexible thing, but in the end it’s defined by where the cars race.

  17. The Senna and Di Resta incident wasn’t investigated because they weren’t on the radio complaining about how the driver ruined their race!

    I don’t believe Vettel should have been penalised as I think Alonso pulled out of the overtaking move, he could have carried on with 2 wheels on the grass as Vettel did last year but by going all off the track it made things look worse.

    Going into the weekend Alonso stated he must finish ahead of whoever was in second place (Vettel). He was behind Vettel and finding it hard to overtake him and was behind for a subsequent 10 laps of which Ferrari were moaning on the pit radio and tweeting scarstic comments for the stewards benefit. Vettel said on team radio he did not push him off the track but was still penalised. To me it was like Man Utd getting a dodgy penalty at Old Trafford with 10 mins to go when they are behind. Home advantage won out.

    The fact Vettel had to retire in the race does not make it better. Alonso getting beating by Perez was good to see and he looked quite subdued for part of his podium experience and sheepish even waiting to come out to the crowd. He seems to be very smug in some of the reports I have read post race about the fate of Vettel and the Red Bulls.

    People unfairly complain about Vettel and Red Bull often stating they sandbag Webber in favour of Vettel but that is Vet’s second retirement this year with an alternator failure. I believe he has only won 1 race this year compared to Webber’s 2 so I’m not sure that is the case.

    It would seem that if you go up against Alonso this season your the one to get a penalty. Perhaps in the past Vettel has benefitted from being the champion in some of the racing decisions but to outsiders you can see why the penalities are considered so inconsistent.

    In other news I don’t recall seeing Maldonado mentioned in the race so I guess someone must have had a word with him after all!

    It’s a shame that Vettel and Webber couldn’t have finished in the points, I think without the alternator Vet would have been looking at 5th place at best but I expect the Bull to be on charge in Singapore.

    It has opened the championship up even more but I just hope that Alonso isn’t on top at the end, if its not a RBR driver then a McClaren driver would be just as good!

    1. @chelseano161997 Fernando was supposed to win in 2010, he didn’t have a car that could possibly challenge for the title in 2011, so this is the year his stolen crown must be returned! ;-)

      1. Yes yes! I see it now! The powers that be, Bernie, Luca, Flavio & Todt drew his name from the golden (and I literally mean golden, 24 carats felipe baby!) hat in 2010, but the crown (plastic with diamantes, no gold for the drivers) was stolen. So they’ve waited a couple years to steal it back to avoid suspicion.

        /sarcasm, hyperbole, or whatever you want to call this nonsense.

        1. I’d call it genius!

    2. and may I add, F1 is far more technical than Football and can’t be that subjective which is why I gave up on Football…Stay with racing.

  18. I can’t help but wonder 2 things. Would this penalty have been given anywhere other than Monza with a Ferrari ‘wronged’? Also, would this penalty have been given if it were not for the recent calls to be tougher on driving standards?

    If the first question is answered ‘no’ then it’s poor, but understandable – bias happens occasionally and you just have to live with it.

    If the second question is answered ‘no’ then I am very happy. Lower tolerance to what the stewards regard as poor driving can only help reign in the excesses of some of the crash-prone drivers, especially if it is applied equally to all: “If even Vettel gets punished, there’s no way I’ll get away with anything.”

    But personally, I think he followed the racing line, and it’s very difficult to justify a punishment for a driver following the racing line he appeared to be following on every other lap. Especially when you look at the number of drivers who took the other option at Curva Grande and ducked inside their targets with relatively high success rates.

    Anyhow, good drive by Alonso, good drive by Hamilton, GREAT drive by Perez and massive shame for Button – even if he’d lost the place to Perez (at least 50/50 given Perez’s pace), and he would still have been in the Championship race. Also, would’ve been a favour to Hamilton who I think has the best chance to overhaul Alonso.

    1. Good post. those are all very good considerations.

      I do wonder though, isn’t HAM happier to have Button clearly further behind him in the WDC though, even if ALO is then also further away from him; he must see Button as a big threat to his WDC aspirations if he starts winning races Hamilton could have won instead, and Button js not giving up on WDC yet, despite the odds, so it seems a clear possibility.

      1. Another interesting question – the BBC’s Andrew Benson is often full of rubbish, but his blog after the race suggests that BUT and HAM really aren’t getting on after last weekend. If that’s true, the BUT’s result doesn’t matter to HAM – if the don’t get on, BUT will never support HAM’s bid for the WDC.

        If it’s a storm in a teacup (probably more likely…2 and a half years of getting along well doesn’t normally evaporate in a single mistake), then HAM is probably very happy to see BUT fall back.

        All in all though, if you ask BUT who is faster, he will say “sometimes HAM, sometimes me”. If you ask HAM, he will say “me”. Assuming of course you get get them both to be brutally honest… So HAM probably doesn’t care – to his mind if the 2 McLaren’s are running at the front, he will expect that he will be the lead car, or be able to overtake.

        Not meant to be a criticism, one of the tough things about being a HAM fan is that you have to put up with the histrionics that come with a supremely arrogant driver. Look at all the great champions and you see the same thing. (And no, I’m not calling him a great champion. Yet.)

  19. It looked to me as though Alonso opted to put all four wheels off the circuit and then complain loudly. Vettel squeezed him sure – but left him about 3/4 of a car width enough room to keep a couple of wheels on track.

    1. Yes, Alonso tried to kill himself just so he can complain, omg

    2. @jeffaz 3/4 isn’t enough though. It needs to be a car width which is stated clearly in the rules.

      1. But when vettel saw him, he darted right (from his perspective)

    3. It looked more to me like Alonso thought it better to avoid possible race-ending contact. Could’ve been pretty nasty at that speed. After not scoring @ Spa, I can’t say I blame him either.

  20. I bealieve that the pelanlty was right from the one hand, because vettel didn’t leave any space at all! And of course there isn’t the same as last year race where vettel just touch the grass! On the other hand, that’s racing and vettel was trying to defend his position with any mean…
    Also, if they were racing in another circuit in another country no penalty was going to be given!

    1. @vlastos

      Also, if they were racing in another circuit in another country no penalty was going to be given!


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