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

Loading ... Loading ...

An F1 Fanatic account is required in order to vote. If you do not have one, register an account here or read more about registering here.

2012 Italian Grand Prix

Browse all 2012 Italian Grand Prix articles

Image ?? Red Bull/Getty images

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

Jump to comment page: 1 2 3 4
  1. I’m not sure it was justified, but after Grosjean’s ban last week I expected it. To me it looked like Alonso surprised Vettel, who didn’t notice he was there until too late, but conversely one could argue that Vettel should have been more aware of where Alonso was, considering the fact that he’d been up his diffuser for quite a while trying to get past the whole time. Personally I thought it was a racing incident, but I can easily see why the stewards ruled otherwise… especially after last week.

  2. My say is that Alonso was a bit impatient and took the worse side while Vettel was holding his line. Though I must say that after going over the regulations, I have slight doubts about my own opinion.

    1. I meant worst, sorry for the typo.

  3. I agree with the penalty though you won’t find me scathing Vettel for his infraction. Ultimately he did break a rule and should be punished accordingly, Alonso clearly had a significant part of his car level with the rear of Vettel yet Vettel continued on his path, albeit the racing line. Vettel did not move directly into Alonso, he just didn’t move off the line he was on which was gradually getting smaller and smaller for Alonso. Vettel should have moved off line and it probably wouldn’t have done his race campaign much damage.

    You can’t draw many comparisons to last years move, Alonso did indeed leave Vettel enough room but more importantly the rule clarification didn’t exist. You cannot retrospectively apply rulings, especially when the leading driver in last years move wasn’t in the wrong.

  4. An Italian car was “pushed out” in the Italian Grand Prix…. mmm
    Sometimes stewards don’t see the same things in similar cases. As Keith mentions:

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

  5. Why all the fuss about Vettels drive through, a clear case of bad driving….and of course it was a ferrari driver
    that complained….and it was in Italy…… so of course Vettel got a drive through. PDResta did not get a drive through … same same but different.
    Why have rules for only some drivers…especially in Italy.

    1. “Di Resta” can hardly get more italian for a scott… the stewrards didn’t probaly realise that ;-)

  6. I think that even though Vettel was in the wrong, it didn’t warrant a penalty. A warning would have been enough in this particular instance, as he did go too far, but he was racing for the championship for heaven’s sake – I’m not expecting one double world champion not to fight for all it’s worth with another. Yes, Charlie Whiting has made clear what is allowed and what isn’t this year and everybody knows that the FIA is taking a harsher line against offences after Spa, but let’s not jump on the bandwagon too much: he pushed him slightly wide, something he shouldn’t have done, but not enough to penalise his whole weekend.

  7. I think driving standards are worse nowadays, and because of that I’m glad the stewards are tougher, but they do need to be more consistent. Inconsistency in different races is somewhat understandable because the stewards are different each race, but for inconsistency in the same race isn’t acceptable. Vettel got penalised, but Di Resta didn’t for what he did for Senna.

  8. No you need those type of things in racing if the steward been too aggressive then in the near future drivers won’t even try to put on optimistic moves.

  9. William Brierty
    9th September 2012, 18:40

    Personally I don’t think Vettel should have recieved a penalty, that’s not because I am in anyway a Vettel fan, in fact I worship at the alter of Alonso. I think Vettel was simply covering the inside line for the chicane, believing that Alonso was directly behind him, and was simply caught out because a) there was a HUGE speed offset between the cars and b) he believed that he had already placed his car in a manner to suggest that he wanted Alonso to go round the outside. However, I do sypathize with the stewards because a) it was dangerous (and after Spa the stewards are cracking down on dangerous manoveres) and b) it was Vettel’s fault because Vettel should have been looking in his mirrors. But it was just a mistake, and there was no malice or intent from Vettel, and Alonso should have anticipated that Vettel would cover off the inside line and that that gap was going to close. For me it was just a bit of a “what side am I going on” misunderstanding, more of a racing incident than anything else.

  10. I didn’t vote. At the time I saw it on TV, my comment was: “Naughty – wonder what the stewards will say?” because (despite what Coulthard said) last year was not the same as Alonso left Vettel just enough room that Vettel was unable to capitalize on.

    At least the stewards are being a hair more consistent in penalizing “incidents” that could “take out” world champions — last week Grosjean, this week Vettel. Both “incidents” involved forcing a very experienced driver off track. I’m just very thankful that Alonso reacted differently from Hamilton by avoiding contact.

  11. It should not be a penalty! Last year Alonso did the same thing to Vettel (Alonso caught more dirt this year but still) and didn’t get a penalty. I’m sure that if they would switch positions and Vettel would get off that much today, Alonso would not get a penalty. A Ferrari simply doesn’t get penalties in the Italian Grand Prix…

  12. This incident brings back memories of Alonso brake testing Coulthard when he was clearly going to be overtaken (many many years ago).

    In this case if you watch closely Alonso was caught off guard, either Vettel kind of slowed down marginally so as to not let Alonso have a run at him or Alonso was just caught in the slip stream and was too close. Vettel’s move this year was no different from last year’s incident.

    In any case there is enough doubt that Vettel was to blame (mostly brake testing Alonso) to give him the punishment. Have to see that particular sector time to decide that, only stewards know.

    1. This incident brings back memories of Alonso brake testing Coulthard when he was clearly going to be overtaken (many many years ago).

      2003 Nurburgring.

      It also wasn’t a brake test, He had a braking problem which forced him to brake earlier than normal, This continued over the final few laps & he very nearly lost a few spots on the final lap.

      The race stewards investigated post race, Renault provided them with telemetry which showed Alonso had the problem & the FIA looked at his car post race & also confirmed that he did have a problem.

      This is why no action was taken & why coulthard/mclaren didn’t take matters further.

  13. Deserved.. and so many of you jump on the bandwagon of a a Spanish driver of an Italian Team in an Italian Race, that is why they have Stewards/Marshalls from other countries, just like any other sport. You bandwagon cucumbers!

  14. I think it is borderline, and because you cannot give a half-drive thru, it was either going to be over or under penalized.

  15. typical fia on ferraris side again, had alonso done this to any other driver he would have been left off scot free

    1. yeah i second that!
      Jean Todt just can’t be objective… he is a human after all..

  16. Michael Brown (@)
    9th September 2012, 19:47

    Of course not. Maldonado and Webber have squeezed drivers off the track in the middle or exit of a corner, and that was never given a penalty. I think the penalty to Vettel was a knee-jerk reaction since it was done in a high speed corner and there was gravel runoff.

  17. While Alonso did have a significant part of his car alongside Vettel, the section on which they were driving were neither a “straight” or “before a braking area”.

    Alonso was going into a disappearing wedge and should have thought better of and backed off.

    A warning to Vettel and a clarification to all drivers later would have been a better decision than a penalty. And I am sure had it been any other pair of car,race and not Alonso,Monza; he would not have got a penalty.

  18. I had the pleasure of driving a Lotus 7 type kit car the other day, and it was wonderful, the wind in the hair, the ‘infinite headroom’, the clear view in all directions…

    Except the wing mirrors wobbled. Not a great deal, but just enough of a high frequency vibration to make things tricky. And at 60mph, overtaking another car, I couldn’t see him in my wing mirror at all, so a shoulder check was required before retaking the lane. Fair enough.

    I say this in defense of Vettel, but of course it doesn’t apply. You can’t use ignorance as a defense. At 190mph+ and 2.4G, you err slightly on the side of caution with car positioning when you’re not 100% on where another car is.

    At that speed, is it OK, ahead or not, to push a car off the track? No! The game of racing is outsmarting your opponent to get yourself in front. If you place your opponent in an indefensible position (unless he wants to cause an accident), then well done. You’ve just won the game of high-speed chess that is competitive track motorsport.

    1. I loved that comment @splittimes! And good way to put it into perspective too, this is why I think most of us agree it is good if the stewards are a bit harsher (if only they could also work on being more consistently consistent!).

  19. I think the penalty is harsh..
    This was just proper racing… if they [the stewards] continue like this, then maybe it is better to just get them all time-trailing. If they take away every defending possibility racing is no longer racing.. (F1 is not real racing as we all know of course) but to least keep the illusion of racing would be nice..

  20. I agree with the penalty, but I wish it were more consistently enforced. It’s pretty clear that it’s political at this point with Red Bull constantly being penalized for things that everyone does. Is the RRA really that important to the FIA that they need to show partiality out on the track?

Jump to comment page: 1 2 3 4

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.