The FIA has decided that the penalties handed out to Sebastian Vettel during the Azerbaijan Grand Prix for his clash with Lewis Hamilton were sufficient, with a full apology coming from the German during a meeting with FIA officials on Monday.
Vettel was handed a ten-second stop and go penalty and three penalty points on his Superlicence for his move on Hamilton behind the safety car, with the Scuderia Ferrari driver seemingly driving into the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team racer as the Briton dictated the pace ahead of the restart.
However, the FIA requested an additional hearing with Vettel at the headquarters in Paris, with FIA Deputy President for Sport Graham Stoker, FIA General Secretary for Sport Peter Bayer, FIA Formula One World Championship Race Director Charlie Whiting and FIA Formula One World Championship Deputy Race Director and FIA Safety Director Laurent Mekies all in attendance, as well as Vettel’s Team Principal Maurizio Arrivabene.
The meeting was called as the FIA were ‘deeply concerned by the wider implications of the incident, firstly through the impact such behaviour may have on fans and young competitors worldwide and secondly due to the damage such behaviour may cause to the FIA’s image and reputation of the sport’, and following examination of data and video evidence, and further discussions, Vettel took full responsibility and issued a full apology, which he requested be made public.
Vettel has subsequently offered to devote some personal time over the next twelve months to educational activities across some of the FIA’s championships such as the FIA Formula 2 Championship, although Jean Todt, the FIA President, insists no road safety activities should be endorsed by Vettel during the remainder of 2017.
Mr. Todt also made it clear that any repetition of what happened in Azerbaijan will be looked at unfavourably, and would likely be referred to the FIA International Tribunal for further investigation.
“Top level sport is an intense environment in which tempers can flare,” said Mr. Todt. “However, it is the role of top sportsmen to deal with that pressure calmly and to conduct themselves in a manner that not only respects the regulations of the sport but which befits the elevated status they enjoy.
“Sportsmen must be cognisant of the impact their behaviour can have on those who look up to them. They are heroes and role models and to millions of fans worldwide and must conduct themselves accordingly.”
Mr. Todt also insists that the matter is closed at this time, with the FIA saying that Ferrari is ‘aligned with the values and objectives of the FIA’.
Ferrari also released a statement, confirming their commitment and support to FIA initiatives, commenting also on Vettel’s own admissions of what happened in Azerbaijan.
“Following the meeting that was held today in Paris between FIA representatives and Scuderia Ferrari driver S.Vettel, with the purpose of clarifying positions on the incidents occurred at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, Scuderia Ferrari notes the driver’s apologies and his personal commitments to help the image of the sport,” said Ferrari’s statement.
“Scuderia Ferrari confirms its support to FIA’s initiatives, sharing the governing’s body values and objectives.”