In his first comments regarding the on-track fracas between title contenders Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, FIA President Jean Todt has suggested that Vettel won’t overstep in future, given the “severe” consequences that would entail.
Vettel attended a meeting headed by Todt at FIA Headquarters earlier this week to plead his case, and the panel present felt no further action was required to go with the 10 second penalty awarded to him for driving into Hamilton under a safety car period.
This was in part down to an apology by Vettel to the FIA members present, the second time in a year he has been forced to apologise for rash actions after swearing at FIA race director Charlie Whiting at last year’s Mexican Grand Prix.
“It is up to the president of the FIA to decide whether he should be asked to go in front of the International Tribunal,” Todt told Sky Sports. “After Mexico, which was a completely different offence, and I mean clearly we see that Sebastian, who is a great driver, sometimes is not able to control himself as much as he should. And I used to run drivers, and they are in a very tense situation.
“I think you must try also to interpret the situation well. This doesn’t mean that you give them the right to do anything, but you must try and understand it. It’s so easy to make decisions behind a desk, or to judge behind a desk. You must accept in life that human beings may have some emotions.”
Todt was keen to draw a line under the issue, stating that Vettel would incur the wrath of the FIA if he was to overstep his bounds in a similar manner going forwards.
“This thing was a completely different matter, but clearly, Sebastian has had some very strong warnings. And clearly, it won’t happen again. If it would, then the consequences would be very severe.”
A parallel was drawn to the Tour de France, where Peter Sagan – the reigning holder of the green jersey for the points classification – was disqualified from this year’s event, having elbowed rival sprinter Mark Cavendish on the run to the finish of a stage. The incident happened a day after the verdict came out on Vettel’s incident, with many suggesting it cast the sport in a poor light compared to Le Tour’s decision to banish Sagan.
“We are in a business where we need to be very precise,” continued Todt. “I am not very familiar with cyclists or football but I think it’s irrelevant to compare what happened recently in the Tour de France and what happened in Baku.
“The cyclists were in full action and not during a neutralised period. I don’t know what would have been the consequences or what would have happened.”