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FIA confirms no action to be taken over Vettel overtake in Brazil
Posted By: James Allen  |  29 Nov 2012   |  8:00 pm GMT  |  228 comments

The FIA today confirmed that it plans to take no action over the incident in Sunday’s Brazilian Grand Prix in which Sebastian Vettel overtook Jean Eric Vergne, apparently under yellow flags.

Ferrari confirmed via Twitter that it had asked the question of the FIA, having reviewed the video evidence.

But a marshal waving a green flag could be seen, when the footage was viewed in slow motion, before Vettel made his move on Vergne and that satisfied the FIA’s Charlie Whiting that there was no case to answer.

Whiting told Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport, “If the lights are not installed at a flag post the driver responds to the first signal that is shown.

“In Vettel’s case, between the last yellow light and the green light there was a green flag being waved.

“The distance is 350 metres here. Vettel responded to the flag and did
everything right.”

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People are blaming Ferrari for seeking clarification. I, instead, wish they would have launched an appeal, and had argued that that the dashboard lights were still ‘yellow’ until Vettel had crossed over a painted line on the circuit ( a line which would have signalled the end of the yellow flag zone) Why should a human marshal, who could have, in this case or in any other case, waved a flag in error, take precedence over the FIA ECU itself? SInce the yellow lights were still on, Vettel knew that he was still in the ‘yellow flag zone’, and could have waited until the lights turned off to pass…he didn’t though and hence he illegally passed under yellow flags. It’s a shame Whiting and the rest of the FIA were/still are partial. For this reason, Alonso should have been champion.


Why if Ferrari don’t want to belittle vettel’s championship, why do they keep saying Alonso is the best and he deserved the title because he did two races less, to be honest I think they have done everything to be belittle it


Obviously Alonso needs that kind of support.


Just a big note of thanks James. My goodness I have never understood how you can spend so many hours reviewing the chatter from us armchair fans.


My word James the desperation and bitterness being shown by a significant number of the Ferrari fans on this page is truly astounding!

Are you not tempted to mod-out those posting circular arguments that do not contribute to useful debate?

It is a real shame that some users of this fine site are detracting from what was one of the closest and most exciting final races in the recent history of the sport (at least since Lewis & Massa), just because their “horse” didn’t win.

I for one am glad Vettel won his third title and secured his place at the table of true greats of this sport. It’s no less than he deserves after the fantastic performances he has delivered in his relatively short career.

I would hope that his constant detractors will now give him the credit he deserves as the youngest triple world champion in the sports history, but I fear that they will somehow try to carry this manufactured controversy over to label his achievement as tainted.

Only time will tell I guess.


I think you’ll find equal circular logic on both sides. I understand the Ferrari fans a bit more easily than the anti crowd who don’t care who wins as long as it isn’t an Italian car or Spanish driver.

To me you are all Europeans and all fans of F1 so it’s difficult to understand all the visceral emotions based on so little difference.


Tempted, yes. But they don’t cross the line.

That said in 2013 we will have new mod procedure to deal with the 80,000 + comments annually we are now getting. This will be tighter and aimed at keeping debate positive and engaging.


I look forward to it

Roll on 2013


Hi James, this is a different Chris!! Can I draw your attention to post number 19, where the Marshall holding the flag takes a very nasty and bitter insult!! That should be removed!! Formula one marshalling has been perfected by the British (Infact it’s great whatever formula your watching in the uk, which is not true of marshilling outside f1 in other countries), and it’s one of the great things about our motor sport heritage!! There’s probably marshalls that post here!! I appreciate that the post is aimed at one marshal, but he stood there in horrid weather and no doubt did a perfect job!! (sorry for my rant)


There is not a surprise the FIA answer. I have not intention at all to question Vettel’s championship, but it’s interesting to notice the truth about Sebastian’s maneouvre. This is:

The green flag was intended for pit stop cars exit. The FIA arguments are a big excuse for their incompetence, imagine to mention Ecclestone outburst against Ferrari. This is a very bad joke. One more time Fe, one more time they do it again.


Uhuh, so under your interpretation cars coming out of the pits are clear to race but everyone else was under yellows?


You exit from the pits===green flag.

You enter on the track===yellow flag. I think it’s clear on the video, there’s no need to interpretation at all. End from my part.


Is this a joke? Please watch the video. Words here are useless.


Sergio, If you ever watched a GP you would know that there are lights at the pit exit Red & Green.

Flags are the prime indicator on the track.


Sergio, What position do you hold at the FIA to know that the green flag was at the the pit exit?


I would say blowing this out of proportion also adds to making this season what it has been. I don’t see anything wrong if Ferrari only asked for clarification even though they ought to have done it at Brazil. It feels like the clarification seeking was instigated by Fernando Alonso otherwise.

Lets hope 2013 would even offer more than 2012 has offered.


One good thing about this saga is that many F1 fans (or is it just me) learnt of the rule about flags vs lights.

I’ll be watching out for flags next season with a better understanding of when they override lights!


What a horrible situation. Red Bull know Vettel is partly in the wrong but will never admit to it. Ferrari would love to appeal but never would for the negative PR it would generate and the FIA seem to be making up rules as they go along as changing the result would undermine their credibility. There are definitely no winners in this and unfortunately the only loser is the sport of F1


Also, what rules are being made up as they go along? The same rules existed in Australia and Brazil!


Why do these expensive cars have all this modern technology on the steering wheel if it can be over ridden by one man and his flag. This technology has been used all season but in light of this race there is now no point in having it. As an Alonso fan I don’t want the result changing as it would turn F1 into a joke but it raises questions as to why the cars have this system?


Had you not thought that if it is raining really hard and there is a lot of spray, the lights on the steering wheel may be all they can see?


Just where is Vettel partly in the wrong? It has been proved beyond all doubt that he did nothing wrong!


Vettel’s error was to come down across and into Senna. Debatable as to severity of incident but based on previous 19 races I would say this was the old “causing an avoidable collision”. As a Vettel fan I wish he would have had a drive through penalty at that time to clear any doubt later given the fact he may have still finished with enough points. There was still lots of race left. The ongoing issue of flags and illegal passing is redundant and as JA said “it’s time to let this one drop.”


I would say that the winners and losers here are pretty clear cut:

Winners = Vettel (WDC), Red Bull (WCC) & The objectivity of factual evidence.

Losers = Alonso (WDC Runner up – aka the first loser), Ferrari (ditto) & The subjectivity of blinkered fans.


James, do you think this is bad losing/sour grapes/mind games from Ferrari?

Alonso and Ferrari must have known where the marshal post waving the green flag was, given that they raced at the Brazilian GP too…if they didn’t, they are clearly incompetent, which I don’t belive for a second. Vettel clearly knew the rules, hence why he passed there.

Ferrari must have known that there was no chance of any protest being successful…the whole thing is a complete non-event.

Must say, I wanted Alonso to win on Sunday, given his performance over the year. But Vettel drove superbly, and Ferrari’s antics now make me glad they lost.



Certainly they verified everything with Charley before they removed gearbox seal at Austin, certainly they could verify SV JEV pass with FIA authority and themself give clarification to the fans, that would be brave step from their side and now unfortunatelly for everybody harmed themself.


I am really disappointed in Ferrari and Alonso. His cryptic tweets really are an embarrassment. What is the biggest shame is that over the last year Alonso had come across in a really good way. Also, Ferrari under Stefano really looked like they had changed. Such a shame.


When Ferrari didn’t request clarification you said that they were manipulating the fans and disrespecting the sport. Now that the FIA has made a clear statement it’s a shame.

You think supporting the driver makes Stefano look bad, you think calling another event a racing incident makes him look bad.

I am not responding to anything in this post other than to point out that there is an anti Ferrari crowd out there that have made up their minds long before seeing or understanding the facts.


Ha, if you think that I am anti Ferrari then you have no idea. Just because I disagree with how they have handled this affair doesn’t make me anti ferrari.

How ferrari have handled this has been wrong and as reports today seem to indicate you may even find that the current leader of Ferrari also thinks so. Does that now make him anti Ferrari? No, it makes him aware how desperate this whole episode has been for all involved.


Rach( I think you´re the same Rach from the BBC website) The only thing Ferrari did wrong was not to be able to buil a competitive car. And the paid a big price and they deserve it. Unfortunately Alonso was a casualty.

The race in Brazil was controversial. There is no doubt. I´m not talking about flags and lights only. There were other things. For example FIA didn´t investigate the crash between Senna and Vettel. Ferrari didn´t start the complaint. It was Sky with the Kobashashi overtake. Then other things began to surface with the What about Vergne? What about Vettels DRS and KERS in yellow flag zones? What about Vettel overtaking Pic? Ferrari only asked for clarification of the Vergne case.


Hi Anne,

No, I have never posted on the BBC.

I don’t agree with you and if you see my other posts on here you will see my reasons why. The only thing I will mention with regard to your post is that you actually missed off one of the main failures of the stewards and that was Alonso going wide and out of control under yellows at turn 1?


Hi Anne

I’m sorry but your reply only emphasises why alonso and Ferrari are wrong on this whole matter.


A lot of cars during the race went off track. That´s not unusual with a wet track. But Alonso didn´t overtake anybody. Do we have to penalize Raikkonen for going on a excurssion? I don´t think so


Domenicali cleared this today by saying the clarification request was made because of the fans so that there wouldn’t be any question marks over this matter.

I think Domenicali is a reasonable guy. For example, when Alonso criticised Kimi of their collision which took Alonso out, Domenicali said Kimi did nothing wrong.


He didn’t need to ask for clarification to clear Vettels name, he just needed for Feraair to come out and say straight away, there is no need for any investigation as we at Ferrai are happy that the race was won in a fair manner.


I’m sorry but if that is true that is ridiculous and it makes Stefano look even worse! Personally, I think this smacks more of Alonso than Stefano because as you say I think he is a decent chap who has done a lot to restore Ferrari’s reputation. This whole episode is really poor for Alonso and Ferrari.


I agree fireman


I think Domenicali is just in a difficult situation.


For Ferrari, it has been a year of Complains and Protests… The fact of the matter is that they had a Bulletproof car and rather Thanking the people who built the most reliable car on the grid with a rate of development second to none (gauging by surge in Massa’s performance) all they did is offend countries they visited (India through their Italian Navy Flag) Threw mud on all their competitors (through Alonso). I must say, for the first time since Michael and Kimi era, the brand of Ferrari has been tarnished.

If only they would shut up concentrate on what they are doing they’ll be so much better off.

Lewis learnt this and corrected himself and there has been an unprecedented surge in his popularity and fan base.

And of course, Mr. Raikkonen’s fan base is partly for his spine chilling speed and partly for his out of the car personality.

I think Ferrari should learn from Lotus who has gained the most popularity this year, coming out of nowhere by doing nothing but enjoying racing, enjoying being there and enjoying Kimi.


I agree. Lotus seem to be a “fun team”. That’s not a bad image for marketing.

Ferrari is starting to be viewed in Alonso’s image – a bit of a whiner.

Red Bull need to coach SV so that youthful exuberance doesn’t get translated as cocky in public.

McLaren is and has been for the longest time – cold and calculating, but recently seemingly unreliable.

Just my personal take!


Couldn’t agree more with you on your Mclaren’s take. That’s why the Finns – Hakkinen and Raikkonen fitted so sublimely in Mclaren’s cold… both were cold and spine chillingly quick.


Sometimes it would appear that Fernando reveals an unattractive side of his character by in this case insisting that Ferrari try protesting Vettel’s passing move on JEV.

Ferrari was apparently tempted to give in to the Dark Side and go along with him until the Emperor slapped them down, like you’d smack a dog on its muzzle when it barked at the wrong moment.


Surely its unfair to give a 20s penalty when the race ends under SC.Yes I’m a Vettel fan, but it would be exesive punishment to any driver.

ice cream is faster than you

So there is nothing to clarify in the first place as FIA pointed out there is no case to answer due to the green flag waved which signals the end of yellow zone.

I bet by now Ferrari wishes they didnt open pandoras box by asking for clarification and making this public just minutes before the FIA made its “NO CASE TO ANSWER” announcement. FIA was even polite to Ferrari by not naming them as the party who asked for clarification. Talk about shooting in your own foot, Ferrari. I asume they have to follow some protocoll now which means needless work for days/weeks to clear up this mess. Anybody knows the outcome anyway so they will not be pleased for having to waste time with this.

Just shows you how desperate Ferrari and Alonso are to start the promised era of domination and that all is not well in Ferrariland. From 2014 Mercedes might become a big factor too making this Ferrari Alonso era less and less likely to be a success.


How about the Toro Rossos letting Vettel slip by? Why isn’t this penalised by the FIA as unsportsmanlike conduct? Team orders is one thing, but orders between sister teams is another level.

Am I wrong?


Tim how are you going to prove he let him by he may have had a problem like visor misted up or foot slipped off accelerator?


Mate, that’s what stewards are for.

Honestly, I don’t think it’s right for anyone to pull over for another car unless they’re getting blue flags. Team orders are allowed and that’s fine, but now it’s sister teams and cars with the same engine, etc. It ruins the racing.


So who is that Marshall that waved that flag? I wonder how much Red Bull payed him to wave a green flag under yellow flags to get Seb past Vergne?


The marshal has apparently confirmed he received a clear track signal and was waving the green flag. Besides can you imagine a marshal helping an enemy of massa in brazil? They wouldn’t have gotten out of the track alive!

(unless massa paid the marshal to very subtly defeat alonso therefore ensuring massa was not fully relegated to triple champion Alonsos helper in 2013? Now that’s a conspiracy theory for you 😉 ha ha.


Are you serious?


To be honest, it is not the footage but how FIA and Bernie handled this that starts to really make me believe that Vettel actually infringed a yellow flag.


It’s been well established that, even with a grainy green flag video, Vettel likely did nothing wrong so a punishment for him would be somewhat harsh. So I’m hoping to move the discussion into the next phase. What exactly were the race stewards doing between laps 1 and 20? Possibly the most exciting 20 laps ever, easy to get distracted but still, stewards officiate, they don’t spectate. A brief chronology of what I can gather the stewards did wrong. Lap1, turn 4. An incident where two cars retired because of a crash, involving more cars. There was seemingly no investigation of this incident? Why? Lap 3, the DRS zone is under yellows, until Sebastian Vettel arrives and is given a green flag. How was the straight unsafe for the leaders but safe for back markers. Lap 4. All the FIA systems show the Straight between 3 and 4 under yellow flags, the DRS is disabled for everyone but a green flag is shown to Sebastian Vettel. Again, what happened in the 30 seconds from leader to Vettel arriving that changed the track condition from unsafe to safe? Somewhere about lap 6 or 7, Grosjean has a crash in which he hit the wall at about 9G. Doesnt this usually automatically trigger a safety car so the medical car has a clear track to the driver?Lap 8, in changeable and challenging conditions, the stewards put out oily/slippery surface flags, whilst some parts of the track are yellow flagged, confusing commentators and presumably drivers. Then for 12 laps or so, the track has debris everywhere but it takes until lap 20 to decide on a safety car, once a driver has suffered a puncture when it was clear from the TV pics, that certain corners were like a stock car race. And then we have the race restart after the safety car, where race control put out a message saying DRS activated when there is 2 laps grace. Also, should DRS have been available at all during the race considering the conditions

All this leads me to the uneasy question of Did the race stewards lose control of the most important race of the season? Did they put any drivers lives at risk? And at any point, Did the stewards make choices differently because of the championship being at stake?

Would love an answer from James on this. Get a feeling from someone on the inside!


Interesting question. There was a lot going on, certainly


It was fantastic action, very difficult to keep up with. But wa it too much for the stewards to handle?


Ferrari deliberately brought a penalty upon Massa to win one grid place for their #1 and now they keep on complaining about a non-issue? No wonder that team is so little respected by the british racing teams and so many F1 fans.


So for next year Alonso’s mind game with Vettel is going to be about the green/yellow flag, right?


Why is nobody talking about the fact he was going at full throttle well inside the yellow flag zone with Kers activated? Is that not a safety issue? He was racing when others were moving with caution-I guess next year everyone will be going full throttle through yellows and I zagging to make a move down the road- yeah that souns safe. And why do they have those lights in the car? I think the moment those lights go on, your throttle should be cut off to 10% or something.


I think it’s time to let this one drop.

There will be plenty more “controversy” in 2013…that’s F1!


Absolutely agree James there are far too many dopey comments to be credible


The entire issue seems just like another attempt to take away some of Red Bull’s momentum

I think Ross Brawn’s comments re “Red Bull title joy will be shortlived” are trying to do the same thing

Personally, I don’t really mind at all – keeps us all entertained during the off season


For better or for worst FIA has spoken and they have the last word. Having said that Vettel better get ready to show up next season with 100 bodyguards specially at the Spain and Italy GP. I don´t think he is going to have a warm welcome by the fans.


For anyone still questioning it, You can clearly see the green flag been waved at the marshall post on the left of this animation:


It’s amazing how some people can’t see what’s in front of them. Unbelievable. There WAS a green flag and everything is legal.

Vettel is a triple world champion rightfully.

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