F1 Winter Break
Will FIA review Vettel championship result in light of video evidence?
Scuderia Ferrari
Posted By: James Allen  |  29 Nov 2012   |  12:27 am GMT  |  515 comments

[Updated] For the past few days there has been some debate – on this site and others – as to whether the FIA should review the result of the Brazilian Grand Prix and with it the world championship, as there is video evidence suggesting that Sebastian Vettel made a pass under yellow flags three laps into the race.

An on-board video clip presented on one of the Sky subscription channels and reposted on You Tube by a fan, shows Vettel passing Jean-Eric Vergne on the Reta Oposta straight before Turn 4, while yellow lights are still visible on his dashboard and he had recently passed a yellow light on the outside of the straight.

There have been extensive analyses of the video and on the face of it, it looks pretty clear cut.

It all happens very quickly and through a camera lens which is spotted with rain.

However, it’s not quite as clear as it appears to be.

An examination of the on-board video in slow motion, shows that Vettel passes a flag marshal’s post-tower on the left before he passes Vergne and a marshal can be seen on the tower, waving a green flag, meaning that the danger zone is ended.

So there appears to be some confusion over signalling; the lights and the flag do not synchronise.

In this case the first signal is the important one; the green flag tells the driver that the yellow flag zone is ended, even though the yellow warning lights are still visible on the dashboard.

This flag is what Vettel would have acted on and for that reason, it is very unlikely that this will be re-opened.

If the FIA were to decide to re-open the case – and they could without Ferrari or anyone else being required to protest – this confusion over signalling (flags versus lights) might form the basis of Red Bull’s defence, along with a telemetry throttle analysis which would probably show that Vergne backed off on the straight, as he certainly appears to do, which causes Vettel to pass.

It is important to clarify the protocol, because the FIA Sporting Code calls for the Race Stewards to re-open any matter arising in the race if new evidence comes to light. In this case, were they to find beyond doubt that Vettel had made a pass under yellows, he would have 20 seconds added to his race time and that would cost him positions and ultimately the world championship.

Had it been judged an offence at the time and he had been given a drive through penalty, this would have occurred before the Safety Car, so his 20 seconds penalty and resulting lost places would be academic. But as that did not happen, all the stewards would be able to do would be to retrospectively, is to add the time penalty.

As several days have elapsed since the race, this would generate headlines around the world and would reflect very badly on the FIA’s policing of F1. I sense that there is nothing here, as the green flag stands, as the first signal.

Ferrari are known to have studied it carefully, but not approached the FIA on it.

The FIA obviously will be looking at it internally. The deadline for opening up the case is November 30th, but my sense is that nothing will happen.

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Ferrari International Assistance could still be pivotal!


It would have served them right to have been punished for this

The way Vergne jumped out of the way was just rediculous.

To hear Christian Horner talk about 'dirty tricks' and then to see this..

Are there ANY truly sporting teams in this sport?

I become more of a McLaren fan every year just because they seem to be the most consistent team in allowing their drivers to race each other.




If they were absolutely set on helping Ferrari they could have easily given Vettel a penalty for turning in on Senna.

I guarantee that if the roles had been reversed in that incident Senna would have got a drive-through.


Actually they gave Hulkenburg a bogus penalty to get Alonso up further.... That would never be called on anyone in a normal race.

Alonso got a safety car when about to be lapped, a drive through for Hulkenburg, and Massa had to move over 2 times in one race. Plus his enemy was dead last after lap one. The 2 leaders crashed moving him to the podium. Not sure Ferrari could have asked for more to go their way, but then again they tried anyway.


It was a penalty for Hulkenberg ... he had to have known that the car would be hard to control in that area of track (damp area), and going late on the brakes. We want people to race, true, but to race intelligently, and not ruin others' races.


I agree it was Vettel's fault.


Well said +1


On Kobi: Pass made when the static yellow slippery track light was on. LEGAL.

On Vergne: Pass made after a marshalls waved green flag. LEGAL.

The FIA have a system in place which automatically flags overtakes made in yellow flag zones, this is so they can immediately review and punish the offence.

This whole story is a nothing.

As Tiff Needle mentioned also; there no mention of Alonso out braking himself during a yellow flag zone? Yellow flags mean slow down, not go so hot into a corner you outbrake yourself. One could argue that ignoring yellow flags by not slowing is the same penalty for overtaking under yellows. In this instance Alonso is the one who got away with something, not Vettel!

Desperation from Ferrari?; what a shame a great marque has to stoop to such levels. I'll still be a fan of Alonso, but my love for Ferrari is strained at present.


Fully agree. I hope this does not become another F1 disaster story like Spa 2008....which it will if they retrospectively change the result months later!


That's an interesting point I hadn't noticed at the time, where going into turn 1 on lap 5 you can very clearly see a flashing yellow light before the corner, and yet Alonso massively out-brakes himself to the point where he runs way off the track. Haven't we seen others investigated this year for not slowing under yellows? I suppose it's possible he lifted, which meant his braking point changed and he misjudged it. But surely a look at the telemetry would swiftly sort out whether or not it was anything along those lines, or if he was just pushing too hard and lost it.


Desperation? They haven't even done anything yet, give them a chance to hang themselves before you start throwing stones. 🙂


Ferrari actually haven't said anything or pursued anything regarding this.



Various reports suggest that Ferrari have written to the FIA to seek clairifcation. Bens post above re: Alonso pushing it is interesting, I hope that's not the case, but Fernando must be pretty miffed at keeping missing out on titles in the final race of the season. Is that two at Ferrari and one at McLaren when he's being in the mix to win the title and not won? I think it would be out of character should Alonso want the title in this fashion.


Italian press are reporting that this is Alonso putting pressure on Ferrari and not Ferrari looking to appeal. Actually could cause a problem in their relationship.


I'm an Alonso fan but I wouldn't want him to become Champion like this.

I've looked at the video and watched the race back on iplayer. Lap 3 there is a green flag being waved, lap 4 (in question) isn't shown but lap 5 is clear of flags. Since no other incidents took place it seems very unlikely that a yellow flag came out for lap 4 alone.

One more thing James, if the FIA want to analyse Vettel, what about the other drivers? I'm sure plenty of yellow overtakes and other transgressions were missed in such a crazy race.


Yes, it reminds me of McLaren protesting the Ferrari barge boards in '99 - a particularly tasteless (and ultimately uneccessary) attempt to win that year's championship. Ferrari should stay classy and annihilate Red Bull on the track next season. That's the only way to win in my opinion.


Agreed. I'm a big Alonso fan but I certainly wouldn't want him to win like this. Use this to get some clarification on the rules but don't try to change the outcome of the race.

As Haydn says, beat Red Bull on the track next season.


That's not how it happened at all. Ferrari were disqualified from the Malaysia race by the stewards after the bargeboard was found to be "illegal" in post-race scrutineering. Ferrari appealed and they were reinstated. McLaren had nothing to do with it.


Sorry @Haydn Lowe, you can't compare these two points.

1. The Vettel incident is a "racing" incident that took place on track.

2. The '99 Ferrari barge board scandel was a blatant bending of the regulations (or cheating if you prefer) by Ferrari to gain a performance advantage with illegal bodywork. Their excuse for the "discrepancy" was that the manufacturing tolerance was wrong due to an error with their machine that checks parts. A total crock - which was accepted by the FIA!

It was known in the paddock for several races before the protest (by McLaren and Williams at least) that Ferrari were cheating, but the protest was kept back until a critical race in the championship when Ferrari scored a 1-2.

Nuff said...


They still won the drivers that year!


It was yellow when he passed Kobayashi, but right after he finished the move, Kamui went for a pit stop, so Vettel couldn't gave back that position. He would've gotten it either way after KK left the track.


STATIC yellow though, which is different to flashing yellow.

Static meaning 'slippery track' which you are entitled to pass under.

This has proven to be entirely legal.


No, this one isn't true - the yellow has cleared, and it's a red and yellow (slippery surface) flag / light here.

On the footage you're talking about, you can see that Vettel goes past 2 yellow flashing lights behind Kobayashi, but only passes under solid yellow lights. I don't know what colour these solid lights are, but on camera they look solid yellow.

Also, when a driver is passed under yellow and then pits / stops, the passing driver has still been penalised. Instead of giving the place back like they would usually do, they have received a drive-through. I can't give you a specific incident of this, but I remember this happening before. Perhaps someone else can recall a specific case.


Button on Massa, silverstone last year?


Assuming both are genuine, there surely is enough contradictory evidence for Red Bull to mount a successful defence, even before taking into account the FIA's reluctance to interfere in any race result, especially one that would interfere in the outcome of the world title.


Bring back Balestre!


Haha, he'd somehow find a way to have Grosjean declared champion 🙂


Agree, there's nothing in it other than confusion. The FIA needs to clean up the system so everyone is clear on the flag regulations.

I'm more concerned about the inconsistent rulings around racing incidents. Why was Hulkenberg given a drive through penalty for taking out Hamilton when Vettel's lap 1 mistake took out Senna and Perez and he was not penalized. It also makes Grosjean's 1 race ban look rather harsh in comparison.


Absolutely I agree.


It would be a shame if the evidence would show Vettel in the wrong.

I'm no Vettel fan, but maybe it should be left as it is. All in all, it seems it was a very poor job by the FIA and the Brasilian marshals.

This situation and the one with the yellow and red stripe flag...come on, make it clearer so this kind of situations don't arise.

You would think when they position those yellow light, they would put them at the begining of the straight where that marshall is, and not mid-way.


I think anyone connected with formula 1 knew it was a legal overtake due to their knowledge of the lighting system. It was alan mcnish who wrongly started that hoopla by failing to make the distinction between the lights during his sky sports analysis (something I consider very poor given i, and I'm sure many other viwers spotted it immediately; he even points out the green flag zone for goodness sake). And from there it gathered amazing steam on the forums due to embittered alonso fans.

As for the new controversy, i think james sums it up well.


That's what I like about F1 James, scandals are never far away! I am inclined to believe that Vettel should keep his Championship, but seeing that there is nothing else going on in F1 at the moment, one mind hopes this scandal continues a little longer. We will be waiting for updates James.

On a side note, thanks for the great website and commentary on Five Live. I listen to it while watching Sky Sport feed on Channel Ten here - especially at ad breaks when most of the actions seems to take place.


How do you get the five live feed? I can't get around the 'international rights restrictions'


there are plenty of websites showing live stream of Sky F1 HD with very good quality and no buffering. Even though I live in Qatar, I was able to watch all the races online on Sky through these sites and had a wonderful time!!! This included pre and post race shows

the main difference with streaming with BBC feed was that it lagged to much, so i was glad with the switch to Sky!!!


I second the, I'd love to get the Five Live feed over in Australia.


Same boat for me. I guess maybe a proxy?


Good decision - best of both worlds!


Seems clear cut, there is a green flag from the marshals post and the flags are the official way of communicating on track orders. Everything else is to assist the driver in making it clearer, which in this case is shown green at the next light post after the flag.

The driver has to wait for a flag not a light!


To answer your question James, yes they will investigate it, but no action will be taken.

On top of the fact that will probably be the first time in history when the result of a championship winner is going to be changed, it will look very very bad on the FIA and the stewards in change.


1989 was changed when Senna was disqualified from Suzuka after winning the race (and it did reflect badly on the FIA, although for reasons of national bias as opposed to incompetence).


That was changed swiftly though, before either Prost or Senna had stepped on the podium.

Personally, IF Vettel had been found guilty nearly a week late then a punishment for next seasons opening races would've been appropriate - maybe starting on minus points.


It wasn't changed swiftly, they just delayed the podium ceremony by some ridiculous amount of time. That was an absolute joke, '89 in Suzuka. Total garage league stuff.


I don't think 1989 was a case of one guy being crowned and then being forced to give it back. Senna needed to win Suzuka to keep his championship hopes alive; the disqualification handed Prost the title, but had it not happened I think Senna would have still needed to outpoint Prost in the final round in Adelaide to win the title.


Thanks for this Andrew. I'll look into it as I never thought it happened before.



On reflection, it's not an exact copy as it didn't change the world champion from Senna to Prost, it merely ruled Senna out of the title race. This would be the first time the season ended and the title was taken from one driver and awarded to another.


I believe that they will not investigate, in the sense of publicly re-opening it


I agree that the flag thing will not (and rightly should not) change the outcome. What they should investigate though is that the Toro Rossos back off every time an RBR is in their mirros, which Vergne did in the flag situation as well, like you wrote in the article.


@Randy, cannot reply to your post because of thread depth limit.

I don't see a conspiracy theory, if was very clear to see that TR let RBR through every time they could, and we have 2011's Alguersuari quotes about what Marko told him as well.

And TR is switching to Renault anyway (which makes sense for their 4 car team, of course)


Yes, but wouldn't that particular conspiracy theory be offset by the fact that STR is a Ferrari client?


Good morning James. I saw it now. It took me 4 times until I saw it somewhat clear. The tower is clearly there but it seems to me that the marshall was not waving the flag all the time as we usually see during any race. As Vettel is approaching the tower then the marshall seems to show up and he only makes one move with the flag.And then the marshall backs off. So I guess the marshall is making a mistake. He has to be waving the flag all the time until the last car passes by his tower.


And that is exactly why the FIA needs to act publically and say why the pass is legal, give Ferrari the clarification it seeks and ensure uninformed Alonso fans don't claim Vettle one by less than sporting means.


What about the fact that Vettel is clearly flat out and uses KERS to line up Vergne for the pass? This is definitely in the yellow zone and I remember penalties for drivers using DRS in yellow zones earlier in the year.. Would be a pretty petty argument from Ferrari but not completely far fetched?!


No, it's very clear. He is waving a green flag, the danger zone ends there, the pass is legal


Kudos to Mister for the comment. I know he is no fan of Vettel but nice to know that he is a reasonable man.

James, if the FIA were not to reopen it or just provide a statement that "No further action will be taken", I dont think that will do.

Like it or not, this story has kicked up a media storm and this situation is not the easiest to understand if you dont know the rules about flags and floppy markers.

I would like to see the FIA make a clear detailed statement and Ferrari to confirm that they are satisfied with the investigation (if they are satisfied of course). Otherwise, this title may seem tainted to some (just read some of the comments on this blog and you will know what I am talking about).


If it will look bad is in the eye of the beholder. It will look bad to most, but that's only because it such a passionate sport. The majority of fans and followers would cry outrage.

But let's compare to, say, a pole-vaulter who wins the olympic gold. It then turns out he's been using an illegal kind of pole. He is disqualified and nr. 2 becomes nr. 1. That will look bad, but not to many - it's not that big of a sport.

I believe they will investigate and publicly declare a new or unchanged champion result. I think they must, to affirm their status as caretakers of the sport or risk reputation damage as "the FIA saw the potential wrong but did not even _try_ to right it". New leadership and all. Let's see what happens.

Personally, I hope no action will be taken; the difference in position of green flag vs. light should provide reasonable doubt in favor of the driver.


Well, I can't say Ferrari's mulling of whether to protest or not is entirely unexpected. (http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/formula1/20531638)

They've been plenty ready to challenge the legality of every other innovation Red Bull have pulled out of the garage this year.

The fact remains they were simply unable to challenge them in the development stakes, and their wins (three) are still four behind Red Bull's seven (Alonso three wins, Vettel five, Webber two).

Wether or not the FIA decide to investigate Vettel's pass under yellows/red/green won't change the on-track advantage Red Bull continued to demonstrate over Ferrari this year, as much as they hoped their political and gearbox-related brinkmanship might win it for them.


Niner, I want to point out I am a Ferrari man, but why not complain about issues that are not entirely legal, even if it's only in Ferrari's view?

Last year and this year have been plenty of times when RedBull were asked to change things on their cars. This means they were using illegal stuff.

Let's not make confusion between "innovation within the rules" and "pushing the rules boundaries".

No matter if Ferrari or any other team would match or not the leaders performance, they should be vigilent and not allow their competitors to break the rules.



I want a level playing field as much as anyone else. And I appreciate that there is a fine line between “innovation within the rules” and “pushing the rules boundaries”.

But bisecting those two is what every F1 team needs to do: interpret them in an electro-mechanical/aerodynamic manner for twenty different tracks with dynamic variables (tyre degradation/weather/temperature, etc).

The difficulty of doing this has seen minds as brilliant as Ross Brawn lag behind with no shortage of development funds or driver talent.

But Ferrari's decision to sacrifice Massa's qualifying position by opening his gearbox - while wholly within the rules - is the sort of draconian measure that, in my opinion, undermines the spirit of competition and leads to the sort of championship that's decided in the boardroom rather than on the racetrack.

Personally, I'd much rather teams challenge each other with innovation that pushes the boundaries, than have a season of gearbox tampering within the rules that sacrifices great qualifying performances for the sake of being able to start on the clean side of the track.


Mister, like I state above, the rules need to be adhered to, without question. But the interpretation and implementation is up to each individual team to work out for themselves. "Breaking the rules" is one thing, innovation within and up to the limits of the rules is another, especially when there is a degree of interpretation that requires clarification after the fact. If you remember, Red Bull's engine mapping was found not to "break" the rules - nevertheless the rules were clarified afterward.

The issue I have in regard to your example is that the wing Vettel was given from Webber's car was related to aerodynamic development. At that point in the Championship, Webber trailed Vettel on points by a significant margin. It seems logical that any team will want to confer an advantage to the driver that has the best mathematical chance of moving ahead in the points when the team can provide said driver a better package.

But Ferrari breaking the FIA seal on Massa's gearbox had nothing to do with car development. They weren't taking a new gearbox from Massa and giving it to Alonso, giving Fernando a better performing car, they were simply penalising Felipe for a achieving a superior qualifying position. It had zero to do with development. Not only that, every driver behind Massa that qualified on the clean side of the track now found themselves on the dirty side, penalising them as well.

Failing to develop a car and resorting to cynically hobbling a team mate who qualifies well is not the same as giving the driver who is ahead on points a piece of aerodynamic kit that enhances the team's chances of winning both championships. They're very different.


If you want a playing field as much as anyone else, then why you complain if Ferrari are reporting RBR for breaking the rules..like flexi wings..or holes in the floors...or engine maping.

At least don't complain. RBR can still push the rules, as will everyone I believe, but the others have the right to complain about that.

Ferrari moved Massa to give Alonso a better chance. RBR took Webber's front wing to give Vettel a better chance. How is that different?


I strongly believe that it was a legitimate pass. I'm sure that no driver is so stupid to risk the WDC in a situation as clear as that.

I think that is right for us the fans "to debate". Most of us don't have a clue about panels, lights, flags, marshals... but seen Alonsos's tweet about the issue make me feel very sad. Really? That was really needed?

FIA must clear the issue already!

And the best drivers in the world should learn how to lose.

Thank you James for your awsome blog. You complete my poor TV retransmissions!


'but seen Alonsos’s tweet about the issue make me feel very sad.'

What does it say?


Vettel began his pass after the floppy marker on the left that marks the beginning of the marshal zone where the green flag was out, as defined by the International Sporting Code:


A flag marshal I heard from concurred this means the pass is legal:



+1 with Lewis regarding kudos to Keith Collantine and the coverage on the F1 Fanatic website. However, am a bit confused where the lights go in all this; do they correspond in any way to Marshall Sectors? The yellow flashing light at the beginning of the straight appears to be roughly at the beginning of where Marshall Sector 4 is (on the map); is the floppy marker therefore between the yellow light and the green flag or before both? (I believe the footage from the website has been removed).

Either way it seems there might be too much uncertainty for there, at this moment, to be a change in championship outcome. I would have felt/would feel deeply uncomfortable in the outcome of the title changing several days after the event, but equally one cannot blame Ferrari for looking into the matter and seeking clarification. A potential deeper question is, if the race stewards have made a mistake, do we treat it as a referee's mistake in football (no going back on it), or a belatedly discovered failed drugs test in athletics or cycling (penalty still has to be applied ex-post).


Kudos to Keith Collantine for his coverage on the website. I am left in no doubt at all that there is no way this move can be deemed illegal.

Despite that, Ferrari are well within their right to appeal in my opinion and they should not be smeared as sore losers etc.

However, I would rather Ferrari appeal and the FIA explain the verdict in a statement clearly than Ferrari declaring "in the interests of the sport, we will not appeal", thus casting a shadow on Vettel's title.

Dear Ferrari: Please no PR games. If you want to appeal, then do so. This "we are considering it" business is a little naughty (but I dont blame them at all)

I think the mischief was more from a journo at a well-known corporation who has previously shown where his sympathies lie.


Agree absolutely with this. They don't really think that an appeal would be successful, and the real agenda is to create innuendo in an attempt to taint Vettel's title. That might be morally even worse than what they did to Massa's gearbox in Austin. In fact I believe the FIA can investigate without a team asking them to as such if new evidence comes to light. In view of the speculation perhaps they should just come out themselves and say definitively that the pass was legal in order to avoid the "in the interests of the sport we will not appeal" angle.


Yes, that's my understanding.

The 12min video posted on your site, which concludes that this overtake is "illegal" doesn't notice or mention the green flag on left

There's nothing here


"There's nothing here" I disagree, there's lots of glorious drama for us to enjoy while waiting for the 2013 season! Hehe 🙂


I don't know, Bjornar. Too much tears for hardcore Ferrari fans. We should get on with 2013 already 🙂


The Marshall takes precedence, end of story. The only time to take computer over Marshall is in an aircraft..if TCAS says go up or go down, you don't want to listen to Air Traffic Controller!


The picture shown is irrelevent as that is from Lap 3 (see counter at top of image) - the incident in question is Lap 4.


Well it's irrelevant in that sense, but that marshal's post doesn't disappear in between laps so it was important to determine what he was/wasn't showing on the lap in question before Vettel starting the pass in that section of track.


James, don't you think it could be incredibly damaging for the sport if the incident gets reviewed? I'm glad the sport isn't like football in that it doesn't let things go unpunished but at least I can watch match of the day and the results want change tomorrow morning.

Very strange situation. if the green flag is waved, VET didn't do anything wrong.


I believe the yellow flag was intended ONLY for the "Senna S", during lap 3 and 4 P.Maldonado's car was being lifted, it seems logic because there was no danger in the back straight, that's the only reason i can find regarding the marshal waving the green flag to Vettel and the rest...



As I said to u yesterday James for me it is a clear as day that vettel started the move in a yellow zone when u are supposed to lift the throttle and if was spotted during the race would be a penalty. However even as a massive Ferrari fan I don't want the result altered now even tho it would give my team the championship. Just isn't the way to win the best prize in sport in my opinion


Wrong. Green Flag on left is clear to see. Vettel makes his move after the flag. It's clear as day that the move is legal, you just can't see it.


And, although it is difficult to tell exactly, he appears only to begin using KERS after that point.


What's better than a bit of controversy to spice up the off season?


James, wouldn't a Ferrari chalenge end their hope of signing Vettel in the future, or is he the forgiving type?


I think that was 100% Ferrari mind games to be honest. There will not be another WDC at Ferrari while Alonso is there, and I can't imagine that Ferrari have the appetite to buy out another multi-million pound contract as they did with Kimi. They'd be better off spending it on the car...


got it right


Very valid point.

Also, FIA will not do anything about it for the following reasons:

A) Bernie will never allow such a thing to happen to Vettel.

B) Red Bull brings a lot of money to the sport. They may withdraw from F1 after such a decision.

C) I don't think this penalty should be applied to Vettel. While I believe Alonso is a better driver and had a better season, Vettel has fought his way to win the championship, and a court decision taking it away is just not fair.



Sky Sports F1 commentator Martin Brundle confirmed that he had spoken to one of this weekend' four FIA race stewards, Gary Connolly, and been assured that Vettel's move was completely legal and would not be subject to any sort of post-race investigation or a formal appeal by a rival team such as Ferrari.

"He has absolutely confirmed that they were red-and-yellow boards," Brundle said on the live broadcast. However, he added: "Didn't look much like that from the somewhat grainy and rainy yellow on-board footage, did it?"


That was in relation to the Kobayashi pass


its not he overtake of the Sauber, not of the Torro Rosso - that is not what was discussed on the Sky coverage.


Thanks for clearing my confusion 🙂


"but of the Torro Rosso..."


Oh FFS, if the stewards couldn't even see it on the day, and the drivers were already racing under difficult conditions, it should just be let go.

Besides, F1 has two-way telemetry (I refer to both the transponder system used for timing and other systems including the MES systems) - those systems should be used to display, on the dash or wheel, a yellow light.

At this level of racing if they're not making use of this, then there's something wrong - and that should be what's defining. The technology is there - use it.


How could I disagree with a name like that (Tim).


Tim (The Genuine Article)


Oh not again ?


If a review were to take place, it should have happened during the race. This event was talked about during the broadcast .... surely the stewards were aware of it at the time and took a look. To investigate now, days later, and potentially change the race and championship outcome would be laughable.


This would be bad for F1 is the ruling was overturned. We all know how Bernie hates any results being overturned. I myself wouldn't want Fernando to win a WDC like this.

If this incident didn't happen, Vergne would have still simply allowed Seb to overtake on another corner anyway. Whether Seb overtook under yellows or not would have made no difference to his race position as he crossed the line. Add the confusion of waved green flags and have something not really worth appealing.

Come on Ferrari, you know that you should not appeal. Show the world that you are more passionate about racing than about rules.


Good to see your on the ball with this story James.

When the race finished on sunday, I dont know why but for some reason I added 20 secs to Vettal time to see how close people where behind him and had a little thought of where he could end up as it was a crazy race.

Especially with the pass under yellow which sky highlighted, but turned out to be wrong.

Now this......

I just have a strong feeling that Vettal is going have the championship taken off him and given to Alonso, which brings up all the talk of who deserved it more over the year and I believe Alonso deserves it more as he dragged that car into places it had no right being in, but to balance this with Vettal he won the most races over the year so from that point of view HE deserves it more. (Remember Bernie medal system!!!)

Lastly and I have said this before on here but Alonso was so desperate to be a triple before Vettal, that this is his last opportunity to make it happen that he will grab this with both hands and try and take the championship off Vettal given the chance.

Whether that is right or wrong as the season is now over, and to most people who only follow F1 without known or understanding the fine details but the rules are the rules.

I am as excited now about this outcome nearly as much as I was before the race on Sunday, how u have to love this sport when the fat lady has sung and left the build only of some grey suited guy to stand up and say 'Actually can I point to rule number.......!!!'

How I love this sport.


Interesting JEV was slowing down so much during safety car. It looks like he wants to give a 20 seconds cushion to someone in case of penalties.


Its clear that SV passed a green waved flag before passing JEV but before a green flashing light.either way he passed under green conditions no matter what angle you look at it. I'm not sure if flashing light takes precedence over waved flags. I do not think so, as it would cause great confusion without a good reason. I analogise with a traffic police waving cars through pass a red traffic light, the police instructions. It would be extremely unfair to penalise an individual who obeys the rule, that is passing under green is permissible. The colour of section of track should be the determinative factor not the apparatus delivering the message of the green sector. Both flag and light convey the same message, any other interpretation would create manifest absurdity. As a SV supporter I think he obeyed the rules but as a massive F1 fan I would hate to see the WDC decided on a relatively technical infringement. It was not double waved yellows. I doubt Alonso wanted to win this way and it would bring the sport into disrepute and alienate all the fans who want to watch racing not politicking. Rules are rules, SV obeyed them and to those who cannot accept Alonso lost, everyone in the know states that Alonso lost before Brazil. Not at Brazil, all SV demonstrated is that he is a deserving champion.


Such a minor infraction, which affected nothing, results should stand.


So minor infractions of the rules are okay, if they do not affect any given result? That's your view and you're more than entitled to it, but let me add how that's not entirely within the spirit of any sport guarded by an official rulebook.


There was no infraction period. No rules were broken. The pass was under a green flag as spelled out in the article.


I was not referring to this particular incident, I should have stated as much. I believe dansus was referring to the alledged rule-breaking overtake, though.



That still is real. I have just looked now on iPlayer on BBC and that flag is yellow when the leaders go past that marshall, but the marshall then changes the yellow with a green flag.

The problem is that on lap 3 (as shown on the still) Vettel overtakes the Marrusia of Charles Pic. That still is not from when he overtook Vergne.

Anyone in the UK can check that on the BBC website on the iPlayer.

Here's 2 photos below that I took as a print screen from the BBC video.

http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/547/greenp.jpg/ believe me, that flag is green and is being waived and Vettel is the last car.

http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/21/marrusia.jpg/ this is couple of seconds later when Vettel overtakes C Pic.

Last printscreen shows at the bottom of the page that Vettel just passed C pic and ahead of him is De La Rosa and then Vergne.



I think Vettel will get away with this. The confusion and mixed signals would be a valid defence (as much as I would like Alonso to be Champion instead).

If the onboard information says one thing about track status and the track marshall's flag says something different, is there any regulation stating which one the driver must give priority to?


According to the stewards' decision on Schumacher's pass at the end of the 2010 Monaco Grand Prix, the answer is neither. Priority goes to what race control intended, even if the lights and/or flags are telling the drivers something different. Which seems as barmy now as it did at the time, but it was the decision they made.


His not getting away with anything, the flag on the left is green.


Yep, Vettel has done wrong. And if we watch a few of the earlier grand prix Alonso has done wrong too. And Kimi. And Jenson. And, if we go back far enough, all the rest of them.

Guess what, the only one who hasn't done any wrong in any grand prix is Lewis.

And so, by my calculation, Lewis must be crowned WDC!


He he he. Loved it!


The picture is from lap 3, Vettel has a Marussia car in front.

The Vergne overtaking manoeuvre was executed on lap 4.


Do tell, what colour is the flag from that post on lap 4?


The shot back down the straight is on the previous lap, that said if you watch the slowed down onboard clip (making sure to select the 780p option on youtube to get a better look at it) you can just make out the flag still being waved on the lap in question.


The BBC are reporting that Alonso is pushing for this. This is a disgrace coming from a man who still has the Singapore 2008 'victory' on his record. Whether he knew about Crashgate or not, he should ask to have it removed from his record.

I'm not even starting on his 2 championship winning cars...


Alonso had nothing to do with the crashgate conspiracy. He benefitted from it yes, but had no hand in it. As far as he is concerned he drove a hard race in Singapore and won, why should he hand it back.

If Alonso really is pushing for a review, I'm sure James would have included this in his report. So far not the case. Even if he is, it is worth a shot considering a championship is at stake. If the FIA do review it, whatever the result of the investigation, it will be the right one.

As for his Renault won championships, those cars were just as legal as Vettel's Red Bulls have been, if not more so. The legality of the RB has been much closer to the edge of the regulations.


" Alonso had nothing to do with the crashgate conspiracy"

Ha ha ha ha....


Alonso was just an innocent racer who pitted way early and be at the right place at the right time when the crash happened... at a circuit where overtaking was next to impossible without DRS aid... ha ha ha ha ha


Not sure if you read beyond the first sentence of my post. If you have, are you claiming that Alonso conspired with Piquet Jr and Briatore on the incident? That is a serious accusation. What evidence do you have to support this?

SFA I'm guessing.


I would love to know how the bbc would know this. I think this is classic British media making alonso look like the bad guy again.


I do not agree about your 'disgrace' comment, but I think you're right in as much as he should have asked to have the Singapore victory erased from his record.


Why dont you have Schumacher remove his 1994 world championship while your at it? If that stands why should Fernando give up his victory. He was the best driver in Singapore that day anyway.


I'd rather not go into that kind of a discussion of scenario vs. scenario and driver vs. driver. I'll merely say that were it me, I would have asked for the victory to be erased.


It would be a tragedy in so many levels to undo the championship - especially when similar questions have been raised about earlier races. A full audit of all these events would surely be in order bringing scorn to all involved

To me the real question is why we still expect drivers to respond to waived flags at all. Why not get rid of them and exclusively use the on board lights - except for the checkered flag of course.

Having marshalled, albeit arsmaller tracks and less prestigious events, I am familiar with the confusion which sometimes arises - especially the place where normal racing can resume.


I really wanted Alonso to be a 3rd World Champion but not sure that a change of result 3 days after the season is the best way to do it. Alonso is the best driver in my eyes but it would not be good PR for F1 if the result was now changed.


I don't think it would hurt F1. Controversy generates interest.


I really, really wanted Alonso to win the WDC ... but not like this. It'd be sad. Let the best man win in 2013.


James, here is Sky footage of the green flag being brought out at the Marshall post in question one lap prior to the Vergne overtake. This corresponds with the photo above:



That is from a lap earlier when Vettel was overtaking C Pic. Vettel overtook Vergne a lap later and no images were broadcasted because they were showing replays of the start and the crash.

The only video of the Vergne overtake is from those who were recording Vettel's on-board.


Hi James, I believe the pass is legitimate, but the pass occurred on lap four, while the image you have of the green flag marshal appears to be from lap 3.


In my opinion there's a contradiction in race direction, the problem no longer has to do with Vettel -or any other driver for that matter, the fact that the sector starts off by giving flashing yellow lights (indicating yellow flags), and then there's a Marshal holding a green flag, before the end of the sector and then another yellow flashing light at the actual end of the sector is somewhat puzzling. The FIA has to impose the one and only way to read the flags, be it by the lights or the actual flags held by Marshals, it's quite difficult to judge Sebastian in this situation where he could have not known he had done an illegal move or not. In my opinion if a penalty was to be given, I think the FIA should have done so by now and not until after all the championship celebrations had been done, the champagne has already been spilled, now its a long wait for next season.


The light after the marshall is green, not yellow.


Yikes! It's a shame they didn't spot that one somewhat earlier on the day of the race. If they end up crowning Alonso, it will look rather silly, but the sport is built on a myriad of rules so in a sense, if they turn a blind eye to it then what do the rules mean? One would have to feel sorry for Seb if this happens. Circus?...what circus?!


Is the Vettel/Vergne pass not on Lap 4 therefore making the reverse-angle image moot?


Wow. That's a turn-up.

I was happy that the initial concern about Vettel passing under yellow (from later in the race, I think) seemed to have been resolved - I don't like the idea either of someone winning the WC under cloudy circumstances, or of a controversial retrospective re-awarding of the championship.

From a personal bias perspective I would prefer that Alonso had won the championship, but unless it turns out that Vettel had benefited from this to the extent that he wouldn't otherwise have finished where he needed to, I probably wouldn't feel comfortable about the championship being re-awarded because of it.

The cynical part of me doubts that anything will come of it, anyway - the FIA and Bernie will prefer to minimise controversy. It will be interesting to see how much noise Ferrari make about it, though.


You would think the FIA would have software by now that could track what signal any marshalling light is giving, and see if any passes are made in yellow caution areas. Then these passes could be flagged for follow-up by the stewards. The FIA really have to get stewards investigating and rendering decisions quicker than at present.

To go back now and re-open this would just turn F1 into a laughingstock.


Surely the FIA played the tape in slo mo when they looked at all the evidence.

In any case, we've just had the best season ever. I really hope it's not spoilt by desperate re-winds.


FIA will not overturn the championship results even though I am biased towards Ferrari I think it would cause an uproar. I think he passes under yellow but more concerning was how everyone was letting him through because they were afraid to race him. It's evident that Vergne let Seb pass, Schumacher did so why does that sit well with fans. I am fine with Mark moving over because he is a team mate buts no one else.


Yes, I hear you. Imagine if Button had slowed and let Alonso through. What an uproar there would be (and rightly so). That said, there is no way of policing these things.


"were they to find beyond doubt that Vettel had made a pass under yellows"

There appears to be plenty of doubt. Would Fernando want it this way?


What is the fuss about? Marshal waving green, which overrides any technical de-sync. Nothing wrong, get over it.

Two scenarios:

1. Marshal waving red, in-car tab tells you green.

2. Qualifying, official lap time puts you third on the grid, on-board timing gives you pole.

In Karting if you start telling marshal that you ignored his sign cause "you though that and that" you will get DSQ straight away.


I was rooting for Alonso to win the title, but this one's Vettel's. He may have had yellow lights on his wheel, but he had passed the last yellow light by the track side and could see a green one was next, and he had gone past a marshal waving a green flag. Enough defence for him there.


I was rooting for Alonso as well! However, the sport has to make a decision (which it has done) and stand by it. Vettel was awarded the championship and Vettel should keep the championship for the good of the sport.

However, the FIA should answer why they were so quick and so keen to state that Vettel's pass was legal when it clearly was not - another example (as if F1 needed another) that commercialism and politics hold sway at the FIA - i.e. they did not want the season ended under appeal so they appear to have tried to brush this under the carpet, despite, as I understamnd it, contrary advice from the race stewards!


the pass was clearly legal


Yes, in retrospect I think it was.


Not ilke they have anything else to do now, and with the video evidence this one was easy to wrap up.

And how do you figure the pass was not legal?


I think it's pretty clear, the green flag is there....I think it would be better for next year if these marshal’s post-towers and the lights would be at the exact same spot to avoid this kind of confusion


this just reflects badly on the championship and f1 as a whole, and the fault lies at the door of Ferrari for 'confirming their interest in examining the (non)evidence, and certain Journo's (not JA) for making that public.

granted this came to light via fans and youtube, but Ferrari and media should analyse and draw conclusions privately before announcing anything like this.

It's disrespectful to the winner(s) - undermines the FIA and stewarding of the Brazil race and makes Ferrari look like fools really.

They are trying to sell cars at the end of the day and create a brand we all love, folk won't want a ferrari if they associate it with an institution that resorts to using all their political might to influence situations to their favour.

IMO If they make any further official statements or anything other than a full retraction type statement, They should be sanctioned by FIA for making all parties look silly after a really good championship.


Has Ferrari actually made any official announcements? It sounds like journalists have asked them about it, and they've given a "we're looking into it" non-answer. I think you're jumping the gun.


James will have his sources. Given the kind of attention this has had over the days, a post is certainly merited.


Update: They wrote to fia.


It is a shame that it has happened after such a great year. However rules are rules no matter if they are reviewed before, during or after a race.

Trying to take an impartial view, i can see doubt on the issue because of confusion between the in-car info and the external info from the marshall sector point. Which takes precedence. I would say the flag point but this has been argued against previously.

It would cause so much bad feeling in and outside the sport that i cannot see it being overturned......and i doubt Bernie would allow it!!...i reckon there is already some behind the scenes phone calls going on giving advice on the situation!!


Bernie has nothing to do with it and if he started pulling strings in Vettel's favour it would become immeasurably worse for the image of Formula 1. And please don't anyone start saying words to the effect that Jean Todt and the FIA are an extension of Ferrari. That is rubbish.


Hey Wade

Lighten up a bit. My comment on Bernie were tongue in check. People take themselves to seriously.

And by the way, never raised Jtodt or Ferrari names and have never quoted the Ferrari so not sure how you linked that.


My response to you was just regarding the Bernie aspect. The FIA comments were said with me over-estimating the potential for such claims from others. Apologies if it came across as a bit harsh. No worries. 🙂


James, this is interesting to say the least. No matter what the FIA does, they will have ticked off maybe half of the worlds racing fans. My question would be this, If / when the lights and the flag man are out of sync, which takes precedent? Probably another very gray area in the rule book. My take? Did JEV lift? If so they need to dock Seb. Please keep us informed on this one.


The flag man would take precedent because TECHNOLOGY is not always reliable, the same as if the radio would not work, they use the pit board.


The lights and flag being "out of sync" is a misperception. The light is there, and further on track there's a marshall with a flag. Each of them have authority over the enfollowing piece of track.

So a yellow light before a marshall with green flag would just mean the track is yellow from the yellow light up until the green flag. From there on, the track is green.


It's a close call, but I think Vettel should be given the 20 second penalty.

I also think the FIA will not do it at this stage because it'd create a big controversy and leave them exposed to accusations of altering the result.

The moment to review and rule was Sunday, not now.


Basically everyone who I've seen say it's a "close call" is ignoring the flag man at the start of the straight and referring to the electronic board much further along where he is completing the pass.


I think you're both right: I had not seen the marshall. I stand corrected.

Still, the FIA was a bit clumsy not releasing the footage and clarifying the situation right away.


Why should he be given a penalty if there is no wrong doing? To my eye, it's clear the marshall was waving a green flag, and that's the ultimate authority on the track. Lights on the steering wheel are there just to help and inform the driver, but might lag behind what's happening on the track.


Seems pretty clear cut from the video: the green flag can clearly be seen. Bit of a non-issue, really, and just another example of the "gamesmanship" surrounding Ferrari that Christian Horner was talking about.

So, where does the yellow flag section end if first there is a marshal flying a green flag and a green light a bit further up the road? It would not be reasonable to expect Vettel to make that decision at that moment. If there's dubiety then the FIA should sort it out, but in the meantime he saw something green and went racing again. Benefit of the doubt must apply.

Nice try, though, Ferrari fans.


"So, where does the yellow flag section end if first there is a marshal flying a green flag and a green light a bit further up the road?"

I have the same question too, and have always wondered that.

I've also wondered when drivers have to 'lift' when going through a yellow, how much do they have to lift, when do they have to start lifting, and when can they accelerate as normal again? Everytime I see a yellow section which drivers have to pass NOT at full speed, from TV they seem to me as if they're still driving at full speed. So I can't really tell the difference really.


I agree with your assessment. That looks to be a green flag waved before the overtake. Regardless of the outcome (althought I hope it will be deemed a legal overtake) I do think it’s sad that Ferrari (including Alonso) are prepared to try and challenge and possibly overturn the title based on this (in effect a dozen or so metres), and an overtake that had no bearing on the race (especially when it was a Toro Rosso who would have let him pass anyway). I do not buy their “noble” excuse that “the rules are the rules”. It would ruin this sport if a decision was overturned 7 days after the event.


Vergne let him past?


So... the championship fight is decided by a colour blind or a 'simple' marshal. Great... between the lottery tyres and gimmecky devices, this really sums up the championship.


the championship was decided when Alonso qualified mid pack for both Japan and Belgium leaving him exposed to start incidents. The whole season did not boil down to a single incident.


Sorry, but how Alonso could qualify better than he did in Spa and Japan with the car he had? Please, enlight us!!!


The team is called Ferrari, no Alonso. Be more precise! The way you wrote your comment looks like Alonso is a bad qualifier, when the reality is he didn't have the tools to qualify well.


i'm not saying he is incapable of qualifying better given the car, rather that's the car that his team gave him. he wins as a team loses as a team. so THEY, Ferrari and Alonso lost because they made a car that could only qualify mid pack.


Vettes wins and battling drives had nothing to do with it, thanks for clearing that up for us all!!


Vettel's drives were a champion's drive but Alonso's inability to qualify better made Vettel's championship look even better


It would be a shame if the WDC was decided this way. As much as I would have liked to have seen Alonso take the title this year I don't think he would want to win in this manner. If that is a green flag (and looks to me like it is) then this is a storm in a teacup.


I read somewhere that it is Alonso who is pushing Ferrari to protest the Sunday's result.


Hi Joel

Can you provide a definite link that quotes a definite source. Because rumourmongering isn't fair. James article article above is speculative. He says 'If FIA were to review the .... Nowhere does James say anything else. Even the headline states 'IF'.

I haven't come across one news article that directly quotes Ferrari as protesting to the FIA. You supply a link and I'm happy to stand corrected.

In the meantime, I think it would be nice - and just - to assume Ferrari have decided the incident is okay. Doing otherwise would unfairly paint them as sore losers and whingers.

I'm not an Alonso fan; I admire his ability. But seriously I can't believe the attitude of those [not you Joel] who jump at the chance to be so diss on a driver; be they Alonso, Vettel or Pic! 🙂


I see a green flag so that tells me the mistake was made by race control and the marshals. Not Vettel.


For the sake of F1, I hope the FIA does not do this.

Imagine if the FA reviewed a penalty claim or disputed goal and retroactively changed the result of a cup final. Nothing good can come of this.


First: there are two passes.

The one on lap three (a Marussia?) was captured by the main feed and I've checked my PVR video and you can clearly see a waving green flag in the same location pointed out in the still image above.

On lap four, there was another pass of J-E Vergne in a Toro Rosso at the same point on the track, and in the in-car video you can see a marshall at the same point on the track waving some flag. Now it seems to me, that he would still be waving a green.


There are three but the first two are clearly ok


It's too late now, particularly as there is ambiguity around the matter.


Justice will be served if overturned, however, once an obvious and egregious error has been made (as in this case), typically those who dropped the ball, will not admit the error of their ways, and nothing is done to make it right.


What is the obvious error?


This would be terrible for the championship and Formula One as a whole.

They can't have the final result decided by a steward review, now, four days later.

Even if it was totally legitimate, its just too much not to reek, at this stage.

Ferrari are a classy organization, and they don't want their branding, including their star stag branded with a win like that. That is image damaging stuff, for sure.

The Vettel-Red Bull package won the race, not just legitimately, spiritually, as well.

I noticed the pass on Vergne; but all of the yellow-flag incidents, yes plural, were grey to say the least. But there was something...

But, what does it matter, now?


So, why F1 have rules made by FIA.

Anyone overtake anyone, anywhere. No Rules.

Is that ur point?


Just simply to keep in books, saying we have rules.


No, that's not the point at all.

Even if the incidents were almost completely without controversy, and in each case, there is antagonistic evidence that the driver would unambiguously know he was driving under a yellow flag, but even if it was without controversy, the other circumstances would create a firestorm of negative branding, which could be crippling for the sport, and therefore everyone involved, if the World Championship was decided by these types of penalties, really coming into the awareness of the fan, three days after the event was over!

What I am saying is, they are ambiguous enough to call them 'racing', and not sufficiently clearly in contradiction of the rules to change the awards for the race, and thus title.


Regardless of this adding 20 seconds to his time when the race finished under safety car is more unfair. Vettel was 20.4 seconds ahead of Vergne when the safety car was deployed.


FIA has no problems with that. Remember Schumacher's move on Alonso @ Monaco 2010. They didn't only gave Alonso his place back, but punished Schumacher as well. The rules back then were unclear at best with the SC leaving, the SC line at the pit entry and green flags waving. In the race you could overtake, but suddenly not in the end?

Vergne did his utmost best to gap 20 seconds to Vettel behind the SC. If Vettel gets punished, they could punish Vergne as well for not keeping the group packed. So nothing changes.


From an Alonso fan, it would be very unfair to impose a penalty retrospectively thereby removing the Red Bull team's opportunity to recover the deficit.

If there are mixed signals it should be open/shut.


If you look at Vettel's steering wheel lights, it clearly shows that he is still in a yellow flag zone. ie 2 yellow lights either end of the red ones......pretty conclusive, a pass under yellow...not any room for debate as far as i can see.


As far as I understand the rules, the dash lights are supplemental and the trackside indicators (flags or lights) are what decisions should be based on.


Lights on the steering wheel are not the ultimate authority of the track conditions, marshalls on the track are. There is clearly a green flag waved before the pass, hence the pass is legitimate.


Oh for God's sake. It doesn't matter.

From BBC,

"If there is any discrepancy between what is displayed on a driver's dashboard and what is being displayed on the track, then the trackside flags and lights take precedence."

Flags> driver's dashboard

The pass is legal. End of the story.


And the green flag? Doesn't that cast doubt?


The presence of the green flag does cast doubt - but it was being waved. I've read somewhere that the only flags that are waved are the yellows and chequered. Is this correct James? If so, is this marshall error?

Additionally, was there not a yellow light showing on the outside of turn 3 at the same time?

As someone else said, if you are in any doubt, safety first!


Mike - scenario. Alonso bears right around Curve Grande at 180 with a flashing yellow light in front of him on the outside and momentarily glimpses a green flag on the inside.

He's in doubt and decides not to lift. As he exits, he clips a stranded car just off the edge of the circuit. Who's fault is the accident?


This is a race, not driwing home the kids from school. You race at the instant you have the green light(or flag) and dont play it safe. How many people would watch F1 with drivers pulling back thinking sorry I intruded, do take my place in the line....


what is more likely to make an error... a human marshal or a driver's steering wheel thats controlled by... the ECU ? Are drivers ever told which to trust when the 2 contradict another ?

IMO, if 3-time WDC Vettel can't tell the difference... WOW... reminds me of Hamilton "confused" by all the lights on his steering wheel in Valencia 2010 while overtaking the SC. A normal person could say that, not the elite of the elite drivers in the world.


The lights on the wheel only change when you pass an electronic marker, so yes they can be out of sync. The flags and trackside lights have standing in the sporting regulations, the dash lights dont.

If you think they never malfunction, refer to Kimi being blue flagged for most of the Australian GP according to his dash ;).


The BBC quotes the rules as saying when the lights in the car, and the signals outside conflict, the ones outside take precedence. If so, that would put Vettel in the clear. At best, the reasonable doubt should be with him if there are mixed signals.


Personally I hope it doesn't change the result. I would have liked to see Alonso take the title but don't want to see it happen like this.

If it was a green flag would that take priority over the yellow light in the car?


This is not the pass, or signaling in question. Check this out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OAEq1VycYRA


This video does not notice the green flag of the marshall in the last incident, just the green light which is located a bit further down the track. It is a legitimate pass.


Seems like Vettel had decided in the overtake well before that section. Yellow lights flashing in car, flashing yellows in the distance, but he still went for it. The green flag (if there actually was one) would have been more diffucult to see! Was there any regard for the actual reason a yellow flag is put out?

On another note, if Vergne did lift, why did he? Torro Rosso helping RBR like that is surely illegal?


Sure it is. Just another unfair advantage of Red Bull over the rest. They are the only team with four cars in the grid.


Sauber, Perez....nothing more said


Have you pressed print yet on your book James?!!


Hehe, I thought the same - "stop the press"! Good one 🙂


What about the inconsistent administration of penalties for causing an avoidable accident. Hulk gets penalised for the backend getting away from him under braking in the wet, and vettel gets away with chopping into the apex of turn 4 after conservative braking with no consideration as to anyone being on the inside. I would think that after braking early, with 2/3rds of the field behind you, there is going to be someone sniffing up the inside.

If vettel gets reviewed and found guilty, then this is not a pretty way for FA to clinche the title, but at the end of the day, rules are rules and are required to be adheared to.


the difference between the hulkenberg-hamiton incident and vettel-senna incident as i see it is that vettel was ahead at the point he turned in. I would think being ahead at the time gives him the right to take the line, otherwise everyone who is behind would just risk a dive on the inside and hope for the best. it was a racing incident in my opinion


Senna had nowhere to go... just because you are leading doesn't mean you can close the door fully. If it was the other round Senna would have been hung out to dry but because it's the golden boy it's a....racing incident. Incidentally it ended Sennas last chance to fight for his career.



I can't see a reversal happening, it would be too damaging for the sports image. Bernie could and would ensure this gets buried even if the FIA decided otherwise... or could he?



I think the FIA should review it. It will make them look silly, but for fairness sake they need to.

I am a Hamilton fan, so I admit my judgement may be impaired slightly, but I think Vettel has gottten away with a few indiscretions lately.

In the last two weeks he has overtaken under yellow flags, caused an accident by running into Senna, and i think in Austin he even set a personal best sector time in qualifying while a yellow flag was out in that sector. Apparently there have been other misdemeanours during the year (according to the paper).

Not saying any penalties should have been given for any of these, but it is surprising they were not even investigated at the time.

Interesting to see what happens next. Hope it is fair, but not too messy.


James could clarify this but you can still set the fastest sector time as long as you lift off sufficiently at the portion of the sector which the yellows were waving


For me its quite clear. The lights on his steering wheel dont go out and therefore still under yellow flags conditions. He should be penalised without any doubt.

I agree it wont reflect good on F1 to change it after so many days, but yet again, it wont look good that they dont do anything cause of their image.


You need to read the rules! The lights on the steering wheel are only an aid for the driver. The regulations work only on the flags and lights on the track. Clear as day - no penalty!


as James said, what about the waving green flag? I think benefit of the doubt should be given


The lights on the steering wheel are a driver aid. They are NOT covered by the sporting regulations. Flags and trackside lights are what defines what cautions are valid and they are covered by the sporting regulations. Furthermore Flags superseed the lights.


Nothing will happen with this. There is clearly a green flag (even if only displayed there by accident), so the whole argument is moot. SV will not be held responsible for this. The time for analysis and penalty was during the race.


You need to read the rules.


I'm not a big Vettel fan, but after watching the slow mo shot it seems pretty clear he was past a green flag so I doubt they would change the results of the championship over this.


Not only Vettel passed Vergene, he also passed Koboyashi under Yellow Flags in pit straights.

Even Sky Sports showed this video during the race and I was thinking why they didn't penalize him for this passing.

This is ridiculous for not following the simple rules by track marshals or by FIA.


The pass on Kobayashi was under solid-yellow lights, which as everyone found out on Sunday evening, are the equivalent of red and yellow waved flags (oil/water slippery track).


The pass on Kobayashi was under yellow-red conditions (indicated by red-striped flags and steady yellowish lights), which allow passing.


The more and more of it I see the worse it looks for vettel. He also uses kers in this. Not sure what's going to happen but clearly it needs looking into by the fia even without Ferrari protesting.


Although I support Ferrari and Alonso I wouldn't want a change in this years result. I feel the punishment if any should have been given to Vettel at the time of the race and a change in result now would be hugely unfair to Vettel, Red Bull and also the viewing public. The core F1 fan base might understand but for the rest a change in result and in championship would be largely confusing. Since it was at the beginning of the race the fault lies with the marshals as they had enough time to view this incident and decide upon the penalty if any. I hope FIA and Ferrari let this one slide.


I brought this up during the race on a couple of F1 forums I frequent, and most people didn't even seem to know what I was talking about, then someone mentioned that the yellow lights, when static and not flashing, signify slippery conditions, rather a danger zone. That explanation seemed plausible, and Pat Fry confirmed it post race, so it seems odd this issue is being brought up again, or am I missing something.


You're talking about Vettel's pass on Kobayashi. That was on yellow-and-red flags (solid yellow lights), which are just a warning of slippery conditions. You can overtake under those flags.

This was a separate incident between Vettel and Vergne.


The incident you are talking about is Vettel's pass on Kobayashi and it was a legitimate pass. This is a different incident, Vettel passing Vergne, but equally legitimate, since the marshall on the track waves the green flag.


I really hope Ferrari leave this alone.

F1 has had a stellar year of racing.. the return of a few characters to the grid, a number of winning drivers AND constructors and countless exciting races.

2012 was also devoid of any massive contraversy or negative politics. I will be disgusted if Ferrari follow this through.

As they have admitted post Brazil .. Their car wasn't good enough, and they lost valuable points in Suzuka and Spa. That's where the championship was lost. Not with a borderline illegal overtake from Vettel in the wet.

They need to be real men, suck it up and come back in 2013 and win it properly.


but what IF (big IF) RBR in this race didn't win it properly themselves, and stole it off Ferrari by overtaking under yellows?

The same argument applies to RBR too.


Does this mean that RBR are looking at thousands of hours of footage of all this years races to find a similar situation involving Alonso or any one in that case as they may have 20 seconds added to their time therefor promoting Vettel up the race standings.

Ridiculous, move on to 2013.


I love F1! The racing maybe over but the story of the year is just beginning.

I can't see the FIA taking the championship off Seb. As James writes it has to be 'beyond doubt' and the footage raises too many question marks for this to happen.

I hope you are holding off on the book publishing James so you can add another chapter of what happens behind the scenes with this story.


to late let it go


Hi James - the still shot you put up right at the very end is of Lap 3, when Vettel is overtaking Charles Pic. The questioned Vergne overtake is Lap 4.

As I understand it track flags take precedence - and so this is a non-issue. Perhaps the green flag was mistakenly waved, but you cannot penalise a driver for following wrongly-given instructions.


I can really do without this. Whatever hapopens now, depending on your perspective, this will either be remembered as the WDC that Seb won via cheating, or the won that Ferrari won in the courts. Both damage the sport's integrity.

My gut feeling is the result should stand. Mainly because Alonso got to keep the win won when Piquet crashed for him.


"this will either be remembered as the WDC that Seb won via cheating, or the won that Ferrari won in the courts. Both damage the sport’s integrity."

Good point. Your first part of the paragraph is what everyone's missed out here.


Does that mean, Vettel should be penalized for this action?


You missed the other if, if Vettel passed under greens (which he did) all is OK ;).


Imo, if evidence really proved he passed under yellows, then yes. If not, then his results stand.

I mean let's face it:

IF Vettel is proven to have overtook under yellows, but his WDC status to stand, that'd taint his 3rd WDC.

IF Vettel is proven to have overtook under yellows, but WDC passed to Alonso, Alonso's 3rd WDC would be tainted.

So either way, it is the FIA's that's more screwed over this than either RBR or Ferrari, or Vettel or Alonso.

Had the FIA spotted this during the course of the race, all parties would have been better off, and Vettel giving a position back to JEV, then overtake him again, would most definitely end him up where he is right now in the end anyway.

And just to add: Ferrari not protesting, it's automatically investigated by the FIA due to their own rules.

FIA's at fault if you ask me.


Neither are the case, so let's stop getting worked up about it


Not working up about anything, just saying things that everyone's missed, but that's IF Vettel overtook under yellows.

I mean let's forget about who are the drivers involved, put anyone into Alonso / Ferrari's shoes, wouldn't they do the same to investigate? I'm sure RBR would. It's just in the case, everyone are working up about it due to knowing it's RBR vs Ferrari, VET vs ALO.

I'm just saying what everyone's missed due to the names in this case are known.



Actually, in that video you have, you can clearly see a yellow flashing light on the right hand side of the track opposite of the marshall stand. Your vid is in super slow motion so it appears to be a solid yellow flag, but the following vid shows it to be flashing yellow.



well this should sell some newspapers...


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P2U-BI356uQ In this video it shows Vettel overtake Pic under greens then Vergne in which it is clear it is yellows. Yes there appears to be a Marshal with a flag, but at the same time a yellow light is on to the right AND the yellow LED lights on Vettels steering wheel (which are always on in yellow flag areas) are also on showing it is clearly yellow flag conditions. Its an illegal overtake without any doubt.


The track side marshals are the ultimate authority of track conditions. The green flag and the pass took place after all the yellow lights on the track side, even the yellow light on the right that you mention. Lights on the steering wheel do not immediately follow what the marshals are waving, so are not the true indicator of track conditions.


but the steering wheel lights immediately follow what the FIA computers send to the cars to tell the drivers of the conditions. So how is that not an authority?

If it's really as useless as you say, why have it then?


"Lights on the steering wheel do not immediately follow what the marshals are waving"

I think the electornics are more up-to-date to the FIA computers than the flags. How can you tell they are only updated within certain periods? Technology we and the FIA have can certainly do better than that. It could be the other way round to what you said, and the green flag waved by a marshall is more prone to human error that electronics.


The lights on the wheel aren't what counts. Flags count


Like I said, the steering wheel lights do not -immediately- follow the track conditions. In this case, they failed to notice that the green flag was waved, as the lights only update within certain periods. Obviously, this doesn't make them useless, just that they are not the ultimate authority.


James, the still image does not correspond to the incident. It can be seen that Vettel is behind a Marussia, not a TR.

Still, the relevant part about the marshall waving a green flag can not be very well ascertained by the video. A higher resolution one would be needed... Evidence seems to point to a green flag being waved, but it is impossible to see.

But if the pass had actually been made under yellows, then fair is fair and Vettel should get the penalty. Avoiding it just because it looks bad would make the sport even more of a laughing stock.



Slightly off-topic. If race results can be changed 4-5 days after the race, then can someone challenge the results of Singapore 2008 please?


Whilst we're going over old news, I reckon Senna deserves the 89 championship, Prost can have the 1990 title, and it's about time we pulled a Benetton B194 out if whatever museum it is mothballed in and had a look at the electronics...


Because 2-4 days is totally in the same ball park as 2 years.

Anyway what could you possibly do? Exclude Piquet from the Race? Give him race bans for the next few races?

There is nothing in the rules that would affect the 2008 championship outcome if that case was reopened.


There is a Marshall waving "Green Flag" in the replay between 55-1.05 seconds.... after which Vettel overtakes.

The on-board light is for driver reference only, and in any case, Flag Marshall's takes precedence over Light System in any case. A manual flag waving is rated higher than Electronic Lights indicator, which is located only at certain distance to begin with.

Spanish media witch hunt has begun.


Will Buxton

"3 days after the World Cup final FIFA looks into an alleged foul which should have resulted in a penalty + different winner. Wouldn't happen"


Also, Vettel is pure genius to have noticed the GREEN FLAG being waved just before he overtakes TR. I have to admit, Vettel is faster than the people who are unable to fathom that A waved green flag is the FINAL visual point.

If the Marshall makes a mistake and shows "green" instead of "yellow"... then it's not the fault of any driver for doing his job in chaotic conditions.


Dear James,

By all reports, we are talking about incidents on Lap 3 & Lap 4. Surely, early enough in the race that any penalty should be decided during the race and not after it.

Do we know for sure whether this incident was not reviewed during the race and no action was taken after the review. Some reports have suggested so. That being the case, the matter should definetely be closed. However, if those reports are untrue, then a re-opening may be warranted.


Oh, how the tables have turned Mr. Alonso.




If he is really pressing Ferrari to appeal then it's utterly shameful after what he said in 2007.


Nice dig at the archives :D, nice find too.


From the BBC "The 31-year-old Alonso, .... is believed to be pushing Ferrari to make an official protest to the FIA."

This says it all about his grossly unpleasant mentality, truly sinking to his natural level.

alonso will never win another Championship, Karma is taking care of that. 3 losses from under his nose and it is clearly driving him insane. Haha is all I can say.


John Surtees once said there is a dark side to Alonso's character which needs to be looked into. However he reckoned that Alonso is a fantastic racing driver, one of the very best. I believe that Big John is spot on, on both accounts.


What ever the outcome, why, in the most technical of sports, isn't there a system to automatically flag overtaking under yellows directly to the stewards during the race?

Aside from this fan found footage, there seems to be too much of a reliance on drivers and team 'snitching' on each other to try to get penalties.


That's what I though when I first heard this story. Why not automate this as much as possible - flag ALL passed automatically when there's a yellow flag on track.

This automated system could even automatically cue up the video feeds for review...


from the looks of it Ferrari are not interested in pursuing the issue.

here is another for which Vettel made an illegal passed.



Either way, it's a big departure from http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/63956" rel="nofollow">Ferrari warn McLaren appeal could hurt F1 and http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/63581" rel="nofollow"> Alonso hopes Raikkonen's title stands



I mentioned this below too!


The different is yellow flags are a safety issue, overtaking (or not decreasing speed) is dangerous, what if vergne didn't see vettel coming because he thought he couldn't be overtaken and a big accident happens where someone gets hurt. That's a stretch but a dangerous precedent could be set here, regardless of the outcome....


Have Ferrari or Alonso publicly come out and asked for an investigation?


To answer your question - no. Andrew Benson has said that "it is believed" Alonso is pushing for a protest. That's enough for many to get over excited, over emotive and turn "believe" into "Gospel" and fact. Karma, ha ha ha etc. Very childish if you ask me.

This whole story is mountain out of molehill stuff.

The only ones who seem concerned with it all are us bloggers and some sections of the media. Seriously, Vettel did no wrong, Alonso isn't sulking like a spoilt little kid.

Move on people - nothing to see here.


James (Allen) already said it doesn't take a protest from Ferrai in order for the FIA to do anything.


Yes. And?


This is from BBC Sport's news,

"The footage shows Vettel passing two flashing yellow lights then overtaking Vergne down the straight, completing the move before reaching a flashing green light, indicating the end of the yellow zone.

Rules dictate that the 'yellow' zone ends only when the driver passes the first 'green' indicator."


In most contexts, the BBC is an authority, but when it comes to F1 they are completely clueless. I trust JA over the official BBC journos any day.


Given that Vettel passed the first green indicator (flag of the marshal) before the overtake, the only conclusion can be that the pass was legal.


Vernge slowed down for the yellow, SV did not, despite having yellow lights on his dash. It doesn't matter if the flag is green. The dash light is there to avoid confusion. If Fernando is not made World Champion then the FIA is a farce!


The flag is the official signal, the lights are a guide.


Flags are the -only- thing that matters. Track side marshals are the ultimate authority of the track condtions.


That is absolutely wrong. The dashboard indicators are merely there to aid the driver, but take no precedence whatsoever over flags or light posts.


Wow! just when we thought we had a great season (with minimal politics), we get this - which could potentially be decided in the courts if Ferrari decide to fight it out. I hope it doesn't go there for the sake of the sport.

James, Any word on whether Ferrari is considering contesting the race results?


Just opening a discussion here 🙂

What if, for the sake of the sport, RBR won it by ignoring flags though? That's not good for the sport either. Either way, FIA is screwed because they didn't notice this on spot during the race.


"So there appears to be some confusion over signalling; the lights and the flag do not synchronise."

Unless the marshal's station has a mechanism to change the steering wheel's status from yellow flag to green, which I highly doubt, it makes sense that the lights on Vettel's steering wheel won't change back to green until he reaches the next green light board, which comes *after* the marshal station.

I don't see how this affects Vettel's chammpionship in any way, because he did indeed pass a green flag prior to passing JEV.


i think the FIA need to do the fair thing and thoeorughly investigate the issue. If Vettel passed under yellow flags then he needs to be punished according to the sporting rules and if he ddnt i think he will enjoy his championship better.

The FIA need to clarify this otherwise it will always leave cloud hanging over Vettel's championship which in someways can undermine the FIA


Well said.

I am an Alonso supporter, but no way I'm saying FIA should investigate for the sake of Alonso, but just to clear up this cloud of smoke for the sake of the 2012 F1 season.


I think that the Pass was Legal as you can pass a car after you Pass a Green flag so i don't think there is any problem with that what's your take on this move James


Another clear video of what Vettel did and this video shows what actually happened.



Video no longer available, removed by YouTube.


When I posted it, it was there.

I think the FIA were afraid of this evidence.


The main problem is the lack of closure after the race, with vettel under suspicion for many yellow flag infringements the fia should have simply sad 'not under investigation' and that would be that. However, now doubt will always remain in regards to Vettels third title as yellow flags are meant to be a black and white issue penalty wise, and if in doubt don't pass - that's Vettels problem. If a mistake has been made and a Now if alonso is awarded the title he would have missed out on celebrating in the moment


They did clearly state that the Koba incident was not a yellow flag, it was a slippery track warning. This incident only came to light days after the race, so how are they supposed to handled it just after the race?


In Sebastian's dash the light clearly shows "Yellow"

And yet he passed Vergne.


Yes, right after a green flag.


Logic tells me that if a marshal has a green flag and the light(s) are yellow, or visa versa, the driver cannot be blamed. I am sure that the marshal would have reported the incident should he have thought that it was an illegal pass. It is a fact that STR would not reported the incident, but at that stage of the race when the field were still very very close, some of the other driver could have reported it if thought that it was an illegal pass. My opinion is that the blame lay at the race management.


It seems as though Sebastian ignored the flashing yellow lights on his dash, which alerts him that he is in the yellow flag zone, which can be a problem for him.



Flags take precedent over the lights, with are just guides


Personally I won't feel so bad for Finger if that happens as he is 25 and has won 2 titles already where as Alonso arguably deserves the title (Coming from a guy who likes anyone who beat Alonso)

BUT I think this sport will become a joke (well it already is to some people).

I think everything has to be done on run-time.

Don't they have enough man-power and resources to monitor everything on run-time. Well, if they miss it, too bad they better don't change it.

Like in football, you cannot change the result just because referee didn't see someone dived.


So, why do you have some articles(rules) given by FIA?

To say, "Lets forget about that and move to next season?"

Is that fair what u r saying?


I think you missed my point. It has to be done on run-time like any other sport.

And if you want to change the championship results in the past, you cannot be selective, you have to be consistent.

What about the Renualt 2008 sega? Is it fair that some people benefited and some lost a lot? Is it fair that Alonso gets to keep his win?

My point is that there are just far too many problems to go back to the past.

Whether you like it or not, no sport can ever be 100% fair unless you can change the results in the future.

And there is a reason why no other sport doesn't do that.


@Morten, I am not sure about that, what about Manny last fight? It happened very fast and he got robbed.

@Kay and Vipin do have a point.But it's only highlight the flaws of it's system.

Do we have a rule where we can't change the results if it's longer than x amount of time?

If not, there is a problem with consistency as always.


What about Schumacher's penalty in Monaco in 2010 for overtaking Alonso?


Well 2012 isn't too far into the past yet, only 4 days. 😀


Ah, well, but no other sport is like F1. No other sport moves as fast, or has so many participants moving so fast, on such a vast playing field, with such passionate fans. F1 is a unique sport. 'S why we love it so.


Hi James,

I have always been a McLaren fan and used to detest Alonso in his early days. I still remember his reckless accident many years ago hitting Heikki's detached tyre in Brazil.

This year, he has been peerless. Many readers comment that everyone has had their share of woes and things balance out. Not really. Vettel's woes are either created by his team (alternator) or he has had a questionable hand in the shunts. Alonso has had no hand in the shunts he lost points and he has maximized his team's ability like no other.

The FIA would be wise not to open this case as it will leave a bad taste in everyone's mouth. This has been one of the most exhilarating seasons in recent years (I can remember the years when Hakkinen won the championships) and the FIA has done an admirable job compared to the past years. It is never going to be perfect and we love F1 because of that. Otherwise it would become another boring series with robotic actions. In F1, all the parties involved add a bit of drama.

There are many drivers who had an element of luck in winning he world championships. Vettel could be one of them. In my heart I have enjoyed Alonso's racing this year more than anything (except maybe for Hamilton's performance in Austin). The statistics may stay, but they won't make Vettel an unforgettable driver.


"Alonso has had no hand in the shunts he lost points"

I'm sorry to break this to you, but Japan was all of Fernandos doing.


What I meant was, if you make a mistake and lose points, you have no right to sulk. If someone takes you out for no fault of yours, that's what counts.

Fernando and Vettel have both lost points due to either their teams mistakes or their own mistakes. You can't hold that against the other driver. But what mattered the most was Grosjean's shunt. Fernando was just a passenger.

Warren Groenewald

Can. Worms. Opened.


So there is a marshal waving a green flag before the overtake, what is there to investigate? In that case it was a legitimate pass.

we want the truth

You would think that with all of the large bright yellow lights, plus on dash yellow LEDs, it would be obvious to the driver what the real status would/should have been in that part of the track.

Do you think the green flag from a Marshall would be a mistake in that last section of yellow status track?


Many incidents throughout the year have been "investigated after the race", I'm surprised this was treated differently.


The screenshot is not doctored... I watched that last night from a recording I made of the race live.

It's from the preceding lap, where Vettel passes Pic. Which appears to be a pass started in yellow zone, but completed in Green. Where is the distinction.

In fact all of Vettel's passes, given the speed they were going, in slippery tricky conditions are Really close to being if not in, yellow zones a tenth of a second after or before.

To me a yellow light flashing ahead should not encourage a lunge past to get into the zone perhaps just ahead only to end up spinning off into a Marshall on track due to this overcommit. Use the HRT pass as example, in his haste to pass he easily could have slipped off track while getting offline to comple his pass?

The fact that there are numerous videos that are so marginal only adds to the case, and Ferrari are right to be interested in the debate that is raging. Whether they take it further or not will be telling, as I agree, they won't unless they are absolutely convinced there is a case...

Interesting 24 hours ahead


You are right about the overtake of Vettel to Narain Karthikeyan, it was against the spirit of the rule, that is, the safety of the drivers.