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Will FIA review Vettel championship result in light of video evidence?
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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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I do not know if it’s just me or if perhaps everyone else encountering issues with your blog.

It appears as if some of the text on your posts are

running off the screen. Can someone else please comment and let me know if

this is happening to them as well? This may be a issue with my internet browser

because I’ve had this happen before. Thank you


I’ve been a fan for more than 30 years. I’ve seen a lot of tricks during this years, but the things that has been happening during last 5 years has been enough for me. This is not F1: this is Pressing Catch. The only race I’ve seen this season is the last one, and it confirms why I don’t like this “sport” never more: people letting pass other drivers, drivers trying others to win instead of fighting… I’m very sorry, but this is only a show, not a sport.


I couldn’t agree more Oscar. Try NASCAR or even Indy.


Can someone please draw a simple graphic of this before “flag gate” turns into another myth?


Please make this all stop!!!

A Fernando fan who wishes it was 15th March 2013 🙁


The countdown is on!


Does all of this suggest that next season, rather than investing in a team of people to develop their car to a Championship winning level, Ferrari will instead invest in a team of people to pore over hours of footage after each race looking for ways to get their championship challengers penalised?


In essence this would make the teams unvilling to try their luck by making a lot of accusations because nobody wants to be seen as trying to win thru the cabinets.

I think this was a PR catastrophe for Ferrari. Not because they wouldnt have tried anything but because AF and his manager made it public thru their cryptic twitters. In my mind they would have liked to try everything but without publicity, as probably any other team. But its a public sport and FIA should see that. There shouldnt be any whispers but open publöic protests.

For example 4 rules where modified to hinder RB and mclaren after protest from one can assume ferrari. Did they spot 4 cases or was iyt 4 of 40? This would be interresting to know. And more interresting would be would they have done those in public eye?


I don’t know, regardless of what FA or his manager did I think Ferrari were forced into requesting clarification by the bombardment of requests from fans they were copping about it on social media. This was the case well before FA stirred things up on twitter.

The fact that there was a green flag was pointed out very in the piece on the comments to the original youtube video but was drowned out by fans clinging to the hope that Fernando might yet have clinched the title.


Yeah, definitely should get the FIA to look into that. Penalty for being too far back under SC is another 20 seconds isn’t it? 😛


why did the TR leave a gap of 20 secs at the end of the race under the SC?


Don’t they have already? It seems like they would have with the amount of protests.

Joking aside I have a suggestion abpout how to change this.

Only marshalls and teams would be allowed to make complaints to the judges about anything, nothing else would be reacted to.

When teams make a complaint thjis is listed and official and public. So for example if FA asks for a safety car or red flag on radio this wouldnt be taken into account without a compalint from the team.

Rhe papers could tell whos whining the most and so on and would make the teams only complain when necessary and not like now when Ferrari has Whiting on spped dial!


German driver wins championship by breaking rules. Hot diggidy that sounds familiar.


Which rule did VET break again?


You are very patient James, I’m starting to boil reading these ridiculous accusations


I am also patiently waiting for you to reply to this: why did the TR leave a gap of 20 secs at the end of the race under the SC?


Hi James just watch the video at 11:40 clear cut overtaking under the yellow flags by Vettel on Paul..this time its Force India not Torro rosso…


This is now getting very silly indeed. At 11:30, as Vettel comes out of turn 1, you can clearly see a yellow light that is not flashing: the overtake on the Force India occurs after this in the DRS zone. A flashing yellow light is a yellow flag, whereas a solid yellow light is a slippery track warning. Therefore the overtake on the Force India was NOT under yellow flag conditions.

For heaven’s sake people, Vettel is the 2012 World Champion and deservedly so. Get over it, and stop trying to invent rule infractions. I’ll be generous and assume you don’t know what the warning lights mean, however, less generously, this appears to be simply more mischief making.


Ah, also didn’t know this, thanks for the explanation!


I’m not an Alonso or Ferrari fan but I was rooting for him Sunday. I cheered when Vettel was spun. But I agree this is not how a true championship is won. This issue was addressed on Sunday during and after the race and dismissed. Now the FIA is saying the pass looks legal to them. I don’t think there was an issue or is one and it’s sad we are having this discussion.

Let’s assume Ferrari appealed and won. Has anyone considered how this would look? What a mockery F1 would become. Next year why even have a podium or declare a winner after the race? Surely every team will be scrutinizing all video from every car, angle and location to appeal the slightest discrepancy, not just for the win but to get up to 8th or 9th place. Just declare the results several days later after all the video has been analyzed.

But the best part is now all the nannies have whipped this into such a frenzy they’ll claim Vettel “stole” the championship, etc. I can’t wait to hear it.

As I said, I’m not a Ferrari fan, but my suggestion for them and Alonso would be focus on development, building cars and wind tunnels properly from the outset instead of this mindless nonsense. Had they been able to do just a little better job of this in 2012, Alonso would surely be champion and he would have won it on the track.


Was Schumi helping Vettel or…

… were Schumi’s thoughts: This is my last race. People will ask in a century who was the last person who has overtaken me. Better let it be no nobody, but the second best driver in this race….

Best would be himself of cause 😉


I would have blackflagged Ferrari for brazil post mortem.

Massa 5, Alonso 8 at quali, Massa 5 back, …

There was an effect to the start of the drivers between this places.

Who was forced to start from 6 instead 7? Can he do a protest still?

If the Massa/Alonso trick would have only affecred these 2, okay. But it was affecting another team too.


The video was already removed. When reading the flag/lights rules it is clear that the flags have preference over the lights…but the flag status starts past the stewards post tower.


Right, but he passes the tower with the green flag before he even pulls out let alone passes.


Very sad to see Alonso’s comments on Twitter regarding this. He has had a large amount of PR overhaul courtesy of Ferrari these last few years. However his apparent need to take this championship in the courts is incredibly sad.


There was a 10min video at yt, that showed that both discussed overtakes from Vettel were ok. … r_embedded

It was tweeted by @TheScuderia.

Because of (C) it es now blocked …


With Alonso and other top drivers coming close to their retirement age its fascinating to see Ferrari are perusing this which may end up alienating Vettel (the only top young driver) when Alosno leaves.

Then again there is Hamilton……


Retirement? Do you realize that Schumacher won his first title of 5 with Ferrari when he was Alonso’s age? And he competed until he was 37. I’m sure Alonso has at least 6-7 years to compete in top form.


Well… unlikely we are going to see Ferrari return to dominance. The momentum is with RedBull now.

I still find the Perez-Alonso gate incident when he didnt win the race iffy. So although everyone is quick to praise Alonso I am skeptical.


No, it will not. It should strip Schumacher for ’94. also then and so on, though it is not comparable since Vettel did not do anything wrong. I don’t think Alonso would have wanted a contoversial title…if there was an error, FIA should think about tuning up the rules, but for the future, not the past.


LOL!!! Well Alonso doesn´t seem to be very concerned with the flag gate after all. He said in his twetter he´s gone on vacations


And have you seen the photo that he put on with this twit? So many beuatiful little yellow lights… LOL!!!! I don’t tnink he has moved on yet.


I would also question why Vettel was allowed to be pushing so hard within the yellow flag zone to nearly lose the car twice in turns 2 and 3, when the cars in front were driving more carefully.

He only overtook Vergne by driving recklessly through a yellow flag zone while he was being cautious, I would speculate that in any other race this would be looked at, but in a championship decider, too much is at stake for marshall interruption.


Well it works both ways, Alonso actually did go off a bit under similar conditions and they let it go too.

Realistically though that rule is mostly regulated by the computers these days (average time over the yellow sections) so for all we know it averaged out to being ok.

I personally think it’s kind of a bizarre way of doing it (average Vs top speed at any point under yellow) but that’s the way it is.


Isnt it common sense that flag overrides a light? Why would a man wave a flag when he knows that color of light that is flashing is different than he is holding in his hand? Simple, to override the lights!! I feel really pity on people asking this question.


“This video is no longer available due to a copyright claim by Formula One Management”

They really do shoot themselves in the foot, don’t they? A perfect chance to shut this controversy down before it affects the sport’s reputation any further, but no!

They could have least waited a few days until news had gotten out before getting it pulled.

Thankfully the BBC have a copy (complete with highlighted marshal’s post) here:


If it had been noticed during the race, Vettel would’ve got a drive through. It wasn’t noticed, and i don’t think the result should be reviewed. Lucky, you win some, you lose some


I’m not sure they give drive through penalties for overtaking after a green flag ;).


I’ve now found some enhanced footage that escaped the thought police and can see the flag. But why pull the video? Release the enhanced version and end the controversy!


It shows how Vettel’s as fast in reaction as his speed.

Let the guy enjoy his time during mid-term.

James will the book involve these behind the scene mind games?


A little of that yes


James’s what’s your opinion regarding this:

Carl Sheen:

“I would also question why Vettel was allowed to be pushing so hard within the yellow flag zone to nearly lose the car twice in turns 2 and 3, when the cars in front were driving more carefully.

He only overtook Vergne by driving recklessly through a yellow flag zone while he was being cautious, I would speculate that in any other race this would be looked at, but in a championship decider, too much is at stake for marshall interruption.”

Surely it’s not only if he technically nudged his nose in front of Vergne after the green flag point, but he was obviously pushing like hell.

It leaves a bad taste when you think that Alonso among many drivers lost a decent quali lap in Suzuka because of yellow flags, and even then was obstructed by Vettel in the final chicane. Why was Vettel not punished for that either? I’m sure his engineer knows too well where Alonso is, and still he didn’t pick up the pace. Pit entry was just after chicane, so it’s not like he would have to push for the whole lap to avoid being caught by Alonso.

I have seen sportsmanship and spirit second to none this year from Alonso, while I have seen some less then honorable episodes from Vettel way before we arrived to Brasil, and I must say it don’t feel right that Vettel won.

But as I said before, life’s not fair. People like to say that it must be that he was the better driver since he won, because they want to believe that sport is actually perfect and really awards the best, but sadly it isn’t like that. It’s much more complicated and it’s not always fair.


This post is comedy at its best.


“This video is no longer available due to FOM being like a miserable teacher policing a playground — be a spoiler for no good reason.”



I’m not sure if I’m the first one to say this but there is precedence for a marshal waving a green flag… Monaco 2010 – Michael Schumacher passed Fernando Alonso under what the FIA intended to be full course yellows but the marshal waved a green flag. Schumacher got a 20 second penalty.

Not entirely the same situation but if the marshal wasn’t supposed to be waving his flag then Ferrari could build a pretty compelling argument for Vettel receiving a penalty.

Anyway, my personal view is that the World Championship should be settled on the track. It’s wrong to change the result and would be bad for the sport. Vettel also doesn’t deserve to lose out because of such a tiny error.

Fernando still deserves the Championship more than Vettel in my eyes and I hope that will be remembered in time… from what I’ve read and heard everyone apart from Vettel, Christian Horner and Vettel’s mum thinks that Fernando Alonso deserved the WDC more on this occasion.

But Vet is still a worthy champ of course.


I think Vettel deserved the championship more, and I’m not Vettel, Horner or Vettel’s mum.

In time, only the winner will be remembered. The losers, no matter how much people think they deserved to win by a set of arbitrary standards, are not.


Very true Scott


Ok, 4 people then.

You’re probably right that it will get forgotten.


Why has FOM suspended viewing of the footage? Do they have something to hide? They should remove the graphic at top left so everyone can clearly see the waved green flag, if it is indeed there…


They won’t John. They would’ve done it if they knew they were right, as they always do.

Pure manipulation. Now it is Fernando’d time, tomorrow it will be Lewis. Whoever opposes the big guy.

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