It’ll probably be the most talked about topic of the season, or maybe in the whole year of sport. Either way, the incident in Baku between title rivals Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel shook the F1 world as the battle for the World Championship starts to heat up!
Whether you back Sebastian or think he did deliberately, everyone has voiced an opinion over the incident and whether Vettel should face further punishment. Nothing was said about the controversy from the big names of F1 until last weekend, when the FIA called for Scuderia Ferrari and Sebastian Vettel to appear in Paris at the FIA headquarters for further investigation over the incident on Monday 3rd July, on Sebastian Vettel’s 30th birthday.
After the race there were heated comments from Hamilton and Vettel with both voicing their opinions to the world media minutes after the race ended. Hamilton would be fuming after losing victory thanks to a loose headrest but also receiving contact from Sebastian who accused him of “brake-checking”. With comments like “disgrace” being thrown around, you can tell Hamilton is fuming!
But some of the comments he said to the press were a bit over the top and you can tell that he was trying to divert more of the blame towards Vettel. Using comments involving kids watching the sport and setting a bad example were irrelevant and didn’t need to be brought up.
Everyone all ages watches F1 and Vettel did get punished for his actions, so kids will know that actions like that would result in a punishment of some sort. It wasn’t plain sailing for Vettel though as the media pressured him about why he did it. Vettel remained closed and avoided questions whether he did it deliberately.
He played it safe to the media, avoiding saying anything that would make the situation more damaging. Vettel felt both were responsible but assisted that Hamilton did brake-checked him. He also said that he wants to speak to Hamilton about the incident and repair the relationship, Hamilton didn’t share the same opinion though.
“He got away scot free and finished 4th – I think that’s a disgrace!”
-Lewis Hamilton, Baku 2017
“I think we both have to blame, if i get a penalty so should he”
-Sebastian Vettel, Baku 2017
The reaction over the call was mixed with some media websites saying that the FIA did the right thing, whilst some say that it wasn’t necessary for a “double jeopardy”. This didn’t mean Vettel was automatically thrown another penalty or fine for his action. Like any court hearing, the FIA investigate with the evidence provided by Ferrari and gathered from the race back in Azerbaijan and decide whether the incident will head to the International Tribunal. If it goes to the Tribunal, Vettel will most likely get a punishment for his actions but won’t receive his punishment until at least during the summer break. So Vettel spends his birthday in the city of Paris, I guess they’re not bad places to spend celebrating being 30.
Every F1 fan and reporter was all in lockdown ready for the pending news from the FIA about some sort of verdict whether this will go further or it’ll be put to bed.
Nothing was reported until around 2:30PM (UK Time) when a fake document was “leaked” stating that Vettel will be disqualified from the Baku race. The document was declared fake but it didn’t stop news corporations and journalists reporting that the news was true. The Sun, Daily Mail, Canal + and ClickOn Motorsport all reported that Vettel was disqualified from the race.
This turned out to be untrue, awkwardly when it was found out the discussion between the FIA, Ferrari & Vettel didn’t start until 4PM (Paris Time/3PM UK Time). It’s bad enough to report a news story that was untrue but when two of the biggest news corporations from the UK and France report on the same story that hadn’t happen. That’s just embarrassing.
By 6PM (UK Time), nothing was declared until the FIA released a statement. Vettel was clear, he espaced a tribunal appearance and a possible penalty. The FIA stated that he will have to take community service with the FIA in the lower formulas and support the FIA. Jean Tolt, the FIA President, also said that Vettel would not be involved with any road safety campaigns until the end of the year. The reaction was fairly mixed, both balanced. To Vettel fans it was like the perfect birthday present to escape the FIA without further punishment. But for others, it may seem that Vettel got away with it. Within the statement, Vettel admitted that he takes full responsibility for the incident and he still aims to speak with Lewis at this weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix.
Whilst it may seem the incident can be put to rest, it’ll only be brought up again for this weekend’s race as no doubt the press will be grilling Hamilton and Vettel like it’s a summer BBQ. Whether the pair will speak to one another in private will be interesting. Will Lewis re-think about his comments and talk to Sebastian? Who knows. We’ll only find out this weekend. But for sure though, happy birthday to Sebastian Vettel!