D he rude awakening came for Sebastian Vettel at 5:20 pm One hour and 48 minutes after the controversial maneuver in the 66th lap of the GP Germany. The defending champion Jenson Button braked before the hairpin and then drifted off the track. In the acceleration duel that followed, Button drew the short straw.
FIA describes the penalty itself as 'very tough'
Then the four stewards Paul Gutjahr, Tim Mayer and Derek Warwick grumbled and Detlef Kramp gave the Red Bull driver a 20-second time penalty. That threw Vettel back from second to fifth. The penalty costs him eight World Cup points. BBC reporter David Coulthard found the punishment too harsh: 'That bears no relation to the offense. In the DTM everyone leaves the track and it is overtaken.'
Also in circles of the FIA one not entirely happy. 'The penalty is very severe,' admitted FIA race director Charlie Whiting. 'Unfortunately we have nothing else to offer at the moment. If the incident had happened earlier in the race, Vettel would have received a drive-through penalty. If he can no longer serve her in the race, that's automatically 20 seconds.'
Penalty catalog without small penalties
The FIA penalty catalog does not provide for a lower penalty. The association's referees are aware of this weak point. You are working on refining the possible sanctions. For example, braking the car in question for five seconds in one lap. At the moment it is still being discussed how to solve this technically.
Sebastian Vettel had defended himself by wanting to leave Button behind. 'I knew he was still there, but I didn't know where. You don't want to risk a crash in a situation like this.' This admission made no impression on the stewards. 'If there is a wall or a gravel bed there, he won't do that,' said one of the quartet.
In the end, was it even an advantage to accelerate off the track? Charlie Whiting shook his head: 'That's not the point. If Sebastian has to take the corner tighter, he loses torque. The wide arc allowed him to accelerate earlier than if he had stayed within the lane.'
Hamilton and Schumi in similar cases without penalty
In the Vettel case, the judgment is not entirely consistent. At the Bahrain GP, Lewis Hamilton also had Nico Rosberg's Mercedes on a straight trackovertaken outside the boundary lines. There was an investigation but no penalty. Hamilton excused himself by saying that Rosberg had pushed him away.
At the 2003 German GP, Michael Schumacher had overtaken Jarno Trulli's Renault in the hairpin with the same trick as Vettel. If you have already forgotten the maneuver, you can go to YouTube again. According to the stewards' arguments - if there had been a wall there - Schumacher should have withdrawn too. The record champion got away scot-free back then. Presumably because there was no plaintiff. This time, McLaren reported to the race management.
Vettel could have escaped punishment
The question still remains, what guilt Red Bull and Vettel themselves bear. 'If Vettel had let his opponent Button by again, nothing would have happened,' claim the referees. At McLaren people wondered why the world champion did not back off. 'Vettel saw that Buttons' rear tires were at their end. He would have easily passed him on the last lap.'
Sky reporter Martin Brundle said: 'Red Bull should have pointed this out to Seb on the radio, Button to let pass again. ' Especially against the background that there is currently a bit of a crisis between the world championship team and the race management. At Red Bull you feel persecuted by sports sovereignty. If the team is of this opinion, they have to be particularly careful in such controversial scenes and not also challenge fate.