Vettel risks further FIA sanction after 'road rage' in Baku

LONDON • Sebastian Vettel is being investigated by the FIA (International Automobile Federation) for the incident in which his car hit Lewis Hamilton in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix last Sunday.

During the race, the Formula One Ferrari driver was deemed guilty by the stewards of driving dangerously after he turned into and collided with Hamilton's Mercedes.

The German was given a 10-second stop-go penalty at the time but now faces a more severe sanction, possibly including a fine, grid drop or even a race ban.

Vettel hit the back of Hamilton's car, then pulled alongside and turned into him in Baku, banging wheels with his world championship rival while the pair were behind the safety car.

He was clearly angry, believing the British driver had brake-tested him.

However the FIA's examination of the telemetry exonerated Hamilton on this score.

Vettel ultimately finished fourth while Hamilton, who had led comfortably from pole position, finished fifth after having to pit when his headrest material came loose.

The in-race penalty was considered by many to be too lenient at the time and the FIA president, Jean Todt, was reported to have been unhappy the stewards had not handed down a stronger sentence, which could have included disqualification from the race.

"The FIA will further examine the causes on the incident in order to evaluate whether further action is necessary," read a statement, which promised to report the findings before the Austrian Grand Prix, which takes place on July 7-9.

Vettel is already in a precarious position. He now has nine penalty points on his licence and should he receive three more in Austria he would automatically be given a one-race ban regardless of the current investigation.

The two drivers are in a tight fight for the title with Vettel leading by 14 points but with three wins apiece from the eight races thus far.

Should Vettel receive a ban, Hamilton would be in an extremely favourable position to overtake his rival and lead the world championship standings for the first time this season.

THE GUARDIAN, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 30, 2017, with the headline 'Vettel risks further FIA sanction after 'road rage' in Baku'. Print Edition | Subscribe