Is Sebastian Vettel really the 2012 Formula 1 World Champion?
This is the question on everyone’s lips as the German might have passed Jean-Éric Vergne’s Toro Rosso under yellow flags during the Brazilian Grand Prix. If he did then he would receive a 20-second penalty, which would demote him to eighth place. This would then mean that Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso would be crowned 2012 World Champion by one point.
This is only a possibility because although it appears from the onboard footage that Vettel passed the Toro Rosso before the green light on the side of the track, and before his yellow dashboard lights went out, other evidence shows a marshal waving a green flag before the aforementioned light.
Under article 179b of the international sporting code the FIA must look into it. As hasn’t been made clear elsewhere, this has nothing to do with a Ferrari protest.
“If, in events forming part of an FIA championship, a new element is discovered, whether or not the stewards of the meeting have already given a ruling, these stewards of the meeting or, failing this, those designated by the FIA must meet,” it reads, “summoning the party or parties concerned to hear any relevant explanations and to judge in the light of the facts and elements brought before them.”
“The period during which an appeal in review may be brought expires on 30 November of the year during which the decision that is liable to review has been handed down, if that decision is likely to have an effect on the result of a championship.”
Whatever happens there will be a decision made by tomorrow, but this does beg the questions: Was there a green flag or not? Why, in 2012, are we still relying on a green flag being waved in the top echelon of the sport for a decision that could decide the outcome of the championship? And, more importantly, why wasn’t this incident picked up by the stewards at the track?
*Update at 11am*
Ferrari has now sent a letter asking for clarification on Vettel’s pass of Vergne.
The FIA has said that there is no case to answer because there was a green flag. It wasn’t raised by the stewards at the time because there was no need.