Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone says the continuing controversy over Sebastian Vettel’s pass on Jean-Eric Vergne on lap 4 fo the Brazilian Grand Prix is a major distraction to what was otherwise a fantastic year and final race. The elder statesman of F1 told the Telegraph’s Tom Cary:
“It’s a shame because everything had gone so well,” Formula One’s chief executive told The Daily Telegraph. “It was a super race, a super championship. Now everyone is talking about this. The problem is that no one knows what is going on.”
“In the rules and regs normally you have to protest,” Ecclestone said. “They [Ferrari] missed that time. Then there is the fact that a green flag was shown, which nobody seems to dispute. It’s a complete joke. What they are saying in that letter is wrong. I don’t think there needs to be any action taken. It’s completely and utterly wrong.
“Personally I think it’s not really like Ferrari to do this. I think they badly wanted to win. But nothing will happen. What can they do? Take civil action? Maybe. But the case is flawed before it starts. Nothing is going to happen.”
The FIA’s race director Charlie Whiting told Auto Moto und Sport:
“If the lights are not installed at a flag post, the driver responds to the first signal that is shown,” Whiting said.
As for Ecclestone, he told the Telegraph that he was going to speak with Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo about the situation and the FIA have not made any formal announcement regarding the issue.
While the incident seems relatively straight forward, many ideas, interpretations and innuendos have been made on F1 forums and websites. On one hand, the protest was supposed to have happened 30 minutes after the race and Ferrari lodged no complaint. On the other hand, if the video footage didn’t appear until a day or so later and there was a question concerning the pass, I can’t say I would blame Ferrari for asking the FIA to clarify if they felt the pass breached the regulations. Why wouldn’t you ask?
Just how “unbecoming” of Ferrari that may or may not be, I can say that if I were privy to information 24-48 hours after a race that seemed questionable, I would certainly mention it to Charlie Whiting and seek a clarification. beyond that, I think I would take my lumps and I suspect, as F1 journalist Adam Cooper said, Ferrari will tread lightly as not to create a PR headache for themselves.