Stewart: Vettel was ‘provoked’

The FIA may be knee-deep into a re-examination of the penalty given to Sebastian Vettel for his offence in Baku but there are still lingering questions about some of the details surrounding the incident.

The FIA were quick to get out in front of the issue immediately after last weekend’s grand prix by suggesting that Lewis Hamilton did not brake or do anything untoward but there are several drivers who feel that the retardation of speed was rapid and contributed to the contact between Hamiton and Vettel.

One of those drivers includes Sir Jackie Stewart who said:

“There is no doubt in my opinion that Vettel was completely wrong, irresponsible in colliding with Lewis,” Stewart told’s weekly programme The Flying Lap.

“Whether that was a moment of anger, or whatever it may have been, it was still not correct.

“However, there’s another side to that which I think is more important.

“The reason that it happened was that Lewis either lifted off completely from the gas pedal or brushed the brakes at a time when no racing driver behind the leader would have expected anybody to do that it.

“Vettel, even with the fast reactions of an F1 world champion of four times, still ran into the back of Lewis, not by any intention at all, but by the fact that it was such a severe retardation while he, and every other driver for that matter, was ready to accelerate down the straight because the pace car had already disappeared.

“That provoked, no doubt, Vettel’s frame of mind. And the mind management wasn’t working.

“As it developed, in my opinion, Vettel was absolutely wrong to collide with Lewis Hamilton.

“I think that was a large mistake.”

I think most drivers, fans and pundits agree that the banging of wheels was an unwarranted and ham-fisted move on Vettel’s part but there are lingering questions about whether or not Lewis was completely blameless in his behavior just prior to the initial contact. This is what Vettel himself has suggested is penalty worthy. 

I can’t see Lewis getting a penalty but could Ferrari make a case for the rapid retardation of speed and unexpected backing up of the entire field was a dangerous move or at least an infraction of the rules? It will be a hard sale given the blatant nature of Vettel’s reaction but as we’ve discussed before, it is a delicate line the FIA are treading in reversing their own stewarding program if there is no “New” information on the incident. 

Hat Tip: Autosport

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Paul KieferJr

As an ordinary driver, I was once told that the best way to get a tailgater to back off is by tapping the brakes. Either the tailgater backs off or he runs into my rear, and I end up the clear winner. However, it’s fairly obvious that it’s a dangerous move and I end up with damage or, worse, whiplash. Not exactly the best move in the world unless I have nothing to lose. In this day and age, that move can also produce the following result: This is something we’d like to avoid. That’s a lesson both Vettel… Read more »


Let’s hope F1 never gets that out of control. These days, my technique for dealing with tail gaters; I move out of the way, let them past, and wish them safe travels. Let them collide with someone else :-) Funny that in all the flem and fury about this petty incident, there’s been no discussion about any better ways to manage safety car periods. The VSC would allow the cars to travel faster to keep the tyres and brakes up to temperature, without being up each others gearbox. But that wouldn’t be as safe for the trackworkers. A faster safety… Read more »


I think Jackie is 100% correct. We all know that these cars slow down a lot just letting off the gas, we all forget the harvesting unit works like a brake by itself, especially at low speeds.


Yeah cos Jackie’s opinion is way more accurate than the cars telemetry traces that show otherwise. Lets not forget that it would be impossible for Vettel to have been too close and misjudged the situation. …and we can throw out the obvious grudge that Stewart has on Hamilton. Sooo yep, Jackie must be totally 100% correct. BTW regardless of harvesting, when an F1 car (way before hybrid engines came in) is off throttle it decelarates as a family road car brakes. Vettel should already know this. Hamilton’s controlling of the gap was the same on all 3 restarts with the… Read more »

Salvu Borg

Car telemetry traces including onboard graphics (like has been posted on this blog and like interpreted by the Mercedes boss) shows that contrary to what the stewards said number 44 after rounding the corner went off-throttle and dropped his speed by at least half, that is besides using the brakes more than once. “A right of his to bunch-up the field” Yes but safety car rules make clear “leader may dictate the pace of the pack but that all drivers must proceed at a pace which involves no erratic acceleration or braking nor any other maneuver likely to endanger other… Read more »


There was nothing erratic about what he did. That’s the difference. You know nothing of his intentions because you could not possibly be in possession of that kind of information.
BTW, Nico Rosberg who has known Hamilton since childhood and raced hard against him disagrees with you.

Who’s opinion would I put more credence on here…..hmmmm….

Salvu Borg

While I know nothing of his intentions, you sure seem to know all of his intentions.
Nico Rosberg who has known him since childhood was a victim of his bulling. and he not only raced hard against him but gave him/made him drink some of his own medicine.


Funny you bring up Nico Rosberg because he an I seem to be in full agreement about Lewis’ intentions.


Well Said, and you may have found the reason why, Stewart dislikes Hamilton so much.

Salvu Borg

Number 44 was already punished for bunching-up the field in the 2007 Fuji GP.
Regardless of what the likes of Will Buxton and his half a dozen self-righteous likes that regards most others as bottom feeders/scavengers says, everybody and his dog knows what the intentions of number 44 were.


One thing has nothing to do with the other. What do you think the intentions of No.44 were other than to get away an continue to lead the race ?
Do you think he intentionally wanted Seb to crash into the back of his car while he was leading ?
You say everyone knows (clearly a very false statement) but you don’t actually say what you think his intentions were.

Bunching up the field is allowed once the SC lights are out. Go study the regs then get back to us.

Salvu Borg

I did say what his (44) intentions were “To cause problems/trouble to others”. that is always/was always “his intentions, in every move he does when racing”. That is my opinion, same like what you say is nothing more than “your opinion”. All that has been said so far about the subject “press/media and most of those following” are nothing more than comments and Interpretations of what happened and what was said by the people that matter. The actual latest FIA statement following the recent incident at the Azerbaijan GP in which car 5 and 44 was involved in a collision… Read more »


You’re entitle to your opinion whether it’s right, wrong or just plain ignorant.
My opinion is that yours is the latter.

Salvu Borg

Still just your opinion which of course is a right of yours.


Thanks for the reminder but I already knew that.


Ignorant is the optimum


I read this and didn’t want to waste the effort used in replying (I’ve got MND known as ALS in America). But Really! penalised in 2007, 10 years ago and his first (Rookie) season in F1. How many restarts has he led since then and not been penalised. Quite a few for certain. You really have an axe to grind.


At the Fuji GP in 2007 how was he punished for bunching up the field, in a race that he won… I’ll bet your one of those who blame Lewis, because Vettel crashed into the back of Mark Webber, and taking him out of the race on a restart. Your like Jackie Stewart in a way. When Stewart said that Hamilton provoked the situation with Vettel, and also said ” What created the incident is what occurred when Lewis slowed down so a very unlikely place. You have to take that into account.” The FIA stewards report completely disagree… Read more »


“unexpected backing up of the entire field” – pff yeah cos no-one in F1 expects that to happen prior to the SC coming in. Get real !

Daniel Johnson

A few things with this. 1. Lewis probably let off in order to get Seb to get a little further from his tail. Seb’s job is to be as close as possible in order to get the best restart it’s Lewis’s job to prevent that. It’s a cat and mouse game and every little thing matters. 2. I honestly think that Seb running into Lewis was a cock up on his part not rage. He was already taking a hand off the wheel and looking to the side. I still think he needs to be held accountable he is responsible… Read more »

Graeme Fuller

I, along with many others have been following this incident since it happened. Opinions are appearing faster than the cars down the Baku front strait. Also interesting is that the official F1 on FB posted a video where Lewis held up DR. Now this is different to Baku, but interesting as to why it was shown at all. Next I read on James Allen, there is speculation that Ferrari could, replace Vettel, or bring Alonso in to replace kimi. The merry go round is spinning faster and I need more cheese for the mouse. I will bet if this had… Read more »


Provocation is no defence. JS has little to contribute in modern F1