Date: 23rd July 2012 at 9:55am
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The German Grand Prix ended with Sebastian Vettel standing on the podium, but everyone at Hockenheim and watching on television knew that it would be short lived.

Well everyone except for Red Bull it appears as they tried to talk their way out of probably one of the most obvious penalties the race stewards will hand out this season.

The double world champion clearly had the better tyres going into the final stages of the race, but just like Pastor Maldonado’s attempt to pass Lewis Hamilton in Valencia, Vettel showed zero patience in making an illegal manoeuvre to get passed a slowing McLaren.

It was the talking point of the race and it didn’t take long for the talking to begin with Jenson Button and Vettel speaking about it as they collected their watches and hats before stepping out onto the German podium.

‘They are going to investigate your overtake by the way.’ Button said to Vettel almost immediately, while Vettel claimed innocence by saying: ‘I didn’t know where you were.’

With the drivers still drying off from the champagne celebrations on the podium, the drivers were immediately handed microphones and the post-mortem began with an interview with Niki Lauda. Vettel claimed that Button had not mentioned anything to him, while Button refused to comment.

Button later told the television viewers on Sky Sports to make up their own minds, while Red Bull did just that and obviously pleaded innocence, with Red Bull team principal Christian Horner even arguing that not only was Vettel ahead before he left the track but Button had squeezed him off the circuit while defending his position, something that has recently been clarified in the regulations following the Nico Rosberg incident in Bahrain.

‘He goes to the outside. Gets clearly ahead and then Jenson runs him out wide and over the kerb. So I think it is unfair to say he got an unfair advantage from that, it was a racing incident,’ Horner said to Sky Sports.

‘If you slow the camera down to the point that Sebastian leave the track you will see clearly that he is ahead.

‘Jenson is actually wheel spinning out of the corner, he has no grip. Sebastian has jinked around him. I think it would be very harsh to penalise him.’


But all the arguments were in vein as the obvious decision was made a couple of hours after the race.

While the incident didn’t end with both drivers failing to score like the incident in Valencia between Hamilton and Maldonado, the similarities were there for every to assume that a similar penalty would be placed on the German, even at his home Grand Prix and that is exactly the conclusion the race stewards came to, handing out a post-race drive through which equates to a 20-second time penalty.

‘Car 1 left the track and gained an advantage when he rejoined. Breach of article 20.2 of the FIA Formula 1 sporting regulations,’ said the stewards.

‘Drive-through penalty, imposed after the race in accordance with article 16.3 (20 seconds added to the elapsed race time.’

Once 20 seconds was added to the Red Bull drivers time he dropped from second to fifth, with Jenson Button, Kimi Raikkonen and Kamui Kobayashi all being bumped up the order.

Speaking after the penalty was handed out McLaren sporting director Sam Michael told Autosport Magazine: ‘The stewards decided in Jenson’s favour because Vettel left the track and gained an advantage, Without leaving the track, he would not have been able to complete the manoeuvre and the stewards thought the same thing. That’s why they gave him the penalty.’

‘Jenson left plenty of space, He did not crowd him off the circuit and Vettel took the decision very early at the apex of the corner not to stay on the racing line, you can see that from the way he accelerates out and heads straight off the track.

‘There’s no violent steering angle where he is trying to stay on the track. That’s why the stewards decided in Jenson’s favour.’


 

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