Sebastian Vettel’s swerve into title rival Lewis Hamilton at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix was like an “instant red card” offence in football, according to former F1 team owner Eddie Jordan.
But Jordan says he is unsure whether the 29-year-old German Ferrari driver should face more action. Vettel was given a 10-second stop-and-go penalty for crashing his car into Hamilton’s Mercedes on Sunday. “It’s the equivalent of a massive headbutt in soccer,” Jordan said.
Four-time world champion Vettel was given three licence penalty points for his actions, taking him to nine. If he receives another three at the next race in Austria on 7-9 July, it would trigger an automatic ban for the British Grand Prix a week later. “With the penalty points he received after the race, the stewards clearly had footage that the driver turned into Hamilton,” Jordan told BBC Radio 5 live.
“This is never acceptable, whatever happened prior to that. You can never take the law into your own hands, certainly not in sport. “So he got a 10-second penalty but it was a stop-and-go, which we say is equivalent to a 40-second penalty.”
Asked if more punishment should follow, Jordan added: “That depends on your point of view.”
The Irishman, a former BBC F1 analyst, said the spat would be “good for the sport” in marketing terms, but he expects the pair to quickly make up. “There’s actually quite a bit of love between those two, or respect, they appreciate each other, so I don’t think there was any malice between them, what happened happened and they will move onto the next race,” he said. Following the crash, Vettel claimed he responded as he did because Hamilton had ‘brake-tested’ him – deliberately slowed down to cause him trouble.
Stewards examined data from Hamilton’s car and concluded he had done nothing wrong – he had merely not accelerated out of the corner as he prepared the restart, as is his right. Hamilton ended the race – won by Daniel Ricciardo – in fifth, a place behind Vettel, and is 14 points behind the German after eight of 20 races.
Andrew Benson, chief F1 writer
Potentially there is retrospective punishment available but I think it’s unlikely. In the old days of Max Mosley, the previous president of F1’s governing body the FIA, that sort of thing might have happened. They can call Vettel to a hearing, say they have new evidence and take it further forward from there.
But Jean Todt, the current president, does not like to interfere in that way. The feeling is that they can let it lie – Vettel’s been punished. Obviously the intent was something they considered before they made the decision. There are some in F1 who think he should have been disqualified. Two senior members from other teams – who weren’t involved in the incident – told me they felt that way after the race.
But it wasn’t very high speed, it was wheel to wheel, there was no damage to Hamilton’s car from the side swipe, so you can see it both ways. You cant rule out further action but I don’t think it’s very likely.