FIA rejects Ferrari's request to review Vettel penalty

FIA rejects Ferrari's request to review Vettel penalty
Formula One F1 - French Grand Prix - Circuit Paul Ricard, Le Castellet, France - June 21, 2019 Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel during practice REUTERS/Vincent Kessler -
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VINCENT KESSLER(Reuters)
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By Alan Baldwin

LE CASTELLET, France (Reuters) – Ferrari’s right to review Sebastian Vettel’s penalty which cost him victory at the Canadian Grand Prix earlier this month has been rejected, the FIA said on Friday.

Ferrari believed they had ‘overwhelming’ new evidence to prove that race stewards were wrong in imposing a time penalty that stripped Vettel of victory and handed Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton, who finished second, the win.

Among the new evidence that was presented included a Sky Sports video analysis performed by former Formula One driver and television presenter Karun Chandok and video footage of Vettel’s face camera.

However, the FIA ruled that Chandok’s video was “new but not significant and relevant” and that it was the “personal opinion by a third party” while Vettel’s face camera footage could be “seen within other available video.”

The FIA said that other evidence presented by Ferrari such as analysis of telemetry data of Vettel’s car, various other camera angles of the incident, post-race video images and Vettel’s witness statement were already available.

Ferrari sporting director Laurent Mekies told reporters earlier on Friday, before meeting the same stewards at the French Grand Prix, that new evidence that had emerged since the race in Montreal two weeks ago.

“We believe this evidence is quite overwhelming when it comes to establishing that Sebastian did not breach any regulations,” he said.

“We are very respectful of the FIA processes and will be meeting with the stewards so I think we can probably have these discussions next weekend,” said Mekies, who worked for the governing body before joining Ferrari in September.

He expressed respect for the stewards and recognised they had a ‘very difficult job’.

The right of review calls for a team to present significant and relevant new evidence that was not available at the time of the decision.

The stewards have sole discretion to determine whether such a new element exists and will either dismiss the request or accept there is a case for a further hearing.

The decision to give Vettel a five-second penalty in Montreal, for going off track and returning in an unsafe manner while defending the lead from Hamilton, triggered a controversy that rumbles on.

Vettel, who was furious after the race and spoke of having a victory ‘stolen’, told reporters on Thursday that he had not changed his opinion of what happened.

Drivers and former champions have taken positions on either side of the divide with some suggesting that the letter of the law, while carried out by the stewards, might be in need of a change.

“There is a rule that I don’t think should be there, which is a bit too drastic and a bit too black and white and doesn’t interpret well the rules of racing, that is race hard and enjoy,” said McLaren’s Carlos Sainz.

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, Additional reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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