Formula 1

Sebastian Vettel demoted to fifth place for dangerous driving

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Sebastian Vettel received a 10-second penalty a few hours following the conclusion of the Mexico Grand Prix, whereby stripping the German of a place on the podium. 

The former World Champion was demoted below both Red Bull drivers Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen for 'dangerous driving' near the end of the race.

Initially, the race had finished with Verstappen in third place and Vettel in fourth after an intense battle between the pair during the closing stages of the event. 


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Immediately after the race, the Dutch driver was deducted five seconds for skipping a turn on lap 68, which allowed him to maintain third position, leading to an outburst on the radio from Vettel, who clearly expected the 19-year-old to give up his position after the incident. 

As Verstappen defended his position, Ricciardo was allowed to catch up to Vettel, which eventually led to the two nearly colliding on turn four on the penultimate lap. The four-time World Champion seemed to squeeze the Australian into the corner under breaking, which is deemed as dangerous driving.

Despite both coming out of the incident with no damage, the two cars touched wheels as they locked breaks, with Vettel holding onto fourth spot. 

FIA race director Charlie Whiting introduced the rule about moving under breaking during the recent American Grand Prix after Verstappen was accused of defending his second place position from Lewis Hamilton during the Japanese Grand Prix in a dangerous manner. 

Vettel was one of the drivers who were for the rule, calling it an "unwritten law" when he started in F1. 

A statement in full from the FIA regarding the decision read

"The stewards paid particular attention to the Race Director's Notes from the US Grand Prix and from this event.

"Notwithstanding the F1 Commision directive to 'let the drivers race', we note the concern that has been expressed about manoeuvers involving a change of direction under breaking as expressed at the drivers briefing at the US Grand Prix in the Race Director's Notes from the US Grand Prix and this event. 

"The telemetry and video evidence shows that the driver of Car 5 did change direction under breaking. Article 27.5 and the Race Director's Notes have essentially three criteria that determine a breach: 

1) Driving in a manner potentially dangerous

2) An abnormal change of direction

3) Another driver having to take evasive action

"The video footage, including the close circuit footage, the broadcast vision, both driver's on board cameras plus the telemetry show that there was an abnormal change of direction by Car 5 and this was considered to be potentially dangerous in view of the proximity of the wheels of each car.

"The video evidence clearly shows that Car 3 had to take evasive action as a result. Accordingly as all three criteria have been met, the driver of Car 5 is guilty of a breach of Article 27.5"

The rule is clearly formulated to protect driver's from dangerous situations, rather than to prevent a driver from gaining advantage.

Vettel, despite being dropped to fifth place, did get to enjoy a moment on the podium after Verstappen was demoted, but that feeling was short lived as he dropped down to fifth, behind the Red Bull duo.

Ricciardo officially claimed third place in Mexico after an eventful final three laps, whilst Hamilton won the race and his teammate Nico Rosberg came second.

Max Verstappen
Max Verstappen
Formula 1

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