The Latest Controversy – Vettel and Yellow Flags

Is Ferrari Considering a Protest?

There are stories surfacing at the moment claiming that Ferrari is considering protesting Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull’s victory in the Brazilian Grand Prix. They are apparently examining video evidence that many believe shows Vettel overtaking (I believe) Jean-Eric Vergne’s STR under yellow flags early in the race. The video has, inevitably, been removed from YouTube now. The problem is that while there are yellow lights showing on Vettel’s dashboard, there are green flags waving at the trackside. Asked whether flags over-rule lights, an experienced marshal who posts at explained:

“If the lights system conks out halfway through a GP, how do you think we’ll flag things? If you’re watching a race, when you see the lap counter flash yellow for a second and go away, that’s not because of some magic FIA gps device that detects when cars spin or run wide. That’s because some marshal pressed a button on a big controller we have for each light system that corresponds to “yellow flag” and it gets fed through the FIA stuff and beams out to the cars. It’s not an automatic system, nor does it directly mirror the actual, real flags made of cloth on the side of the track. There’s 21 marshal stations in Montreal (not counting the mirror stations!) and only 16 light systems.

An example – in 2011, Me and MT were at 9A. Soo like… about a good ways downstream from the exit of 9. Another good distance down the road is 9B. So 9 is on the drivers left at the very exit of that last turn before the hairpin, 9a and 9b are drivers right and 9b is just about where Kubica went off. 9 had no lights. There was a light about 150 feet past the stand on the right side of the track, which we controlled. There were no light systems until 9B.

So you had 3 stands and only 2 lights in that section of track.

And yeah, as are most things on the internet – fuss over nothing. He waited until he saw the green (real, non light flag) and passed legally. People who watch it and spaz out because nothing was done blah blah blah the lights on the wheel yadda yadda yadda are just being morons. Passing under yellow is f***ing SERIOUS and it’s never looked upon lightly. I’ve had 2 incidents working bike races at home where I had a visiting competitor when I was already doing intervention on someone else. Not a cool situation and it is a very very very big no-no. With all of their cameras and gps devices they catch damn near everything – it’s just when people see something that looks like a PUY, but actually isn’t is when everyone shits themselves, because they think that the FIA is bought out by f***ing red bull or some crazy s**t.”

I doubt there is much chance of a successful protest.

However, there are wider consequences to consider, not least the impact a protest would have on the reputation of the sport. A few years ago McLaren appealed against Williams and BMW after the final grand prix of the year (also in Brazil) with regards to illegal fuel temperatures. The case was brought to the ICA, but nothing came of it for one reason and another. These teams are ultra-competitive and will stop at nothing to secure a title. The fans, however, would see an Alonso win – he would become champion as it is believed a retrospective 20 second penalty would drop Vettel down the order- as a hollow victory.

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