F1’s governing body has played down claims Sebastian Vettel faces a penalty for his behaviour during the Malaysian grand prix. After the race, the reigning world champion dismissed HRT’s Narain Karthikeyan as an “idiot” following their on-track collision.
On-board footage subsequently proved that Red Bull driver Vettel, 24, twice showed his Indian driver a ‘middle finger’ salute.
Reports in Germany suggested the behaviour was a breach of the stricter code of conduct under FIA president Jean Todt, with the German theoretically facing anything from a warning to the revocation of his superlicense.
“My understanding is these matters are dealt with by stewards at each grand prix,” an FIA spokesman told us. “I am not aware of any other action being contemplated.”
Karthikeyan, who was penalised after the clash, told the Hindustan Times newspaper that the stewards favoured world champion Vettel’s explanation.
“They (the stewards) didn’t care about what I had to say because Mr Vettel told them god knows what when he went and talked to them,” he said.
But Red Bull team boss Christian Horner defended Vettel, telling the Mirror that it is “Karthikeyan’s responsibility to get out of the way for the leaders”.
Force India driver Nico Hulkenberg, meanwhile, partly excused Vettel’s outbursts.
“I think Vettel was just emotional at that point of time. At the end of the day, he is just human and sometimes you get emotional,” the German is quoted by the Times of India.
Former driver Adrian Sutil goes even further.
“I can understand him (Vettel),” he told Die Welt newspaper in Germany. “I was often angry when I was lapping people, when they make no room for you while they are fighting for places that have almost no significance. Karthikeyan ended up influencing not only Vettel’s race, but also Jenson Button’s. They (backmarkers) have to understand that as well.”