July 9, 2017
In Formula 1, by far the world’s most prestigious motorsport, the recent Azerbaijan Grand Prix was marred by an overt display of road rage by four-times World Champion Sebastian Vettel who, in front of millions of spectators around the world, deliberately rammed an opponent’s car, wheel-to-wheel while all of the cars were driving slowly in accordance with — ironically — a temporary, safety speed limit.
Having untruthfully claimed that three-times World Champion Louis Hamilton had “brake checked” him and “caused” him to collide with the rear of Hamilton’s car, Vettel moved up alongside Hamilton and flagrantly turned into him so that Vettel’s front right wheel struck Hamilton’s front left wheel. In reality, engineering telematics transmitted by all F1 cars showed beyond any argument that Hamilton had neither braked nor even slowed down, so Vettel’s claim was entirely untrue.
Anyone wishing to view the incident on video can do so on YouTube at the following link, but for copyright purposes I am not prepared to post the actual clip here. https://youtu.be/Cx4AartWhg4
The spanner in these works, however, lies in the fact that the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (i.e. International Automobile Federation, or FIA) is a huge supporter of global road safety and has established the FIA Foundation for this very purpose.
So, around the world, young motor racing fans, including countless children and young teens, saw one of their sporting idols have what can only be described as an infantile fit of road rage and commit a safety travesty by ramming somebody else’s car, yet Vettel got away with just a ten-second pit lane penalty instead of a much more appropriate ban from one or more races.
The thing is that the FIA had the power to override the race stewards’ decision regarding the punishment even after the event, and impose a ban, but undoubtedly politics — a regular anti-Christ in the sadly lethal world of road safety — won the day because the mega-money businessmen behind motor racing didn’t want to ‘spoil’ the season’s championship battle between who else but Vettel and Hamilton.
I hope and suspect that the team at the FIA Foundation were suitably embarrassed by this ludicrous inaction by their parent body in the face of such an outrageously bad example to all young drivers and future drivers around the world….. Sure! Go ahead! If you don’t like someone else on the road, just ram them!
Hang your heads, FIA; hang your heads. This wasn’t worthy of you.
Eddie Wren, CEO & Chief Instructor — Advanced Drivers of North America