Ferrari accept FIA clarification over Sebastian Vettel overtake

If found guilty, world title could have switched to Fernando Alonso

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The Independent Online

Ferrari have accepted the FIA's clarification on Sebastian Vettel's overtaking move at the Brazilian Grand Prix.

The Italian team wrote to motor racing's world governing body on Wednesday querying whether Red Bull driver Vettel had overtaken the Toro Rosso of Jean-Eric Vergne with yellow caution lights being displayed on lap four.

Vettel went on to clinch his third-straight world title with a sixth-place finish at Interlagos, but if Ferrari's claim had been upheld the German could have faced a retrospective 20-second penalty.

Such a punishment would have demoted Vettel from sixth to eighth on the race classification, and seen him lose the title to Ferrari's Fernando Alonso by a point.

But the FIA made it clear yesterday that Vettel had "no case to answer", and Ferrari have moved to clarify they were not seeking to "undermine the legality of the race result".

A statement from Ferrari read: "The request for a clarification from the FIA, regarding Vettel's passing move on Vergne, came about through the need to shed light on the circumstances of the move, which came out on the internet only a few days after the race.

"The letter to the FIA was in no way intended to undermine the legality of the race result.

"We received tens of thousands of queries relating to this matter from all over the world and it was incumbent on us to take the matter further, asking the federation to look into an incident that could have cast a shadow over the championship in the eyes of all Formula One enthusiasts, not just Ferrari fans.

"Ferrari duly takes note of the reply sent by the FIA this morning and therefore considers the matter now closed."

Footage from Vettel's car showed yellow lights flashing at turns two and three, while his cockpit display was also showing a yellow light and the word 'flag'.

Vettel completed his move on Vergne before passing another marshal's post at the end of the straight displaying a green light, at which time the indicators in his cockpit also disappear.

But as Vettel travelled down the straight he passed a marshal's post where a green flag was being waved, allowing him to legally complete his move.

Race director Charlie Whiting has since confirmed the findings, saying: "If the lights are not installed at a flag post, the driver responds to the first signal that is shown.

"In Vettel's case, between the last yellow light and the green light there was a green flag being waved.

"The distance is 350 metres here. Vettel responded to the flag and did everything right."