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Part of the FIA meeting agreement between Sebastian Vettel and the FIA was that he would offer a public apology for his actions in Baku. The German has offered those apologies via his website:

“Concerning the incidents of Baku I’d like to explain myself: During the re-start lap, I got surprised by Lewis and ran into the back of his car. With hindsight, I don’t believe he had any bad intentions. In the heat of the action I then overreacted, and therefore I want to apologise to Lewis directly, as well as to all the people who were watching the race. I realize that I was not setting a good example.

I had no intention at anytime to put Lewis in danger, but I understand that I caused a dangerous situation.

Therefore, I would like to apologise to the FIA. I accept and respect the decisions that were taken at today’s meeting in Paris, as well as the penalty imposed by the Stewards in Baku.

I love this sport and I am determined to represent it in a way that can be an example for future generations.

Sebastian”

For some, the issue is done and dusted but for others, no amount of contrition on Vettel’s part will suffice and somewhere in the middle is a group of people tired of hearing about the incident and ready to move on. 

This week there have been many editorials from F1 publications and while we wrote about the FIA investigation the day it was announced over a week ago, it is nice to see that our editorial focus back then is much the same as those who are paid to have an editorial focus. In fact, removing the tinge of bias from some of these editorials, I think we’ve done a relatively decent job of stating the real cost of an FIA investigation and the motive for such a meeting. 

Calls for transparency (which is a very challenging word when applied to anything other than government where the public interest is involved and the infrastructure is paid for by the public), a change in the stewarding system, and more punitive action as a precedent is being set. 

Perhaps all of those arguments are good ones but as our original editorial on the matter suggested, a precedent is being set on many levels. Having a meeting and doing, effectively nothing, is a perception that the FIA would have done well to avoid but in some fan’s eyes, that’s what happened and social media is abuzz with those very accusations.

On the other hand, heaping more punitive actions on the German without new, additional evidence, implicates the FIA’s own stewarding system and this is not a situation the FIA wants to engage in as that would only pour fuel on the fire and create a lack of trust with the fans that the FIA process is effective. 

Transparency is a popular word these days and while on the surface, it sounds like there’s nothing but upside but it is important to know what words mean and calls for transparency, in this case, are most likely being made in the spirit of good will and fairness to fans but the FIA is a voluntary organization of members and I am unclear as to if it is an incorporated, public or private non-profit. Formula 1 is a private company as well.

The FIA may not have to reveal all documents, decisions, process et. al. as a private or incorporated organization and the suggestion that they should release all of the data in order for fans to render accurate judgement and gain comprehensive understanding assumes that all fans are capable of doing either. Clearly, they are not. Even with all the data, there are those tin hat fan boys that will always be pulling at the threads, claiming conspiracy and more. The fact is, global politics is ripe with facts and counter facts and rarely is consensus ever gained on any one issue. 

What some F1 publications have suggested is to move on and I would agree with this sentiment even though I warned the FIA about their meeting and the knock-on effect it would have. What we seemingly had was a FIA president embarrassed and demanding a public apology from Vettel to the regulatory body of F1 and that’s what he got. He didn’t add punitive action against Vettel so clearly he wasn’t calling this meeting to represent Lewis Hamilton fans who felt put upon by the incident. He scolded a 4-time champion and made him publicly apologize while Vettel fans felt the incident was a mountain out of a molehill and in the end, a personal apology was gained and perhaps the FIA’s face was saved. Hardly a cause that Hamilton, Vettel or indifferent fans were outraged over. 

As critical as fans were over Vettel’s move, the FIA’s actions on- and post-event are now looming larger than the incident itself. There’s an old notion that I’ve said to myself for decades now…how you react to an issue is more important than the actual issue itself. 

Move along. 

 

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An F1 fan since 1972, NC has spent over 25 years in the technology industry and as a CTO, he focuses on technology integration in commercial workspace design, AV systems integration, digital media strategies, technology planning, consulting, speaking, presenting, sales, content strategy, marketing and brand building.
  • Paul KieferJr

    Side question: As you stated, Formula 1 and, subsequently, the FIA, are private entities and not governmental. My question is: Why? While government enforcement and/or regulation is not always the answer, there are such organizations that do fulfill a specified purpose adequately (i.e., US EPA, etc.) Is this a case where the FIA would be better off as a governmental entity instead of a private organization?

    • jakobusvdl

      President Macron, has just announced a major restructuring of the French Government structure, maybe take over of the FIA would fit into his new structure?????

      • Salvu Borg

        President Marcon can sure flex his FIA muscles if it fits his structure. Yesterday it was announced that Emmanuel Marcon “will be flexing his nuclear muscles on a nuclear submarine visit to take part in a missile launch simulation, signaling his commitment to the country’s nuclear deterrent.

        • jakobusvdl

          That’s a bit more power than Jean Todt can muster at then moment.
          It would be useful to know that the FIA have a nuclear option for resolving technical and driver disputes, though I suspect that Renault would be favourites most years if the French government took over the FIA.

    • MIE

      Which government would you suggest to run the sport? Possibly more importantly, why should the tax payers of that country pay to run a global sport?

  • jakobusvdl

    Seems like a reasonable outcome to a fairly petty situation. Vettel acknowledges that he wasn’t brake checked, and apologises for causing a potentially dangerous situation, accepts his punishment was just, and agrees to pay some recompense to the sport.
    Sounds like a reasonable outcome to the situation, and hopefully puts an end to the slightly hysterical response of the respective bands of one eyed fans.
    Now we can move on to the real issue, which of ‘Nico’s mechanics’ interfered with Lewis’ s head rest???????????????
    Or possibly,
    How can safety car periods and restarts be better managed, to minimise their length, assure the safety of track workers and drivers, and avoid these petty incidents in future?

  • Matt

    All true sentiments, but that said, I can recall examples of poor behaviour of the hero’s of these two champions, as well as their hero’s prior. Words are said and yes, punches have been thrown in days past, all by champions that are just that because they have sacrificed their personal development for acute racing skill. The difference here is that those that choose to act out their immaturity on the track in front of a huge audience usually hear from the governing body in one way or another, especially when the immature act may well have effected the outcome of the race. Todd, remember the motto of your endeavor here amongst the fans visiting your site and expressing their opinions? Jack Brabham, AJ Foyt, Ken Terrell or even Ron would have quietly taken either of these two immature little little Piss Ants out to the nearest woodshed or reasonable facsimile and believe me, they would have only bruises to show for the lessons they learned about “Decorum and Civility”. It wouldn’t be public and it would have been done long before either of them gained a second championship. Hell, Seb is a Father himself, and yet, a child when someone so much as implies a threat to his of Ferraris ability to challenge or his personal ability to win a 5th. He, like Lewis and Like Michael won the majority of their collections in completely dominant dynasty like teams. Michael did contribute much toward building his dynasty, but in many ways, he, like Seb, Lewis and the great Sena, were all obsessed to the point of severe personal sacrifice in the personal maturity department. It’s sad to admit, but I for one would really enjoy seeing a true Gentleman (or Woman for that matter) win a Championship. Nico tried to live up to it, but just did not have the mettle in my book. There really are few if any on the grid at all. Weber’s gone, Max? Not likely…. Button grew to be more of a Gentleman, but it was a long road and in the end winning seemed to take the edge off… Fernando? Today, maybe if he can resist throwing his team under the bus. Perhaps Bottas or maybe even Stroll someday… Yes, Jack was called Black for a reason, and those reasons for the most part stayed on the track, yes, he’d take excursions off pavement just to spit rocks in the face of the guy behind. But Jack never let his emotions be known to a fellow driver until they were in a private setting away from anyone that would say anything to the press about what was said or done. Short of Arie Luyendyke, I don’t think Foyt made a habit of displaying his emotions or grievances in front of the press. Same for Chapman, Graham Hill, Clark, or a host of others…

    Today, I feel that most drivers display the emotions of Johnny Fontain and need a good talking to from their Godfather… “Be a Man for Christ’ Sake”…

  • Meine Postma

    Just another mess handled poorly.

    Ah whatever, moving on…

  • Peter Riva

    Honestly, all I am left with is this: “Poor baby in a bullet-proof car at 190 mph was sooooo scared at 50 mph…”
    Road rage is real and to be condemned, but let’s get real here, NO ONE was in any real danger. What’s next? If I flip the bird as some jerk overtaking me I’ve committed a grave offense? Okay, okay, here it is, ahead of time, “I am soooo sorry.”

  • Michael

    “Move along”. Nice sentiment. Then you have this garbage to continue stirring the pot: https://www.motorsport.com/f1/news/opinion-why-sagans-tour-de-france-ban-shows-vettel-was-lucky-926913/ Because of that article, I have now removed Motorsport.com from my reading lists. Negative, BS, click-baity articles are like a black light for mosquitos. Irresistable and sites like motorsport.com know. Well, they lost one person.

    Nothing will be “moved along” until the end of podium ceremony on Sunday. pre-qualifying, qualifying, pre-race, and race will all be filled with more analysis, opinion, and what-ifs. I’m sure the TV media is absolutely salivating at getting those two on the podium, especially with Hamilton on top with the opportunity for Vettel to eat more crow and Hamilton to look superior and magnanimous. I’ll be skipping the pre and post anything and have my mute button at the ready during the race.

    Looking forward to the race Sunday being over.