Ferrari consider appeal – I’m considering becoming King of England – but the rules prevent both of us from acting upon our musings

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A Post race review and change of champion: I had decided this debate had run its course, particularly because even though I’ve complained all season about Race management issues, even IF Vettel is guilty, the infringement was missed by the stewards and the matter is similar to debating whether a penalty should have been awarded in a crucial football (soccer for the US) match.

But at 23:15 GMT SKY, the BBC and a number of long standing journalists have announced that Ferrari are looking at the footage and considering a protest. This could be mere media manipulation or Ferrari off the record briefing, but it is the latest story and I’m sure thejudge13 readers would wish to hear about it.

I’m going to summarise the story thus far, and include valuable insights from thejudge13 readers. Post race, thejudge13 reported the following observations made by SKY TV as follows…

Original thejudge13 story

“For those of you not watching on SKY I’m not sure how much of this drama you heard post race. An eagle-eyed technician spotted that Vettel had overtaken Kobayashi whilst passing a yellow light. Speculation was rife he could be given a 20s penalty and demoted to eighth giving Alonso the title.

I’ve studied the footage and this is what I know. Vettel caught Kamui at a point on the track where there was a red and yellow light – signifying oil on the track (or a slippery surface – no way?). A few metres behind it was a yellow flashing light signifying no overtaking and Vettel remained behind the japanese driver for another corner. There is then a full green light above the armco barrier to his right.

Yet by the time the German driver was alongside Kobayashi we see another yellow light and he completes the pass after that light. Several more of these lights are visible as you follow Vettel’s on board for the rest of the lap. To compound the issue, Kamui pits immediately and so Vettel cannot give back the position if he has made an illegal move.

Pat Fry discusses the matter, but only refers to the red and yellow light, I don’t think he sees what followed. The lights following the green light were indeed those used to warn drivers of yellow flagged areas of the track, but I noticed they were solid and not flashing.

I do not know what a solid yellow light means. Slow flashing is yellow flags, quick flashing is double waved yellows – but I’m not sure what solid, unblinking lights represent. Any ideas?”

More than 1 issue

Alonso said Jenson had told him about the possibility Vettel had passed illegally, but commented to Italian TV ”There was some kind of hope when he told me there is some yellow flag problem but then I think it was not true,” he admitted.

As it transpires, there were in fact 3 incidents where Vettel may have been guilty of passing under a yellow flag. This video analysis from my friend Nick is the best I’ve seen.

(OKAY – the FIA have taken it down, but here’s a link to one SKY are running today. (LINK)

So the only event in actually question is not the Kobayashi pass, but the JEV pass on lap 4. Since posting the above video this we’ve had thejudge13 readers providing rebuttal’s to the Video evidence based upon a picture that shows Marshal’s waving the green flag (pic).

Thejudge13 readers contribution

thejudge13 reader Danilo Schoeneberg has commented on this site fairly authoritatively and without a convincing rebuttal, “Flags do always take precedence over the lights. The lights, and especially the steering wheel indicators are only supplemental devices.

They can only be turned on/off by GPS-based signals at certain points of the track, which is why the indicators in Vettel’s cockpit stay on until he passes the light post, which also shows green. It’s these light posts that trigger the cockpit indicators. The yellow flag zone ended at the green flag near the pit exit”.

He also deals with the argument that the green flag picture was from a lap before the video

“1. If the straight was green-flagged in lap3. Why should it be yellow-flagged in lap 4 – there wasn’t any incident on that straight in lap 3.
2. <- This is the official lap chart showing that Vettel is already ahead of Vergne at the start of lap 4
3. The indicators in the cockpit are only supplemental, they can only be triggered when passing light posts. The track status however is determined by the marshal flags, not by the track-side lights nor by the cockpit indicators.

It pains me to see that we’re three days past the GP and still people come up with false claims, trying to win the title by a stewards decision, because they couldn’t on the track. Whatever happened to gracefully accepting defeat?”

Other comments have suggest the FIA have turned a blind eye to this to deliver the result to the Championship they favour. I have difficulty with this argument as the previously nicknamed ‘Ferrari Internationale de l’Automobiles were criticised after the Interlagos race by many for deploying the safety car favoured Alonso.

Further, Alonso winning would have been gold dust for F1/FOM in marketing terms. David and Goliath etc…

Spanish Media

Spanish media publication give us chapter and verse on the rules as they stand.

“On the evidence of a FIA Championship, where they discovered a new element, the stewards, whether they had been they who had made the decision or not, or, if not possible, other designated effect by the FIA, shall meet on the date agreed by themselves, summoning the party or parties concerned, to receive such explanations are useful, and judged in the light of the facts and of the exposed elements.

The right to appeal the new decision is reserved to the party or parties concerned, in accordance with the last paragraph of Article 180 and following of the Code. In case the first decision had already been the subject of an appeal to the National Court of Appeal or to the International Court of Appeal, or successively to both jurisdictions, they shall be entitled as of right to review its earlier decision eventually. The International Court of Appeal may take judicial notice of the review of a case that she has tried or take charge of a petition for review filed by the President of the FIA, or by a party involved and / or directly affected by its previous decision .

The deadline for filing a petition for review expires on November 30 of each year during which the decision was rendered susceptible to revision, if this decision is likely to have an influence on the outcome of the championship”. have runa poll and apparently 86% of those responding think Ferrari should protest.

Unprecedented interest

Whatever you think, the interest in this story has been unprecedented.

thejudge13 gets around 100 google hits from people searching F1 related issues on a typical day. Yesterday, it was over 750, and most of the searches included the key words “Vettel yellow Flag”

Clearly this is of serious interest to Spanish F1 fans. My blog software I use tells me at any moment in time how many hits we’ve had and a list of countries from where they come (amongst loads of other info like – most clicked on link). Anyway, due to me publishing the ‘Vettel Yellow Flag’ story pretty early on Sunday night/Mon morn  – if you type ‘Vettel Yellow Flag” into google you will see this site appear near the top on a global google search.

Yesterday, we had a visitation from many of our Spanish F1 friends like no internet invasion this site has ever seen before. In 11 weeks since thejudge13 was first launched, we have had 1217 visits from people in Spain, 472 of them have been in the last 36 hours – none of whom have registered for email and returned back to the beautiful Mediterranean.

Hope you liked what you saw mon amigos  🙂

Ferrari cannot appeal

IMHO Ferrari have no course of appeal – regardless of what the great and good SKY, BBC etc say.

Here’s article 174 (d) of the International Sporting Code. “Protests against any error or irregularity occurring during a competition, referring to the non-compliance of vehicles with the regulations and concerning the classification established at the end of the event shall, except in circumstances which the stewards of the meeting consider as physically impossible, be made within thirty minutes of the official publication of the results”.

There is precedent for this in 2007. McLaren protested the result of that’s year season finale in Brazil in a dispute over fuel temperatures. It was dismissed because they had protested against a stewards’ decision instead of doing what article 174 (d) states – to protest the race classification within 30 minutes of the results being published.

If Ferrari were going to protest the results of the Brazilian Grand Prix, they should have done so within 30 minutes of the stewards declaration of the result. Interestingly whilst Ferrari can’t appeal – I or you can bring it to the attention of the FIA and ask them to look at it again. So Ferrari ask me and I ask them… more silly rules and disjointed thinking

The FIA can act

The FIA can decide to re-open the case without Ferrari or anyone else being required to protest. Surely Red Bull’s defense would be based on telemetry throttle analysis which would argue that Vergne backed off on the straight, as he certainly appears on the video to do – causing Vettel to make an easy pass.

The FIA Sporting Code calls for the Race Stewards to re-open any matter arising in the race if new evidence comes to light and they may well do this due to the public interest. If Vettel did pass under yellows, the retrospective penalty following the race conclusion would normally be to add 20 seconds to his race time and that would cost him positions and ultimately the world championship.

Had the offence been called during the race Vettel would have been given a drive through penalty and this  would have occurred before the Safety Car, then any 20 seconds penalty and resulting lost places would be academic to the result. But as that did not happen, all the stewards can do is to retrospectively add the time penalty.

Probable result

As 3 days have elapsed since the race, this would generate such negative global publicity that would reflect very badly on the FIA’s race management. For this reason, I believe whether Ferrari protest or the FIA open an investigation of their own accord, the result will stand.

As I began this article, this at worst is a case of poor F1 race management – AGAIN. However, had the appropriate penalty been applied for the alleged crime at the time, it is uncertain whether the resulting finishing position of Vettel would have been affected.

The reason for this is that the safety car changed everything, and it is impossible to calculate what would have happened to Vettel had he suffered the drive through penalty between laps 5 and 8. He made 4 stops in the race, one of which the team were not ready for him, and still managed to attain 6th place by the end of the race.

Having watched the race avidly, I could easily agree that if Vettel had received a drive through penalty, he would have still made up the places he did. His team radio was telling him in the latter stages of the race he didn’t need to push and 6th was enough.

Maybe it should have been a penalty kick, but the referee did not see the instance and – the result stands.

Please leave your thoughts and comments.

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14 responses to “Ferrari consider appeal – I’m considering becoming King of England – but the rules prevent both of us from acting upon our musings

  1. I really would like the FIA to make a definitve statement about this as I can’t believe it is still being discussed.
    There is also a good picture from the onboard camera where you can at least make out that the marshall is waving “something” and that said “something” is not red or yellow.

    Can’t be anything but a green flag i suppose.

    Green Flag = free to race :).

    • Good spot – I’d been looking for marshalls behind the barriers, not above them! I guess that is one problem when dealing with inclement conditions – the flags aren’t always that clear. Maybe we need to add some LEDs around the edges or something so they stand out more….

      As you say, something from the FIA even if it is admitting they missed it but it’s too late now would be the obvious way to put the lid on this for good.

      • If it is the flag rather than the light which ‘rules’ then that doesn’t hold. For my money, the lights divide the track in to sectors and they should be the ultimate arbiter – they are so much more visible. Yellow flags could supplement them to give a more immediate and specific warning but I’d scrap green flags (other than as a fall-back) and use the lights only.

        • Clearly in poor visability conditions, the lights are far better. And look how difficult it is for us wioth slow motion and replays to see these flags – a driver doing 150mph???

  2. FIA have meanwhile ruled that the pass was legal (source: The circuit map at

    shows that the marshal post, which actually enabled Vettels move, is one of the few, who is not equipped with a nearby light-post. Therefore it was not possible to turn off the indicator lights in the cockpit.
    One shouldn’t make too much of the hardship to spot the marshal. Graphics resolution in real life is better than anything that NVidia or Youtube can come up with and the camera makes it appear much darker than it actually was (as evident by looking at the photo from lap3, which was taken from the opposite direction) In fact, if you go as far as doing a frame-by-frame analysis of the video, you’ll even catch the moment of Vettel looking to the left, so he definitely saw that Marshal.

  3. Agree with Stephen here, FIA ought to move with the times and make the lights the primary control system and not supplemental.

    They’re better in all but a total power failure, even a weekend hired generator backup (which they probably use anyway) would cure that. Theres not even the problem of any F1 circuits not equipped with the technology, so if it’s better why not use it, keeping the marshals for dealing with and managing track incidents.

    On the Vettel topic, how many green flag’s or flashing board’s are required to state its clear to race and yellow flag conditions suspended, I thought one. If so, why do we have a second just around the corner and why was the cockpit notification led’s still in effect till that second green led passed. Confusing or what?

    I know from here and elsewhere why, but that begs the question as to why that marshals post was in use at all for anything other then an emergency response. All it illustrates is that a system introduced because flags weren’t fit for purpose and is superior hasn’t been allowed to function as intended. How can you trust an electronic board when you must keep in mind the manual one over-rides it. As with anything being superseded problems arise during transition and what happened in Brazil clearly illustrates these two systems can’t co-exist it’s either one or the other and since the introduction of the led boards it’s obvious which it should be.

    The electronic system ought to fully supplant the marshals who while they do stirling work can now concentrate on their core work of managing track incidents and safety.

    • 100% spot on TJ – its a pathetic system.

      I was at the Birkett relay race last month in Silerstone – over 6 teams with 6 cars each – some cars cost £5-6k. They all had transponders on.

      The F1 car ‘knows’ when it is under yellow flag/light conditions, why can’t there be an automatic system that alerts race control from a car transponder if it passes another car under yellow light/flag sections of track.

      I thought F1 was supposed to be the multi $bn premier race event on the planet. Cars are prototype engineering concepts pushing the automotive scientific boundaries and we still have this mess?

    • I have to disagree at some points. First of all, why should flags not be fit for the purpose? They have worked fairly well since 1950. The second – the flag marshals have no other job than waving flags. For dealing with incidents there are trackside marshals. Quite a few of them are visible in the picture taken of lap 3.
      An electronic system is usually beaten the hell out of by a good ol’ mark-II eyeball. A marshal can decide much better than a remote controlled electronic system whether or not the sector ahead is clear to race.

      Some apologists on the Sky website, who are unwilling to concede that actually nothing forbidden had occured, posted user comments that there was no way that VET could have seen that flag at speed, so basically he wanted to overtake under yellow but was just lucky that there happened to be a green flag. Gave me good laugh. Putting aside the sheer hilarity of that claim, one only needs to understand that

      a) life’s graphics are a tad more HD than a youtube video
      b) it wasn’t as dark as the camera angle suggests
      c) That post has been put there for the expressed purpose of being seen by the drivers.

      I think the current system works just fine – has done so since the days of Fangio. The whole excitement at the moment is, because a penalty would have changed the championship result and – in all honesty – some *wanted* to see a yellow flag pass and conveniently ignored that flag post.

      The fact that the FIA’s decision was published mere minutes after the first reports of Ferraris request for clarification suggests, that all this has already been a non-issue since Monday or Tuesday in F1 circles.

      I think we should open a beer (or wine if preferred) and should toast one of the most spectacular seasons since, well, ever. Seven different winners – darn, we’ve suffered through seasons where we barely reached 7 lead changes all year.

      • Danilo – I think you’ve made some top class contributions to the debate over the past 2-3 days, but I have to disagree with you on this one.

        Where I do agree with you is the debacle and mess that is race control has created mucho excitement and debate when we’d all usually be feeling the end of season blues – and yes this has been one of the best years in living memory and yes Vettel should win and Ferrari shouldn’t have protested. Phew.

        Lights on dash and trackside were brought in as new technology, and in the pouring rain and spray (if you’ve ever seen the roosters in real life and how an F1 car throws up mist that hangs in the air for ages) you’ll know flags are impossible.

  4. @thejudge13
    I never said that the lights should be abandoned again and the fact that there are only very few marshal booths left in Interlagos that aren’t near or opposite of a light-post shows that they are moving to put the lights at all possible locations, but there are several things to take into account:

    a) If conditions get so atrocious that it would be impossible to keep visual contact between driver and marshal, in most cases Bernd Mayländer is leading the race already or it is red-flagged alltogether.

    b) In most conditions there is no problem seeing the marshals and they are still the better option. That marshal in the booth at T3 could overlook the whole straight and most of the Senna-S. If that had been a light-post, someone back home at mission control would have to switch it to the appropriate color entirely relying on camera pictures.

    c) Lights can only display one colour. They had to come up with the utterly confusing solid yellow for the yellow/red flag thing, which obviously confused the heck out of many people. What if two flags are needed? Like green for ending a yellow-flag zone and blue to let someone know that he’s about to be lapped? Or yellow and a white flag for ‘very slow vehicle on track’.

    Point c) is actually the reason, why lights are still classified as supplemental devices – because they cannot display more than one colour.
    As far as I understand the rules, however, lights can be made the top-priority indication by the event’s supplementary rules (bit like a NOTAM in aviation). Charly Whiting explained in today’s FIA statement, that such was not the case for Brazil – probably exactly because not all marshal positions are supplemented by lights yet. I could imagine that on the Tilke-dromes, where every marshals post has lights, the event-specific rules can state that the lights count and marshal flags only for additional information, if a second colour needs to be shown,

    • Danilo

      However you dress it up what you’re saying is that electronic flag systems are superfluous, but the reality is, automated systems could know where each car is, what condition it’s in and what if any response is required from race control. And provide that information more accurately then the Flag Marshal system.

      The point you make in (a), isn’t necessary because whatever system was employed such conditions would have make racing unsafe and the race would be stopped/delayed/restarted. However what you could say was the led flag system would be visible long after the flag marshals disappeared into the mist or ensconced (rightly) behind safety barriers.

      Most of your comment (c) relates to a one colour display? but EM Motorsport who make the only FIA approved unit make it clear it can display everything from monochromatic through to black, including Safety Car, Oil flag, Black & Orange flag, etc. It can amongst other attributes be controlled via radio/cable by Race Control and the ability to connect Remote Control for marshals up to 200m away.

      The issue is having two systems in place is a receipt for confusion, in the case of flags taking precedence it’s further complicated by the use of a the ‘Floppy Marker’ system. A concept known only to those that dreamt it up as a means of keeping the rest of us in the dark and a relic (like flags) of a bygone age.
      In essence a car needn’t pass either a green flag or light to race normally, providing the YF incident occurs before the Floppy Marker (positioned somewhere between the two marshal posts) a car may race normally once it’s passed that and prior to passing the subsequent green flag/light. Transparent or simply confusing?
      The alternative of passing a yellow for conditional racing followed by a green to facilitate full on racing isn’t enhanced by some mid-positioned Flag or Floppy Markers giving mixed messages that many watchers are unaware of the reason for and leave them incredulous when the unexpected occurs.

      Although F1’s complexity is an attraction, that doesn’t extend to the sporting code and some of these archaic rules are unnecessarily complex and should be reviewed and simplified, doing so wouldn’t nor should it compromise safety.

      But really when a choice comes down to unduly complex versus simplistic but effective in it’s application, it’s a no-brainer.

  5. G’day

    Whilst this has been a fascinating debate, there is always sour grapes for the final winner. Hamilton/Truilli conspiracy theories, Vettel yellow flags, Prost/Senna and the list goes on. I am a McLaren fan, however I wanted Alonso to win DC not Vettell. Alas this was not to be, and fair play to Vettel he got the job done. Whether or not an infringement took place on Sunday night we can debate and argue for a long time, but the result wont change. Vettel is still the youngest triple world champion, and will be for a while I think. If the result does change I will run naked across the Sydney Harbour Bridge in peak hour!!!!

    In terms of flag vs lights, lights every time wins hands down. Even the pits have lights instead of the lollipop man and for the record the McLaren pit light system looks great. Flags should only be a back up now incase of failure.

    On another note the season is over and I am already depressed that there will be no F1 until March next year. Anyone else?

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