The 2017 Baku Grand prix was not without drama and there are yet stories to come as a result. By far the key incident of the race was at the end of lap 19 where under the safety car Lewis Hamilton slowed dramatically to back up the field.
The result? Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari attempted a violation of the Brit’s Mercedes gearbox.
There will no doubt be much speculation and discussion into who was right, who behaved like a brat , and whether the whole thing could have been avoided. Naturally TJ13 Judicial Board held an emergency de-briefing and here are their views.
Views have varied. TJ13 Project Manager put forward his case that it was a result of Hamilton working his brakes, whilst it looks like Vettel wanted to work his tyres. Other suggestions included that Vettel was simply too close to Hamilton after previously losing out on the safety car restart, and simply it would not be in Hamilton’s interest to brake test him when he was leading the race.
Data cited from Ferrari does show that Hamilton dropped form 89kph to just 40 kph in an acceleration zone and this is “never a smart thing to do”.
Yet, the FIA say “The Stewards examined Hamilton’s car data in the Vettel collision. It emerged that Hamilton correctly maintained a consistent speed and behaved in the same manner on that occasion as in all other restarts during the race.”
Mmm. Time for full time professional stewards – no?
Yet if the German media are to be believed, then their own ‘wonderkind’ – Sebastian Vettel – only narrowly escaped disqualification.
So what saved him?
Post incident video footage reveals Vettel with both his hands off the wheel the instant before the crash. TJ13’s Editor In Chief noted that this action of Vettel combined with a dab of acceleration to keep pace with Hamilton and continue the remonstrations, will see a Formula One car poke offline faster than Pastor Maldonado can go down on a donut.
Did his actions cause the issue? TJ13 Chronicler Bruznic presented evidence that later studies of Hamilton’s data shows that he had come off the throttle in that corner at each safety car restart, and this is essentially what saved him from any sort of penalty. He was neither braking nor accelerating, and it was deemed that because he had done the same thing again and again that Vettel should have known.
“Vettel’s punishment was not stronger because he thought Hamilton had brake tested him and therefore reacted to what turns out to be the wrong information.” suggested Bruznic
Bruznic added (whilst frantically rifling through the rulebook with a highlighter,)
“…the stewards did (probably) not want to influence the drivers championship as a result”.
The board are now trying to decide if Vettels hand signals were in German or Italian.
Either way the post race interviews did not seem to make anything better. Hamilton clearly feeling aggrieved added fuel to the flames by suggesting to BBC 5 Live that Vettel should consider taking it outside, saying that Vettel’s driving was a “disgrace” and added:
“If he wants to prove he’s a man I think we should do it out of the car, face to face,”
“Imagine all the young kids that are watching Formula 1 today, and see that kind of behaviour from the four-time world champion,”
Mercedes appear united in calling for a lightweight bout of however many rounds it takes as Lauda added: “When you hit somebody up the a*** it is your fault.
No question. But then to drive next to him and hit him on purpose, I have never seen anything like this.
“To do that I don’t understand. Vettel is a decent guy normally. This I don’t understad. He is crazy. Lewis will hit him one day. Not with the car but with his fist.”
TJ13 would like to point out that taking it outside and behaving in a childish manner involving fisticuffs (which neither driver is probably well versed in – it would be more akin to handbags at dawn) is NOT the correct way to handle things – KIDS?
Due to the issued stop go penalty and Hamilton’s head rest flapping about in the wind also requiring a pit stop we all felt cheated as the drivers were given the opportunity for a post race cool down. Had they bothj been on the podium the pre-presentation briefing room drama would surely have been F1 gold.
It was later agreed that, evidence presented, and penalties taken, that the Jury should recommend that the matter now rests and no further action to be taken. That that we should probably move on quick and focus on other more positive aspects of the “Battle in Baku” – which was almost certainly the best racing spectacle F1 has offered up this season. Full race report below prepared for you by TJ13 contributor Mattpt55: