"VETTEL PASSED KOBAYASHI UNDER YELLOW FLAGS"
"ALONSO SHOULD BE CHAMPION"
These are just some of the comments that I have read on various internet forums and message boards since the incredible Brazilian Grand Prix, that saw the equally incredible Sebastian Vettel claim his third World Championship.
Great video further down - keep reading!
The incident they are referring to occurred on lap eight, when Vettel recovering from his first lap incident with Bruno Senna passed Kamui Kobayashi to take sixth place.
Nothing was done or said at the time, but when Vettel passed Kobayashi again on lap sixteen in the same place Sky Sports F1 viewers saw a replay of the earlier pass, during this replay, commentators David Croft and Martin Brundle saw what appeared to be yellow light at a marshal station.
This is the incident that has prompted these comments.
There was a yellow flag in the area at the time, at turn thirteen, where Romain Grosjean had spun his Lotus into the wall on the previous lap. Sky Sports F1’s replay picked up the action on the exit of this corner, ahead was turn fourteen with a marshal’s station showing a green light, indicating that they had passed the danger zone and overtaking was again permitted.
Vettel made the move on the exit of turn fourteen under this mystery light.
To find out what this light was, and why it was showing, you need to go back to the live footage from lap eight which looks back at the final turn.
We see the two leading McLarens come through the shot, followed by Nico Hulkenberg, followed by Fernando Alonso. The camera then pans up to show us the exit of turn fifteen, and in the top left corner of the screen we see the flag marshal at that turn holding out a red and yellow striped flag, to indicate a slippery track.
We then see Kobayashi pull off and into the pit lane and we catch sight of the flag man on the starters gantry, holding out a similar red and yellow striped flag.
It would therefore appear that when we saw the on-board footage in the replay, the producers at Sky Sports F1, and the usually very reliable Mr Croft and Mr Brundle all made the mistake of seeing a red and yellow striped light, which the on-board camera picked up as entirely yellow.
In their defence they were reacting live in the middle of a very lively and tense race, and I have had the advantage of watching the reply and live footage on many occasions and at various different speeds before it became clear what has actually happened.
Pat Fry, engineer at Ferrari said after the race that he thought that the light was red and yellow, indicating immediately after the race that Ferrari would not lodge a protest.
Now that is cleared up, can we all start congratulating the new triple Formula One World Champion, and talk about him at the legend he undoubtedly already is.
Since Sunday two more incidents have also come to light. Before the Kobayashi incident, Vettel was recovering further down the field and reached his stable mate Jean Eric Vergne’s Toro Rosso. Again Vettel appeared to pass under a yellow flag, and he also appeared to pass a HRT under yellow.
These are both incorrect.
The HRT incident was quickly dismissed. From the on-board footage we see Vettel catching the car, and pass it in the Senna S with a yellow flag in the corner, but as indicated by Vettel’s dashboard lights he has completed the pass before reaching the yellow flag.
The other incident that has created these fresh allegations we see Vettel come through the Senna S behind Vergne with a visible yellow light at the marshals station. Vettel’s dashboard is also showing yellow warning lights.
This yellow zone is for the Williams of Pastor Maldonado who has pulled off the track at the pit exit, just after the exit of turn three.
As Vergne and Vettel come through turn three, we see on the right hand side a yellow light. On the left we do not see the stranded Williams as the marshals have already cleared it away.
Further down the back straight we see a green light at the entry of turn four, and when Vettel passes this light his dashboard warning lights go out. At this point he is already ahead of Vergne.
In the pictures there is a telemetry graphic, showing Vettel’s speed, gear, KERS etc. so the left side of the circuit is slightly obstructed to the viewer, but at the point that the first sector of the lap is complete there is a marshals post (that does not have a light attached) and the marshal there is waving a green flag because they have passed the area where Maldonado’s Williams was stopped.
Vettel saw this green flag, and after he had passed it he made a legitimate and legal move of Vergne.
What the viewer needs to consider is that at Interlagos there are twenty two marshal stations around the track, but only sixteen of them have accompanying lights. The flag marshal waving his green flag was stationed at one of the eight posts that do not have a light.
This footage has reached the Ferrari team, who have reviewed it and announced on Thursday that they have written to the FIA to request clarification ahead of Fridays appeal deadline. The FIA quickly issued a statement to say that Vettel has ‘no case to answer’
This may not be the end of the story as nobody at Ferrari have said that the team is not going to appeal, but the FIA saying that there ‘is not case to answer’ suggests that Ferrari have very little chance of winning any appeal.
But why were Vettel’s dashboard lights still yellow? I hear you ask. The reason is because the dashboard lights are connected to the marshal post lights and not the flag marshals posts, therefore the lights were still on during a period of green flag racing.