Possible Protest Could Overturn F1 Championship, Report Says


  • Fernando Alonso Picture

    Fernando Alonso Picture

    A BBC report says there may be grounds for a protest that could potentially overturn Sebastian Vettel's 2012 Formula 1 championship title. | November 29, 2012

Just the Facts:
  • The BBC is reporting that there may be grounds for a protest that could potentially overturn Sebastian Vettel's 2012 Formula 1 championship title and give the crown to Ferrari's Fernando Alonso.
  • There has been no official confirmation of such a move by Ferrari or FIA.
  • Ferrari, the BBC said, is "evaluating footage" from official race video that may show Vettel making an illegal pass during the Brazilian Grand Prix at Sao Paolo Sunday.

PARIS — The BBC is reporting that there may be grounds for a protest that could potentially overturn Sebastian Vettel's 2012 Formula 1 championship title and give the crown to Ferrari's Fernando Alonso.

There has been no official confirmation of such a move by Ferrari, Red Bull Racing or FIA.

Ferrari, the BBC said, is "evaluating footage" from official race video that may show Vettel making an illegal pass during the Brazilian Grand Prix at Sao Paolo Sunday. Stewards reviewed the incident but took no action at the time against the Red Bull driver, who won the last two world championships.

Under rules of sanctioning body Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile, November 30 is the deadline for an appeal of an incident that may impact the result of a championship. That gives Ferrari until Friday to lodge a protest of the stewards' decision not to penalize Vettel.

Vettel won a three-point victory over Alonso when he finished 6th to Alonso's 2nd in the season finale. FIA rules impose a 20-second penalty if a review confirms that Vettel's pass of Jean-Eric Vergne's Toro Rosso machine did in fact take place under local caution restrictions.

Vettel needed to finish at least 4th to secure the championship in the event of a victory by Alonso and at least 5th with Alonso 2nd, so he gained one more spot than necessary with Jenson Button speeding to victory.

The issue was very much in doubt when Vettel was punted into a spin on the first lap. He kept his car running, but had to race from the back of the pack toward his target finishing positions in a race plagued by rainfall that never permitted the track to completely dry, yet never required full-wet rain tires.

Absence of a formal protest or an FIA finding that Vettel did not violate rules restricting overtaking under yellow-flag conditions would affirm Vettel as the sport's youngest-ever three-time champion.

A penalty against Vettel could negate that result and elevate Alonso to his third championship, to go along with the titles he won in 2005 and 2006.

Edmunds says: Regardless of the outcome of this post-race question, this will put a fitting conclusion on one of the most unusual, unpredictable and entertaining F1 seasons ever.

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