FIA president Jean Todt defends punishment handed to Sebastian Vettel for Lewis Hamilton clash
In an exclusive interview with Sky Sports, Todt defends punishment handed to Vettel but says Baku crash was "unacceptable" and that German would face "very severe" consequences if he did it again
By Matt Morlidge
Last Updated: 25/08/17 9:46am
FIA president Jean Todt has defended the severity of punishment handed to Sebastian Vettel after his collision with Lewis Hamilton at the Azerbaijan GP.
But in an exclusive interview with Sky Sports, Todt has also described the incident as "unacceptable" and insisted Vettel would face "very severe" consequences if it were to happen again.
Vettel served a 10-second stop-and-go penalty for swerving into his title rival's Mercedes during the Baku race, before escaping further penalty at an FIA hearing in Paris despite Hamilton's protests to Formula 1's governing body.
"Before the re-start after the Safety Car, there was an unacceptable incident between Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton," Todt told Sky Sports News HQ's Craig Slater in the Austrian GP paddock. "The stewards decided that Vettel should have a 10-second stop-and-go, which is quite a severe offence and means that it modified the result from being the winner to finishing fourth.
Sky exclusive: Jean Todt Q&A
In an exclusive interview, Jean Todt explains the FIA's stance on the Sebastian Vettel-Lewis Hamilton Baku clash
"I thought that we needed to understand better what had happened. That is why I asked the Deputy President for Sport, Graham Stocker, the Head of Formula 1, Charlie Whiting, and the Head of Safety [Laurent Mekies] to speak with Sebastian to try and understand better. After that, they came to me and asked me to seize the driver, which I did, and then the decision was taken not to ask any more.
"It is important that we are precise. It was also in respect to Lewis to clarify that he was not at all responsible for this happening."
While he escaped further punishment at his FIA hearing, Vettel was warned that any repetition of such behaviour would immediately be referred to the FIA's International Tribunal for further investigation. In addition, he was told to take part in a variety of educational activities across the FIA's championships.
The incident took place just seven months after Vettel received a warning over his conduct at the Mexican GP but Todt - a former F1 team boss - said the FIA must understand that drivers are "emotional" and in a "very tense situation".
"Mexico was a completely different offence," Todt explained. "We have seen Sebastian is not always able to control himself as much as he should - I used to run drivers and they are in a very tense situation - and I think you must try to interpret the situation well. This does not give them the right to do anything but you must try and understand it.
"It is very easy to make decisions behind a desk or to judge behind a desk. You must accept in life that human beings are emotional. This was a completely different matter but clearly Sebastian has had some very strong warnings."
Todt added that though he was sure Vettel would not repeat his offence, he would make sure the consequences were "very severe" if he did.
"He was digesting the scene and the emotion was such that he did a big mistake," Todt added. "He slowly understood that he did a big mistake and at least he ensured me that it would never happen again.
"Time will tell if it eever happens again, but if it does, the consequences will be very severe."
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