It truly does not matter whether you can trust in a racing driver’s integrity, following a post-race ‘discovery’ or not, but, to delay any judgement of facts, until after a trophy presentation has been made, is not really playing cricket. If there were any doubt as to Vettel’s late race dive past Jenson Button, it would have been far preferable to just hold sway on handing over the trophies and spraying the Champagne until that decision had been reached.
However, I have great issue to make over what Button was only too delighted to leave to the FIA stewards to decide upon (having received McLaren team instructions to that effect over his headphones) and what was abundantly clear had occurred at Hockenheim’s impossibly tight hairpin. Naturally, the British driver would not be too happy with losing a place, especially as he showed vastly improved form over his previous few races this season.
However, Vettel was frank and, I concur, honest about his position in that same manoeuvre. He had clearly out-braked Button into the bend and Button was wheel-spinning desperately out of it, as a result of severe degradation of his car’s tyres. The two cars were shown in slow-motion and stop-action footage to be perfectly aligned on both the entrance and the exit of the bend, which could have placed either of them in ‘ownership’ of their positions on-track.
However, despite Button insisting that he left enough space for Vettel to overtake, the truth was, he did not and he was grabbing available space from him throughout. Naturally, his McLaren was unsighted by Vettel, due to their relative positions and the young German’s desire to avoid a collision meant that he crossed over the blue-and-white kerbing section into a painted ‘no-man’s-land’. He was fortunate that he was able to man-handle his car back onto the circuit without losing control. How it could be termed ‘an advantage’ is questionable in extreme. However, unless he gave way (which no racer worth his salt would do), he was equally as determined not to collide with Button.
The argument, that followed, surrounded the ‘illegality’ of his passing Button, while off the edge of the track. Yet, very few negative remarks were made about the consistent crossing into the dragster staging area, at the entry to the start/finish straight, which eventual winner, Fernando Alonso, indulged in consistently throughout the race.
I shall not raise the customary question about ‘rules for one, not being applied to another’ but I truly doubt the integrity of the FIA in this issue, as well as McLaren for complaining in the first place. I feel strongly that Red Bull should lodge a protest against both the FIA and McLaren and that Vettel’s second place and trophy should be re-awarded to him.