FIA clear Sebastian Vettel after Ferrari seek 'clarification' over his controversial overtake
F1 governing body say there is no case for World Champ to answer
By Pete Gill. Last Updated: 30/11/12 9:11am
Vettel row explained
The FIA have cleared Sebastian Vettel of any wrongdoing after Ferrari wrote to motorsport's governing body seeking 'clarification' about the legality of his overtake past Jean-Eric Vergne during the season-ending Brazilian GP.
In the wake of Sunday's race, which concluded with Vettel winning the World Championship from Fernando Alonso by three points, forensic examination of on-board footage from Vettel's car broadcast during Sky Sports F1's Race Control coverage threw up considerable doubt about the legality of the German's pass on lap four.
Amid suggestions that the World Champion may have transgressed by overtaking under a yellow flag, the Scuderia wrote to the governing body on Thursday asking for clarification.
Were Vettel to have been found guilty of an offence, he could have retrospectively received a 20-second penalty, a punishment which would have demoted him to eighth position and left Alonso as World Champion.
However, the governing body are confident that Vettel's move was legal and have briefed reporters that there is no case to answer.
While the footage certainly provokes doubt about the legitimacy of the overtake, a partially-obscured steward to the left of the track at the exit of the pitlane can be seen waving a green flag just before Vettel rounds the Toro Rosso.
"If the lights are not installed at a flag post, the driver responds to the first signal that is shown," race director Charlie Whiting told Germany's Auto Motor und Sport.
"In Vettel's case, between the last yellow light and the green light, there was a green flag being waved. Vettel responded to the flag and did everything right."
As such, the result of Sunday's race will stand, with Vettel crowned World Championship for a third time.
"It was actually a trick of the TV screen," Sky F1 pundit Ted Kravitz told Sky Sports News. "All the attention is on the light panels which are around the circuit and they supplement the marshals' flags that you get on any track. And if a marshal holds out a yellow flag, then you are not supposed to overtake and that is what people thought they were seeing.
"But actually the green light board was in the wrong place - there was a marshal flag before it saying that the danger zone had passed and we have had that confirmation from the FIA that no infraction ever took place, they were satisfied at the time that Vettel did not overtake under yellow flags and as far as they are concerned it is case closed."