The Sebastian Vettel Brazilian GP yellow flag controversy Q&A

Explaining the allegations and where the story could go from here

By James Galloway and Pete Gill.   Last Updated: 29/11/12 11:36am

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Confused about the issues being debated? We attempt to answer the key points...

What is being investigated?
The legality of Sebastian Vettel's pass on the Toro Rosso of Jean-Eric Vergne on lap four of the Brazilian GP.

Why might it be illegal?
Because footage apparently shows the pass being made under yellow flags and before Vettel enters a green-flag section of the race track.

Wasn't this highlighted and analysed immediately after the race and Vettel cleared of any wrongdoing?
Not quite. What was shown was footage of Vettel's pass on Kamui Kobayashi. The stewards subsequently stated that they were content that the flags passed were yellow-red, a warning sign that the track was slippery.

And this is an entirely different matter?
Yes.

What have Ferrari said?
After confirming on Wednesday night that they were indeed evaluating the footage, Ferrari have now announced they have written to the FIA to seek clarification on what exactly happened in Vettel's pass on Vergne.

Surely they've left it too late to appeal?
Nope. The FIA's International Sporting Code, which covers all of the governing body's affiliated series including F1, includes an Article (17bis) entitled 'Right of review'.

And what does this say?
It states the following: "If, in events forming part of a FIA Championship, a new element is discovered, whether or not the stewards of the meeting have already given a ruling, these stewards of the meeting or, failing this, those designated by the FIA, must meet on a date agreed amongst themselves, summoning the party or parties concerned to hear any relevant explanations and to judge in the light of the facts and elements brought before them."

So would it be up to Ferrari to flag up the alleged indiscretion?
Ferrari are indeed within their rights to lodge an appeal on the basis being "one of the parties concerned and/or directly affected by its former decision" should they feel it is justified, but the FIA can also trigger a review on its own initiative - as can the FIA President himself.

So when would any appeal have to be lodged by
According to the same Article, "the period during which an appeal in review may be brought expires on 30 November of the year during which the decision that is liable to review has been handed down".

So that's this Friday?
Spot on. We should therefore find out within the next 48 hours if these allegations have legs.

Are there any precedents for the FIA reviewing an incident in wake of new evidence coming to light?
Yes, and reasonably recent ones too. At the 2009 Australian GP Lewis Hamilton was promoted from fourth to third after Toyota's Jarno Trulli overook him behind the Safety Car but evidence which emerged in the days after the race, principally radio exchanges and an interview Hamilton conducted with the media, saw the FIA open an investigation. It ended in them concluding that the driver and McLaren's then sporting director Dave Ryan had "misled" the stewards in their evidence over the incident and Hamilton was excluded from the results.

What would happen if an appeal was successful and Vettel found guilty?
Vettel would be handed the time-penalty equivalent of a drive-through.

Which is?
Twenty seconds, which would be added to his race time.

And what would that mean for the result?
Vettel would be demoted from sixth to eighth behind, by neat coincidence, Vergne.

And what would that mean for the championship?
Vettel would therefore only score four, rather than eight points, in the season finale, meaning Fernando Alonso would be reinstated as the 2012 World Champion by a single point.

What's Red Bull's response?
The team are yet to comment..

And the FIA?
According to Sky Sports F1's Ted Kravitz: "The FIA have just released a statement to journalists to say there is no case to answer, there was no passing under yellow flags in the first place. It was actually a trick of the TV screen. 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 today. 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."

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