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Vettel avoids penalty after apologising to FIA

Sebastian Vettel has escaped further punishment for his collision with Lewis Hamilton at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix after taking full responsibility for the incident and apologising to the FIA.

The governing body's decision was announced on Monday evening after Vettel met with senior FIA officials in Paris to review video footage and data evidence from the incident.

Sebastian Vettel. Mark Thompson/Getty Images
The FIA had the power to haul Vettel in front of its International Tribunal in order to discuss further sanctions, but after the Ferrari driver sat down with the its panel of officials -- including race director Charlie Whiting -- the governing body was satisfied he had taken "full responsibility" for the incident and extended his "sincere apologies". Vettel has also pledged to make a public apology for his actions and agreed to commit some of his personal time to initiatives in junior FIA categories over the next 12 months.

That was enough for FIA president Jean Todt to drop the issue following the meeting, although he made clear that a repeat offence would immediately result in Vettel facing the FIA's International Tribunal. Todt has also excluded Vettel from endorsing any road safety activities until the end of the year in light of the example he set in Baku.

"Top level sport is an intense environment in which tempers can flare," Todt said. "However, it is the role of top sportsmen to deal with that pressure calmly and to conduct themselves in a manner that not only respects the regulations of the sport but which befits the elevated status they enjoy.

"Sportsmen must be cognisant of the impact their behaviour can have on those who look up to them. They are heroes and role models to millions of fans worldwide and must conduct themselves accordingly."

It is the second time in the last 12 months that Vettel has apologised to the FIA for his on-track actions after a foul-mouthed rant during the Mexican Grand Prix also triggered a warning from the FIA.

As it stands, one serious incident at the upcoming Austrian Grand Prix would see Vettel receive his 12th penalty point of the season and a ban from the British Grand Prix. However, as long as he behaves himself in Austria, two of his penalty points will lapse on the Monday after the race leaving him with a buffer of five points until the next two are due to lapse following the Malaysian Grand Prix.

FIA statement in full:

"Following an incident at the recent Azerbaijan Grand Prix involving a collision between Car 5 (Sebastian Vettel) and Car 44 (Lewis Hamilton), Sebastian Vettel was today invited to attend a meeting at the FIA's Paris headquarters. He was accompanied by his Team Principal Maurizio Arrivabene. He reviewed the incident together with a panel comprised of FIA Deputy President for Sport Graham Stoker, FIA General Secretary for Sport Peter Bayer, FIA Formula One World Championship Race Director Charlie Whiting and FIA Formula One World Championship Deputy Race Director and FIA Safety Director Laurent Mekies.

"During the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, stewards officiating at the event issued a 10-second stop-and-go penalty to Sebastian Vettel, the most severe penalty immediately applicable before displaying a black flag notice to the driver. Sebastian Vettel also had three penalty points applied to his FIA Superlicence, taking his current total to nine.

"However, while respecting the Stewards' decision, the FIA remained deeply concerned by the wider implications of the incident, firstly through the impact such behaviour may have on fans and young competitors worldwide and secondly due to the damage such behaviour may cause to the FIA's image and reputation of the sport.

"Following detailed discussion and further examination of video and data evidence related to the incident, Sebastian Vettel admitted full responsibility.

"Sebastian Vettel extended his sincere apologies to the FIA and the wider motor sport family. He additionally committed to devote personal time over the next 12 months to educational activities across a variety of FIA championships and events, including in the FIA Formula 2 Championship, the FIA Formula 3 European Championship, at an FIA Formula 4 Championship to be defined and at the FIA Stewards' seminar. Due to this incident, President Jean Todt instructed that no road safety activities should be endorsed by Sebastian Vettel until the end of this year.

"The FIA notes this commitment, the personal apology made by Sebastian Vettel and his pledge to make that apology public. The FIA also notes that Scuderia Ferrari is aligned with the values and objectives of the FIA.

"In light of these developments, FIA President Jean Todt decided that on this occasion the matter should be closed.

"Nevertheless, in noting the severity of the offence and its potential negative consequences, FIA President Todt made it clear that should there be any repetition of such behaviour, the matter would immediately be referred to the FIA International Tribunal for further investigation."

Source: http://www.espn.co.uk/f1/story/_/id/19799239/vettel-avoids-penalty-apologising-fia

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