Sebastian Vettel’s status as the youngest triple champion in Formula One history was confirmed on Friday when Ferrari dropped its probe into the German driver’s conduct at the Brazilian Grand Prix.
The Italian giants wanted clarification into a contentious overtaking maneuver performed by the Red Bull driver on the fourth lap of the rain-lashed, season-ending race at Interlagos last weekend.
Vettel finished sixth while title rival Fernando Alonso of Spain was second as the German claimed the title by just three points.
World governing body, the FIA, said on Friday that out of courtesy to Ferrari, they had looked into the overtaking move and had declared Vettel to have acted within the rules.
“The FIA has replied to Scuderia Ferrari stating that as the overtaking maneuver was not in breach of the regulations, and therefore there was no infringement to investigate, it was not reported to the Stewards by Race Control,” a FIA statement said.
Ferrari then declared that they would no longer pursue their query.
“Ferrari duly takes note of the reply sent by the FIA and therefore considers the matter now closed,” said a Ferrari statement quoted by autosport.com.
“The request for a clarification from the FIA, regarding Vettel’s passing move on Jean-Eric Vergne, came about through the need to shed light on the circumstances of the move, which came out on the Internet only a few days after the race,” the Ferrari statement added.
“The letter to the FIA was in no way intended to undermine the legality of the race result,” it said. “We received tens of thousands of queries relating to this matter from all over the world and it was incumbent on us to take the matter further, asking the Federation to look into an incident that could have cast a shadow over the championship in the eyes of all Formula 1 enthusiasts, not just Ferrari fans.”
Vettel appeared to be in big trouble when he was bumped shortly after the start of the race and spun. He dropped to last place before he could turn his car around and began to chase the leaders.
He steadily worked his way up the field despite a slightly damaged car and no radio communication. It was during Vettel’s climb back through the field that the alleged illegal overtake of Vergne occurred.
When there is a yellow caution flag or light, it signals danger on the track and drivers must slow down and not overtake.
If a driver does overtake, he is penalized with a drive-thru or a 20-second penalty in the final results if the infraction is discovered after the race is over.