Vettel avoids further punishment for Baku clash, issues apology

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Sebastian Vettel will face no further action for intentionally hitting Lewis Hamilton during the Azerbaijan Grand Prix after a ruling by the FIA in Paris on Monday.

Late last week the governing body revealed it would determine whether a retrospective sanction was required in addition to the 10-second stop/ go penalty the German was awarded during the race in Baku for 'dangerous driving'.

However, following a number of commitments made by Vettel to teach junior drivers how to properly behave on track as well as issuing a public apology for the incident, it was decided the result from the last race, with the Ferrari driver fourth and Hamilton fifth would remain intact.

“Following detailed discussion and further examination of video and data evidence related to the incident, Sebastian Vettel admitted full responsibility," a statement from the FIA read. “Sebastian Vettel also extended his sincere apologies to the FIA and the wider motorsport family. 

“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."

The shadow of what occurred hasn't completely gone, however, with the statement noting: “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. 

“Due to this incident, President Jean Todt has instructed that no road safety activities should be endorsed by Sebastian Vettel until the end of this year." 

The conclusion, also coming on Sebastian's 30th birthday, means he will maintain his 14-point lead at the top of the Drivers' Championship going into this weekend's race in Austria.

In the apology that was later published on his official website, however, he acknowledged he had misread the situation with Hamilton.

"During the restart lap, I got surprised by Lewis and ran into the back of his car. With hindsight, I don't believe he had any bad intentions," he said.

"In the heat of the action I then overreacted and therefore I want to apologise to Lewis directly, as well as to all the people who were watching the race. I realise that I was not setting a good example.

"I had no intention at any time to put Lewis in danger, but I understand that I caused a dangerous situation.

"Therefore, I would like to apologise to the FIA. I accept and respect the decisions that were taken at today's meeting in Paris, as well as the penalty imposed by the Stewards in Baku.

One key driver for the second investigation was the need to highlight how Vettel's actions were not those in keeping with the expectations of one of F1's most successful drivers.

In noting that, he added: "I love this sport and I am determined to represent it in a way that can be an example for future generations."

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