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Wesley Branton | October 13, 2019 @ 9:30 pm
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Some fans have been critical of the FIA’s decision to ignore Sebastian Vettel’s jumped start at the Japanese Grand Prix. It’s a decision that likely preserved his P2 finish. It was the right call though.
During the race, many people predicted that it was only a matter of time before the FIA handed Vettel a penalty for his jumped start. Just before the lights went out to start the race, Vettel’s car jerked forward. It came to a stop again before the lights went out and then Vettel started the race.
Kimi Raikkonen was issued a drive-through penalty in Russia just a couple of weeks ago for a similar false start. The FIA opted not to apply the same penalty to Vettel, claiming that the movement was “within acceptable tolerance” for the FIA’s automated jump-start detection system.
With well under a second separating Vettel from Lewis Hamilton by the end of the race, the decision not to apply a penalty ultimately allowed Vettel to keep his second-place finish.
While some are criticizing this decision, it was undoubtedly the right call. The point of rules isn’t to punish legitimate mistakes, it’s to stop drivers from gaining advantages.
Had Vettel sped off of the grid before the lights, he would have fully deserved a penalty because he gained an advantage. The same can’t be said for his minor jump forward at the start of the Japanese Grand Prix. He did stop the car before the lights went out and the mistake ultimately compromised his race, causing him to lose the lead before the first corner.
Giving Vettel a penalty would have been pointless since his mistake already cost him.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any other agency, organization, employer or company. Assumptions made in any analysis contained within this article are not reflective of the position of any entity other than the author.