Vettel faces FIA sanctions after middle finger tirade during Malaysian GP

Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing. Formula One Testing, Day 4, Barcelona, Spain, Sunday 4 March 2012.

Sebastian Vettel feeling the pressure early on in the season

Mar.28 (GMM) The FIA could sanction F1’s reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel for his un-sporting conduct during the recent Malaysian Grand Prix, where he failed to score points after a late race coming together with backmarker Narain Karthikeyan.

Narain Karthikeyan (IND) HRT Formula One Team HRT F112. Formula One World Championship, Rd2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Race, Sepang, Malaysia, Sunday 25 March 2012.

Sebastian Vettel closing in on Narain Karthikeyan during the race

Before calling Karthikeyan a “gherkin” and “idiot” in the wake of their collision, Sebastian Vettel was captured by his on-board camera twice displaying his middle-finger to the Indian driver.

“I think he’s highly frustrated because he’s having a tough season,” Karthikeyan told the Deccan Chronicle on Wednesday.

“It’s completely unprofessional to blame me for the incident. The derogatory remark only goes to show him in bad light.

“Just because he has a good car, he can’t call others an idiot,” Karthikeyan continued.

“I have won races in all the previous single-seater championships I have participated in so I don’t need a certificate from Vettel.”

Reports in Germany, including in the Kolner Express, Bild and Die Welt newspapers, claim that Red Bull driver’s behaviour may have breached the new stricter code of conduct introduced by FIA president Jean Todt.

The FIA has been contacted for comment.

Sebastian Vettel

Seb gave it the wrong finger at Sepang...

“He has breached the code of conduct,” former F1 driver Marc Surer told Germany’s Sky television. “You sign it when you get the license and then you have to behave correspondingly.

“Any behaviour that hurts other people or the sport is an offense,” added the Swiss.

Asked what the penalties might be, Surer explained: “Anything from a warning to a license revocation. In this case I think it was quite understandable and there will be a mild punishment, if there is anything.”

Hans-Joachim Stuck, however, is slightly less forgiving.

“When you’re overtaking, misunderstandings can occur. I think Vettel needs to learn this.

“With him, the curve was always upwards and now it’s not the case, and he needs to deal with that,” the German legend told the DAPD news agency.

As for Vettel’s description of Karthikeyan as a “gherkin”, Stuck insisted: “It’s better than ‘asshole’.”

Vettel’s attack, however, was sustained, with Kleine Zeitung newspaper now quoting the Red Bull driver as having said: “Maybe f1 is not the place to learn how to drive.”

Stuck responded: “If Sebastian had left more space, it would not have happened. It happens sometimes so it’s a racing incident.

“He (Karthikeyan) didn’t do it on purpose and it always takes two.”

The HRT driver hit back by calling Vettel a “bully”, and even David Coulthard – a Red Bull team consultant – defended Karthikeyan.

“He can’t make his car invisible,” the Scot is quoted as saying by the Mirror.

Also defending Karthikeyan was Force India driver Nico Hulkenberg, who told the Indian press this week: “From what I saw, it was not Narain’s fault.

“So I don’t really understand why he (Vettel) said all that.”

Hukenberg’s Force India teammate Paul di Resta added: “Narain is entitled to do as much on the track in comparison with someone like Vettel.

“Both are F1 drivers and are there to represent their teams.”

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  • me262

    Vettel’s ‘finger’ has changed to his middle one in 2012 hahaha no Horner twitchy tapping leg on pit wall either awesome. well done Narain for un covering this thug

    Jenson on the other hand apologised to Narain and by all accounts had a tea with 2 sugars in the McLaren garage when the red flag came out in sepang. A great example of a gentlemen driver

  • TheF1Fan

    Yeah!! Ever since he won the WDC in ’09 season he changed himself into a classic driver .. pure gentlemen by all means

  • Firoze Munzeer

    You can not Red bull-doze your way when you have a car in front of you. When you overtake you do not expect the driver being overtaken to slow down or move out of your way. This is racing and not street traffic.

    The remarks and the gestures are unbecoming of a champion. Be gracious even if you are being beaten even by your team mate. He lost points not only in the race but also with the fans and the media.

  • Dwimar

    vetel may learn to schumy, How to become a real champion, When under pressure and harsh conditions. stay wise as a true champion and not chatty.

  • fawxx

    he finally got in to trouble with his finger!

  • Twiinz

    Karthikeyan is in the right here. He is not a bad driver so much that he is in a bad car. You don’t get into F1 without skills. Vettel needs to mature a little. He is now feeling pressure for the first time in his career. He must learn how to deal or he will be a media target like Lewis was last year.

  • ?

    Speaking of Vettel not acting like a champ reminds me of 2010. Malaysia was Turkey and (Maybe) Spa Combined.
    What happened at Abu Dhabi erased our memories of that, unfortunately. Of course, History may or may not repeat itself come Abu Dhabi and Interlagos.

  • farizY

    It would be lame if they sanction Vettel…..seriously lame….

  • fools

    I get mixed emotions with this guy. However, I never did like the way he flings up his #1 index finger like if he was doing it in a fashion like *f*** you, I’m number 1.

    Then as we see in the world wide video taken he’s waving his middle finger to another driver because of his own mistake and frustration he cannot compose.

    Just shows he needs to mature and all they do is talk about how young and “mature he is” pfff!

    I pitty that.

  • Zurf

    Vettel forgot how to use the right fingers when he didn’t win the game… LOL

  • Val Maltese

    Uh…has Vettel ever admitted he was at fault? Brilliant, quick, the results up to now pointed towards the best driver in the best car..
    perhaps this year we will see how much better the car actually made him…

  • andrewf1

    I hope he gets a reprimand or sanction or something from the FIA so he can learn some humility. That kind of arrogance towards other drivers – especially when he was at the LEAST 50% to blame as well – is just pathetic.

  • fools

    I love how Karthikeyan said what he wanted to say professionally and maturely and did not get intimidated by the media to answer those questions…

    “I think he’s highly frustrated because he’s having a tough season,”

    “It’s completely unprofessional to blame me for the incident. The derogatory remark only goes to show him in bad light.

    “Just because he has a good car, he can’t call others an idiot,” Karthikeyan continued.

  • Nemo

    Bah! This is all nancy pants. I cant see a problem with it. Its good to see them fire up for once. Just like the Montoya days. The FIA should be looking into why Karthikeyan received a penalty, more than Vettel giving him the bird

  • lol.

    Rules are rules, and the FIA must be consistent when dishing out reprimands.

    If lewis hamilton did this, he would have been given a sanction. Similarly, Vettel must recieve some punishment. If only for the sake of consistency.

  • Alex

    If he wasn’t giving so much verbal feedback regarding his emotions towards other drivers, I don’t think he would have gotten in trouble for his finger :)

    Just as Kimi gets a free pass on his “fingers” :)

  • Mark

    vettel should be suspended for 2 consecutive races since he did the finger twice…. this ought to teach him a lesson and good manners and sportsmanship like. FIA should not take this lightly as on the track, all racers have the same privileges when it comes to driving.

    2 time world champion??? doesn’t look like that to me… with such attitude, he looks like he’s never won any championship with that kind of stature.

    Saying names definitely does not come close to a champions attitude.

    Poor sebastian, he hasn’t learned. Suspend that IDIOT!!!

  • Bokino

    Seriously people…He gave someone the finger in the heat of the moment. That is not even close to deserving of any punishment. And to say that this proves he is a bad driver and the car made him look good blah blah blah is just ludicrous. He drove flawless last year. Maybe Karthikeyan didn’t deserve a penalty but the incident was still mostly his fault.

  • Bent Spark Plug

    Bend over Seb you Blubbering Baby and I will give YOU my finger and anything else I can muster with zero lube !

    Learn to deal with YOUR MISTAKE, you are carrying on like a spolit little Bavarian Baby…get some humility into mate.

    Life is full of ups and downs..DEAL WITH IT SQUARE HEADED LITTLE BABY.

  • adam22

    i am not happy my idol vettel not showing class, just need to take it easy as others have the rights to be on track too – need to learn from this and don’t be negative about other seb!

  • Paul

    Seb your not as good as Schuey by a long stretch of the imagination so chill out and concentrate on your driving.

  • Paul


  • Jojo Mouth

    Let Vettel drive HRT car and Narain at RB8.. Lets see who’s the idiot now.. Vettel is never a great driver, he was just so lucky to sat on RB7 & RB8.. Now he can’t even handle the real pressure of being not in front..

  • Hawk

    let him be reprimanded for the verbal abuse he made after the race. he has no right to call Narain a learner. but the finger is just the heat of the moment which I believe his bosses can talk to him about.

    as for JB, he apologised to NK because it was his mistake. why shd vettel do the same? he could even have done it to cast Vettel in bad light. he is so wily, that one. and who said he is the perfect gentleman? do you remember that outburst when the press asked him about LH?

  • Professorfate

    Seb obviously wasn’t listening to his parents when he was learning about humility. He still behaves like a little child(when he wins or loses) and he is never wrong, t’s always someone elses fault.
    You notice Marko has been strangely quiet after this incident. Maybe he’s realizing Seb isn’t perfect after all. A stint in a Toro Rosso for a few races might help him grow up a little.

  • dannyp

    vettel sliced in too quickly for Narain to back out. 100% vettel’s fault. called him a gherkin sound’s like a racist to me. vettel has always been a “cry baby” and now he don’t have a superior car he will cry more and more. vettel is 1 of fiew driver’s on track that needs the best car to win BOO HOO (BABY)

    just like webber said in 2007 when vettel hit him (stupid f’in kids with not enough experience)

  • dannyp

    i forgot to mention the fact vettel only started doing good 1ce he got the blown diffuser. webber is a match now they dont have as much grip in corners. his car won the 2 championships not him

    vettels 1st ever win for toro rosso was all on the superior set up just like sergio’s 2nd place