Sebastian Vettel never had any doubts over the validity of his 2012 drivers’ title, despite the debate that briefly raged regarding his overtaking of Jean-Eric Vergne at the season-ending Brazilian Grand Prix.
The Red Bull driver’s third consecutive world crown was thrown into doubt after Ferrari wrote to motor racing’s world governing body, the FIA, to seek clarification on Vettel’s move on the fourth lap of the race at Interlagos on 25 November.
Had Ferrari’s inquiry led to Vettel being found guilty of any wrongdoing, he could have faced a retrospective 20-second penalty, which would have seen Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso instead take the drivers’ title by a single point. “To be honest, I never wasted one single thought that an irregularity was involved from my side,” Vettel said in an interview with formula1.com. “Even if it was an eventful race, I definitely saw all the flags – and their colours. I only got information that Ferrari was up to something after Christian [Horner, Red Bull team principal] called me saying that obviously Ferrari was not too happy with the outcome of the race.”
Vettel appeared to pass Vergne in a yellow caution zone, where overtaking is forbidden, but television footage later proved that the German had already passed a green flag signalling the all-clear. The FIA subsequently confirmed that Vettel had no case to answer, with Ferrari accepting the ruling.