The Sebastian Vettel / Yellow light overtake explained
"VETTEL PASSED KOBAYASHI UNDER YELLOW FLAGS"
"ALONSO SHOULD BE CHAMPION"
These are just some of the comments that I have read on various internet forums and message boards since the incredible Brazilian Grand Prix, that saw the equally incredible Sebastian Vettel claim his third World Championship.
The incident they are referring to occurred on lap eight, when Vettel recovering from his first lap incident with Bruno Senna passed Kamui Kobayashi to take sixth place.
Nothing was done or said at the time, but when Vettel passed Kobayashi again on lap sixteen in the same place Sky Sports F1 viewers saw a replay of the earlier pass, during this replay, commentators David Croft and Martin Brundle saw what appeared to be yellow light at a marshal station.
This is the incident that has prompted these comments.
There was a yellow flag in the area at the time, at turn thirteen, where Romain Grosjean had spun his Lotus into the wall on the previous lap. Sky Sports F1’s replay picked up the action on the exit of this corner, ahead was turn fourteen with a marshal’s station showing a green light, indicating that they had passed the danger zone and overtaking was again permitted.
Vettel made the move on the exit of turn fourteen under this mystery light.
To find out what this light was, and why it was showing, you need to go back to the live footage from lap eight which looks back at the final turn.
Vettel Yellow Flag Passes at Brazilian GP 2012 - YouTube
We see the two leading McLarens come through the shot, followed by Nico Hulkenberg, followed by Fernando Alonso. The camera then pans up to show us the exit of turn fifteen, and in the top left corner of the screen we see the flag marshal at that turn holding out a red and yellow striped flag, to indicate a slippery track.
We then see Kobayashi pull off and into the pit lane and we catch sight of the flag man on the starters gantry, holding out a similar red and yellow striped flag.
It would therefore appear that when we saw the on-board footage in the replay, the producers at Sky Sports F1, and the usually very reliable Mr Croft and Mr Brundle all made the mistake of seeing a red and yellow striped light, which the on-board camera picked up as entirely yellow.
In their defence they were reacting live in the middle of a very lively and tense race, and I have had the advantage of watching the reply and live footage on many occasions and at various different speeds before it became clear what has actually happened.
Pat Fry, engineer at Ferrari said after the race that he thought that the light was red and yellow, indicating immediately after the race that Ferrari would not lodge a protest.
Now that is cleared up, can we all start congratulating the new triple Formula One World Champion, and talk about him at the legend he undoubtedly already is.