11 May 2012
Vettel, Alonso know limits on passing
World champions Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso insist that overtaking rules are clear - in most situations.
Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso have agreed that the rules on respect when being overtaken are quite clear, but admit that the margins within they operate can sometimes be blurred.
Responding to questions regarding Nico Rosberg's controversial defensive tactics in the Bahrain Grand Prix, the two world champions insisted that, as far as they were concerned, all 24 drivers were aware of their responsibilities on track but that, in the heat of the moment, sometimes the lines are pushed a little too far. Alonso was on the receiving end of one Rosberg 'chop', while Lewis Hamilton was forced fully off track, when trying to pass the Mercedes early in the race at Sakhir.
Alonso and Vettel also came close during the same race and, following a brief volley of light-hearted reflection on that and their simialr incident at Monza last season - where Vettel put two wheels on the grass in his efforts to vault past the Ferrari - the reigning world champion admitted that Bahrain International Circuit shifted the boundaries when it came to passing.
"I think the rule is clear [although] you can argue," he claimed, "I think there were two incidents with Nico in Bahrain, one with Fernando, and I think Fernando made his point clear afterwards. He said 'you have to leave the space, all the time you have to leave the space!'. I think you can talk for hours now but, if you saw the situation in Bahrain, it's exceptional, because you have a kind of asphalt run-off. Yes, it's pretty dirty, but we always try to go on the limit - the one who is overtaking, the one who is defending.
"Sure, sometimes you need to respect that the guy is there and you need to leave the space, [and] I think, if it would have been grass [run-off], it would have been a different story. You wouldn't go there in the first place."
Sauber's Kamui Kobayashi had earlier been accosted by the same line of questioning, based primarily on his reputation as 'an aggressive overtaker', but also having been caught up in one of Hamilton's less glorious 2011 moments at Spa.
"For me, I'm doing something quite normal - it's not special. I'm just doing my job," the Japanese driver insisted, "Maybe it looks aggressive, but I never crash with anyone. I never crash and stop the car. There may be contact, but it's always quite okay. Maybe it looks aggressive, but it's not aggressive in fact.
"Spa last year? That's what I mean [when I say] that was just an accident. I didn't expect both cars to make contact because there was no point. I didn't expect Lewis to come across and I just stayed on my line. There was no way to avoid that. That was something special though, not really a racing accident and not aggressive stuff from me, so…."
Rosberg was let off with a slapped wrist after the Bahrain Grand Prix, and neither Hamilton or Alonso was penalised for exceeding the track limits, although Vettel's Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber reckons the Briton should have been.
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