Sagan & Vettel — Worlds Apart?

There are a few times when the world’s of F1 and professional cycling collide, wind tunnels, special paint and Alonso’s ongoing interest, but that’s normally where it stops. The last two weeks however saw similar incidents, but vastly different outcomes!

After a racing incident with Mark Cavendish, Peter Sagan was deemed by the commisaires to have performed a “dangerous move in the sprint finish”, the result, disqualification from the Tour de France.

Just over a week earlier there was another clash of wheels, when Sebastian Vettel deliberatley turned in on Lewis Hamilton during a safety card period, the result, a 10 second stop and go penalty.

Whether you believe Peter Sagan delibertley hit Mark Cavendish (if at all) is not the subject of this piece, it is more about the vastly different reactions from the two sports.

It is my oppionion that neither sport got the decision correct, the Sagan/Cavendish clash was clearly a racing incident, which upon reflection had no malice involved. Even if there was an elbow thrown to gain room (as apposed to balancing) in the heat of the moment, it is vastly different to deliberatley hitting a competitor during a calm moment of neutralized racing.

The impact on Peter Sagan was expulsion from the largest race of the year and the biggest marketing opportunity his sponsors have, where as Vettel simply lost some time and a few points in a one off race.

A big problem both sports face is that a lot is left to interpratation and personal opinion, there’s a lot of grey and not a lot of black and white and with that comes a lack of consistency.

In the past, delibeate contact by an F1 driver has seen them thrown out of the race and possibly face further action. That was not the case for Vettel, so next time someone does this will they get a 10 second penalty alone?

In another show of similarity, penalities were also inconsistently dished out in le Tour. During stage 6, Arnaud Démare moved Alexander Kristoff aside with his head, before threading the needle alongisde Edvald Bassoon Hagen, in a move akin to Cavendish, but Démare only had Kristoff’s distaste to deal with. Granted there was not the carnage the ensued after Cavendish hit the barriers, but the building blocks of the move were oh so similar.

I am not championing for Démare to be punished, but something needs to be done to address the glaring differences in penalties that are applied to both sports?

Will we see similar incidents during the rest of the Tour de France and 2017 F1 season and if so will we see yet more differences in punishment? Only time will tell.

Peter Sagan 2017–07 Tour de France Grand Depart Düsseldorf — Courtesy Robert Brands
Sebastian Vettel Candian GP 2017 — Courtesy Pedrik