What Disciplinary action might Red Bull take against Sebastien Vettel?
On Sunday Sebastien Vettel overtook Mark Weber to win the Malaysian Grand Prix. Afterwards it transpired that he had apparently done so in defiance of team orders. What disciplinary action could Red Bull take against their errant driver? Firstly the instruction by the team was a lawful one .Team orders are permitted in Formula one.There are therefore grounds to believe that Sebastian Vettel,as an employee of Red Bull,disobeyed a lawful instruction by his employer. The following presupposes that Red Bull racing is registered in the United Kingdom and that the drivers contracts are covered by the Law of England and Wales. That could form the basis of disciplinary action by the team against their driver. The team should have a written disciplinary procedure which should follow the disciplinary procedure laid out in the ACAS code of conduct . This would involve the team mounting a full investigation which might involve collecting audio evidence from the team radio,speaking to the engineers and technicians involved as well as Mr Vettel himself. At this stage ,unless the Red Bull disciplinary code states it,there would be no right for Mr Vettel to be accompanied at such a meeting. After the investigation is conducted the team would need to decide whether there is a case to answer. If they believe that there is then the team would convene a disciplinary hearing. They would then need to present Mr Vettel with the details of his alleged wrongdoing.Mr Vettel would then have the right,at that hearing,to challenge the evidence against him or to call witnesses. He would also have the opportunity to be accompanied by either a Trade Union Representative or by another Team Member (probably not Mark Weber). After the hearing the team would need to decide whether they felt that Mr Vettel was guilty of the offending behaviour. If they found him to be not guilty then no sanction would be taken against him. If they felt that he was guilty then they would have to decide how serious the offending behaviour was in order to decide what level of sanction to impose. For a small first time offence a first instance written warning could be imposed which would lay on the driver’s file for a specified period of time. For a more serious offence a final written warning might be imposed. Finally if the driver was found to be guilty of gross misconduct then the sanction could be dismissal If Mr Vettel did not agree with the outcome of the hearing then he could request an appeal hearing conducted by a different member of staff of the team than the original hearing. My best guess is that either Red Bull would take no action or,if Mr Vettel were to be found to have behaved in the offending manner alleged,then a first instance written warning would be imposed. After all ,when you run a successful racing team you do not want to lose the services of a two time world champion.
Sundeep Bhatia Solicitor Beaumonde Law Practice Evans House 107 Marsh Road Pinner Middlesex HA5 5PA 02088681614 07803727534