HOCKENHEIM, Germany, July 22, 2012 (AFP) - Defending champion Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull was demoted to fifth at the German Grand Prix on Sunday after receiving a 20sec penalty for passing Jenson Button.
Vettel was handed the penalty for his manoeuvre past McLaren's Button on the penultimate lap and dropped back having initially finished second 3.7 sec behind race winner, and world championship leader, Fernando Alonso of Spain.
German Vettel received a drive-through penalty after he passed Button by running off track at a hairpin exit, which race stewards found to be illegal.
"Car 1 left the track and gained an advantage when he rejoined. Breach of article 20.2 of the FIA Formula 1 sporting regulations," the stewards ruled.
Moments after the race ended, and before receiving his penalty, Vettel hurried to defend his move: "I think clearly it's not an advantage if you try to accelerate on the paint rather than on the circuit.
So as I said the only intention was not to crash and to give him enough room. I had the nose, I was a little bit in front because I was braking later and then I was pretty sure he was not giving up like that!"