Sebastian Vettel did not violate Formula One rules in an overtaking manoeuvre at the Brazilian Grand Prix on Sunday en route to a third world title, the governing body FIA said.

The FIA said in a statement on Friday they had told the Ferrari team in a letter that Red Bull’s Vettel had acted within the rules when he overtook Jean-Eric Vergne.

Ferrari sought clarification after video evidence seemed to indicate that Vettel had overtaken Vergne in a yellow flag danger area, where passing is prohibited.

But race director Charlie Whiting told the German auto, motor und sport website that a marshal waving a green flag had allowed Vettel to pass Vergne.

The FIA said on its website it told Ferrari that “as the overtaking manoeuvre was not in breach of the regulations, and therefore there was no infringement to investigate, it was not reported to the stewards by Race Control.”

Vettel finished sixth in the race to win the world title three points ahead of Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso, who placed second at Interlagos.

If Vettel had been deemed to have made an illegal manoeuvre, a post-race penalty according to the rules would have been a 20 seconds added to the race time. In that case he would have dropped to eighth place and lost the title to Alonso by one point.

Ferrari said in a statement on their website it “considers the matter now closed” and defended itself from disputing the legality of the race result and Vettel’s title.

“The request for a clarification from the FIA, regarding Vettel’s passing move on Vergne, came about through the need to shed light on the circumstances of the move, which came out on the internet only a few days after the race,” Ferrari said.

“The letter to the FIA was in no way intended to undermine the legality of the race result.

“We received tens of thousands of queries relating to this matter from all over the world and it was incumbent on us to take the matter further, asking the Federation to look into an incident that could have cast a shadow over the championship in the eyes of all F1 enthusiasts, not just Ferrari fans.”

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