Four-time world champion ran into the rear of Hamilton’s Mercedes during the safety car period. Angry, Vettel then pulled alongside Hamilton before purposely driving into the Briton’s car.
During the race Vettel was given a 10-second stop-go penalty at the time but now faces a more severe sanction, possibly including a race ban, huge fine and grid drop for next grand prix.
A statement released by FIA on Wednesday afternoon read:
A FIA statement said: “Following the recent incident at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in which Car 5 (Sebastian Vettel) was involved in a collision with Car 44 (Lewis Hamilton), on Monday 3rd July, the FIA will further examine the causes on the incident in order to evaluate whether further action is necessary.
“A statement regarding the outcome of this process will be made available before the upcoming Austrian Grand Prix.”
Following the race, Hamilton did not fight with words about the incident, describing the Ferrari driver’s conduct as unfitting of a four time Formula One world champion.
“I didn’t [brake check Vettel], Hamilton explains. “I control the pace, so like all the other restarts I slowed down at the same spot. He was obviously sleeping and drove into the back of me.”
“But that wasn’t the issue for me. Driving alongside and driving deliberately into a driver and getting away scot-free, pretty much – he still came away with fourth – I think that’s a disgrace. I think he disgraced himself today, to be honest.”
Hamilton, who had led strongly from pole position, finished fifth after he made unscheduled pit when his headrest loose during the final part of race.
“Then the penalty was too mild for what I think was unsporting behaviour,” he added.
“For him to pretty much get away with driving into another driver is a disgrace,” Hamilton said. “I think he disgraced himself today.
Vettel initially claimed Hamilton of ‘brake testing’ him by suddenly slowing coming out of Turn 16 as the safety car prepared to return to the pits.
The FIA said on Sunday, however, that the data showed the Briton had “maintained a consistent speed and behaved in the same manner on that occasion as in all the other re-starts during the race”.
The incident has been the talk of Formula One, with considerable debate on the severity of the punishment and fans divided.
“I think the stewards got it right; I wouldn’t have disqualified him or banned him from the next race unless he took Hamilton out of Baku,” said former racer and Sky Sports commentator Martin Brundle.
The FIA president Jean Todt’s intervention could be because Vettel is in trouble just eight months after his foul-mouthed outburst against F1 race direction Charlie Whiting in Mexico last year. Last October the German escaped sanction after apologising to Whiting.
Former F1 driver Christian Klien told Austrian broadcaster Servus TV: “Sure, Hamilton’s action was a provocation but Vettel really lost his nerve in an unsporting way.