That is the view of former F1 driver turned pundit Marc Surer, amid criticism of the F1 governing body’s decision to essentially pardon the Ferrari driver.
Vettel was this week summoned to Paris after driving deliberately into Lewis Hamilton behind the safety car in Baku, publishing an official apology to his website afterwards.
Some suspect the quadruple world champion’s remorse was not real.
“Because he took so long (to apologise), I think it was calculated,” Surer, a pundit for German television Sky, said.
“He really thought Hamilton had brake tested him, but Sebastian is an intelligent guy and knew he would get away with an apology.”
Asked if Vettel escaping a major sanction – like a race ban – surprised him, Surer answered: “No, even though he is a repeat offender.
“But it will be the last time he gets away with it. In his next offense, the FIA would have to follow through, as even a go-kart driver is punished if he rams another.”
Some insiders suspect the FIA, presided over by Jean Todt, is giving preferential treatment to Vettel and Ferrari.
Surer said: “The FIA did not want to make the story even bigger, with a procedure dragging on until the summer.
“I think this mild judgement is also to not influence the world championship. If they ban Vettel for a race, Hamilton would naturally win it and that could really influence things.
“In this respect, the FIA was keeping an eye on the championship fight,” Surer added.