Mercedes ask for Max Verstappen manoeuvre review

On the basis of new evidence unavailable to the Stewards

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By Olivier Ferret

18 November 2021 - 11:49
Mercedes ask for Max Verstappen (...)

The Sao Paulo Grand Prix was a thrilling weekend of Formula 1 racing, but one marred by controversy. Lewis Hamilton was disqualified from qualifying, officials hit Max Verstappen with a €50,000 fine for touching Hamilton’s car after qualifying, and now Mercedes want a review into why Verstappen received no punishment for an incident on Lap 48 of the memorable race.

Mercedes are furious that Red Bull’s Verstappen received no punishment for forcing Hamilton wide on Lap 48 of the Sao Paulo Grand Prix. Stewards noted the incident but did not carry out any additional investigation. Hamilton recovered and went on to win the race, keeping the race for the FIA Formula 1 drivers championship wide open. The fact Hamilton won the race is irrelevant; rules must be enforced regardless of the race’s outcome.

The sport’s governing body, the FIA, clearly states: "manoeuvers liable to hinder other drivers such as deliberate crowding of a car beyond the edge of the track or any other abnormal change of direction, are strictly prohibited. Any driver who appears guilty of any of the above offenses will be reported to the stewards."

The Incident In Question

The incident in question took place during the 48th lap of the 71 lap race. Hamilton attempted to pass Verstappen and was partially ahead of his opponent’s Red Bull on the outside as the pair approached Turn Four. Verstappen ran wide as they entered the corner, forcing Hamilton to take evasive action, resulting in both cars running off the track. Both drivers managed to control their cars, return to the track, and continue the race.

Hamilton almost overtook Verstappen on Lap 58 but was met with a stubborn defense. However, a lap later, Verstappen had no choice but to concede on the approach to Turn Four. The British seven-time champion went on to finish 10.496 seconds ahead of his championship rival, claiming 25 points and narrowing the gap in the Drivers Championship to 14 points with only three races remaining on the schedule.

Although delighted with Hamilton’s performance and the race result, Mercedes is said to be furious that no action was taken for the Lap 48 incident. The team issues a short but direct statement on Twitter that reads: “The Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team confirms that we have today requested a Right of Review under Article 14.1.1 of the International Sporting Code, in relation to the Turn 4 incident between car 44 and Car 33 on lap 48 of the 2021 Brazilian Grand Prix, on the basis of new evidence unavailable to the Stewards at the time of their decision."

Team Bosses Have Their Say

The new evidence Mercedes eludes to is thought to be on-board camera footage from Hamilton’s car.

Toto Wolff, the Mercedes F1 team principal, called the lack of punishment laughable and said Verstappen should have been hit with at least a five-second penalty.

"Lewis just managed it even more brilliantly by avoiding the contact and ending the race that way. But that was just over the line. It should have been a five-second penalty at least."

Christian Horner, the Red Bull Team Principal, saw the incident differently.

"It was two guys racing hard. There was no contact. They both ran wide. I thought the stewards made the right decision. It would have been hard to penalize two drivers fighting for a world championship. It was firm but fair racing. They both ran deep."

Verstappen also had his say, claiming it was safer for him to run wide due to a lack of grip in his part-worn tires.

"I braked a bit later to try and keep the position, and the tires were already a bit worn, so I was already on the edge of grip. I was already not fully on the apex, so then it’s a safer way of just running a bit wide there. So in a way, I was, of course, happy that the stewards decided that we could just keep on racing because I think the racing in general was really good."

Hamilton has not publicly given his opinion of the incident.

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