A video circulating on social media appeared to show Max Verstappen touching the rear wing of Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes – and he subsequently received a summons from the FIA that resulted in a fine of 50,000 euros.
The video shows Verstappen climbing out of his car in parc ferme, checking his own rear wing flaps before moving over to the car of his title rival and seemingly comparing the two.
Mercedes were punished by the FIA after being found to have contravened rules surrounding how far rear wings are allowed to open with DRS, with an 85mm limit – which the stewards found the World Champions had exceeded during qualifying for the Sao Paulo Grand Prix on Hamilton’s car.
Hamilton was disqualified from qualifying and forced to start the sprint from the back.
You can see the clip of Verstappen by watching below:
— PlanetF1 (@Planet_F1) November 12, 2021
That was mentioned in Mercedes’ hearing with the stewards, but even the World Champions “agreed it was unlikely Verstappen’s actions caused the fault, however they felt it was an open question”.
The FIA added: “The Stewards, however, were fully satisfied, having extensively reviewed the totality of the evidence regarding that incident, that it has no bearing on this case.”
In announcing the Dutchman’s fine, the FIA statement said: “The Stewards heard from the driver of car 33 (Max Verstappen) and team representative.
“The stewards also examined a fan video taken from across the track, CCTV video footage taken from the pit lane and in-car footage from car 14, car 33, car 44 and car 77.
“In all, these videos gave a clear picture of what occurred in parc fermé following the qualifying session.
“Verstappen exits the car, then moves to the rear of his car. He then takes his gloves off and puts his right hand at the slot-gap of the rear wing of his car. He then moves to car 44 and repeats the exercise, touching the rear wing in two places, once on either side of the DRS actuation device, but on the bottom rear side of the wing, in the area of the slot-gap and never near the actuator or the end fixation points.
“Clear, high-definition video from the rear-facing roll-hoop camera on car 44 shows there is absolutely no movement of any of the wing elements on car 44 when Verstappen touches the back of the wing and the Stewards are satisfied, from watching all the videos, his body position and the video of the wing, that there was insignificant force when Verstappen touched the wing.
“It is clear to the Stewards it has become a habit of the drivers to touch cars after qualifying and the races. This was also the explanation of Verstappen, that it was simply habit to touch this area of the car which has been a point of speculation in recent races between both teams. This general tendency has been seen as mostly harmless and so has not been uniformly policed. Nevertheless, it is a breach of the parc fermé regulation and has significant potential to cause harm.
“Considering the fact no direct harm was caused in this case, in the opinion of the Stewards, and that no earlier precedent of penalties for this exists – on the one hand; but that it is a breach of the regulation and has potential for serious consequences on the other, the Stewards determine to take action in this case and order a fine of €50,000. The Stewards further note it is intended all teams and drivers take notice that future breaches may incur different penalties from the Stewards of those events.”
Sebastian Vettel has been given the light-hearted nickname ‘Inspector Seb’ in recent years after plenty of photos and videos have emerged of him looking at other cars to see where his own can be improved, but he has stopped short of touching a rival car.