After Mercedes and Red Bull met with the stewards, the FIA have decided they will rule upon Mercedes’ ‘right to review’ Max Verstappen’s driving in Brazil on Friday.
After discussions surrounding Verstappen’s defence against Lewis Hamilton on lap 48 at Interlagos, which lasted for a significant portion of Thursday afternoon, proceedings have been adjourned and a statement from the FIA said: “The stewards are now considering the matter and will publish their decision tomorrow.”
Senior Mercedes staff initially saw the stewards at 1700 local time (1400 GMT) on Thursday to present their case of “new and significant” evidence coming to light surrounding the incident, which saw Verstappen and Hamilton both go off track as the pair fought for the lead during the Sao Paulo Grand Prix.
World Championship leader Verstappen remains of the view that he does not expect a penalty to come his way this weekend. telling reporters in his pre-race press conference: “I don’t expect [the review] to happen because I thought it was fair, hard racing between the two guys who are fighting for the championship,” he said, quoted by Formula1.com.
“So it wouldn’t have been anyway an easy pass, because that’s not how I am and I don’t think how it should be when you’re fighting for the title.”
If Mercedes' appeal against Max Verstappen is successful, even a five-second time penalty would drop him down to P3 from Brazil, closing the gap at the top by three more points… #F1 pic.twitter.com/Za5GxOCCvy
— PlanetF1 (@Planet_F1) November 17, 2021
After an initial virtual meeting, representatives from Mercedes and Red Bull were then called to the stewards to present both sides of the argument, and the stewards will reconvene on Friday to assess whether or not a full investigation into Verstappen’s on-board footage – which Mercedes are presenting as their new evidence and prompted their decision to appeal – will take place.
Hamilton admitted that he now has a “different viewpoint” on the Turn 4 tussle after examining the on-board video, but added that he is not devoting much of his energy to thinking about whether or not Verstappen deserves to be penalised.
The near-miss between the two title rivals was noted during the race, but the stewards decided at the time that no investigation was necessary.
Race director Michael Masi admitted after the race that the on-board footage from Verstappen’s car was not available to view, but had been requested by the FIA to look over.
That video was released on Tuesday, and has divided opinion among fans and pundits alike, with the debate centering on Verstappen’s apparent lack of steering lock heading into Turn 4, which ultimately took both drivers off the track when Hamilton aborted the move.
The Mercedes driver did eventually manage to overtake the Red Bull heading to the same corner later in the race, on his way to victory at Interlagos.
The stewards’ decision expected tomorrow will rule on whether an investigation will take place. If that is the case, further evidence will determine if Verstappen will be awarded a retroactive penalty or not.
Should he be given a time penalty, this would have ramifications in the Drivers’ Championship, as even a five-second penalty would drop the Dutchman below Valtteri Bottas in the official race classification, which would close his gap to Hamilton by three more points – down to 11.
Will Mercedes' review request be successful?
The on-board footage is out, Mercedes have requested a review, but will the FIA overturn their decision?