FIA reject Mercedes’ right to review Turn 4 petition

Michelle Foster
Red Bull driver Max Verstappen and Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton about to run wide. Brazil November 2021

Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton fighting for position at Turn 4, about to run wide. Brazil November 2021

Mercedes’ right to review the stewards’ call not to penalise Max Verstappen at the Sao Paulo Grand Prix has been rejected by the FIA.

Mercedes were irked by Verstappen’s defensive driving against Lewis Hamilton through Turn 4 on lap 48 of the grand prix.

Showing better pace on the day, Hamilton came storming up behind Verstappen and tried to pass him around the outside of Turn 4 for the lead.

Verstappen ran both of them wide and off the track, but the stewards decided at the time not to investigate him.

Hamilton did later make a pass stick, at Turn 4, and raced to the win ahead of the Dutchman, reducing his deficit in the title race to 14 points.

Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff declared on the day that “diplomacy has ended”.

He added: “When always the decisions swing against you, it’s just something that I’m just angry about, and I will defend my team, my drivers to what comes.”

Two days later Mercedes announced they had requested the right to review the Turn 4 incident.

As per Formula 1 rules teams can be granted a right to review if, and only if, they bring ‘a significant and relevant new element’ that was ‘unavailable to the parties seeking the review at the time of the decision concerned’.

That evidence is the on-board forward facing camera from Verstappen’s RB16B which shows his steering angle as he arrived at Turn 4.

F1 race director Michael Masi admitted after the grand prix that it had not been able at the time of the stewards’ in-race ruling.

Asked at the time if it could be the ‘smoking gun’, Masi admitted: “Could be, absolutely. Possibly. But no, we didn’t have access to it. And obviously, it’s being downloaded. And once the commercial rights holder supplies it, we’ll have a look.”

Having heard from both Mercedes and Red Bull in a hearing on Thursday afternoon, the stewards finally announced that they would release their verdict on Friday.

Whilst Toto Wolff and Christian Horner were on press conference duties in Qatar, the FIA announced they had denied Mercedes request to review the decision not to penalise Max Verstappen in Brazil.

They said: “The Stewards often must make a decision quickly and on a limited set of information.

“At the time of the decision, the Stewards felt they had sufficient information to make a decision, which subsequently broadly aligned with the immediate post‐race comments of both drivers involved.

“Had they felt that the forward‐facing camera video from Car 33 was crucial in order to take a decision, they would simply have placed the incident under investigation – to be investigated after the race – and rendered a decision after this video was available. They saw no need to do so.

“The Competitor’s position is that this new Footage provides sufficient information for the Stewards to come to an altogether different conclusion than they did previously.

“However, the Stewards determine that the Footage shows nothing exceptional that is particularly different from the other angles that were available to them at the time, or that particularly changes their decision that was based on the originally available footage.

“Unlike the 2020 Austria case, in the judgement of the Stewards, there is nothing in the Footage that fundamentally changes the facts. Nor even, does this show anything that wasn’t considered by the Stewards at the time.

“Thus, the Stewards determine that the Footage, here, is not ‘significant’.”

It is not the first time this year that either Red Bull or Mercedes have requested the right to review, Red Bull doing so after the British Grand Prix.

The Milton Keynes squad felt that Hamilton’s 10-second penalty for colliding with Verstappen at the high-speed Copse corner was too lenient, especially as he overcame the penalty to win.

Their right to review though was denied as the team did not present any new evidence with the stewards unimpressed by the footage Red Bull provided of Alex Albon recreating Hamilton’s racing lines.

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