Interlagos (Brazil), Nov 13 (IANS) Formula 1 drivers’ championship leader Max Verstappen has been fined 50,000 euros for touching and examining the rear wing of title rival Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes car after the qualifying round for the Sao Paulo Grand Prix on Friday.
Red Bull driver Verstappen conducted the examination of Hamilton’s car when it was parked in the designated secure area. This is considered a breach of FIA’s sporting code and thus Verstappen was handed a fine through some people in the paddock who may consider him lucky to have escaped a grind penalty.
Hamilton’s Mercedes rear wing was referred to the stewards after FIA technical delegate Jo Bauer found an issue with it on Friday. Footage released after Friday’s qualifying session showed Verstappen looking at the rear wing of Hamilton’s car in Parc Ferme (French for the designated parking area), which in itself was a suspected breach of Article 2.5.1 of the FIA International Sporting Code.
That article states: “in the Parc Ferme, only the officials assigned may enter. No operation, checking, tuning, or repair is allowed unless authorised by the same officials or by the applicable regulations.”
After the second practice on Saturday in Sao Paulo, the stewards released a statement explaining the euro 50,000 fine handed to Red Bull driver Verstappen:
“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.”
The statement further said, “Clear, high definition video from the rear-facing roll-hoop camera on car 44 shows that 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 that 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,” the statement said.
“Considering the fact that 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,” it said.
The stewards warned all teams and drivers that “future breaches (of this rule) may incur different penalties”.
While the stewards have decided on the transgression by Verstappen, they are still investigating the allegations of tampering with DRS technical infringement.