Mercedes have requested a right of review of the contentious Max Verstappen-Lewis Hamilton incident in the Sao Paulo GP as they cited new evidence – after new footage from on board the Red Bull was released.
In a statement released on Tuesday afternoon, F1’s world champions said they requested a right of review of the lap 48 incident at Interlagos “on the basis of new evidence unavailable to the stewards at the time of the decision”.
F1 Race Control ‘noted’ the near-miss between Verstappen and Hamilton at the time but chose not to launch a full in-race investigation after being satisfied with replays available to them at the time that the Red Bull driver, who was defending the lead, had done nothing wrong.
— Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team (@MercedesAMGF1) November 16, 2021
However, FIA race director Michael Masi acknowledged after the race that they had not been able to consult Verstappen’s on-board in real time, which would only be made available to them at some later point after the race had finished.
That footage was released on Tuesday and Mercedes initiated their right of review several hours later.
Stewards must now decide whether that request is permissible and the ‘new’ evidence warrants another look at the incident.
What now, and what could happen to Verstappen?
The stewards will hear from Mercedes to decide whether this new evidence is “significant and relevant” before deciding whether to re-examine their decision.
It’s a right to review – Mercedes are entitled to ask the Stewards to take a look at the incident. Firstly the Stewards will decide if an appeal should be permitted – then, if they say yes, an appeal will be heard pic.twitter.com/buvwFEwLjt
— David Croft (@CroftyF1) November 16, 2021
There is, of course, a chance they decide to stick with their previous verdict and not hear an appeal. Judging by previous incidents this season, the worst Verstappen should really expect is a five-second penalty.
But that in itself would be a possibly defining decision, and a hugely controversial one, as that would drop Verstappen behind Valtteri Bottas to third in the Brazil results, cutting his championship lead over Hamilton from 14 points to 11.
In that scenario, Red Bull would likely contest that Verstappen, who finished three seconds ahead of Bottas, could and would have driven faster if he knew he had a 5s penalty before the end of Sunday’s race.
There are three races left this season, in Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi.
What has been said about the new footage?
Martin Brundle wrote in his Sky F1 column on Tuesday: “On viewing the onboard footage, it confirms that Max braked very late and was slow and limited with his turn-in point, but at no point did he open the steering wheel towards Lewis.
“It was totally on the limit and could have easily gone either way with the stewards. It warranted a driving-standards warning black and white flag at least.”
The classic “ease off the brake pedal and gently understeer wide” move. Every (good) racing driver on the planet would have done the same.
Maybe Max deserved a warning but nothing more in my view. Good, hard racing between two of the best drivers ever. https://t.co/I4iUH1Rrgg
— Karun Chandhok (@karunchandhok) November 16, 2021
Sky F1’s Karun Chandhok meanwhile said he felt Verstappen deserved no more than a warning.