Verstappen fined €50,000 as stewards rule he did ‘no direct harm’ touching Hamilton’s wing

2021 Sao Paulo Grand Prix

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[raceweekendpromotion]Max Verstappen has been fined €50,000 (£42,600) after the stewards found he broke parc ferme restrictions by touching Lewis Hamilton’s rear wing after qualifying.

Amateur video shot by a fan, CCTV footage and onboard material from several cars was used to examine the moment when Verstappen inspected the rear of Hamilton’s car after the Mercedes driver claimed pole position for today’s sprint qualifying race. The Mercedes subsequently failed a technical inspection of the rear wing DRS flap, the outcome of which is still being considered by the stewards.

Verstappen’s action was a “breach of the regulation” with “has potential for serious consequences”, the stewards ruled. However they decided he touched the wing with “insignificant” force and did “no direct harm”.

They therefore decided to limit his penalty to a fine. Verstappen qualified second on the grid and stands to inherit pole position if Hamilton is penalised for the DRS infringement, as is widely expected.

The stewards made it clear Verstappen’s contact with Hamilton’s car had no effect on it. “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.”

Stewards’ ruling on 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 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 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.

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. The stewards further note that it is intended that all teams and drivers take notice that future breaches may incur different penalties from the stewards of those events.

This article will be updated

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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61 comments on “Verstappen fined €50,000 as stewards rule he did ‘no direct harm’ touching Hamilton’s wing”

  1. RandomMallard (@)
    13th November 2021, 16:44

    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.

    I think that settles it for Merc. I think they may be getting DSQ

  2. Right decision

    1. One hour’s salary for Max, one year’s salary for me

      1. I don’t think it would be fair to fine him one year’s salary for this though.

      2. Good for you. I’m no where near 50000 Euros a year

    2. He didn’t brake parc ferme rule as cars were not sealed for parc ferme. It happens several hours after qualification.

      1. I believe it happens as they leave the pit lane for qualifying these days

        1. Blaize Falconberger (@)
          14th November 2021, 8:43

          Glad @regs knows the rules better than the stewards. Comforting that.

        2. No, as they all should be disqualified, as they touch their cars while driving, changing tires, settings and taking out of the car.

          Cars and taken and sealed by FIA. The moment it sealed parc ferme begins.
          5.4.5 In order to ensure that they remain secure until the following day, all cars must be covered and
          ready for FIA seals to be applied during the following times:
          b. The period that commences three and a half hours following the end of Qualifying and
          finishes in accordance with article 5.4.6.

  3. Easy money

  4. So if the stewards have ruled that Verstappen did “no direct harm” to Hamilton’s car, then Hamilton’s car must still be ruled illegal for breaching the DRS opening regulation, yes?

    1. Max “breaking” the wing was never a thing, my God.

      No one is allowed to touch the cars, he did.

      It’s not rocket science.

      1. It is when your a hamfan, lol
        Lewis/merc is caught with his hand in the cookie jar. So everything to avoid consequences is acceptable.
        Even fantasy stories over max as superhuman changing the wing configuration with a touch.

  5. OK, Chieftain, now disqualify Lewis ‘Long COVID’ Hamilton due to technical regulation infringements.

  6. Critical wording that the HD camera picked up no movement in the wing as a result of Max’s touch…

  7. Might damage it with his hand but not with aero loading at 200 mph. Hmmm. Better make it more robust.

  8. That’s probably one of the costliest touches I’ve every heard of!

    1. When prison is full of people for touching others in a manner that isn’t appropriate, I think a 50k fine to a guy that makes tens of millions a year does indeed not quite qualify as costliest touch ever.

      1. Yeah I kind of meant people touching inanimate objects not people.

        1. Same comment applies.

    2. Well I know a guy that lost his house and half his savings after a similar light touch. Mind you the difference was the court decision took shorter time.

  9. The stewards also examined a fan video taken from across the track, CCTV video footage taken from 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

    This needs to be sorted out ASAP. A video from a fan does not have to be decisive for judging one situation. We need more observers and more cameras.

    1. They literally looked at the HD footage from Hamiltons rear view camera. So consider it sorted.

  10. The question is. What do you do if the wing is found illegal? Do Mercedes have a non illegal wing? If not. Hamilton cannot race. What about the races that where before??

    1. Mercedes already installed a new wing that (i assume conforms to the rules).

    2. I don’t think anyone is suggesting the wing is illegal in design, just that it was illegal at those point in scrutineering. That’s most likely down to it being incorrectly set up by the engineers more than an inherently illegal design, plus they check these things very regularly (AFAIK after every race, at least).

      The only way Mercedes could avoid a DSQ here is to prove that this was caused by damage caused in the session, I think. If a part of damaged during the session, I’m pretty certain they are allowed to fit a replacement of the same spec for scrutineering. I don’t this will happen, though, and fully expect that Hamilton will start the sprint race from the back.

    3. In all previous races the cars would of been similarly scrutinised and deemed good.

      Today with this wing it is with the FIA. MB have been allowed to fit another that is of the same spec.

      As this is a sprint weekend however it is allowed that a part can be changed for another so long as it has been used previously in a practice or race.

  11. Now we wait for the decision on car 44…

  12. This must be a joke.
    50.000 euro fine for touching a car, have they gone insain?

  13. Barry Bens (@barryfromdownunder)
    13th November 2021, 16:55

    50.000€. Blimey. I know it’s chumpchange for the likes of Verstappen, but that would get you a nice new car.

    1. @barryfromdownunder let’s ask Masi if he prefers one with removable rooftop or sunroof.

  14. Logic prevails based on the rules.

  15. The Stewards further note that it is intended that all teams and drivers take notice that future breaches may incur different penalties from the stewards of those events.

    Just ban the practice all together and put a grid penalty or something.
    If a driver touches a part of another team’s car and then that part is deemed illegal or broken, that driver can be held liable (even if he’s innocent). No matter how light or unharming his touch was. The FIA shouldn’t leave something like this that caused today’s controversy with a vague ruling.

  16. This is why people get annoyed with the stewards. You are not allowed to touch other cars in Parc ferme, but drivers do it all the time and we did nothing because it wasn’t an issue (until now).

    Either have a rule and enforce it, or don’t have a rule. Then everyone knows where they stand.

    1. It’s because Mercedes tried to use this as an excuse for the DRS issue.

    2. Indeed.
      Again silly and inconsistent ruling by the stewards. (Seeing Vettel never had any fine for the ‘inspections’ he made in parc fermé)

      And for the Hamilton fans that tried to claim Verstappen could change the wing with just the force of his hands, this works 2 ways. It also means that Mercedes people could change the rear wing at every race this season when touching the car. From legal to illegal and vice versa.
      I think there is a rule that tools are needed to make these changes. So if the car could be changed without tools, the car is not according to the rules and all race results must be disqualified.
      So I wouldn’t recommend going down that rabbit hole.

      To be honest, I think Mercedes just made a simple mistake with the rear wing because the parts were late. Stupid, but not malicious.
      Qualification of Hamilton is invalid, therefore he must start last for the sprint race. For the actual race he gets the 5 place penalty for the engine change.
      Why FIA is taking this long to make a decision I don’t know…

      1. I agree that the FIA has turned a blind eye to this practice. It has been a thing many of the drivers have done regularly without any questions. To some degree the FIA is at fault for letting these things go and with Merc’s wing non-conformance, this highlights why the FIA needs to crack down on this. I just hope (unlikely) they are consistent with this.

        As far as being Merc mistake. I concur, I don’t believe it was intentional and just was a situation it was installed wrong or setup incorrectly. As far as the length of this decision being made…. I would rather them take all the time they can to get it right. I think overall, they got it right. The decision came a couple hours prior to todays start for the sprint deadline!

      2. Did you hear the jokes on the radio? Vettel was funny, but also Bono?

  17. So Max wll be a little bit less rich by the end of the year. He should buy Bitcoin to very likely make up for the difference until there.

  18. I was expecting a reprimand rather than a fine, but as the stewards have determined that no damage was done then it makes sense not to issue a sporting penalty. The right decision, more or less.

  19. Judging the fine Max also urinated into Lewis cockpit and cursed Angela Cullen.

    1. The other way around would be funnier

  20. Who gets that €50,000, I wonder?

  21. Why is this all taking so long? Is it so F1 would be trending overnight? Just farcical.

  22. “DRIVER FINED FOR TOUCHING RIVALS CAR”

  23. Lol, thats a huge sum for normal folks like us, I assume Max gets 50000 less from his paycheck.

  24. Even that seems harsh, but i guess it is also setting a precedent that it will be enforced in future, so it is what it is. Sporting reg breach, fine and move on. It probably is the correct decision when all is said and done.

  25. It appears MB are going to bleed for this. The diversion to Max was welcome, but it has become apparent now that there is foul play going on. The idea that the DRS opening was to wide “by accident” or “unintended” does not work for me.

  26. Really disappointed they didn’t issue penalty points. 50,000 is just a fee and does nothing to discourage the behavior.

    1. Penalty Points are supposed to be used to prevent drivers from acting dangerously on track. Handing them out for putting a finger on or near a rear wing when it’s parked in the pits would have been beyond ridiculous.

    2. @flyingferrarim

      No what deserves ridicule is the rules when they mean nothing.

      1. @slotopen
        So what do you suggest? Penalty point against a drivers license for this? That will go over well when we see big names get race suspensions. That is not what is best for the sport.

        I agree the FIA has treated this rule as if it didn’t exist over the years is wrong. But penalty points do not fit the crime here. The entire reason behind penalty points put against a drivers license is solely around “safety”. This is not a safety issue, but a rule put in place for sporting fairness! Let’s not get overly dramatic here.

        1. @flyingferrarim

          The penalty has to be great enough to discourage the behavior or else the rules are meaningless. And I think grid drops and penalty points are the only things that will discourage the drivers.

          I’m not a fan of how the penalty points are administered, but properly done it would be the best way to discourage this.

  27. Lewis got quite lucky really, he will easily finish top 10 in the sprint and then no lower than 4th in the race, its hardly catastrophic and probably something the cheats at mercedes figured out

    1. Its not catastrophic no, but will likely cost him finish a couple positions back than what he would likely would have achieved. Especially at the blistering pace he was setting on Friday.

  28. Real question is how did Max know about the wing issue?

    1. @mralexbarr
      I don’t think Max did. I believe the DRS check was planned by scrutineering. As the issue with the gap was with DRS open rather than closed. Max checked the wing when it was closed and that was within conformance.

      1. @mralexbarr @flyingferrarim I agree, I don’t understand why Max not only checked Lewis’ rear wing but touched it especially when Red Bull saw Lewis and Perez side-by-side and could compare the wings as I did. It didn’t look over 8.5mm wide to me.

  29. Really strange that Max would touch a part for whatever reason, then that part would somehow fail inspection and end up perhaps deciding the WDC and WCC. When has that ever happened before?

    I don’t believe that Max did anything that did break the car but the FIA can’t rule that out either which makes it impossible them to hold Mercedes accountable especially since this isn’t normal. In fact, you could argue the reverse penalties would have more fair which shows how political this ruling was.

    1. @freelittlebirds
      I think they could rule out Max’s touch as being responsible for the technical infringement. I think their assessment and reasoning was logical (for once). I don’t see it as being “political”.

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