Lewis Hamilton’s Formula 1 racing stable Mercedes can explain in a hearing in Doha on Thursday the protest that the team has filed against race management at the Brazilian Grand Prix. Mercedes is challenging the stewards’ decision not to penalize Max Verstappen’s maneuver.
On lap 48 of the race at Interlagos circuit, Hamilton wanted to pass Verstappen from the outside and take over the lead, but the Dutchman from Red Bull did not give that space and forced the British rival to drive off the track to avoid a collision. Race management reviewed the incident on video footage during the race, but saw no reason to intervene.
According to Mercedes, Verstappen has indeed crossed the line and the racing stable wants to demonstrate this with video images made from the cockpit of the Dutchman and which the race management did not have during the race. The hearing is intended to determine whether Mercedes can legitimately have the incident reassessed. In the worst case, that new investigation by the stewards could lead to a mistake by Verstappen being found. A grid penalty is then possible.
Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff in particular was very excited about the steward after the race. “Max drove strongly defensively, but also over the edge. He should have been given a time penalty at the very least. But race officials brushed the incident under the carpet and that was just laughable,” said Wolff.
Verstappen reacted sober to the event after the race and fully understood why the stewards did not intervene. “I don’t know what else they should have decided. We were racing.” His team boss Christian Horner supported him. “They fight hard, but don’t touch each other. I have no problem with that.”
Hamilton was able to overtake Verstappen later in the race, on lap 59, and then drove to victory. Verstappen finished second and saw his lead in the world championship fall to 14 points.