Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Suzuka, 2016

Mercedes protest Verstappen’s move on Hamilton

2016 Japanese Grand Prix

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Mercedes has lodged a protest against Max Verstappen’s defensive move against Lewis Hamilton in the Japanese Grand Prix.

“A protest has been lodged by Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team against car 33 driven by Max Verstappen of Red Bull Racing,” said the stewards in a statement.

Start, Suzuka, 2016
2016 Japanese Grand Prix in pictures
The protest relates to “an alleged breach of Article 27.5 of Formula One Sporting Regulations, in that he allegedly drove erratically and in a dangerous manner, forcing car 44 [Lewis Hamilton] to take evasive action at turn 16.”

“The stewards are conducting a hearing. The results are still provisional.”

Article 27.5 of the sporting regulations states “At no time may a car be driven unnecessarily slowly, erratically or in a manner which could be deemed potentially dangerous to other drivers or any other person. This will apply whether any such car is being driven on the track, the pit entry or the pit lane.”

Asked during the post-race press conference if he was “happy” with Verstappen’s driving Hamilton said: “It doesn’t really matter now. It’s done and we move forwards”.

Update: The stewards have announced they will not rule on the incident until the United States Grand Prix

2016 Japanese Grand Prix

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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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  • 37 comments on “Mercedes protest Verstappen’s move on Hamilton”

    1. Interesting. Did Ferrari lodge official protest as well post-Hungary and Belgium re: Verstappen?

      1. Why would Ferrari? They are buttering Verstappan up for move to Ferrari at end of 2017.

        1. So? You’d imagine Mercedes definitely will be suitors if they ever need a replacement.

      2. @adityafakhri No, and it wasn’t investigated by the stewards during the race:

        http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/2016-f1-season/statistics/penalties-index/

        It’s unusual for an incident to be prompted by a protest from a team, normally they come from the race director.

    2. spafrancorchamps
      9th October 2016, 10:43

      I still don’t understand why it is that Verstappen gets away with this everytime? In the past I have seen numerous drivers get penalised for this, or been given warnings. Schumacher jumps into memory, Monza 2010 I believe? It’s ridiculous, if defending like this is to be allowed, we won’t see an overtake ever again. Probably some good crashes though…

      1. Schumacher jumps into memory, Monza 2010 I believe?

        Don’t think it was 2010. There was in 2011 with Hamilton but that was a different kind of move and that did lead to a change in the regulations:

        http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/2012/01/04/fia-clarifies-rules-defensive-driving/

        As mentioned below there is precedent showing this kind of move by Verstappen has previously been considered legal.

    3. If this succeeds (regardless of whether it should or not), then that rule isn’t worth the paper its printed on. He made his move early enough, leaving Hamilton time to respond, which didn’t necessarily mean evasive action. Hamilton was the car in behind. Verstappen only moved once. This should be a non-issue. Sad.

      1. @hahostolze
        What you say is true but Verstappen made his move in the braking zone not on a straight line which makes it illegal.

        1. How can you prove it was in the braking zone? Have you ever tried to steer a racing car that was braking? Granted I’ve only tried it in simulators and such but you lock up. Did Verstappen? Hamilton moved to the inside prior to braking, as you do when overtaking. Verstappen anticipated and moved immediately. If he had done that under braking, he would not have made the corner. So. I don’t see where this conclusion comes from.

          1. You don´t lock up, even without ABS when you know how to brake…which Max clearly does know how.

        2. Are you sure it was in the breaking zone? It looked pretty far out.

    4. Also, considering Verstappen talked to Whiting, Pirro and the other stewards after the race, and they were satisfied with his clarifications, and made clear to him where they will draw the line, how is this going to succeed?

    5. Interesting move by Mercedes. They’re inviting the stewards to revise a fairly well-established precedent, so I’ll be surprised if they succeed.

      But even if they don’t succeed they’ll have demonstrated their complete support for Hamilton at the end of a tough week for him.

      Curious also that the stewards had such a quiet day today. Despite howls of protest about blue flags from several drivers, plus a few other incidents, there were no investigations during the race.

      1. little chance it changed the provisional race result, but I think if somehow stewards agree, which is so unlikely based on previous precedents, there will be technical clarification from FIA on regulation, i.e. additional clause that apply next race onwards.

        on blue flags, I guess it’s simply due to so many drivers involved and lapped cars won’t affect any championship points as it stands, so maybe they let it go :)

      2. So every car finished and no in-race penalties; one for the facts and stats article methinks.

      3. Well Charlie has spoken out to Max about these kinds of maneuvers possibly could be leading to half black flags:

        http://www.skysports.com/f1/news/12433/10562222/max-verstappen-given-gentle-warning-by-the-fia-after-more-criticism-of-his-driving-style

        That being said, I doubt they will award a penalty retroactively. Verstappen wil say he only changed direction once, and early enough for Hamilton to react. I could have seen that happening if Max made that move more than once (as in Spa).

      4. In F1 precedents only matter as long as until they don’t. Generally any kind of incident can be seen differently. Even the judges are basically different in every race and each of them have their own ideas about passing and defending.

        Even if we have seen this exact same move done by verstappen many times earlier this season I think he will get a small penalty this time. On one hand the judges have this crazy idea that championships should not be decided by judges (which effectively legalizes cheating). On the other hand not doing anything can affect the end result too if one of the championship contenders is being wronged.

        My money is on 5s time penalty for verstappen. It makes it look like the judges are doing something. It is a chaotic decision that goes against their earlier decisions which is how rules are applied in f1: unpredictably without precedents. But most importantly it allows the judges to do something that doesn’t change anything. It is also kinda tricky when both hamilton and verstappen are kinda dirty drivers and fia golden boys. Neither drivers don’t seem to get punished no matter what they do so no penalty is just as likely as a meaningless 5s penalty for verstappen.

        1. HAM crossed the line 5.7 seconds behind ROS and VES was in 4 seconds behind ROS. So a 5 second penalty would made him third.
          The judges should not interfere when no rule is broken. What VES did was inside the rules and if you looked at hte onboard camera form HAM, you could see he had enough time to react.
          Btw, every judge ruling is always prone to differences. If you have to interpret rules there is and always will be conflicting views. That’s why we use judges.

    6. Toto Wolf declared on German tv that is was a bit in the grey area but as a race fan, he had no problems with that move. So why this, just preventing their “wonder boy” to make new stupid allegations?

      1. Yes, that’s what I think it is. It has to be, because the move was perfectly legal.

    7. Are there any videos online that show replays/different angles of this move? I saw it just once in the live telecast, but would like to view it a few more times. When I saw it live, it appeared that Hamilton was behind Verstappen, so it didn’t appear wrong.

        1. removed, this one still is live: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jbX0-XZuN2o
          Nothing wrong with this move.

    8. I do think they need to nip it in the bud as I and anyone who has ever raced know you defend before the braking zone not on it. Cars with overspeed will always be closing and if the guy infront defends that late when the person behind is committed to the move then this sort of move is going to send a car over the back sooner or later. You would expect a driver in the pinnacle of motorsport would know you make a judgment to defend way before the braking zone and not react to the driver behind diving for the inside. As someone said before its blocking not defending and more akin to a computer game.

      1. Agree entirely with this. It doesn’t mean Verstappen has to plant his car to the far right 500 meters before the corner, just that he definitively picks a side before the breaking zone and then sticks to it. In today’s instance, his position just before the breaking zone was central (which I thought would be a pretty good defensive line in itself to be honest) and then upon Hamilton diving to the inside on the brakes, Verstappen proceeded to move right to block. Had Hamilton been closer, there would’ve been an aeroplane accident.

        1. As a person, raced more than 10 years, I agree completely as well. It is somewhat surprising that most people seem to NOT get what the problem here is. As naz3012 and mike pointed out, a driver in open seater or any other serious form of motorsport racing may NOT change line during braking. Why ? Take a look at the official video at exactly 18th second: http://www.formula1.com/en/latest/headlines/2016/10/mercedes-protest-verstappens-driving.html
          Hamilton is already committed to the move, and then Verstappen starts to close the door. As everyone knows already – this he has done many times already. Lets define what does mean “committed” ? This is to say, Hamilton begins an outbraking move. He will brake later than his opponent and he has chosen a line to do so. Now, what happens when he defending drivers cuts off that line? It depends. F1 cars today have tremendous stopping power, so very often the charging driver MAY have time to respond. But lets assume the situation was different: that Hamilton was closer, that it was more slippery on the track, or that they drive different type of racing car. What would happen then ? Airborne accident. Just because Hamilton (or Kimi in Spa for that matter) managed to escape this computer game-style move, doesn’t mean it is legal. It means that both of them are experienced enough to avoid accident with the boy. If Verstappen had moved early enough, Hamilton would have NOT missed the corner. He barely avoided ramming the back of the boy.

        2. > there would’ve been an aeroplane accident

          Oh Martin Brundle, what hast thou done?!

    9. I am no fan of my fellow countrymans`s actions, far from it. I feel that he behaved very badly towards Kimi, on several occasions. And he got away with it, too. But this is ridiculous. lewis had eons of time to avoid the red bull, and he did. dangerous nothing.

    10. I agree with Mercedes here. This grey area must be evaluated, explained and cleared once for all.

      1. Preferably before Max puts someone into the wall and gets more than he bargained for.

    11. This is totally a joke. FIA and Mercedes are trying everything to donate another title to Hamilton. I was just surprised race director didn’t made safety car out when Lewis was 20 seconds behind, even if there was no accident…
      Verstappen moved under brake also against Rosberg at Hockenheim. The only difference is that in Germany there was much more space and Nico could keep the inner line, reacting with that harsh move.
      Stewards actions and inactions in fact did alter results of last seasons.
      I simply can’t understand how Mercedes can be so openly lined up with Hamilton and against Rosberg. But what could you expect from a team that independently extended a 5 secs penalty to more than 8 seconds?

      1. You must be kidding right?! Or is my sarcasm-meter not working?

        1. Kidding? I didn’t write anything that is not actually true.

    12. Moving once is ok. Blocking is ok (read the rules and lets hope it stays that way since otherwise F1 becomes as dull as the US motorsports). Moving under braking is the only question mark here. Guess telemetry is better to judge that timing than any of us

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