Max Verstappen, Adrian Newey, Red Bull, Interlagos, 2021

Verstappen checked Hamilton’s rear wing due to team’s suspicions over flexing

2021 Sao Paulo Grand Prix

Posted on

| Written by and

[raceweekendpromotion]Max Verstappen said he inspected Lewis Hamilton’s rear wing after qualifying yesterday because his Red Bull team believe it has been flexing excessively at speed.

The world championship leader examined his own car, then his rival’s, after Hamilton took pole position for the sprint qualifying race. Hamilton was later disqualified from the session and had to start the race from the back of the grid.

“I was clearly looking at the wing, you can see on the video what I did exactly,” Verstappen explained. “I was just looking at how much the rear wing was flexing at that point.”

Red Bull’s chief technical officer Adrian Newey is believed to have spoken to the FIA about Mercedes’ rear wing. A technical directive was issued earlier in the season imposing a tougher test on rear wings to reduce how much they could flex, which led Red Bull and other teams to make changes to their designs.

Verstappen confirmed Red Bull had discussed Mercedes’ rear wing internally. “Of course there have been talks,” he said. “And of course there are things to still look into. Because at a certain speed it seems like the wing is flexing,”

“We had, in the beginning of the season, to all change the rear wings a bit because of the back off. But it seems like something is still backing off over there, so that’s why I went in and had a look.”

The stewards took a dim view of Verstappen touching Hamilton’s car. Although they determined he did “no direct harm”, he was fined €50,000 for breaching parc fermé restrictions.

“It’s quite a big fine so I hope they have a nice dinner and a lot of wine,” he said. “I hope good, expensive wine, that will be nice and they can invite me for dinner as well. I’ll pay for that dinner, too.”

Verstappen has to pay the fine personally. “So that’s a little bit less FIFA points for me then, on my laptop.”

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

2021 Sao Paulo Grand Prix

    Browse all 2021 Sao Paulo Grand Prix articles

    Author information

    Dieter Rencken
    Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
    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...

    Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

    44 comments on “Verstappen checked Hamilton’s rear wing due to team’s suspicions over flexing”

    1. And if the wing is designed to cheat a test with a massive vertical load on it what was he going to learn with his inspection? Strange. Also nice of him to flex on us poors like that.

      1. Just curious and trying to compare.
        We now know it wad an illegal wing. So it’s the second time max showed us fraudulent tricks in f1.
        First ferrari, now Mercedes.
        He just speaks his mind.
        It shows to what lenght Mercedes goes to win.
        It tainted the great performance of Lewis today.

        1. What a nonsensical assertion.

          It may have escaped your mind that what the scrutineers found on Hamilton’s wing actually has nothing to do with it flexing under load.

          Try to take your blinkers off.

          1. Worse the wing movement was way bigger then allowed. It gives a performance increase by less aerodrag.
            Illegal and they know it!
            Every team test their Drs with the same tool as fia uses.

            1. erikje, just curious but did you actually read the stewards ruling about the DRS gap and where it failed on one side and only when pushing the 850mm circle though with between 5-10N force? I thought not. Clearly it was an infringement rightly punished, but that wasn’t the cheating bit that Max, Newey and Horner are putting out there. Anyway, this comment is lost on you, why am I wasting my time.

            2. A person somewhere
              14th November 2021, 7:40

              A “way bigger” 0.2mm. And just on the right side, not the left or centre. But of course you don’t let pesky facts get in the way of your hyper partisan Hamilton & Mercedes bashing…

            3. A person somewhere
              14th November 2021, 7:55

              In follow up to my previous reply, and to be clear, I’m not trying to argue against the penalty. The rules on technical infringements are clear, and that it was pretty obviously unintentional is irrelevant as far as the rules are concerned.

              I just find suggestions that they’d deliberately take the very high risk of exclusion (the test they failed is not new and as noted by the stewards had been applied in the previous races) to be laughable.

            4. erikje you’re not often right but your wrong this time.

          2. Actually it was, as the go/no-go gauge was inserted with force, which would react against the aero downforce during deployment.

            1. The tool is used with a minimal force of 10NM. More is allowed less is illegal.
              In this test the tool went in and moved freely on the left and right side as shown on the images. In fact it wad so easy, without any force that the fia man controlled his tool.
              Was it by design and a result of a not rightly cleared Drs lever or an lucky accident as merc states. The fact is it caused a bigger Drs space and as a result, higher straight line speed.
              Illegal wing.

        2. Yet Lewis gets away with it and to the joy of Brawn, lucking into a Sprint race instead of a Sunday race. This is becoming quite the circus this year now Mercedes finally got some competition. And it turns out they need to throw everything but the kitchen sink at it to stay afloat. My respect for the team couldn’t have gotten a bigger fall than this season. Flexwings, pit stop changes, tyre changes, bumping competitors off. They are the textbook bad guys. I am sure the board of Daimler Benz will question lending their brand to this for the future. If they are smart they walk away now and distance themselves from Toto.

          1. You are almost as biased as erikje but at least she writes short posts.

    2. This is how you and your crew and all the ridiculous acolytes on here want to win?

      Good on you – let’s talk asterisk come the day as it seems all of LH are…

      For goodness sake this stank!

      1. It’s exactly what Mercedes did earlier in the season… Why do all Merc fans always play the victim?

        1. Blaize Falconberger (@)
          14th November 2021, 8:13


          RBR are the clear, run-away unchallenged and undisputed champions, the kings, queens and emperors, world champions, dominant force and supreme rulers of whinging, complaining, crying, finger pointing, crying fowl, playing victim and trying to win points off track.

          Don’t try and strip the fizzy drinks outfit of another title they believe should be theirs??? At least they put untold man-hours into this one.

          1. Read that back and tell me you’re not one of the crazy fans…

            They’re both as bad as each other when they’re not winning, each very happy to whine when it suits.

            Both sets of fans are equally as petty as you’ve so aptly demonstrated

    3. Clearly the right decision not to punish Max with anything more, but it would be nice to see Max not joke about the fine and admit he shouldn’t have done it (the penalty could have been worse) but anyway there you go. Maybe I expect too much, but it really is never his fault.

      1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
        14th November 2021, 2:43

        @john-h Yeah, but did Max affect it? It’s 0.2 millimeters on the side he touched…

        If it is indeed 0.2 millimeters – that’s tough to see, let alone measure. 1 millimeter is small – this is one fifth of a millimeter.

        Literally a hair (180 micrometers) on one side, not across so uneven which is clearly the result of damage.

        1. Oh come on, this is getting ridiculous. The standard inspection gauge was used, as supplied to all teams, and after qualifying the go/no-go gauge showed a larger than legal gap; this is a test all the teams are able to perform on their own cars. There was no sort of contact or accident with the car during the qualifying session. The car was illegal. Yeah, by a small amount, but once you start down the slippery slope of how much there is no end. The maximum gap per regulation was exceeded. The car was illegal.

        2. Clearly how? What damage? Either the gap is less than or equal to the regulations. If it’s not the car must be excluded from the session.

        3. Nope, Max didn’t affect it @freelittlebirds and the stewards also said this. My point is more that Max never admits he’s done anything wrong…ever. This is what makes him such a ruthless competitor of course but a bit of contrition at times would be nice and respect for the stewards, they really could have dished out a harsher penalty.

          1. You mean exactly how Mercedes refuse to admit they did anything wrong too?

          2. Think I agree with this, he’s an excellent driver and rarely gets it wrong, but there have been mistakes in the past (think 2018, early on when he had a fairly competitive car), so he can’t say he never did anything wrong.

      2. You’re spot on that he should’ve admitted it is not done to touch a competitor’s car (unless you’re parked on top of it).

        The penalty is probably correct, and should be standard from now on for ‘manual inspections’.

    4. The whole Mercedes are cheats argument just makes people look silly. They proved today that they’ve got a big pace advantage without having to resort to cheating. Something on Hamilton’s car failed meaning that under massive pressure the stewards were able to fit the measuring tool through ONE SECTION of the rear wing.

      The advantage was so small that in the first DRS zone Verstappen was actually quicker and when comparing Hamilton against Bottas in the main DRS zone, Hamilton gained less than 1m advantage. Actually, most of his lap time was made up in the mid section against Max where I don’t believe theres any DRS.

      The part failed or wasn’t built correctly in the first place and they’ve righty been punished for that. But to call Mercedes’ cheats or imply they risked being disqualified for a gain of 0.01 is just idiotic.

    5. typical nascar style rigging by the new American owners of F1

      lewsis merc drs gap 0.2mm too big due to damage – disqualified from quali
      RB run flexiwings by design – ok?!

      Also RB must’ve been tipped off about HAMs rear wing as there is no way they would know the wings drs opening was too big, its ridiculous to even accept that MAX probed HAMs rear wing on a hunch. sabotage from within Merc leaking sensitive info to RB? Spygate 2.0?

      1. Really, this is a standard inspection post qualifying and race. There is a go/no-go gauge that is supplied to all the teams that measures the gap when DRS is open. This inspection is done every race, as mentioned in the stewards’ report; all the teams have the same gauge and use it when setting up the wing. Give it a break (not ‘brake’ as so many comment here say). This is getting really stupid.

      2. The red bull wings passed all necessary tests in order to be used.

        Red bull didn’t know about the DRS gap being too wide, no idea where you got that from, and you clearly didn’t read the article.

    6. The wing failed scrutineering by 0.2mm… as if Verstappens hands can feel that difference.

      1. Ffs read the article, Max touching the wing had nothing to do with checking the DRS gap…

      2. Max was trained by supernatural ninja monks in the mountains of Tibet and can pluck a single snowflake out the air. With chopsticks. Whilst blindfolded.
        We should not doubt his skills.

        Red Yak, it gives you things.

    7. I have no understanding of many of these comments. The gap is given, if it is exceeded the wing is illegal. There is no grey area, it is or it isn’t within the defined gap. There is no tolerance, it must be less than 85 mm. Any more and it’s illegal. If you start to make excuses, what’s the point of the regulation?

    8. Marko said the way Lewis car drives past on the straight is not normal.
      “That is not done yet. Let’s see what happens tomorrow.”

      If Redbull file a complain today, they can hope that FIA would write off Sunday results. I just don’t know how technically they can prove it.

      1. A person somewhere
        14th November 2021, 7:48

        Marko says a lot of things, many of them only loosely related to reality. He shouldn’t be taken seriously.

        1. Particularly when Marko was moaning about the engines earlier this year, even though the story he was spreading was easily disprovable by spending just a few minutes reading the technical regulations.

    9. Whatever you do @keithcollantine Never, I mean never take the comment section away ;)

    10. I just watched some footage of the onboard of Bottas from yesterday on F1TVpro and it seems to that the wing indeed flexis, but not in a simular way as in the beginning of the season. What happens at high speed, when DRS is not active, is that the gap between the main plain and second plain (which has to be between 10 and 15 mm) reduces in the middle. If this is really the case, and it becomes under 10mm, it is not legal. It is also the area Verstappen investigated (on behalf of his team?).

      I bet, if Mercedes win this race, there will be protests at the end.

      1. Would be good to see this footage.

        Also Horner cites DRS speeds when complaining about speed deficit. Of course if you can reduce drag prior to DRS you will achieve a high top-end speed. I am not sure what effect reducing the gap would be (if indeed what you are saying is accurate regarding the regulations)

      2. That seems interesting, an uneven bending at high speed? Hopefully some experts will have a deeper look at it. And Red Bull keeps complaining, there is surely something they want to see clarified / neutralized.

        What’s for sure is that this Mercedes was able to climb an entire field in 20 laps, no sweat, while noone made any progression whatsoever. I wouldn’t be surprised that some clever rear wing is a part of that surreal performance.

    11. We all know they’re all super rich of course, but a bit tacky to be so flippant over a sum of money that’s substantially more than most people’s annual salary.

    12. How funny it is!
      Was it in 2011? The whole RB bending wing saga. At the time, Newey and Horner were frustrated that their team had find something clever within the rules and other teams wanted to take it away from them just because they could be as smart. The FIA introduced static load tests on wings, and even increased the force applied. The RB wings always passed the tests.
      Same goes here. But this time, it’s RB that is complaining. How the tables…

      1. @x303 there has been a fairly long history of complaints over Red Bull’s wings and whether they were flexing excessively. Back in 2011 in particular, Red Bull wasn’t even being particularly subtle about what they were doing when they were turning up at pre-tests with monitoring equipment which was designed to measure and fine tune how much the front wings were flexing by.

        As far back as the mid to late 2000s, you had teams questioning the excessive deflection of Red Bull’s bodywork – you can find footage of Pat Symonds complaining about Red Bull’s rear wing deflecting excessively back in 2008, along with video footage showing from the Spanish GP that year that showed that significant deflection.

        That was then followed by complaints in 2010 and 2011 about excessive front wing deflection, whilst in 2012 there were complaints that Red Bull had gotten around the front wing deflection restrictions by making the entire nosecone deflect downwards instead. There were also questions raised at the time about whether Red Bull was making the front section of the floor flex at high speed, based on what were seen as unusual patterns of wear and heat buildup in the floor.

        In 2014, you had Red Bull being disqualified from qualifying in Abu Dhabi for a blatantly illegal front wing – to be honest, they were lucky to get away with just being disqualified from qualifying, because the spring mechanism they used to make the wing deflect was blatantly breaking the rules – and, in 2016, Ferrari was raising complaints then about Red Bull’s rear wing deflecting excessively on track.

        You then had questions being raised yet again about the deflection of Red Bull’s rear wing in 2019, which then carried through into 2020 and this year. It’s therefore been for more than a decade now that we’ve seen questions over how much Red Bull’s bodywork is deflecting by.

    13. So Verstappen takes it upon him self to physically test Hamilton’s rear wing for flexing, and subsequent to his ‘investigations’, that rear wing is found to be off by 0.2 mm.

      Ask yourself how exactly do you test a rear wing for flex, if it isn’t by exherting undue force to that rear wing.
      0.2mm, less than the width of a hair. Ask yourself, did Verstappen cause that? We can never know, but the FiA
      finds him a paultry $50,000, even as this nows assurmes him a significant extra spread of points and the championship.

      Reminds me of the way that famous spoon bender would test the spoons, physically binding those spoons through slight of hand, before using the power of his mind. Max ‘tests’ hamilton’s rear wing, and the FIA verifies. Shocking!!

      In that situaton Hamilton should have been given the benifit of doubt, and Verstappen still fined.

    Comments are closed.