Verstappen faces investigation over parc ferme rules breach after touching Hamilton’s car

2021 Sao Paulo Grand Prix

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[raceweekendpromotion]Max Verstappen has been drawn into the stewards’ investigation over the legality of his championship rival Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes during qualifying for the Sao Paulo Grand Prix.

The Red Bull driver faces an inquiry over whether he violated parc ferme rules. The world championship leader was filmed touching the rear wing of his rival’s car following the qualifying session on Friday.

Amateur footage from the session showed Verstappen examining the rear wing of his Red Bull after he got out of the car. He then walked to Hamilton’s car and appeared to touch the underside of its rear wing in two places.

Parc ferme restrictions begin at the start of qualifying. As the Sao Paulo Grand Prix is a sprint qualifying weekend, that means they commence a day earlier than usual.

Verstappen has been summoned under article 2.5.1 of the International Sporting Code which defines the rules regarding parc ferme. It states: “Inside the parc ferme, only the officials assigned may enter.

“No operation, checking, tuning or repair is allowed unless authorised by the same officials or by the applicable regulations.”

Verstappen and a team representative are to meet the stewards at 9:30am on Saturday at the Interlagos circuit.

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2021 Sao Paulo 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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87 comments on “Verstappen faces investigation over parc ferme rules breach after touching Hamilton’s car”

  1. Give Max 3 race ban 😂

    1. @amg44

      Give Max 3 race ban 😂

      You hate stiff competition, don’t you?

      I know you’re kidding (mostly), but many times it is through jokes that we reveal something about ourselves.

    2. Why it wasn’t an issue when vettel touched the Mercedes with his foot, but suddenly it is because ham car was illegal?

      1. Well yes, Mercedes might be arguing that the wing was ok but Max ‘broke’ it. Max cannot prove beyond reasonable doubt that he didn’t tweak it as there’s video evidence of him touching it, and that’s a double whammy for Red Bull: Hamilton gets away with a potentially illegal wing and his main title rival gets sent to the back of the grid for tampering with a car under parc ferme conditions.

        Or this all might’ve all been blown up way out of proportion and most that’s gonna come out of it is a Hamilton DSQ, but there is a championship at stake so of course the teams will leave no stone unturned.

        1. If you accuse someone of something, the burden of proof lies with the accuser.

          Especially if you want to argue a single touch can change the spec of your DRS flap.

          1. The accusation is that Verstappen touched Hamilton’s car, which he shouldn’t be doing, and there is proof of that. Whether that affected the wing, and whether that was enough to cause the technical infringement, is a separate issue. He still shouldn’t be touching his competitor’s car.

        2. Well yes, Mercedes might be arguing that the wing was ok but Max ‘broke’ it.

          With his bare hands? A wing that resists significant loads?? I’d be amazed if an excuse like that works in front of the officials.

          1. Steven Van Langendonck
            13th November 2021, 11:08

            In my view, as soon as mercedes makes this argument they declare themselves in violation of the sporting regulations: how kan the force of a single human being permanently deform a wing that should not move under very heavy loads.

          2. It won’t deform under very high forces in specific directions. I reckon many parts on the car could be broken by hand, if you knew what you were doing.

            Not that I think Max did so, but don’t discount the possibility.

  2. For those who have F1TV u can see it on Alonso onboard too.

    1. FIA, your decision takes way to long and is more than suspicious! What a shame!

  3. Nice to see rear wings getting a bit of love this year. No longer are they the boring, boxy, flappy-openey things several metres behind the beautifully crafted, much debated, attention and appreciation-hogging, wobbly, flexy and vortexy front wings…

    1. I can’t imagine it would be much of a penalty, maybe points on his license, probably just a reprimand.

      1. If deemed tampering with a competitors car, it is a very serious offence

        12.1.1.a Unless stated otherwise, offences or infringements
        are punishable, whether they were committed intentionally
        or through negligence.
        12.2.1.l Any infringement of the principles of fairness in
        Competition, behaviour in an unsportsmanlike manner or
        attempt to influence the result of a Competition in a way
        that is contrary to sporting ethics.

        1. PaddockInsider
          13th November 2021, 2:53

          Except that’s not what they’re looking at it for. As stated it’s article 2.5.1 he’s allegedly in breach of.

          Besides, looking at the speed traps #44 was far too much quicker than #77 given they had the same rear wing specification on the car, even taking into account the new engine.

      2. The problem is, if he broke parc ferme, it means that Mercedes will simply say that the car was interfered with in Parc Ferme, and ask the FIA to drop the investigation into the Mercedes rear wing.

        That’s almost certainly going to require some form of adjudication– even if it’s just a reprimand, it keeps Hamilton in the championship.

  4. Don’t touch none…won’t be none.

  5. My god, this season… amazing both on the sporting side and the drama side!

  6. C’mon FIA just send them both to the back for the Sprint. That is something that everyone wants to see surely!

    1. No not everyone.

      I want Mercedes penalised if they ran a car that did not comply with the regs. Too often Merc have been (or appear to have been) treated too favourably by the FIA and I am tired of that.

      VER should not have touched the car (although he can always deny and say his hand was “very close, there is no other evidence than amateur footage after all) and that will most likely become the “get out of jail free card” for Merc.

      1. I was more referring to how entertaining is would be to have Hamilton and Verstappen fighting through from the back row together.
        In terms of the actual incidents, I agree with you that Mercedes should be punished if they’ve done something wrong, and with Max it looks pretty obvious that he touched both his and Lewis’ cars but I doubt there will be too much action posed on him that will result in a grid penalty or a DQ from qualy.

        1. Ah yes! That would be fun! I misread your comment.

          Perhaps an idea for next season, reversed grid based on WC standings for sprint races? 😁

          Did someone really say reversed grid? 😱

  7. Well he clearly didn’t tune or repair anything. Does “touching” mean checking? Did he “operate” it? It would be very hard with that video to really prove anything of significance.
    Far different to being able to actually measure an illegal DRS system.

  8. … the 2nd most egregious transgression a driver could ever commit, in any form of motor sport, caught red-handed tampering with a competitor’s vehicle gets you banned, for life. Smoking gun in its hands, Max Verstappen just gave FiA cause to expel him from F1, altogether –

  9. Max: I didn’t touch it… Checked it at close distance. Goodbye….

    1. when you watch the video in the highest definition available you can see he clearly touches it

      1. No you can’t. He used his hand as some kind of ad hoc ruler to compare his and Hamilton’s rear wing.

  10. Just when I thought drama would end with Lewis’ possible quali DSQ and then this happens. I wonder whose “amateur” footage was that. 🤔

  11. Apparently Lewis’ rear wing has caught Max’s attention. Whether that was discussed at RBR prior to the qualification or whether Max noticed it during the qualification, he apparently wanted to know more. He has used his fist to measure. He has to come and explain that to the FIA. Apparently he sees it well, the exact measurement of the FIA has confirmed it. He will also indicate that he has taken off his glove before the measurement to make sure that he does not touch the wing, because that is forbidden. His last sentence will be, now I want to talk about the foul play of Mercedes.

  12. “I did not touch it I did nooot. This is bull. Oh hi Mark.”

    1. what a coincidence, i watched the Room like a week ago , bwahaha

  13. Absolute witch hunt. Vettel has done the exact same thing on multiple occasions, on the world feed, without question. Some guy’s video from a mile away allegedly captures Verstappen doing the same thing, and he’s hauled before the stewards? Embarrassing stuff from the FIA as per.

    1. Can you provide an example of when Vettel has done this? Keeping in mind parc ferme starts when the cars leave the pits in qualifying 1 until the reconnaissance lap of the grand prix (if I’m not mistaken)
      It would not be illegal for a competitor to “examine” a car after the race for example


        This is after qualifying, when the cars are in parc ferme. He very clearly touches the Toro Rosso, which I would consider “checking” under Article 2.5.1 mentioned in the story.

        1. Correction, he touches the Red Bull.

          1. He has a looooooon hard look. And he touches the Red Bull as well as the Merceds.

        2. Indeed @inininin but it wasn’t investigated, I would think Red Bull would have brought it to the FIA’s attention and they would have been duty bound to investigate. Seems like Vettel got away with it.

        3. As my grandmother used to say: “Two wrongs don’t make it right.”

      2. Hiland (@flyingferrarim)
        13th November 2021, 3:29

        Vettel has done it when he was with Ferrari. Vettel has been seen fitting his foot underneath Hamilton’s car after a race (still techincally in Park Ferme).

        The thing is, I don’t believe they are under Park Ferme rules in this trial format post qually today. The teams have FP2 tomorrow (saturday morning). Maybe I’m wrong on it? I think Park Ferme starts prior to the sprint race on Saturday.

        1. Parc ferme starts at Q1, even for weekends with sprint qualifying. FP2 is done under parc ferme conditions.

          1. Hiland (@flyingferrarim)
            13th November 2021, 3:39

            thanks for the confirmation on that!

    2. Thought of Vettel immediately too. He did it multiple times. Unpunished. Max will get penalized for sure as the politics are not in his favor

      1. Although If Vettel had touched a component that then subsequently fail scruitineering for being in a position other than where it should be then he almost certainly would have been investigated… Which is exactly what Max is being questioned about….

  14. Ah great, here comes the incoming whataboutery tomorrow when decisions get made, calling for the same penalties from people that don’t understand/can’t comprehend that F1 has 2 rule books, Sporting and technical.

    Mercedes alleged breach is technical and way more serious. It’s pretty slam dunk. DSQ from session if the car did not comply. He ran illegal equipment.

    Max’s alleged breach is sporting. The above video seems pretty clear (and i assume they have clearer), he’s measuring various points on his car, not adjusting, repairing or reconnecting anything and then comparing what he measured at the same points on the Merc, where he’s there and away. The only thing he’s likely to face is a reprimand unless they can prove he either did something to his own car (ie reconnected something) or did something to the Mercedes (and it seems absolutely clear on the video he did not tamper with it) which would then become a serious breach and potentially verge into technical regs if it was on his own car because the case could be made the car ran illegally prior to that ‘repair’ also.

    It seems pretty open and shut (No DRS pun intended) that he’ll get a reprimand for being a bit cheeky and measuring it with his fingers.

    1. If you believe the Pink Mercedes was developed from photographs alone (which is not impossible and the FIA was satisfied with their technique) then Max wouldn’t need to use his fingers to measure anything, Red Bull would be able to get a more accurate measurement from photographs alone.

    2. +1

    3. I’m not so sure it’s slam dunk. The car was scrutineered prior to FP1, which wasn’t too long before qualifying, and obviously found to be legal. It was scrutineered again after quali, where it was found to be illegal (allegedly).

      Clearly, something between those two scutineering events caused the car to become illegal. Mercedes’ own work (whether deliberate or not) is the most obvious reason, but it’s evident that Verstappen has interacted with the car also. His actions add a layer of uncertainty to the situation that will be basically impossible to resolve before a decision needs to be made.

      We both know Verstappen didn’t somehow make the DRS gap larger, but that isn’t the point. He “tampered” with the car at some very slight level, and that’s uncertainty enough to call off the investigation by virtue of it being impossible to resolve. Like I said above, Verstappen’s behaviour isn’t new and similar actions by Vettel haven’t been punished, but with the DRS investigation it’s a whole new ball game. I think the FIA will just draw a line under the sand, ensure the Merc is legal and close the book.

      1. Just draw a line under it? So MB should be allowed to keep a qualifying time which was gained with an illegal car?
        Meanwhile an amateur video shows MV “allegedly” touching the cars, but is totally insufficient in proving he operated, tuned, checked or repaired it.
        The two can hardly be compared and anyone suggesting that MV’s actions should nullify MB’s rightful punishment is clearly clutching at straws.

      2. Hiland (@flyingferrarim)
        13th November 2021, 3:38

        I doubt scrutineering checks everything prior to FP1. The DRS gap may not have been measured then, we don’t know that. To be honest, I think both should be given the appropriate penalties for the rules they broke. If unpunished then others can use that as precedence in the future. Anyone with a half brain knows what Max did wouldn’t have magically altered the legality of that Mercedes. FIA obviously have been laxed in throwing the book at Vettel so this is the result of letting that go. Time to enforce the rules FIA!

        1. Alonso comment incoming……..

        2. How have they been lax with Vettel?
          Did Vettel ever touch part of a car that then failed scruitineering for being in the wrong position not long after he’d touched it?
          Do you think it would have been let go if he had?

    4. I’m with you Marl, that is exactly how I saw it.

      1. Sorry, Mark typo

    5. Blaize Falconberger (@)
      13th November 2021, 8:19

      Was it illegal, or was it broken??

  15. This is why i hate Max, too arrogant and think he can get away with everything. Thr FIA did nothing to Red Bull’s illegal rear wing in Spain, they have Red Bull the adjust their rear wing and move on. The FIA literally showing support to Red Bull this season, first the 2021 floor regulation to help Red Bull, then give Red Bull a free card with their rear wing infringement and now this with Max touching somebodies elses car.

    1. Hiland (@flyingferrarim)
      13th November 2021, 4:32

      Max is hardly the first to do anything of this nature. Vettel is known to do this type of stuff all the time.

      1. As my grandmother used to say: “Two wrongs don’t make it right.”

    2. RandomMallard (@)
      13th November 2021, 6:51

      @noname The difference between this and the flexible wing in Spain is that the Mercedes wing has failed an FIA test, which the flexible wing never did. Pretty much the only way the FIA can prove something to be illegal is with their own tests, which is why they strengthened the tests.

    3. Wing was not illegal… Mercedes cried so fia introduced a new kind of test to make Redbull changes their wing…

  16. Open and shut, and disappointing.

    1. Send them both to the back of the grid. It would be very exciting.

      Passing on this track is much harder than some seem to think.

  17. ‘No operation, checking, tuning or repair’ – Pretty clear Verstappen wasn’t working on the Merc.
    tampering (present participle): interfere with (something) in order to cause damage or make unauthorized alterations.

    1. RandomMallard (@)
      13th November 2021, 6:52

      It may well count as “checking” though under that article of the code.

      1. Yes. Possibly. In that case no-one should be allowed to look at the cars either. Let’s put blinkers on all the drivers so they can’t “check” anything.

  18. A video made by a fan from some distance and no FIA delegate present at Hamiltons car at the time this occurred.

    FIA: why did you touch car 44 Max?
    Max: I didn’t, I was very very close to it.
    FIA: but we have video evidence you did?
    Max: no you don’t, you have amateur footage from some distance that is inconclusive. I didn’t touch the car.

    Stalemate situation and a warning for max. Hopefully Merc will still get the DSQ.

    1. @dnny – I think you are going to be pretty close on the Max call.
      Merc will get what is coming based on the hard evidence and how much transparency their is on that evidence. Are other teams allowed to request the evidence, contest the decision ETC?, or can it be swept under the carpet?

    2. The video evidence could be used in conjunction with a statement from Mercedes that the wing was legal and the only way that could change was by outside interference, all that has to happen is for Merc to cast doubt.
      If it were a stalemate situation as you say, the only conclusion would be no action against either party.

      1. Stalemate would be between Max and the Stewards. You can see, clear as daylight he did nothing to alter the cars. It would be hard to even prove that he actually touched them. He could easily argue he was using his fingers to gauge a size.
        It hardly compares to MB who have run a proven illegal car. Regardless of whether it was intentional or not, or how loudly LH professes his innocence, the simple fact remains that all his lap times were set with an illegal car and therefore have to be deleted.

      2. I take it you’re not a lawyer…

      3. Apologies, I mean stalemate between FIA and Max, I should have made that clearer.

    3. the video is not inconclusive. he clearly touches the car. i’m sure they have better footage too

      1. Indeed, they’ll be another camera from the pits I would presume.

      2. Camera footage is not ‘clear’. It’s a few dozen pixels. If cameras were that good we’d use them to govern wing flex.

        The FIA will be looking for other videos.

      3. Nonsense, the video currently doing the rounds is anything but conclusive. And “I am sure they have better footage” is nothing but speculation at this point. They might but we do not know that.

        @John H why do you presume there will be another camera from the pit? There was no first camera, it was fan footage.

  19. I don’t believe Verstappen touching the wing would change to opening distance. But wouldn’t it be something if his Inspector Cluzo impersonation cost him the WDC by getting Merc out of a tricky situation.

    1. Blaize Falconberger (@)
      13th November 2021, 8:22

      Well, he hasn’t won it yet, so that would be hard to do… but if it does, he only has himself to blame for this one. Schoolboy error.

  20. The video isn’t evidence he touched the car. Contrary to what you think you see.

    it’s a low-resolution fan video. We don’t actually see whether any pressure is applied or whether he even made contact with the car.

    I suspect the FIA will be looking for CCTV and TV footage.

  21. So every time the inspector’s attach all their measuring equipments in the cars to do the FIA checking, they brake things because this is not f1 that withstands 100kilos/inch at least on wing’s but paperboard electric radio controlled cars.

    Come on guys be serious here. Max can get a reprimand or nothing.

    1. It depends on the direction the force is being exerted. Anyone can rip pieces off them if they know what they are doing. Plenty of ways to pull a Sebulba in these cars.

  22. At least now we know why FIA it is taking so long to penalize Hamilton, they spent whole night looking for counter measure instead.

  23. This is ridiculous. What’s the problem?

    Car checked by FIA and deemed rear wing didn’t satisfy a requirement.

    Another driver interferes/touches/gets close to same part under initial scrutiny from FIA?

    No one on this site knows how these elements work but still want both to be punished which logically makes no sense.

    It’s either one or the other.

    However, even if Mercs somehow made Ham’s rear wing illegal and Bottas’s legal.

    Which I don’t believe.

    With the second offence, exonerates the suspicion.

    I will be very surprised if it doesn’t go in that direction. But then again stranger things have happened.

  24. But shouldn’t rule begin when cars are moved into storage? Hamilton did also touch that car while taking out of the car.

    Rules says the car must be handled to FIA for sealing. Cars were not sealed at the moment.

    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:
    a. The period that commences three hours following the end of P2 and finishes at the end of
    the second restricted period in accordance with article 5.10.2b.
    b. The period that commences three and a half hours following the end of Qualifying and
    finishes in accordance with article 5.4.6.

  25. He touched his as well, why did he not break his? A couple fingers break carbon.
    F1 is looking so silly.

  26. From a regulatory POV I don’t know what the ‘correct’ decision should be, but as a spectator I say send them both to the back of the grid so we get to watch them carving through while fighting each other.

    1. Good test of the reverse grid scheme.

  27. Max is a superhuman and could clearly feel that the wing could open an extra 1mm.

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