Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Interlagos, 2021

Why Mercedes feel decision to disqualify Hamilton lacked “common sense”

2021 Sao Paulo Grand Prix

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[raceweekendpromotion]Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff said the team were astonished Lewis Hamilton was disqualified from the results of qualifying after his rear wing failed a technical inspection.

Wolff said the the team believe the wing was damaged during qualifying, which led it to fail a test of its Drag Reduction System. Team representatives met with the stewards on Friday evening at Interlagos, and again the following morning, before their decision was announced after Saturday’s final practice session.

“Until late this afternoon we believed that it was okay because the wing was damaged,” said Wolff. “One side was okay, the middle was okay, the right was not okay.

“That means we actually had a performance disadvantage. And we thought that, in consideration of all these aspects, the FIA would say there was damage and therefore, we weren’t in breach of the regulations. They also said there was nothing that happened with intent from our side.”

A Mercedes crew member who observed Hamilton’s car failing the test “came back and said ‘something’s broken’ because of the odd behaviour of the rear wing”, Wolff added. As a result he didn’t initially believe the team’s sporting director Ron Meadows when he later relayed the news Hamilton had lost his pole position for the sprint qualifying race.

“We were reading ‘disqualified’ which honestly I couldn’t believe,” he said. “I thought that Ron Meadows was taking a joke when I saw the WhatsApp. So strange things happen but you have to take it on the chin.”

Following the news, Hamilton raced from the back of the grid to finish fifth in the sprint race, which Valtteri Bottas won in the other Mercedes. “The last 60 minutes of motor racing form Valtteri and from Lewis just brought all the enjoyment back with all the frustrations that happened before,” said Wolff.

Hamilton arrived in Brazil 19 points behind Verstappen in the championship with four races remaining. Wolff said the team’s “disbelief how things went” was mixed with “a certain respect for the stewards’ difficulty in that situation, because it’s certainly not easy ruling on such a [contentious] topic, where it’s about a world championship and they need to look at the at the specific situation and maybe not at the big picture.”

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Nonetheless he was dissatisfied that the team hadn’t been given the opportunity to fix the fault without incurring a penalty.

“I think how the process went from telling us, discovering that we’ve marginally failed the test – we’re speaking 0.2 of a millimetre – to not allowing this to be fixed like the normal protocol would be, but rather it being reported to the stewards, the bullet was out of the gun and I think that put the stewards in a very difficult situation to come up with the right judgement.”

Wolff pointed out other teams have been permitted to repair parts of their car under parc ferme situations during sessions in the past. Mercedes were unfortunate, he believes, as the damage was discovered after the session had concluded.

“In the past, sometimes there was a common sense buffer that didn’t exist yesterday or today,” he said. “But it’s all to the dot within the regulations so you need to respect that.

“You need to acknowledge that it’s a fierce fight with several entities involved or stakeholders involved and take it on the chin.”

Mercedes had the option to appeal against the decision, which would have reinstated Hamilton to pole position for the sprint qualifying race. However had they done that and the appeal failed, Hamilton would have left the weekend point-less.

“We would have liked to show the weaknesses of the arguments or the system,” said Wolff. “We didn’t because we didn’t want to lose all points for today and tomorrow in case of a failed appeal, and it would drag the whole decision a few weeks out.

“We need to do the racing on the track and if we lose, then we lose. And if we win, then we win.”

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Mercedes will be more likely to query the legality of other teams’ parts as a result of today’s decision, said Wolff.

“Something went against the modus operandi these last 24 hours which was either under pressure from other stakeholders or just different and if the modus operandi is different now you maybe need to look at others also with a more strict eye and severe eye. I can tell you that in the next few races, we’re going to look at every single race tape that’s going to fall off a car and ask questions.

“If such thing as gentlemen’s agreement exists in Formula 1 – because there ain’t no gentleman – then now it doesn’t anymore. So there you have no millimetre of leniency of fixing things on a car. If it’s broken, it’s broken. You can’t touch it. And this is how it’s going to go this year.”

He cited repairs Red Bull made to their rear wings during qualifying for the Mexico City Grand Prix as an example of an occasion when teams had been able to make repairs under parc ferme conditions.

“We had a parc ferme situation in Mexico, I believe it was, where during qualifying sessions work on the rear wing was permitted. No difference in terms of parc ferme situation, I don’t think, with stewards present.

“This time it was judged, and this is in the [statement] of the stewards, that if it would have happened during the session, we would have been allowed to fix it. But not at the end of the session, when both are parc ferme situations.

“So you can ask why during the session and not at the end of the session. But anyways, it is what it is and I think we can probably pick examples either way.”

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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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98 comments on “Why Mercedes feel decision to disqualify Hamilton lacked “common sense””

  1. If you fail the test as outlined by the FIA, you were running an illegal car.

    Illegal cars are disqualified from any session they participated.

    This is common sense.

    1. doesn’t sound like you read the interview

      1. No but he’s 100% correct. We had a car dsq over the FIA not being able to draw the required amount of fuel from the car for testing by the FIA even though the team could prove (after the fact) that there was indeed enough fuel in the car…. Illegal is simply never allowed

        1. There was never enough fuel in the car for AM after the Hungarian race and they never proved it. Plus you can’t exactly repair a car through damage after a race like quali.

        2. Then why was Red Bull allowed to repair their wing during qualifying in Mexico?

          Based on the steward’s ruling in Brazil, Max should have been disqualified in Mexico. Red Bull made a structural change to the car, they did not replace like-for-like. That is a clear violation of Parc Ferme. If I were Mercedes, I would strongly consider requesting that the WMC disqualify Verstappen from the Mexican Grand Prix, based on parc ferme violations.

          This also means that any time a car finishes a race (or qualifying) with a damaged part that’s out of line with scrutineering, Mercedes can quite rightly challenge the legitimacy of that car. Wolff has as much as said that from here on out, he’s going to expect the Red Bull cars to pass scrutineering after qualifying, AND the race.

          1. Then why was Red Bull allowed to REPAIR their wing during qualifying in Mexico?

            You answered your own question.

          2. Why was Mercedes allowed to repair their car on the grid under red flag conditions at Silverstone?

            Because you can. Same as in qualifying. The straw grasping on here is laughable.

          3. RandomMallard (@)
            14th November 2021, 11:23

            Then why was Red Bull allowed to repair their wing during qualifying in Mexico?

            Because Red Bull noticed it, and making repairs or adjustments in the garage under Parc Ferme is not illegal. Article 34.2 of the sporting regs, which deals with Parc Ferme, states:

            However, if a Competitor wishes to change a part during the qualifying practice session, on the
            grid before the start of the sprint qualifying session and between reconnaissance laps and/or
            on the grid before the start of the race, this may be done without first seeking the permission of the Technical Delegate, provided it is reasonable for the relevant Competitor to believe
            permission would be given if there was time to ask and the broken or damaged part remains in full view of the scrutineer assigned to the car at all times

            Rear wings have been repaired or changed in Parc Ferme before if they’ve had cracks or structural damage, so RB felt they had reasonable grounds to repair it themselves.

            The same would have applied to Mercedes had they noticed the fault themselves in the garage. The stewards said yesterday:

            Had the
            Competitor recognized this problem during qualifying they surely would have sought,
            and the FIA Technical Department confirmed, they would have received permission to fix the parts or tighten bolts if needed.

            However, by taking the chequered flag in Qualifying, Merc had to send the car straight to Parc Ferme after the session, at which point it is no longer during a session and the car is in the specification it must be scrutineered in.

      2. Exactly, or he read but didn’t understand coz he lacks common sense himself.

      3. Probably not but he is not wrong.
        I don’t know how many times I have written about parc ferme and how the fia must have forgotten what it means and what is the point of it. Merc has a point even if they have zero reasons to complain or question what is the right decision. I have campaigned for parc fermé to go simply because it is not enforced, and merc pointing out a repair is not the best example, parc ferme main point is to make sure teams do not tamper with the cars in between Q and the race as there is no capacity to keep up with the scruteneering.

    2. But what are the rules then? Surely if the part looks broken then you can’t expect it to conform with regulations. How are cars that crash keep their grid slots then?

      1. The problem is that the car did not break or anything like that. It wasn’t hit by anything. So if it fails the test how did that happen? Did it break under load or maybe Mercedes intentionally put some screws in loosely to make the wing behave like it did and did they profit from running less wing than anyone else with DRS open? If you let this go teams will construct/engineer parts to fail in a beneficiary way to gain advantage

        1. geoffgroom44 (@)
          13th November 2021, 22:28

          the problem is that they didn’t have any tape……?*!

        2. There are many ways a wing can break. They are under incredible loads and so a slight defect on a part can lead to failure of some sort. We have seen Red Bulls wings failing during qualifying in the last 2 races to the point they needed to add tape to strengthen them. Also vibrations can shake nuts and bolts loose or can potentially shake an adjuster out of place. Teams put a lot of effort in to making sure these things do not happen but nothing is 100% full proof.

    3. When I come up even 1 digit light (on whatever the scale an event uses displays, lbs, kgs, or some fraction of), I get DQed. Common sense says being 1 lb light doesn’t make a 10s difference (or whatever, to the next guy behind me), but I get DQ-ed anyway. And this happens often enough (since I have a real problem estimating my water mass loss in a long race).

      And that is the correct policy.

    4. I agree to a point. That point is that the rule enforcement should be consistent. However Ferrari ran an illegal fuel system and were not disqualified from anything! Also if a car loses a front wing then surely it is breaking the rules while it goes around the track and should therefore be disqualified? What about the times we have seen rear wings collapse? They are in breach of the rules and again should be disqualified. There are lots of things that could happen to a car while it participates in qualifying or the race that mean for a short time it is in contravention of the rules. If any of these happen then they should be disqualified under this rule. Another issue is that it seems if Mercedes had noticed the issue during qualifying (unlikely given the tiny nature of the gap) then they could have fixed it and not got a penalty… That just seems bonkers.

      The other problem here is that Mercedes could have appealed the penalty but in doing so would have risked an even worse outcome. That should never happen. Teams should be given the ability to appeal in a fair way that would not prejudice their result.

      So while I agree Mercedes fell foul of the rules and therefore the penalty was probably correct, I am not sure the process and the rules themselves are 100% correct.

      1. You’re not really understanding the rules or procedures.

        Firstly Ferrari. That was an extremely complex case that came down to basically the FIA couldn’t prove that Ferrari contravened the rules during the races. The sensors used to regulate fuel flow didn’t detect anything untoward. The FIA probably had enough evidence to satisfy their own suspicions , but in court it’s a different story.

        With regards to broken wings going around on track. If a team has a broken wing and then do not repair it, and it fails a post-race scrutineering test, then a DSQ will be applied. The FIA allow for repairs, but if you don’t do them before you get a chequered flag and go into scrutineering, then you will be DSQ.

        Scrutineering and sensors are how the FIA determines whether technical aspects of the car are illegal or not. You saying “driving with a broken illegal wing” doesn’t actually fulfill the requirement of what is actually legal or illegal. You can’t say a broken wing on a car circulating is ‘illegal’ unless you can deliver proof. And by proof I mean submitable in the FIA courts. This is done by tests the FIA carry out.

        If you read the Technical Regulations, Sporting Regs and Technical Directives…. it’s all there in black and white.

        1. The point is that Hamiltons wing could have broke on the in lap after q3. So what we are saying is that if you notice there is a problem mid-quali or mid-race then a team can fix the issue without penalty even if they had gained an advantage, yet if the issue was so tiny that it is not picked up by telemetry or happened as the car enters the pits at the end of a race or quali then it is instant DQ?

          If that is the case then the rules are not worth the paper they are written on!

          Oh and I love the fact that you are stating that Ferraris fuel issue was so complex that the FIA could not have ruled on it, yet we have no knowledge that this was the case as the FIA refuses to release any information on what was found!

  2. @keithcollantine you’ll want to correct this sentence:

    Hamilton arrived in Brazil 19 points ahead of Verstappen in the championship with four races remaining.

    Whether Merc agrees or not, so far it’s led to some racing that was enjoyable to watch.

    1. Just some wishful thinking there.

    2. There are more typos in the blog posts on this site than any other I’ve seen. It’s been that way for years.

      1. Yes, in fact I think there used to be more typos in the past than there are nowadays.

        1. Typos are rife on this site. Just one example – “bInterlagos”

          As for ‘Why Mercedes feel decision to disqualify Hamilton lacked “common sense”’. Using that famous misquote… “well, they would say that, wouldn’t they?”

      2. A person somewhere
        14th November 2021, 8:00

        You should see some of the F1 articles on Jalopnik. Sometimes you have to wonder if the author even watched the race!

        BTW, aside to moderators / site operators – I accidentally reported the comment this is in reply to. Not for the first time either, nor based on other comments am I the only one to done this in this site’s comments. Perhaps the “Report Comment” button could be separated from the “Reply” button (right aligned perhaps?) or have a “Are you sure? Yes/No” confirmation dialogue.

  3. If it were Red Bull being disqualified because of an illegal wing – regardless of how ‘marginal’ the call was, Mercedes would be sitting here saying ‘well the rules are clear’.

    1. Yep I agree @rocketpanda. At the end of the day, they should have manufactured the part so it didn’t break and fail the test. I get some of the argument that Toto is making, but I don’t agree with the premise that just something breaks it’s automatically excluded from scrutiny, especially when it comes to something like the DRS gap. They should just take the penalty and move on, but at least they didn’t appeal I guess.

  4. This is really suspicious from Red Bull and Mercedes. This year we have had so many rear wings being broken and requiring repairs. I think it’s been a long time since we have had rear wings requiring repairs. But it goes to show one thing, the rear of the car is the most important area for a good car.

    1. I guess it’s just end of evolution of current regulations so loads are at the highest ever and they were not initially designed for such loads.

    2. In F1, if an “area” is not on the critical path, it is not optimized enough. IOW, ALL areas are the most important areas of a good car. :)

      Sort of an extension to the Colin Chapman: “Any car which holds together for a whole race is too heavy.”

      1. Another Chapman quote is pretty on point, to set the context of what top level racing is really like…

        “Rules are for the obedience of fools and interpretations of smart men.”

        IOW, this is part of the game. When this stuff happens in an engineering competition (which F1 is foremost), I’m thinking /coooool/. :)

      2. Chapman’s mantra was taken to the limit in the 1967 USGP at Watkins Glen


  5. “The right was not ok” yet video clearly shows the left failing the test. And if the left is meant to be the right, that’s not the side Max was touching….so full of…

    1. Actually Toto is lying as BOTH outside tests showed too much space just near the middle of the car did the wing actually pass the test.

      1. And on the video you clearly can see a lot of space. Not mm but more cm.

        1. Did you measure it with your YouTube ruler?

          1. You notice the tool moving up and down. Even a baboon understands that’s no 0.2m
            And the tool should be used with a force of at least 10NM. It was used without any force!

    2. Initial reports stated both outer ends were illegal.

  6. It’s rather ironic that Mercedes cried to the FIA about the Red Bull Racing rear wing arrangement which caused the FIA to change the technical regulations mid-season and saw RBR have to run a different wing, yet Mercedes is the one that ends up being disqualified for an illegal rear wing. The only “modus operandi” that changed was that Mercedes didn’t happen to benefit from a FIA ruling.
    I cannot remember an instance where an illegal car wasn’t disqualified from the session. What the hell is Wolff talking about?

    1. Agree. Mercedes finds themselves in an uncomfortable position this year, where a rival team, and in particular one driver is taking the fight to them. And their response is pick up from where Ferrari left off in the 1990s/2000s, complaining about any and everything. Any decision/result/incident that goes against them is always someone else’s fault. And this is no different – a DSQ from an illegal rear wing is somehow the FIA’s “lack of common sense”, not their own engineering stuff-up.

    2. Interestingly Wolff was quite supportive of the FIA ruling which disqualified Ricciardo seven years ago.

      I fully understand he is disappointed about the ruling, and I feel sorry for any table within reach of his fists, but don’t be so two-faced about FIA rulings.

  7. We had a parc ferme situation in Mexico, I believe it was, where during qualifying sessions work on the rear wing was permitted

    The cars are under parc fermé conditions from the moment they cross the pit lane exit line for the first time in Q1. RBR mechanics were working on Verstappen’s wing in Mexico in qualy before he was out for his first run in Q1.

    1. Wasn’t it in Austin that RBR were working on the rear wing between qualy sessions? Gluing reinforcements on? But I thought such work — in the interests of safety, no-one wants to see a high-speed wing failure — was allowed.

      1. RandomMallard (@)
        14th November 2021, 11:14

        @dang It was during the red flag in Q1 I believe, indeed after RB had left the pits. They were allowed to because in quali (and on the grid) you can make changes without the technical delegate’s permission if you have reasonable belief that they would grant permission. A rear wing repair like that has been allowed several times before, hence why RB had reasonable belief it would be allowed in Mexico. And as the stewards ruled yesterday, had Mercedes noticed the fault in the garage, they would have been allowed to make relevant repairs during Quali:

        Had the Competitor recognized this problem during qualifying they surely would have sought,
        and the FIA Technical Department confirmed, they would have received permission to
        fix the parts or tighten bolts if needed.

        (Sorry about the formatting, copying and pasting FIA stewards reports leads to very bad formatting issues)

      2. @dang
        Indeed, they must have had a permission from the FIA to do so for safety purposes which is not uncommon in F1. We see when drivers damages their cars in qualy (like Leclerc in Monaco) teams get permission from the FIA to repair the cars under parc fermé rules. They can even change parts on the fly without asking for permission if they think a permission would be granted by the technical delegate.

        Any work not listed above may only be undertaken with the approval of the FIA Technical
        Delegate following a written request from the team Competitor concerned. It must be clear that
        any replacement part a team Competitor wishes to fit is the same in design and similar in mass,
        inertia and function to the original. Any parts removed will be retained by the FIA.

        However, if a team Competitor wishes to change a part during the qualifying practice session,
        between reconnaissance laps and/or on the grid before the start of the race, this may be done
        without first seeking the permission of the Technical Delegate, provided it is reasonable for the
        relevant team Competitor to believe permission would be given if there was time to ask and the
        broken or damaged part remains in full view of the scrutineer assigned to the car at all times.

        If RBR mechanics were adding tape to Verstappen’s wing between sessions at Austin then might not have broken the rules. The thing is it was so blatant what RBR mechanics were doing with regard to the work carried on Verstappen’s car and knowing that the FIA will eventually trigger an investigation at the slightest doubt of regulations breaches, it was clear for me that they were within the rules.

        It’s just Wolff being Wolff trying to create a fake narrative that his team has been disadvantaged by the governing body in favour of RBR while we already know the amount of pressure he’s putting on the FIA and the stewards on and off the track. He is blatantly saying that he is going to make their work more harder and drain their resources as a consequence of this ruling.

  8. At least your own part broke (so it is your fault, although it happens of course). Verstappen lost a win and 25 points when a standard Pirelli tire exploded, something he or his team couldn’t have any influence over. It wasn’t fair, but he lost 25 points, and with those points he’d practically be a champion now. These things happen, although no one (at least neutral like me) wishes them to be a decisive factor. On the other hand, when driving such a fast car, starting position doesn’t really matter THAT much, podium is the least one would’ve expected anyway.

    1. Dunno, they could have pitted when the tyre needed it. They did push it.

      1. RandomMallard (@)
        14th November 2021, 11:10

        @homerlovesbeer I seem to remember that the official line from both Aston Martin with Stroll and Red Bull with Verstappen was they had no warning whatsoever of the puncture. It was still performing well with no significant drop off, and there were no apparent signs in the data that suggested the tire was set to fail. And they were both below the number of laps Pirelli estimated the tyre could do.

  9. Normally when something breaks it creates a disadvantage. This “accidental” situation was beneficial. It occurred in a race in which everyone was looking at the new engine as explanation for gained speed. Looks to me like something they were thinking they could get away with it.
    Toto saying “Fuck them all” to Lewis, by the way, is an other disgrace for the sport. No respect for all the people doing nothing else then their jobs.

  10. If he’s gonna argue that cos it’s broken, it’s not illegal, then I’ll argue that if it’s worn it’s not illegal and we’ll have excessive wear on the plank and say its unexpected therefore its not illegal.
    Just when you think Horner is the worst person in the paddock, Toto reminds you that he’s fighting just as hard for that crown!

    1. Hehe tought the same 😁

    2. Completely agree @eurobrun, that plank comparison is a good one.

    3. I never had any doubt, horner is a nice person, wolff isn’t (and I’m not sarcastic).

    4. LOL. They are both lords of drama. It’s almost as fun to watch Toto and Horner BS around as it is to watch a race.

    5. They both surely show what leadership shouldn’t be. Its a miracle they get to keep their job.

  11. Vettel would say
    « Hahem … what avour my fuel pump in hungary ? »

  12. Anyone remember Daniel Ricciardo being disqualified from Singapore 2019 GP qualifying for power breach? It was power spike of 0.0001 kW for a split second over allowed 120kW and Renault gave Stewards reasonable explanation why.
    There is no room for wiggle in this type of situations, you give in to the teams once and they will abuse rules forever.

    1. Vettel has been disqualified in hungary too !

      1. Yes, but he’s saying that ricciardo’s case (which I forgot) was even more borderline than vettel’s and hamilton’s.

  13. Redbull especially Horner has made the game dirty. He is so desparate to win after 7 to 8 years without a championship and maybe under pressure from the Redbull bosses. Just look at his behaviour after the Silverstone incident, pushing for race bans as if race ending crashes don’t happen every other race.
    I guess technical protests will be raised every other race now by both teams trying to disadvantage or disqualify each other.

    1. You need to drop your anti-Red Bull bias. What we’re seeing now is Wolff’s true colours, which were there all along under the surface, except hidden because whilst Mercedes were dominating since 2014, no one was at risk of beating them.

    2. “I guess technical protests will be raised every other race now by both teams trying to disadvantage or disqualify each other.”

      This is pretty much the ‘sport’ of F1. It’s a game of how to extract the most from the technical and sporting regulations. It’s been like this since day one. Thar’s literally what motorsport is.

    3. Interesting, merc is trapped with their hand in the cookie jar and this is your reaction

      Redbull especially Horner has made the game dirty

      Distorted fan talk…

    4. Hum … Well , Toto and Mercedes were complaining at the start of season about flexible rear wear and to reinforce FIA test.
      Now, FIA has done reinforced test, and Mercedes got caught.
      Is Totot mad because his own complain backfired to him and Hamilton ?
      Sometimes, it’s good to be a responsible person …

      When you point too much other’s and not your own responsability, you end being hypocrite and not credible anymore.

  14. TW is already rehearsing all the excuses he will be making in the event that MV wins the title. Amongst others, RBR’s “illegal” rear wing, Bottas “not blocking MV” in Mexico, and now the “lack of common sense”.
    The wing was illegal. It failed a FIA sanctioned test. Is is cut and dry. The correct punishment was handed out. What on earth does he expect? I wonder how he’d react if RBR came to the next race with a wing that had a gap 0.2mm larger than permitted? I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t be advocating his version of “common sense” in that case.

  15. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
    14th November 2021, 2:28

    I suggested it may have been damaged or broken… What a strange penalty…

    0.2 of a millimeter on the right side:-)

    That’s exactly where Max pushed it….

    1. RandomMallard (@)
      14th November 2021, 11:00

      @freelittlebirds If the wing broke or was damaged on track, then Mercedes have failed to design a wing that stands up to the forces their car produces. I can’t think of any other reason it could have been damaged on track (i.e. he didn’t hit a wall or another car). This situation would therefore be Mercedes responsibility for the car not passing the test, and no matter the margin, the only possible penalty for a technical infringement is disqualification. Ricciardo was excluded from a qualifying session in Singapkre in 2019 when his MGU-K delivered a very, very small amount of extra power for a very brief period of time.

      I agree that there is a possibility that Max’s interference may have led to a small movement in the wing. However, I believe this to be a very, very small probability for a couple of reasons. Firstly, carbon fibre is an elastic material that has quite a high elastic limit. You can see that by seeing how much different bodywork of many cars flap or bend with air resistance. As the stewards note, they believe Verstappen exerted an insignificant force on the rear wing to have any effect on it, and they noted “absolutely no movement of any of the wing elements”, and given the difference between the force Verstappen could have exerted and the force exerted on the wing at 200mph, I think this could be extremely unlikely. Secondly, Verstappen’s touches of the wing are quite central, a few centimetres on each side of the DRS mechanism. While the FIA report doesn’t make it obvious, I would regard the areas Verstappen touches as the “inner section” of the wing, while it was the “outer section” where the wing failed the test. There is a non-zero possibility that Max broke the rear wing, but I personally (and I do acknowledge that I have some bias) feel that this is extremely unlikely.

      Finally, I am of no doubt that Mercedes didn’t intend to break the rules. They weren’t “planning on cheating” or anything, but I think if a part fails the test, it probably has to be investigated and probably found illegal. I don’t think they’re stupid enough to risk something that can be tested so easily for such a small, if any, performance gain. I also find the way Mercedes have handled the situation very admirable and sensible, and unfortunately I doubt Red Bull would have been quite as sensible in this situation.

      1. @randommallard Assuming Toto’s claim that it was 0.2mm is true and it applied to one side of the wing. we’re literally splitting hairs and being very one-sided in splitting them just as the FIA was.

        I don’t know the testing but it just reeks of foul play that the part failed by a hair on one side, the FIA knew where to test, Max was convinced to the point that he made sure to touch that part before the measurement and it would spice up the Sprint Qualifying by sending Lewis to the back of the grid and practically guarantee the WCC and WDC.

        There are just too many variables at play here. If the wing had uniformly failed and no one was involved and it happened across the full wing, I’d be more inclined to believe them.

        It seems like there was a witch hunt and they were just trying to prove themselves right.

        1. RandomMallard (@)
          14th November 2021, 16:19

          @freelittlebirds If Max can deform that wing but the forces acting on it at 200mph cannot, I want to know what performance enhancing drugs Max is using.

          the FIA knew where to test

          Testing this gap seems to be a very standard procedure. In the same scrutineering session, 13 other cars had their DRS gaps checked (including Bottas’ and Verstappen’s). And Aston Martin implied on their video about rear wings that they test it with the ball thing across the whole wing because they know the FIA checks it all the way along (along with the video at that point showing them testing it all along the wing). Even Mercedes themselves have admitted that they feel it was unlikely Verstappen broke the wing:

          However, in summary the Competitor of car 44 also agreed that it was unlikely that Verstappen’s actions caused the fault,

          (The formatting is awful because copying and pasting from FIA documents is a nightmare for formatting)

          However, they did say it remains an open question. I agree with Mercedes on this matter. We will likely never conclusively know whether or not it was Max’s touch that broke the wing, but the chances of that being the case seem low enough that being able to conclusively rule out any other kind of failure on the car is not possible. However the technical report does specify the (quite vague) “outer section” of the wing, and while that is quite vague, I really wouldn’t class about 10-15cm either side of the centre of the wing as the “outer section”. It also does not mention which side it failed (and left vs right isn’t the best way of putting it as it depends quite literally on which way you look at it), or by how much, although 0.2mm does sound about right as the stewards said it didn’t pass through when no force was applied, but did when less than 10N (the test’s maximum force) was applied.

          Additionally, I don’t see much foul play here. If RB were playing foul, then I would have expected them to protest after the main race or at the very least Sprint Qualifying to get the maximum effect of a DSQ. RB are sly like that. I knew that Newey did reportedly visit the FIA shortly before Qualifying over the rear wing, however this is reported to be rear wing flexing not a DRS fault (I’d be amazed if RB could see a 0.2mm difference off of an onboard camera). While I don’t 100% believe this was rhe sole purpose of the visit (especially as RB can hardly preach over flexible wings), I struggle to see how RB could have known about the DRS, unless there’s the highly unlikely chance that they got inside information from Mercedes, in which case it’s as much Merc’s problem as RB’s in my opinion.

          (This is all my opinion, from someone who is supporting Max and RB in the context of the championship (although RB have made it hard for me to support them at some points this season). You are entitled to believe or agree with as much or as little of this as you want. I’m not trying to start an argument, I’ve started too many this season already.)

          1. @randommallard That’s good informatio. Where is the video to see how they test it? I’m curious to see how they detected such a tiny deviation. Obviously they must use super sensitive equipment that’s at the micromillimeter.

            However, in summary the Competitor of car 44 also agreed that it was unlikely that Verstappen’s actions caused the fault,

            Unlikely doesn’t preclude the possibility and you’re taking a car and pushing from the front to the rear. Max is obviously not the type of person to do that intentionally.

            I totally agree that the penalty should have stood had Max not touched the car but touching it changed everything.

            I’m also curious to see how they can detect such a slight break of the rules, again assuming Toto’s claim was legitimate.

            I was surprised the FIA didn’t release the specifics regarding the infraction or perhaps they did and I haven’t seen it but if they are finding a break of a 0.2mm, that could literally be the result of testing or a false positive.

            Mercedes can’t even challenge the claim because they could lose the championship.

          2. RandomMallard (@)
            14th November 2021, 18:44

            @freelittlebirds You’re massively overestimating the complexity of the test! When I say it’s a ball on a stick, I literally mean it’s a ball (or disc) on a stick that measures exactly 85 millimetres. If it passes through under a force of 10N or lower, its illegal. If it doesn’t pass through, it’s legal. The Aston Martin video I referenced is here https://youtu.be/7cT9ExNcKYw (from 6 minutes 30 seconds). The scrutineers completed this test 4 times, with two different measurements including once in the presence of both the stewards and Mercedes. The device didn’t pass through the wing when no force was applied, but did when a force less than 10N was applied (hence why the FIA can’t be exact with error margin, but 0.2mm doesn’t sound incorrect).

            Anyway it doesn’t matter after all because that drive from Lewis, both yesterday and today, was PHENOMENAL (and yes I feel Max should have got a penalty but in the end I’m much happier seeing Lewis win it with an on track overtake than just him sitting 1 second back with Max having a 5 second penalty).

    2. It’s not a strange penalty. If you fail a basic test in post-race scrutineering it’s general cut and dry. Also it’s not clear whether the test failed at both outer edges of the wing, not just one either. So you can’t really take Toto’s words on that.

    3. We all know max is the better driver. But you seem to think that’s because he is superhuman.
      I get it, probably makes the narrative better for you :)

  16. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ger6gU_9v9A

    The jokes on US a fickle public. ‘They’ are laughing at us as we can only accept this farce…. but what the hell its entertainment.

  17. 0.2mm is within margin of error especially as it was a damaged wing and it was ridiculously harsh to disqualify Lewis from Quali,
    Ferrari and RB never got disqualified for illegal engines and flexi wings but Lewis is disqualified from quali for a 0.2 extra DRS gap??

    None of the events makes any real sense!

    How did max have an hunch that there was something odd with the wing hence his probing after quali as it was impossible for him to see a 0.2 mm deviation.
    Working argument is that RB was tipped off regarding the damaged ‘illegal’ wing beforehand. Was someone within merc feeding them info? Why didn’t RB protest after the race for maximum damage? It doesn’t add up. Major spygate and singapore 2008 vibes going on here.

    1. Hey, atleast be polite and wipe the rabid spit I see at the corner of your mouth.

    2. RandomMallard (@)
      14th November 2021, 10:30

      @ccpbioweapon The Ferrari engine (from the information available) and Red Bull rear wing never failed an FIA test. Ferrari were likely able to change their engine mapping once the FIA added extra sensors, and the RB rear wing passed all the tests the FIA conducted. I won’t deny that both of them were probably illegal, but by far the easiest way for a part to be proven to be illegal is by failing an FIA test. You can assume someone is drink driving or using illegal drugs all you want, but it is very difficult to prove/convict them unless they fail a breathalyser or drug test.

    3. “within a margin of error”. Whose standards are you referring to? The Technical Directive has a test and it literal states “he maximum gap is measured, in accordance with TD/011-19, by pushing an 85mm gauge against the gap with a
      maximum load of 10N (ten newtons.) If the gauge goes through then the car has failed the test.” The 10N is the ‘margin of error’. The car failed.

      Secondly the FIA will allow damage to be ‘fixed’ if the team alert the FIA during qualifying and request permission. Merc never alerted the FIA to the ‘damage’ and thus, when it was tested it failed, and that’s that. DSQ. That’s how post-race scrutineering works.

      The reason RedBull were never punished is because if you look at the rules they didn’t break any. Wings are ‘allowed’ to flex. They have defined limits ONLY with regard to the actual testing procedures and they passed all the tests. The FIA, however, has a rule that says they reserve the right to introduce new tests (in effect to enforce the ‘spirit’ of the rule), and that’s what they did.

      People jump to ‘conspiracy theory’… but when you actually read the regulations and understand the procedures nothing untoward has happened.

      The Ferrari case is more complex, and I need to study that more. Due to the nature of current F1 development it’s very hard for the FIA to PROVE cheating when a car is in motion. This is why they reserve the right to introduce NEW testing procedures if anything suspicious happens.

    4. @ccpbioweapon yeah, 0.2 mm is literally a hair. I watched the Red Bull’s wing next to Mercedes’ (Perez and Hamilton) and it’s impossible to tell that Lewis’ open DRS is bigger than Perez’s open DRS.

  18. Don’t worry Toto, if the sprint is anything to go by, Lewis will win the race at a canter (barring any first corner shenanigans)…

  19. Technical rules are technical rules.

    1. AJ (@asleepatthewheel)
      14th November 2021, 6:51

      True @jerejj. While it pains me as a Lewis/Mercedes fan to see him start in P11, I am happy the rules were enforced as they exist for a reason, no matter how small the breach.

  20. Impressive smoke screen MB are pulling up in order to cover their foul play. No Toto, it wasn´t just too wide on one side, and no, it wasn´t broken during qualifying. The stewards investigated the component thoroughly and came to the conclusion that nothing was damaged or broken, just out of spec….
    The remark in the stewards report that they expect that it was not done intentionally, well, that´s just politics..

    1. Toto is borderline delusional. Everything has been going their way this season. Everything. From flexiwings to stopping the pitstop advantage for RB, to getting the tyres in season suiting your car better. Getting penalised for bumping an opponent off but still winning. This team is not worthy playing. Sore losers. Terrible team

  21. Of course Mercedes feels it doesnt make sense. They are the ones impacted. It has however been their attitude all year. They feel all is good in war, even bumping opponents off track. Its an ethical choice/direction taken by their management.

  22. RandomMallard (@)
    14th November 2021, 10:09

    I think how the process went from telling us, discovering that we’ve marginally failed the test – we’re speaking 0.2 of a millimetre – to not allowing this to be fixed like the normal protocol would be, but rather it being reported to the stewards

    This is the bit I don’t get. I’m pretty sure the “normal procedure” if you fail an FIA test is not that you get to repair it, but that you get reported to the stewards as was the case on Friday. The difference between this and RV in Mexico is RB themselves discovered the problem, and were able to fix it (this is allowed under Parc Ferme rules without written permission from the technical delegate, if they have a reasonable belief that they would be allowed to change it, and cracks in a rear wing is almost always granted permission for a change). Mercedes didn’t pick up on this fault themselves, and it wasn’t until the scrutineering in Parc Ferme that the issue became apparent. This (probably) means either:

    1. Someone didn’t test the wing properly in the garage.

    2. The wing broke out on track.

    3. Verstappen broke the wing in Parc Ferme, however as the stewards have ruled, this is incredibly unlikely, as he only touched the lower element of the wing, and with what was deemed insufficient force to cause any damage (carbon fibre does have a relatively high elastic limit I believe).

    That means we actually had a performance disadvantage

    Again, this comment confuses because because the regulations make it very clear that claiming no performance advantage is gained is not a sufficient defence for a breach of the technical regulations.

    However, I do think Mercedes have conducted themselves quite well in this situation, and even though I’m supporting them in the championship I have a hunch Red Bull would not have reacted quite as civilly. And Hamilton’s drive yesterday was, quite simply, incredible.

    1. RandomMallard (@)
      14th November 2021, 10:36

      Here, from the stewards report, is confirmation of my first point about what would have happened had Merc themselves picked up on the fault during, not after, qualifying:

      Had the
      Competitor recognized this problem during qualifying they surely would have sought,
      and the FIA Technical Department confirmed, they would have received permission to
      fix the parts or tighten bolts if needed.

      1. RandomMallard (@)
        14th November 2021, 10:37

        Wow copying and pasting FIA reports really doesn’t work very well. Sorry for the bad formatting

  23. Thats the problem with common sense.

    When you don’t use it especially.

    Mercedes complained about flexible rear wings, now everyone designs wings to be flexible to the point of failure, his wing passed the test earlier, then failed the test after apparent structural failure.

    Test failed DNF, but behind all this there is a bigger issue of components failing because of poor design.

    If Red Bull rear wing would fall appart in Mexico, would they pass inspection?

    Do teams then make wings that partially fail for aero advantage? Endless issues.

    So they decided on DNF, yet another in a string of strange decissions this year.

    FIA and stewards should clean up their act.

  24. Wolff is loosing it, first the “F* them all”, professional foul comment, blaming Bottas and not being clear of the rules.

  25. Why wasn’t redbull punished for running lower tyre pressures in baku,which was against the rules,and does give an advantage.

    1. Because they weren’t breaking any rules

    2. RandomMallard (@)
      14th November 2021, 16:22

      Because the no one was able to prove it. Pirelli suggested that may have been a cause, but provided very minimal data to back it up. You can say someone crashed their car because they were drunk, but if you don’t do a breathalyser test it’s pretty difficult to convict them

  26. geoffgroom44 (@)
    14th November 2021, 13:03

    There is some inconsistency here.First with all the comments about ‘cheating Mercedes’, since these comments forget that the rear wing PASSED the test BEFORE quali.

    Next, RB could ‘tape’ their wing as they claimed it was suffering damage, it was cracked.This suggests either that RB build paper cars, or that damage was sustained on the track. Could not, therefore, the vibrations caused during running result in a ‘worn or deformed’ securing mechanism that when tested after quali could allow a 0.2 mm extra gap?

    Next, the predisposition of an RB driver to look at and handle an opponents rear wing suggests either RB wanted to know why their own wing was cracking and the Merc wing was not……or why the Merc method of retaining the wing did not cause the damage RB was experiencing. Perhaps the RB wing was ‘too flexible’ under racing pressure and was therefore cracking, but a flexibility that allowed for the majority of the wing to be greater than 85mm when racing and RB wanted to see how Mercedes had dealt with this issue. I believe Max is honest enough not to be seeking to cause damage, but I still find this behaviour strange given the rear wing problems of RB in USA and Mexico.

    1. RandomMallard (@)
      14th November 2021, 16:27


      Could not, therefore, the vibrations caused during running result in a ‘worn or deformed’ securing mechanism that when tested after quali could allow a 0.2 mm extra gap?

      That is entirely possible, the difference being RB were vigilant enough to notice the damage in Mexico. Had Mercedes noticed the damage themselves during Quali, the stewards said they would have been able to fix it:

      Had the
      Competitor recognized this problem during qualifying they surely would have sought, and  the  FIA Technical Department confirmed, they would have received permission to
      fix the parts or tighten bolts if needed.

      (Sorry the FIA formatting is terrible).

      However, once the car is submitted to scrutineering, there is no way to know whether it was simply damaged or had been set up that way.

      Also, I completely agree with your take and the stewards’ take that Merc were not trying to cheat or gain an unfair advantage. The people who claim they were just need to calm down a bit.

    2. RandomMallard (@)
      14th November 2021, 16:35

      Next, the predisposition of an RB driver to look at and handle an opponents rear wing suggests either RB wanted to know why their own wing was cracking and the Merc wing was not……or why the Merc method of retaining the wing did not cause the damage RB was experiencing

      Also, there is a variety of reasons Max may have been checking the rear wing. First there is one that you mention, but also the fact Newey had gone to the FIA earlier that day about something completely different to the DRS, or simply the fact that Max had some petty visible problems with his rear wing on the run into turn 1, which he probably felt, and was just inquiring to see if there was any immediately obvious reason for this. I think the least likely thing is that he knew their DRS gap was too big because assuming it is about 0.2mm (and I do pretty much believe Toto on that one based on the stewards decision) it would be impossible to notice with a human eye.

      But it is highly likely that both teams are building their wings to a breaking point (and several others, see Daniel Ricciardo in Day 2 testing in 2019 where his Renault’s upper rear wing quite literally flew off at high speed). As someone quoted above, Colin Chapman once said “if your car isn’t falling apart by the end of the race then it’s too heavy”. That design philosophy likely hasnt changed.

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