Hamilton-Verstappen verdict leaves drivers with questions for Masi over “inconsistent” calls

2021 Qatar Grand Prix

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Formula 1 drivers are expected to quiz the race director over a precedent set by the decision not to investigate an incident between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen in the Sao Paulo Grand Prix.

The Red Bull driver ran wide at turn four on lap 48 of the race while Hamilton was trying to overtake him on the outside. The Mercedes driver pulled ahead of the Red Bull on the way into the corner, but Verstappen reappeared on his inside at the apex of the corner before running off the track, and kept his position when the pair rejoined.

Other drivers and teams pointed to past incidents when they were investigated and penalised for similar moves. McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl said he expects the matter to be raised at the drivers’ briefing with FIA Formula 1 race director Michael Masi today.

His driver Lando Norris said there were “scenarios where people have got penalties for far less and less intentional” moves.

Pierre Gasly said yesterday the incident was one of a series of recent decisions which raised questions over the enforcement of the regulations. “It’s important to really define what the limit is and what the rule is,” the AlphaTauri driver told Sky. “Because it’s been, I must say, quite inconsistent over the last few races with different sort of penalties for similar incidents.”

Mercedes requested the stewards review the incident after new footage of the incident emerged. Their petition was rejected earlier today.

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Team principal Toto Wolff said that was “completely expected” but that the team wanted to highlight questions over how the incident.

“We wanted to trigger discussion around it because probably it will be a theme in the next few races, and I think that objective is achieved,” said Wolff. “We didn’t really think it would go any further.”

The footage shows Verstappen did not intend to stay on the track when he approached the corner, Wolff believes.

“What you’ve seen on the video is clear to everybody who has ever raced a car, obviously far away from any of the levels that any driver in Formula 1 can do. That corner was not meant to be the corner where he stayed on track. He didn’t [mean] to stay on track.

“So that’s my personal interpretation. But you know, I shouldn’t be judging on anybody’s driver’s driving because if I could, I should sit in the car and not sit on a chair and comment.”

Hamilton, who went on to win the race after passing Verstappen, did not offer a view on the stewards’ refusal to reconsider the incident. “I don’t have any thoughts on it because I was not a part of it,” he said.

Verstappen said the decision was “nice but also expected.”

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2021 Qatar 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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76 comments on “Hamilton-Verstappen verdict leaves drivers with questions for Masi over “inconsistent” calls”

  1. Fact, the “new evidence” did not changed the view of the stewards.
    Fact, the evidence did not support any unjust intention.

    Interpretations are multiple. Wolff has his own view on the matter.
    His request was not for a penalty as some seem to think. He probably hoped for one.
    The question at hand was about a new investigation a week later.
    They forcefully rejected this move and rightly so.
    We can milk this topic for days and weeks without getting anywhere.
    BTW, yes it should have been “looked into” during the race. No later then that.

    1. “Fact, the evidence did not support any unjust intention.”

      there is no need to prove intention.

      fact: no deliberate crowding over track limits is allowed by the rules
      fact: no lasting advantage is to be gaind off the track

      Masi and the stewards crossed 2 rules with this one.

    2. Verstappen is an exceptionally skilled driver, who would not make such a blunder of car control.
      The intent was blatant.

      1. geoffgroom44 (@)
        19th November 2021, 19:20


      2. That’s funny. I am curious what is your view on what happened at Silverstone?
        Isn’t Hamilton an exceptionally skilled driver, who wouldn’t make an overly optimistic dive on inside where he was not able to take the apex and eventually slide and made a contact with Max’s rear wheel?
        Was that a blatant intent?

        1. Lewis was penalised at Silverstone though and that set a precedent that drivers can’t do what Lewis did (your interpretation of what Lewis did is up to you)

          In this incident (Brazil) – the stewards are setting another precedent which is that if a driver is defending, take the inside line into the corner and brake later, then run wide and the driver overtaking on the outside will have to yield or be pushed out wide. Then they can just argue any penalty or investigation by saying they took the corner in a way they thought was safest to do as they were on the edge of grip

          I wouldn’t be surprised if something similar happens this weekend and we’ll see how it plays out

          1. You missed the point. It is not about penalties.
            I am questioning blatant intent, or any bad intent. If one assumes a blatant intent in Brazil because Verstappen is a skilled driver, then what happened in Silverstone was a blatant intent too because no one can deny that Hamilton is a skilled driver.
            In my opinion both incidents were desperate moves to fend off a competitor. Very different consequences though.
            An intent to fend off a competitor is not bad at all. It may become bad, depending on consequences

        2. Hamilton received a penalty, did he not?

          1. Yes, he did get a slap on the wrist. The question is if it was a blatant intent by @Nigel definition?

    3. erikje:
      If indiscretions are nurtured, who will be responsible for the resulting carnage?

  2. So basically, literally everyone that saw it thinks it was worthy of a penalty with the exception of the race stewards. What a laughing stock they are making of this sport.

    1. Not really, other drivers said it wasn’t a penalty

      1. Which drivers have said that?

        1. @lagerstars At least Chandhok & Petrov.

          1. Ah yes, two stars of the sport.

        2. Kimi and Ricciardo did

      2. @anunaki Honestly? I think it was borderline. He should have received a warning, much as he received for the weaving. He didn’t cause an incident and didn’t compromise Hamilton particularly (as Norris did against Perez and received the penalty, justifiably I think, as the gravel was there). He did the same as blocking a pass through weaving.

  3. Verstappen said the decision was “nice but also expected.”

    He never feels that he does anything wrong. Usually it always someone else’s fault.
    Now he will probably gloat over the decision and continue his ways, like the entitled driver he assumes he is.

  4. How do stewards get chosen for F1 weekends? I am more familiar with the officiating for North American sports where referees/umpires work at lower levels and based on reviews from coaches and the organizing body progress to higher ranks. That’s not to say that all referees/umpires in North American sports are great. There are some that are truly horrible but they are so few that they are known by name. Angel Hernandez is an example of a baseball umpire who is notoriously awful at his job. Does it work the same for the stewards in F1? What training do they get? Do they have to adhere to any standards? For as long as I’ve watched F1 (around 30 years), there have been few things as consistent as the criticism of inconsistency in the stewards calls. I just can’t figure out how the FIA hasn’t solved this problem by now. Unless they don’t really want to solve it.

    1. Jay (@slightlycrusty)
      19th November 2021, 17:05

      On the evidence of Brazil, not only do they get no training, but they ignore the race director. Masi in Mexico: “crowding is strictly prohibited”. This isn’t just down to the stewards, as race director Masi was responsible for upholding his previous statement.

    2. You have to fit in a category somewhere between the ‘Three Blind Mice’ and ‘Captain of the Titanic’

    3. Seemingly being an ex Red Bull driver helps (Italy, Brazil)

  5. Yes (@come-on-kubica)
    19th November 2021, 16:56

    I think everyone has to stop focusing on the incident.

    It’s the stewarding that’s the issue here so they are the ones that need to be discussed rather the incident. It was confirmed what the stewards decision on the incident was, be it right or wrong, and that’s who should face any punishment.

    It’s like a ref in football making a huge mistake, can’t blame the players (even though it’s wrong) they will take advantage of it and the ref will get demoted for the weekend. Can’t give out a punishment for an incident they have deemed OK.

    1. In football refs judge on the spot, without usually reviewing it a second time (many places dont use video tech yet still). But when the tech is used in places, it is usually removing any doubts about who is off side, if a goal is achieved and if a hand is touched, like in tennis, things are very precise! These stewards are disgrace for the sport! They have all the angles now, and still refusing to review it! This is like in football someone holds his hand in the air to stop a goal from entering/passing the line, and claim he didnt touch it, or he claim he didnt touch it intentionally… you review it, you see the person blocking it with hand, and still not giving out the penalty…. 90% of people who viewed it deemed it is a penalty worthy. 10% are either pro redbull supporters or ex redbul employees! majority of the current racers say it was a penalty. you think ric is trustworthy? he is the one asking on radio “he has to give the position back or penalty all the time” during races! suddenly changes his mind when it is towards his ex team! maybe he is hoping to go back?

  6. This whole debate can be thrown on one pile with the recurring track limits debate. If there had been gravel traps this incident would’ve played out differently and gave the internet less of a headache.

    1. True, but you can’t do that on tracks which also run bikes such as Qatar. So it will always come up.

    2. Leave it to F1 to turn a Slamdunk penalty into a weeklong debate that leads to the wrong conclusion.

    3. Yep… The conclusion now is that if the OTHER side is smart enough NOT to cause a collision, it’s fine.

      It’s understandable that for example Leclerc will adapt his driving style.

      MotoGP stewarding has other issues, but at least having no intention to make a corner is considered a fault.

    4. I doubt gravel traps would prevent a driver from crashing into his opponent if that is his intention. Monza had gravel traps it didn’t stop Verstappen from driving wildly.
      The story is the same, the speed he was going and the angle of his car, he had not intention of making both corners, just to take out the driver ahead of him.

  7. BLS (@brightlampshade)
    19th November 2021, 16:58

    Must be pretty galling for the drivers who have fallen foul of crowding rules already this season.

    1. Exactly! And what’s going to happen when this race gets underway? “Oops … sorry about that Sergio” “Oops … sorry about that Lance” “… sorry about that Fernando”. I said failing to deal with this would come back to bite the Stewards. When there’s a terrible crash then the Stewards will be wanting to hand out penalties and add demerit points to driver’s licences, but they were the ones that said bad behaviour on the track was permissible.

  8. Jay (@slightlycrusty)
    19th November 2021, 16:59

    I hope they question Masi’s claim that there was no change of position from crowding Hamilton off track, because Hamilton was almost a car’s length ahead at the braking point and would have emerged ahead had Verstappen not driven them both off track.

    If Masi’s defence is that there was no change of position, something he has previously claimed, that’s simply untrue.

  9. Barry Bens (@barryfromdownunder)
    19th November 2021, 17:00

    What you’ve seen on the video is clear to everybody who has ever raced a car

    With the terrible results Wolff ever got when he sat behind the wheel, I would argue the man never actually raced himself. So it makes sense.

    1. A comment about Mercedes from @barryfromdownunder.
      Who would have thought it?

    2. Huh. Won races at national level, won the Dubai 24 hour and the 24 hour Nurburgring in his category, and an ex Nordschleife instructor. So give us a link to your impressive racing record if you would.

      1. Lol, Someone call the Burns Unit….

  10. This guy Masi is slowly becoming incompetent. He needs to be replaced before his brings down the integrity of F1.

    1. There is nothing slow about it.

    2. 100% agree, he is no Charlie Whiting and needs replacing immediately. Totally out of his depth as this and numerous other incidents and comments this year have proved.

      1. his comments and action on races are laughable at best. one almost thinks he is being on red bull payroll? or he bet big on max this season! no other explanation for the despicable decisions he has made so far!

        i hope mercedes use bottas this race to bump max off the track and say oops sorry it was not intentional i tried to make the corner the same way redbul/max chanted all this time, lets hear it from their side after an act like that… i bet u millions, if something like that to happen, they will go to international human rights organization to look into this, use fbi/cia/csi resources/tools to find evidence to prove their case or use mario cart simulator to show how it was intentional!

        1. Really? They already did in hungary…

    3. Ahah, I think this “slowly” is a joke that’s been inserted into the comment to see if people would notice!

  11. Well, Merc will make 1-2 this weekend while Vers will be 3rd and next race Lewis will win and Vers 2nd. Last race, Lewis will emulate Vers, sending him off track, both DNF and Lewis will be WC.

    1. This made me chuckle…i don’t believe it will happen as stated but it was still funny.

      1. it is funny, but push someone to the edge with this kind of laughable decisions, you may see another side of that person…

  12. Once again, important to emphasise that today’s decision (which is unfortunate in terms of precedent) is NOT that this move was fine, but rather that the video footage was not significant new evidence. The heat of the moment decision in the Brazil GP was perhaps wrong, but you can’t appeal it, only request a right of review on the basis of significant new evidence. And that wasn’t granted.

    I am fully in agreement that clarity on this matter would be greatly appreciated, but let’s not pretend that this is either FIA or the stewards sanctioning the behaviour of Verstappen. Or if you are to pretend so, do it somewhere else.

    1. The problem with supporting inconsistent enforcement of the rules is that one day you will be the victm.

    2. @hahostolze
      Stewards didn’t even investigate the incident. That implies that Verstappen’s move was completely fine (which it wasn’t), even if today’s verdict doesn’t imply that.

  13. I share Toto’s view.
    One doesn’t necessarily have to have even raced actively to judge how intentional or unintentional that situation was.
    Anyway, risky precedent & message for the future, given previous similar instances.

  14. This outcome does not suprise me. While the original decision was blatantly wrong and appears to be part of an even worse behavioural pattern for the FIA, the regulations require that the absence of new evidence prevents the right of review. The initial incident had a very clear TV angle showing the incident in its entirety, so it is hard to imagine what additional evidence could have been revealed that was more compelling than that TV angle.

    This may be the first correct decision the FIA has made regarding the championship battle in some time.

  15. We better get used to it. There will be more inconsistent and controversial decisions and there is *nothing* we can do about it. Nothing. Sunday’s race will be interesting and I hope that no innocent will end up in the wall.

  16. Drivers this year have been penalized and likely lost points for the same or lesser infractions. Points = money and for some teams, the penalties may have cost them significant amounts of money. How livid would you be if you see Max do something and the FIA say nothing to see here, and you do the same or less and end up losing a points paying position? I think the teams that were “wronged” should demand the lost points be restored and make the point to the FIA that they had better get their act together and get some consistency in the enforcement of the rules as they’re not just racing for fun.

  17. The stewards’ decision (or non-decision) in Brazil was indeed horrible. I absolutely think that Max should’ve received a penalty for that move, but I can also understand the argument that it wasn’t worth of a penalty. But I can’t understand how stewards can watch that incident and decide that it isn’t even worth investigating. Totally inexplicable.

    I think it will be very hard for the stewards to recover from this at least during this season. After this, every time someone gets a penalty it will be compared to the fact that Verstappen wasn’t even investigated.

  18. Interesting to see the penalty statistics for the season by drive and team including no investigation necessary rulings.

    Alonso is proven correct. Different rules for different drivers.

    1. @jimfromus, can you share where these statistics can be seen?

  19. Its not inconsistent if they stick to this now. And it was about time for some recognition of the difficulty of an outside pass. Penalising in the past have led to some kind of illusion that it is completely normal to go outside expecting the one on the inside will leave space while in fact this car should be able to just hold the racing line and not leave a cars width. Not saying Max would have made that racing line in this specific case, but talking about the larger concept of overtaking around the outside.

    1. But of course they won’t stick to it, as it would give absolute free license for even more aggressive Hamilton like moves in Silverstone. Basically they have allowed the driver on the inside to do whatever they like with no limit to where they can go on or off track to defend. Doesn’t matter if they were passed on the straight. Doesn’t matter who is on the racing line or ahead at the braking zone, inside can block, ram, crowd with impunity.
      Of course they will back track after ignoring this move by Max. There would be too many cars in barriers.
      The hypocrisy of RBR and Max is astounding. They have trashed their own reputation and although I am no Max fan it is sad he will be remembered forever for these manoeuvres.
      Since Schumacher rammed Hill in Australia and got away scot free nothing surprises me anymore.
      MSC is remembered for his dirty driving as much as his wins.

  20. I bet if it was hamilton that pushed max of the track he would have had a penalty

  21. I’m glad, in a way, that they opened this enormous can of worms and now they are pressured into replying. Even if they rebuff the accusations, as they’ve done previously like with Alonso’s comments, whatever they say is new precedent.

  22. The FIA culture and system for making rules, approving them, investigation and enforcement, then analysis and judgement is broken and inconsistently monitored and audited, if at all.
    Try to compare it to any other sport/technical/business regulations, or even an international/national hazardous activity such as oil or chemical or construction industry.
    As a Safety Engineer for over 40 years I have a bit of activity working/consulting across the field, but see many broken links and systems in Motorsport. Not least the status of Sporting Codes (Approved Codes of Practice) on Stewards interpretation of ISC & SR which are not even published!!

  23. “Completely expected” as Toto said. Masi’s kindergarten goes on. However, when you let kids play without proper supervision someone gets hurt sooner or later. I’m afraid we’re watching disaster in the making.

  24. The two drivers in question are somewhat suspicious, Norris and Gasly have been a little fazed about the rules recently. And not rightfully so. Gasly revealed a lack of spatial awereness on that incident with Alonso in Turkey, and failed to admit it later and to this date. If more drivers join this cause, including the “sharp-eyed” Alonso when the question is about the rules (as stated in this same website), then it becomes something, even if they’re still wrong, they probably would have a good point.
    Bottas and Russell are unsuspecting about whatever Mercedes try, so not very unbiased opinions either.

  25. Masi is bringing F1 into disrepute. How soon can he be replaced?

  26. The only way the stewards are consistent is with how inconsistent they are.

    1. there is not other way around it, they are just consistently inconsistent whole year!

      Masi admitted the footage could reveal significant information. “It could be, absolutely,” he said. “Potentially, absolutely.
      Masi admitted he considered showing Verstappen the black-and-white ‘unsporting conduct’ flag for the incident, before he was shown it for weaving while trying to keep Hamilton behind later in the race.

      Same Masi today, sorry guys i was just joking. You know i am a funny guy! I was never gonna review it (if you knew how much i bet on Max to be WDC this year, you wouldn’t either). In the heat of the moment, i had to make jokes to cool the air!

  27. I hope max get DSQ/DNF this race, and Alonso on radio to say “it was a yoke” and “karma”.

    1. So much hate against a driver. My questionis just why?
      And also, why nobody talking about monza like this still. Didn’t Lewis ran Max out of road in turn 1? Why is everyone in that scenario expectiong max to back down? Lewis made a mistake in Monza, he ran Max out of road, as he should have done, because Max is going for the pass, the only problem was that Max hit the kerb on his left side and the car just jumped. Both did not back down and both got dnf.
      It is racing. Drivers will squeez others, expecially in a title fight.
      Lewis made a mistake in Silverstone, he should have not went for the move on the inside in the first lap like that. He had the car to fight and get P1 as he proved after. But because of that horror accident he got a penalty. Ok. In Moza, same, like I said. They BOTH did not back down and they BOTH got DNF. so no need for a penalty.
      We really need to stop arguing and spread poison on the internet over some guys who go really fast in weird cars. They BOTH made some questionable moves this season, and thats it. Everyone will always have a favourite and favor that driver, but come on. How can Max fans think Max is always right and Lewis fans think Lewis is always right? Something does not add up.
      But have a nice day, and sorry if I said something you did not like. Enjoy the rest of the Championship. :D

  28. For fun, watch Albon versus Hamilton at Brazil 2019, Albon trying to pass on the outside, Hamilton literally hugging the kerb, and yet he’s still the one who gets the penalty for the collision when Albon decides to turn in!

    Question: should Hamilton have swept Albon off to the other side of the track to block him from passing then? Seems so. That’s the correct way to defend according to FIA.

    Or maybe he should drive a Red Bull. Or not be Lewis Hamilton.

  29. So hypothetical question. Say it was Verstappen trying to pass at that same moment with the cars in the identical position as in Brazil. Eg Verstappen on the inside coming from behind. And the same outcome, eg Ves running wide and off the track etc and coiming out ahead.
    Would that be a legitimate pass?

  30. Davethechicken
    20th November 2021, 0:04

    Before Brazil 2021, would not be legitimate to leave the track to pass. Now, your guess is as good as mine!

  31. There is a player position in hockey called the “enforcer” nether Ham or Vers can afford a solo retirement, guess what position Bottas and Perez just found themself into?

  32. Masi should be replaced. That was the most blatent move you will ever see in F1 by a driver driving another driver off track. Verstappen fans will believe their own narrative, but the rest of us new what happened instantly, and the onboard was great evidence. very very strange Verstappen got away with it, now I bet he will try it again

    1. FACT:
      Without spelling it all out; think to yourself, as to the reasons why there is so much ‘sour grapes’ within the “Holy Grail” of F1.
      (I can think of at least 5!)
      If indiscretions are nurtured, who will be responsible for the resulting carnage?

      1. Max or Masi?


  33. So those who argue that it shouldn’t be a penalty use the argument that they didn’t crash. But it was Hamilton who was pushed of the track AND avoided a crash. Masi himself said that they don’t take the consequenses into consideration. So why is this different?

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