FIA ‘did the job properly’ after rejecting call to review Verstappen-Hamilton incident

2021 Qatar Grand Prix

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The FIA’s handling of Mercedes’ request to review an incident from last week’s Sao Paulo Grand Prix was praised by Williams CEO Jost Capito.

Mercedes challenged the stewards’ decision not to investigate an incident between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen during Sunday’s race at Interlagos. The team presented video footage of the contentious moment on lap 48 of the race, but their request for a review was denied by the stewards, who stated the new evidence was not “significant”.

The incident and its handling prompted some criticism. Several teams and drivers noted penalties had been issued for similar and arguably less obvious infractions in the past. The long deliberations over the incident meant a decision was not issued until the first practice session for the following race had taken pace yesterday.

However, Capito defended the FIA’s handling of the matter, saying the sport’s governing body has “to do the right things” and observe the correct procedures for handling petitions from teams, particularly in light of the championship situation.

“Every team has the right to do this, what Mercedes has done, and the FIA has to take the right decisions and have to take it seriously and be very careful and sensitive, not deciding the championship by questionable decisions.

“I think they did really due diligence, they did the job properly. I’ve read the explanation, I think that it’s very explicit, very detailed and very well done. So that’s why I think it also took time because they did excellent and detailed work and wanted to be absolutely sure that everything is according to the rules.”

Aston Martin CEO Otmar Szafnauer said it was better the stewards had not issued a penalty which could have affected the outcome of the race and alter the championship situation. “I think if they were going to give a penalty, they should have given the penalty straight away,” he said.

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2021 Qatar Grand Prix

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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27 comments on “FIA ‘did the job properly’ after rejecting call to review Verstappen-Hamilton incident”

  1. Agree with both, a 5 sec penalty (seeing no contact, and that 10 was given to hamilton in silverstone) would’ve been fair if given immediately, but would’ve probably ruined the race from a spectacle point of view, seeing as hamilton likely wouldn’t have tried to pass any more, giving a penalty later would’ve been a joke.

  2. I think this is the right approach, to settle everything within the weekend of the race. The stewards made their decision (whether it was right, or consistent, or flat out awful) this shouldn’t bleed out for months or have any retrospective garbage attached to it. Make a decision and move on.

    They should have consistent decisions, but the process right now is all sorts of wrong and they need strong leadership and probably a standard steward ye that consistently and methodically applies the rules.

    1. In principle yes, but then FIA and stewards do need to do a more solid job of it, and not dismiss an incident like this under the bland and undefined ‘let them race’ after a season of less clear crowding being penalised @jasonj – so yeah, the real review should have been: what were those guys up to with that and how do they prevent it happening again. So that we can indeed let them race.

      1. RandomMallard (@)
        20th November 2021, 13:07

        @bosyber and @jasonj I agree that the whole stewarding procedure definitely needs sorting out. While I am annoyed, as a (former I guess, now neutral) Verstappen fan, at Max’s driving, more of my anger and disappointment is directed at the stewards and the FIA’s handling of the incident.

    2. i await to hear Redbull moaning when some one does it to max in this race makes max lose to hamilton and no penalty being given as its with in the rules apparently…… cant keep changing the rules of engagement to suit the Red bull. if it does then this isnt a sport and will lose viewers quickly and people consider the championship might be corrupted and not valued and will be remembered as the season the FIA fix the championship

      1. Is there another driver besides Hamiton who will give Max the same has he dishes out?

        note : I always find it ironic when Verstappen refers to drivers like Bottas as clearn drivers, eg whom he has nothing to fear.

        1. Ocon.

  3. But the problem is not a possible penalty, but the right to claim an inquiry.
    The point is, nothing happened both left the track and regained in the same order.
    In trump style, this is a fake incident.

    1. Because Hamilton avoided the crash. In other words, of they crashed, Max was to blame?

      1. Dammed when they do clash, like Monza and dammed when you narrowly avoid that clash….

      2. RandomMallard (@)
        20th November 2021, 13:10

        If they crashed, then Max would have been at fault, but for a different offence. As it is, the debate is about crowding, but if they had crashed, the debate would be about causing a collision. I suppose its kind of like trespass; just trespassing (depending on you countries laws) can get you in a bit of trouble, but if you then stole something, that would be burglary

        1. If they crashed Lewis DNF and Max finished p10 after 10 second penalty plus front wing change that would still benefit Max regardless of time penalty as it would be almost season over for Lewis who couldn’t afford to drop more points, this is why the lack of penalty after this race by the FIA is worrying.

  4. The stewards did what we expected them to do. Look at every loop hole they created to avoid dealing with delicate issues. Lets not forget, what was being questioned was not Verstappen’s driving, but the steward’s handling of the issue. A system that can police drivers running mere millimeters off track can not have the tools to determine a drivers racing conduct. It is laughable.
    This constant changing of the rules of engagement based on the driver involved is the real challenge.

  5. The thing that gets me is stewards always say no new evidence as a reason for not reviewing cases, but here there was 100% undeniably able new evidence, but chose not to review it anyway.

    So really, new evidence has nothing to do with it. It was always a matter of “we made our mind up then and won’t change it” so the old “no new evidence” was always just a rubbish excuse.

    How about they do their job and review something on its merits and come up with an explanation rather than just finding reasons not to bother.

    1. They made there mind up to take no further action, during the race, over the space of a mere few minutes. Whether it was even that long, we will never know.
      Then spent days deciding if they should actually investigate?!

  6. Lets see if these stewards have learned anything from this debacle…

    1. Nope, they will probably learn new ways to contradict themselves

  7. Completely disagree with the let’s not decide the championship with a penalty. If a foul occurs and it is not penalized then you are deciding the championship. For example if a footballer gets past the defense and is tackled from behind in the box and no penalty kick is awarded then the game has been decided by the lack of penalty.

    1. It is nonsense to not enforce the rules at this stage.
      Also Red bull whinged about lobbying the race director (blaming Merc for this at Silverstone), yet we’re immediately on the radio to Masi saying this was an example of let them race!

  8. I agree with nearly everything said here. Whether or not the lack of sanction was correct (it was not lol), results should not be changed days after the event. So the problem is that stewarding is inconsistent, and frequently based on things that they should definitly NOT be considering, such as who is involved in the incident, and whether it impacts on the ‘show’ or the title fight. It is ridiculous that someone outside the title fight would be (and have been) sanctioned for the same or similar offence that for Max is ‘let them race’. I am a Lewis fan, however I don’t think this is favouritism for Max; I assume that had the offence been his last weekend that it would still have been ‘let them race’. It would still have been wrong. However a new precedent has been set, so gloves will be off this weekend. I assume there is a method for removing officials. such as stewards and race directors, who are simply not up to the task – does anyone know what this is?

    1. @lass321 2 mistakes don’t make a right, though. The objection to review the incident means that the stewards can silence any incident by not reviewing it. If Mercedes couldn’t get the FIA to review this blatant one where it was 100% a driver’s fault and 100% a penalty, how can any team get the FIA to review anything?

      This means the sport has no governance.

      1. The sport has fully lost its credibility. Shame.

  9. All drivers are equal, but some drivers are more equal than others….

    1. @f1-plossl that much is clear – if I were racing, I’d change my name to Max Verstappen and sweep everything.

  10. No review probably the correct decision but a clarification of what is allowed should happen. If not then the next time any driver tries to overtake on the outside, the defending driver can stay off the brakes, run them both off the road then just claim “let us race”.

    1. @oweng A clarification now would only be unfair to everyone else defending the same way. There’ve been clarifications over the years and Max has been present at all of them. He knew that was illegal.

      Clearly Max has made it completely legal to leave the track to any extent to defend so they should leave it like that. In fact, you can make the argument that the drivers don’t need to obey track limits as they are defending their positions by trying to stay ahead and drive more safely.

      I think penalties should be optional moving forward leaving it at the discretion of the team to decide if they want to take the penalty or continue racing without the penalty.

  11. Hamilton solved the case.

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