Max Verstappen has been fined €50,000 for touching and examining Lewis Hamilton’s rear wing in Parc Ferme after qualifying in Brazil – but has not been given a grid penalty of any kind for the offense (see video of incident).
Hamilton’s Mercedes rear wing was referred to the stewards after FIA technical delegate Jo Bauer found an issue with it on Friday. That investigation is ongoing at the time of writing, but footage released after the session showed Verstappen looking at the rear wing of Hamilton’s car in Parc Ferme, which in itself was a suspected breach of Article 2.5.1 of the FIA International Sporting Code.
That article states: “in the Parc Ferme, only the officials assigned may enter. No operation, checking, tuning or repair is allowed unless authorized by the same officials or by the applicable regulations.”
After second practice on Saturday in Sao Paulo, the stewards released the following statement explaining the €50,000 fine handed to Red Bull racer Verstappen: “The stewards heard from the driver of car 33 (Max Verstappen) and team representative. The stewards also examined a fan video taken from across the track, CCTV video footage taken from pit lane and in car footage from car 14, car 33, car 44 and car 77.
“In all, these videos gave a clear picture of what occurred in parc fermé following the qualifying session.
“Verstappen exits the car, then moves to the rear of his car. He then takes his gloves off and puts his right hand at the slot-gap of the rear wing of his car. He then moves to car 44 and repeats the exercise, touching the rear wing in two places, once on either side of the DRS actuation device, but on the bottom rear side of the wing, in the area of the slot gap and never near the actuator or the end fixation points.”
“Clear, high definition video from the rear facing roll-hoop camera on car 44 shows that there is absolutely no movement of any of the wing elements on car 44 when Verstappen touches the back of the wing and the stewards are satisfied, from watching all the videos, his body position and the video of the wing, that there was insignificant force when Verstappen touched the wing.
“It is clear to the stewards that it has become a habit of the drivers to touch cars after qualifying and the races. This was also the explanation of Verstappen, that it was simply habit to touch this area of the car which has been a point of speculation in recent races between both teams.
“This general tendency has been seen as mostly harmless and so has not been uniformly policed. Nevertheless, it is a breach of the parc fermé regulation and has significant potential to cause harm.
“Considering the fact that no direct harm was caused in this case, in the opinion of the stewards, and that no earlier precedent of penalties for this exists – on the one hand; but that it is a breach of the regulation and has potential for serious consequences on the other, the stewards determine to take action in this case and order a fine of €50,000.”
The stewards warned all teams and drivers that “future breaches may incur different penalties”.