Max Verstappen has been handed a €50,000 fine as punishment for an incident that occurred in parc fermé following Saturday’s qualifying session in Brazil.
Verstappen was spotted analysing the rear wing of title rival Lewis Hamilton’s car, touching the Mercedes W12 challenger as he did so.
After qualifying, the stewards summoned Hamilton after it was found his Drag Reduction System was wider than the maximum 85mm permitted when opened.
Verstappen was called to the stewards for allegedly breaching Article 2.5.1 of the FIA International Sporting Code, which states that while the cars are in parc fermé, “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”.
With Hamilton’s car potentially in breach of regulations, it was important that no person altered anything relating to the car until the FIA conducted an investigation.
However, the stewards looked at the footage that emerged after the session and announced that the Dutchman had been fined prior to the F1 Sprint on Saturday afternoon after it was convinced he had not moved any elements on Hamilton’s car.
“The stewards examined a fan video taken from across the track, CCTV video footage taken from pit lane and in car footage from car 14 [Alonso], car 33 [Verstappen], car 44 [Hamilton] and car 77 [Bottas],” read a statement from the stewards.
“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.”
The stewards noted that the footage from Hamilton’s onboard shows that no movement is seen in the wing elements while Verstappen is handling the section of the car.
“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.”
Stewards warned that drivers carrying out similiar actions in the future may receive a harsher sanction.
“This general tendency has been seen as mostly harmless and so has not been uniformly policed,” they outlined. “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 further note that it is intended that all teams and drivers take notice that future breaches may incur different penalties from the Stewards of those events.”