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Max Verstappen facing fresh penalty? F1 race director says they could have the ‘smoking gun’

The gloves were off and the elbows were out again as Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton fought for the lead at the Brazilian Grand Prix on Sunday. The contentious moment came on Lap 48 when the two almost collided as the Red Bull Racing driver appeared to push his Mercedes title rival off the track when he attempted an overtaking manoeuvre on the outside of Turn 4.

Although Verstappen thwarted Hamilton’s first attempt, the seven-time world champion completed the move 10 laps later to go on and win the Sao Paulo Grand Prix in front of a raucous crowd at the Interlagos circuit. However, the incident between the two drivers continues to be talked about despite Mercedes taking the win.

The Silver Arrows were expecting Verstappen to be given a penalty for forcing their driver off track, but the FIA race stewards deemed that the incident required no further investigation. However, FIA race director Michael Masi has now revealed that the stewards did not have all the camera angles to review the footage of the incident when making their decision.

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen was a winner in Austria last year
William WEST/AFP

Masi also admitted that they could find the “smoking gun”, which is the onboard footage of Verstappen’s car when all the camera views are made available to them. But it still remains unclear if Mercedes will have grounds to appeal the decision and ensure the Red Bull driver gets a retrospective penalty for the incident.

“No, it was only the cameras that are broadcast, as I’ve said before, which is basically what we have access to throughout,” Masi said, as quoted on Autosport. “The forward facing, the 360, there’s all of the camera angles that we don’t get live that will be downloaded and we’ll have a look at them post-race. It hasn’t been obtained yet. It’s been requested.”

“Could be [the smoking gun], absolutely. Possibly. But no, we didn’t have access to it. And obviously, it’s being downloaded. And once the commercial rights holder supplies it, we’ll have a look.”

While Masi refused to discuss any possibility of an appeal or retrospective action, he stood by the race stewards’ decision to “let them race” after reviewing the Turn 4 incident. He indicated that since both cars left the track and did not gain any advantage, was the reason the stewards dubbed it a racing incident and nothing more.

The Sporting Code does offer the teams a chance to appeal the incident and call for a harsher penalty, something Red Bull did earlier in the season after the British Grand Prix. The Austrian team wanted the stewards to give Hamilton a harsher penalty after he was only given a 10-second time penalty for putting Verstappen in the wall on the opening lap of the race.

However, their appeal was rejected by the stewards owing to a lack of proper evidence, but Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff, who was livid after the race due to the lack of penalty, could lodge an appeal if new footage of the incident does emerge prior to this weekend’s Qatar Grand Prix.

Max Verstappen
Lewis Hamilton believes Max Verstappen is likely to increase his 12-point lead in the next two F1 races
Zak Mauger/POOL
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