Lewis Hamilton is DISQUALIFIED from Brazilian Grand Prix qualifying and will start from LAST in tonight’s sprint race – with title rival Max Verstappen also receiving a hefty £43,000 fine for touching the rear wing of Brit’s car in Sao Paulo
- Max Verstappen checked Lewis Hamilton’s car after Friday’s qualifying session
- FIA’s regulations prevent drivers from inspecting cars in parc ferme
- Verstappen received a £43,000 fine but has avoided any grid penalty
- Lewis Hamilton is now waiting to see if he will be punished by the stewards
- Rear wing infringement could mean Hamilton has to start sprint race from last
Lewis Hamilton has been disqualified from qualifying for the Brazilian Grand Prix following a rear wing infringement.
The Mercedes driver had topped Friday’s qualifying session, meaning he was expected to start on pole position for this evening’s Sprint Race.
But as a result of an infringement in relation to Hamilton’s DRS, he will start from the back of the grid for today’s shortened race.
Lewis Hamilton will start from the back of Saturday’s Sprint Race after he was disqualified from qualifying for a rear wing infringement on his Mercedes
Max Verstappen has received a fine after he was seen inspecting Lewis Hamilton’s car
To make matters worse, no matter where he finishes today he will face a five-place grid penalty for tomorrow’s Grand Prix at the Interlagos circuit.
Mercedes made an engine component change on Hamilton’s car ahead of the weekend, due to fears over reliability.
Meanwhile, his title rival Max Verstappen has been fined for breaching parc ferme rules by touching the rear wing on Lewis Hamilton’s car after Friday’s qualifying session.
A video posted on social media showed the Dutchman inspecting the rear wing of Hamilton’s Mercedes, after the Briton had finished four tenths of a second ahead of him to secure pole position for today’s sprint race.
Verstappen was called to see the stewards on Saturday morning and after a lengthy wait has received a €50,000 (£42,000) fine.
In a notice from the FIA, it was noted by the stewards that there was ‘insignificant force when Verstappen touched the wing’ of Hamilton’s car, linking to the ongoing investigation into the Mercedes’ DRS failing post-session checks.
Stewards added that inspecting and touched other cars has become a ‘habit for drivers’ which is ‘mostly harmless’ – but felt the breach had ‘significant potential to cause harm’.
The fine was handed after second practice on Saturday in Sao Paulo with stewards adding in a statement: ;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 (Fernando Alons), car 33, car 44 (Hamilton) and car 77 (Valtteri Bottas).
‘In all, these videos gave a clear picture of what occurred in parc fermé following the qualifying session.
A video showed Max Verstappen inspecting the rear of Hamilton’s Mercedes on Friday
The Dutchman appeared particularly interested in the rear wing of Hamilton’s car
FIA regulations, however, prohibit drivers to inspect or modify cars in parc ferme
‘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.’
Verstappen therefore keeps his second place on the grid for today’s Sprint Race – which could be promoted to pole if Hamilton is handed a grid penalty.
A further grid penalty would be a devastating blow to the Brit’s hopes of winning an eighth championship this season.
With four races remaining, Hamilton is 19 points behind the Red Bull driver who has won nine races this season compared to the Mercedes driver’s five.
A win for Verstappen today with Hamilton failing to make the top three would result in the Dutchman having a 22 point lead even before the Grand Prix at Interlagos on Sunday.
The drama started after Friday’s qualifying session where it was first announced that Hamilton and Mercedes were under investigation.
At issue is whether the drag reduction system (DRS) gap is too big and therefore confers extra speed.
Tests undertaken on Friday night by the FIA showed this is the case and technical director Jo Bauer referred the matter to the stewards.
Mercedes were called in at 7.15pm local time (10.15pm GMT). The delegation was led by sporting director Ron Meadows, and they presented their case to the panel chaired by American Tim Mayer.
The Stewards then adjourned the hearing relating to Document 18 of the 2021 FIA Formula 1 Sao Paulo Grand Prix as they await further evidence that will not be available until the morning.
As part of the process the stewards have declared that Hamilton’s rear wing should be removed from his car and impounded under seal.
There was further drama later on Friday night when it was announced Verstappen and a Red Bull team representative would have to see the stewards over him checking Hamilton’s car.
By Verstappen looking at Hamilton’s car in Parc Ferme, it 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 authorised by the same officials or by the applicable regulations.’
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