Why Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen’s teams have been called to ‘unusual’ hearing

Lewis Hamilton goes undercover to inspire school children

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Red Bull and Mercedes will attend an ‘unusual’ hearing today as the controversy from last Sunday’s Brazilian Grand Prix continues. Despite Sir Lewis Hamilton producing a scintillating drive to come from 10th on the grid to take the chequered flag at Interlagos, the ‘Silver Arrows’ were left incensed that his title rival, Max Verstappen, escaped punishment during the race.

The disgruntlement of Toto Wolff and Co relates to an incident on turn four during lap 48 at Interlagos, where Verstappen appeared to run wide as Hamilton was about to take him on the outside.

The manoeuvre forced both drivers off the track, but they narrowly avoided what would have been a third collision of the season, with the British driver proceeding to take the lead 11 laps later en route to a famous victory.

FIA officials decided at the time that the incident did not merit an investigation, a decision that Wolff later described as ‘laughable’, but Red Bull chief Christian Horner inevitably disagreed and said the correct call had been made.

However, after new footage emerged from Verstappen’s car, Mercedes this week launched an appeal over the decision not to review the incident, which has led to both teams being summoned to a virtual hearing.

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The outcome of that meeting is expected to be announced by Friday morning at the latest, and Craig Slater explained to Sky Sports News that the latest development represented strange circumstances.

“It’s not just going to be Mercedes conferencing with the stewards, Red Bull, unusually, have been called to this meeting as well,” he reported.

“We have all the elements of a hearing,” added Slater. “You do wonder if the stewards do decide to open it, whether there’s a very good chance Verstappen could get a penalty in this.”

The news adds to what was already a tempestuous weekend between the two leading F1 teams in South America. On Friday, Hamilton was fastest in qualifying, only to be sent to the back of the grid for Saturday’s sprint race following a DRS infringement.

Verstappen himself had to part with €50,000 following the session, after he was found guilty of touching and examining Hamilton’s rear wing in Parc Ferme – although he was cleared of the accusation his actions contributed to Mercedes’ rule breach.

Even after his victory on Sunday, seven-time world champion Hamilton was summoned to the stewards again after taking off his seatbelt on his cool-down lap as a marshal handed him a Brazilian flag.

He was duly fined €5,000 and given a further €20,000 suspended until the end of 2022.

Following the race in Qatar this weekend, a gripping title race heads to Saudi Arabia in two weeks’ time, before culminating in Abu Dhabi on December 12.

Regardless of the outcome of the hearing, tensions between Red Bull and Mercedes are likely to escalate further with every point, and any potential driver punishment, set to be pivotal in the destination of the championship.

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