Just hours after F1 released a cockpit view of the way Verstappen drifted wide at Turn 4 on lap 48 of the Interlagos race to push Hamilton wide, the world champion team has revealed it is taking the matter further.
In a short statement published on social media, Mercedes stated: “The Mercedes-AMG Petronas team confirmed that we have today requested a Right of Review under Article 14.1.1 of the International Sporting Code, in relation to the Turn 4 incident between Car 44 and Car 33 on lap 48 of the 2021 Brazilian Grand Prix, on the basis of new evidence unavailable to the Stewards at the time of their decision.”
The rules of right of review are clear, and require that competitors bring “a significant and relevant new element’ that was ‘unavailable to the parties seeking the review at the time of the decision concerned”.
Mercedes will first have to prove that a new element has been discovered, and this should be straightforward with the onboard footage from Verstappen’s car.
It emerged on the Sunday night in Brazil, after the FIA decided not to investigate the Verstappen/Hamilton incident, that race control had not had access to the forward facing onboard camera from Verstappen’s car.
F1’s current technology limits just one live feed off each car and, at the time of the incident, Verstappen’s Red Bull was broadcasting its rear facing onboard.
The front-facing camera footage was only available to download after the race, and that was finally made public by F1 on Tuesday.
F1 race director Michael Masi said in Brazil that the governing body had also requested the video, as he conceded it could be a ‘smoking gun’ in offering fresh insight.
“Could be, absolutely. Possibly,” he said. “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 there was no formal published documentation from the FIA stewards on the Verstappen/Hamilton incident, as an investigation was ruled out by race control, the rulebook is clear that the stewards do have to make a decision when incidents are ‘noted’ in this case.
Under Article 47.1 of F1’s Sporting Regulations, it states: “The Race Director may report any on-track incident or suspected breach of these Sporting Regulations or the Code (an “Incident”) to the stewards. After review it shall be at the discretion of the stewards to decide whether or not to proceed with an investigation.”
The decision by Mercedes to push on with a right to review comes in the wake of Mercedes boss Toto Wolff admitting after the Brazil race of a new hardline attitude.
Having been frustrated with the FIA’s decision to exclude Lewis Hamilton from qualifying over a DRS issue, he was annoyed that Verstappen was not even investigated.
“I think we’ve just had many, many punches in the face this weekend with decisions that could have swung either side, against us or for us,” he said.
“When always the decisions swing against you, it’s just something that I’m just angry about, and I will defend my team, my drivers to what comes.
“I’ve always been very diplomatic in how I discuss things. But diplomacy has ended today.”
Should the FIA accept that Verstappen was in breach of the sporting rules with his driving, then it is possible that it could hand down a time-penalty for the Brazil race or impose a grid drop for the next event in Qatar.