Max Verstappen punishment confirmed for touching Lewis Hamiltons car in Brazil

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Max Verstappen has been hit with a €50,000 fine, that’s £42,681, after being summoned to the stewards over an alleged breach of the FIA International Sporting Code relating to parc ferme conditions late on Friday evening, as Lewis Hamilton’s rear wing outcome remains pending. After setting the fastest time, Hamilton was seen getting out of his car to celebrate with his team in an FIA-controlled area, however, a fan video showed Verstappen looking at the rear of the Red Bull, and then seemingly reaching out to check his rival car too.

After hearing from Red Bull and Max Verstappen, the stewards said: “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.”

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.

“This general tendency has been seen as mostly harmless and so has not been uniformly policed. Nevertheless, it is a breach of the parc fermé regulation and has significant potential to cause harm.”

Hamilton was initially the first of the pair to be summoned to the stewards after the FIA checked the Mercedes car after the qualifying session and impounded his rear wing over a possible Drag Reduction System (DRS) infringement following Friday’s qualifying.

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However, Verstappen was then summoned to the stewards over an alleged breach of the FIA International Sporting Code relating to parc ferme conditions, with the championship leader starting alongside the seven-time world champion on Saturday.

After setting the fastest time, Hamilton was seen clambering out of his car to the cheers from the Mercedes team, but questions were raised after a video emerged of Verstappen looking at the rear of the Red Bull, and then seemingly checking his rivals car too.

The stewards have taken so long in deciding an outcome after various trips the stewards for both drivers, that the FIA failed to give back Hamilton’s rear wing in time for second practice.

It meant Mercedes were given permission for it to be replaced under parc ferme regulations, resulting in a P5 finish ahead of the afternoon’s sprint qualifying session.

The FIA document added: “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.

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“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.”

Earlier in the day, boss Christian Horner said he would “be amazed” if Verstappen picked up a penalty, stating his driver was “just inquisitive” when checking Hamilton’s rear wing.

Horner told Sky Sports F1: “I would be amazed if it was [a penalty], there are so many precedents that have become standard practice for drivers.

“If you were to look at every single incident, where do you draw the line? Even the driver hugging his mechanics? Where do you draw the line on that?”

And with a decision still looming for Hamilton, Horner added it should be a clear-cut decision for the seven-time world champion.

He added: “The car has been reported to the stewards because it failed the test, and the test is quite clear.

“We all saw the video footage of the car failing the test, so I can’t see how it is then deemed to comply with the regs.

“So it’s, again, very binary, He’s either in or out.

“I remember back to 2012. We had an issue with the front wing, it failed the tests, we were kicked out and we had to start from the back of the grid.”

Sprint qualifying gets underway at 7:30 pm BST on Saturday evening.

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