Max Verstappen says he was looking at the flexibility of the Mercedes rear wing after qualifying for the Sao Paulo Grand Prix, which earned himself a €50,000 fine.
The championship leader compared his own rear wing to Lewis Hamilton’s in parc ferme on Friday night before Hamilton was later investigated for a DRS infringement, with Verstappen receiving a hefty fine for breaking the FIA International Sporting Code’s rules regarding parc ferme. The punishment came on Saturday morning after the stewards stated Verstappen had nothing to do with the Mercedes failing scrutineering, and the Dutchman said it was a different issue he was checking.
“Well I was clearly looking at the wing!” Verstappen said. “So, yeah, you can see on the video what I did exactly. I was just looking at how much the rear wing was flexing at that point.
“Of course, there have been talks. There are still things to look into because at a certain speed it seems like the wing is flexing and of course at the beginning of the season we all had to change the rear wing a bit because of the back off, but it seems like something is still backing off over there. So that’s why I went and had a look.
“It had nothing to do with the DRS or what they were looking at.”
Verstappen believes Mercedes is doing something that is potentially against the rules, which is why he was focusing around the middle of the rear wing.
“We have our suspicions that something is going on there,” Verstappen said. “At the beginning of the year we all had to change our rear wings with the pillar, so I think there’s still something going on. The main thing is it’s opening up and giving them more top speed.
“I just looked at the rear wing and there’s clearly something going on.”
After all the drama, Verstappen started the Sprint from first place but dropped behind Valtteri Bottas and Carlos Sainz at the start, only recovering to second position.
“We started on the medium tires, so… also I think the track dropped a bit more than we would have liked,” Verstappen said. “Besides that, I somehow lost all my gear sync, so my start was not as amazing on these tires, but when I upshifted it was terrible shifts. That didn’t work out and, of course, I dropped to third on the opening lap.
“After that the pace was fine, but you can’t overtake around here because the tires very quickly overheat and you are stuck, especially when the cars are closely matched on pace. There is not much you can do in the sprint without a pit stop. So I just sat behind, basically.
“It’s going to be quite a bit warmer (for the race). Today was also quite a late race, so hopefully that will be a bit better for us but it is difficult to say at the moment.”