Mercedes’ request for a right to review the incident between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton in the Sao Paulo Grand Prix has been rejected by the stewards.
Verstappen’s defense against Hamilton at Turn 4 saw both cars go off track, but FIA race director Michael Masi opted against requesting an investigation from the stewards. Hamilton went on to win the race after later overtaking Verstappen, but Mercedes was unhappy at the move and when onboard footage showing the Red Bull’s steering inputs was released two days later, it requested a right to review.
That request was based on the onboard footage being a new element that wasn’t available at the time, and it had to be both relevant and significant in order to be accepted by the stewards. After a hearing on Thursday evening in Qatar, a decision was finally announced on Friday afternoon, with the stewards rejecting the request as they felt it wasn’t “significant.”
While making clear that the decision “is not an affirmation or review of the stewards’ determination made during the race,” the FIA decided that while the submission from Mercedes was new, relevant and unavailable at the time, it was not significant enough to grant the request.
“The stewards often must make a decision quickly and on a limited set of information,” the explanation read. “At the time of the decision, the stewards felt they had sufficient information to make a decision, which subsequently broadly aligned with the immediate post‐race comments of both drivers involved. Had they felt that the forward‐facing camera video from Car 33 was crucial in order to take a decision, they would simply have placed the incident under investigation — to be investigated after the race — and rendered a decision after this video was available. They saw no need to do so.
“The competitor’s position is that this new footage provides sufficient information for the stewards to come to an altogether different conclusion than they did previously. However, the stewards determine that the footage shows nothing exceptional that is particularly different from the other angles that were available to them at the time, or that particularly changes their decision that was based on the originally available footage. Unlike the 2020 Austria case (when Hamilton was penalized for ignoring yellow flags when new footage emerged showing him passing one), in the judgment of the stewards, there is nothing in the footage that fundamentally changes the facts. Nor even, does this show anything that wasn’t considered by the stewards at the time. Thus, the stewards determine that the footage, here, is not ‘Significant’.”
The stewards made clear that while Masi never asked them to investigate, he did ask their opinion at the time and they had the ability to press ahead with an investigation if they wished.
“The stewards do not sit passively during a race and did not do so in this case,” the stewards said. “By the time the race director asked the stewards for their view and stated that it was going to be ‘Noted’ on the timing screens, they were already looking at the available footage. The subsequent discretionary decision of the stewards not to proceed with a formal investigation is the motor racing equivalent of ‘Play‐On’ in other sports.”