Grid penalty could be coming Lewis Hamilton’s way after car is referred to stewards for possible DRS infringement during a qualifying session he topped; Decision to be made on Saturday; But Verstappen also summoned over potential parc ferme breach
By Matt Morlidge and James Galloway
Last Updated: 13/11/21 2:39am
Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes car has been referred to stewards at the Sao Paulo GP due to an alleged DRS infringement during qualifying.
Hamilton, who is already set to serve a five-place grid penalty for Sunday’s race, topped qualifying for the F1 Sprint ahead of championship leader Max Verstappen – but is now the subject of a Brazil investigation.
The hearing has been adjourned to Saturday in Brazil while stewards “await further evidence that will not be available until the morning”.
Shortly after that communication was sent out by the FIA late on Friday night, Max Verstappen was called in a separate summons to appear before the stewards on Saturday at 12.30pm GMT for a possible breach of parc ferme rules after qualifying.
Why is Hamilton’s car being investigated?
F1’s technical delegate said Hamilton’s Mercedes car did not fulfil the “maximum distance” required for DRS, the Drag Reduction System which with its movable flaps on the rear wing increases speed on the straights.
And when I say “back of the grid or pit lane start” my understanding is that it would be for The Sprint (Saturday) as qualifying today forms the grid for The Sprint not for the Grand Prix (Sunday)
— David Croft (@CroftyF1) November 12, 2021
“The uppermost rear wing element adjustable positions were checked on car number 44 for compliance with article 3.6.3 of the 2021 Formula One technical regulations,” read a statement on Friday evening.
“The requirement for the minimum distance was fulfilled. But the requirement for the maximum of 85mm, when the DRS system is deployed and tested in accordance with TD/011-19, were not fulfilled.
“I am referring this matter to the stewards for their consideration.”
Anthony Davidson was at the SkyPad to compare Lewis Hamilton’s and Max Verstappen’s qualifying laps from Sao Paulo.
The DRS is comprised of an upper and a lower flap, and it appears the gap between those was bigger than rules allow when deployed.
Sky F1’s David Croft posted on social media that a grid penalty could be coming Hamilton’s way – although only for Saturday’s 24-lap Sprint and not for Sunday’s race, which Hamilton already has a penalty for due to a new Mercedes Internal Combustion Engine.
Why is Verstappen now seeing the stewards?
Stewards want to speak to the Red Bull driver about an alleged breach of Article 2.5.1 of the International Sporting Code.
“Inside the Parc Fermé, only the officials assigned may enter,” reads the regulation. “No operation, checking, tuning or repair is allowed unless authorised by the same officials or by the applicable regulations.”
Fan video footage uploaded to social media after qualifying of parc ferme appeared to show Verstappen going over to Hamilton’s Mercedes to touch its rear wing, after doing the same with his own Red Bull.
What had happened in Qualifying?
Hamilton was dominant in Friday’s qualifying session, beating Verstappen, who he trails by 19 points in the title race, by almost half a second.
Lewis Hamilton was delighted to have topped qualifying for the Sao Paulo GP, with the Mercedes driver to start first ahead of Max Verstappen in the Sprint.
“I loved today, for sure,” said a beaming Hamilton at Interlagos. “We’re working so hard to try and get this car right.
“I was sitting in [practice] for the whole hour trying to make the right set-up change, the anxiety you get is crazy. A lot of the time I get it wrong, but today I got it right. The car was really nice to drive.
“It was everything I wanted, enabling me to keep pushing lap after lap and it was purple, purple, purple, gaining every time.
“I don’t know how we can go from one track and them [Red Bull] being half a second ahead to them being behind. But they’ll be very strong in the race. I hope Valtteri (Bottas) gets a good start.”
The F1 Sprint is live on Sky Sports F1 at 7.30pm on Saturday, with Sunday’s Sao Paulo GP live at 5pm.