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Martin Brundle says it would be “mad” for the FIA to retrospectively change last week’s result after Mercedes confirmed they would be reviewing an incident between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen on lap 48. Verstappen seemed to push Hamilton wide during the Sao Paulo Grand Prix on Sunday as the pair were seen battling for the lead of the race.
The incident was initially “noted” by the stewards but no investigation was deemed necessary.
But Mercedes say new evidence has emerged, and have lodged a right to review on Tuesday, with the hope the FIA grants them a full review into the incident.
If the right to review is accepted by the FIA, the championship leader Verstappen could be handed a range of penalties, like a time penalty or a grid penalty to be added on at another race.
But former F1 driver and now pundit Brundle believes if they did allow that, it would leave the FIA in an “embarrassing” situation.
“The initial hearing is about whether they will go forward to a full review, the FIA have tended to bat these away, they don’t want to retrospectively change things, they don’t want the embarrassment of getting it wrong for example,” Brundle told Sky Sports.
“I would be surprised if it gets too far, but let’s wait and see. They should’ve investigated it there and then, retrospectively affecting last week’s race, I think is mad.
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“The championship can’t be won here in Qatar because of the points situation, with 78 points remaining.
“The minimum Mercedes will get out of his is poking Red Bull and distracting Red Bull in some way, but retrospectively applying a penalty – it’s like a big derby match in the Premier League, a 2-1 victory on the Sunday and the following Thursday someone has said, look I’ve got a new angle on the VAR, actually it was 1-1, it wasn’t 2-1.
“Because if they apply retrospectively a penalty to Verstappen, Red Bull are going to say, ‘well look, as soon as Hamilton passed us we cruised, we just kept ahead of Bottas, and he finished three and a bit seconds ahead of Bottas’.
“Given a five-second penalty, he can start swapping the positions around last weekend.
“Mercedes I think will be angling hard, providing they can get a hearing, for a grid penalty here for example.
“But as a minimum applying a bit of spotlight pressure to Red Bull and Max Verstappen.”
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At the time, many questioned why the FIA deemed the incident not worthy of an investigation as new onboard emerged after the race.
Hamilton was alongside his main title rival approaching Turn 4 when Verstappen ran wide on the entrance to the corner. Hamilton took evasive action and both cars ran off the track.
The FIA sporting code states that moves ‘liable to hinder other drivers’, such as pushing a car wide and off the track, or an ‘abnormal’ change of direction are strictly prohibited.
They add: “Any driver who appears guilty of any of the above offences will be reported to the stewards.”
Speaking ahead of the Qatar Grand Prix, Brundle added: “I’m very surprised they didn’t investigate it, they do have a lot of data, and yes we didn’t have the onboard because that’s downloaded later on.
“The front wheels are connected to the steering wheel, so you could already see he didn’t do a whole lot of turning, I think in a way it helped Max, in that he never once turned out of the corner to go and run Lewis [off].
“They both braked very late, Max from the dirty part of the track, what he should’ve done is stayed on the track, I think it would’ve looked much less bad.
“But he clearly ran Lewis out of road. Lewis was a reasonable amount in front, he wasn’t ahead, it wasn’t an elegant piece of driving, it was a clever piece in some respect in terms of, I think Max knew he needed the momentum coming off that run-off area, so you’ve got to question the whole run-off area.
“If there had been gravel or grass, none of that would’ve happened.
“It was marginal to say the least, I think Max was lucky he didn’t at least get a driving standards flag, another one, and you wouldn’t have been surprised if he had been given a five-second penalty, given some other things that happened.”
Verstappen leads Hamilton by 14 points heading into the final three races of the season.
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