Tensions between Mercedes and Red Bull are rising as the row surrounding Lewis Hamilton’s rear wing will continue into the Qatar Grand Prix. After being awarded a five-place grid penalty for a new engine, Hamilton had one of his great drives to climb from P10 and take the chequered flag at Interlagos.
Hamilton was disqualified from qualifying – which preceded the sprint race – after title rival Max Verstappen questioned the legality of the seven-time world champion’s drag reduction system (DRS).
The Dutchman was fined €50,000 for touching the rear wing on the Mercedes.
The DRS system is a flap in the rear wing, which opens up on straights to improve overtaking by reducing a car’s drag and increase top speed.
Hamilton set the fastest time in qualifying for Saturday’s sprint race with a 1:07.934 but the DRS on his rear wing was flagged for not meeting set requirements during a post-qualifying inspection.
JUST IN: Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes urged to take penalty ahead of Qatar GP
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FIA technical delegate Jo Bauer notified the stewards of the alleged infringement on Friday evening, leading to a summons of a Mercedes team member at 7:15 pm local time. Bauer concluded: “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 [sic] not fulfilled.”
F1 reporter and Sky Sports commentator Martin Brundle believes Red Bull are still frustrated by Hamilton’s rear wing ahead of this weekend’s inaugural Qatar Grand Prix.
“Red Bull are convinced Mercedes are up to something with their rear wing, and Mercedes are indignantly wholly denying this,” the 62-year-old wrote in his Sky column.
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“The FIA must have inspected Lewis’s captive rear Merc wing to a high degree.
“It’s getting down to the championship wire now with it all to play for, and it’s becoming rather feisty and a little angry between the two teams and contending drivers on and off the track.
“And the FIA are referees in the middle catching the occasional punch.”
Hamilton’s win means the Brit has closed the gap on championship leader Verstappen ahead of the final three races.
The 2021 season has been truly brilliant, with Verstappen and Hamilton’s title race being one of the greatest in the sport’s recent history.
It has seen plenty of controversial moments – and the Brazilian Grand Prix was no different.
On lap 48 on Sunday, the two rivals were battling for the lead with Hamilton’s Mercedes appearing to narrowly edge ahead of the Red Bull, which was on the inside.
Verstappen ran wide and the move forced both drivers off the track, with the Dutchman holding the lead for a few more laps before the seven-time world champion finally took the lead.
While Hamilton took the lead and win anyway, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff believes Verstappen should have received a penalty.
An investigation was deemed unnecessary after the FIA consulted footage provided by broadcast cameras – but Verstappen’s on-board footage shows the Dutchman clearly didn’t turn as aggressively as he could have, forcing Hamilton from the road.
Formula 1 travels to the Losail Circuit for the Qatar Grand Prix on November 21, with Red Bull star Verstappen holding a 14-point lead over Mercedes’ Hamilton.
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