Already facing a five-spot grid penalty, Lewis Hamilton could face further punishment for the Brazilian GP if Formula One confirms something is amiss with his Drag Reduction System while Max Verstappen could also receive a penalty for touching the No. 44 Mercedes in the parc ferme after qualification.
Hamilton’s car was referred to stewards following qualification on Friday, a session in which he was more than a third of a second faster than second-place Verstappen.
Hamilton’s five-spot penalty would not take effect until Sunday’s race, which means he is scheduled to start on the pole for Saturday’s sprint race. Unless FIA hands down another penalty for the win infraction, that is. As of the start of Practice 2 for the Brazilian GP, a penalty had not yet been announced.
Additionally, Verstappen could be sanctioned for entering the parc ferme, a fenced-off area where cars are driven after qualification and the race for technical inspection.
According to Article 2.5.1 of the FIA International Sporting Code, “in the parc ferme, only the officials assigned may enter. No operation, checking, tuning or repair is allowed unless authorized by the same officials or by the applicable regulations.”
Verstappen was recorded by a fan entering the parc ferme after qualification. The video reportedly shows Verstappen touching the wing of Hamilton’s Mercedes.
“As we’ve seen with many, many drivers, they sometimes have a look around to see what is going on with the other cars,” Christian Horner, Team Principal of Red Bull Racing, said on the Sky Sports broadcast as Practice 2 began. “That’s all it was; nothing more. We’ve had drivers pull out clutch panels, we’ve had heads in cockpits, we’ve had front wings tested. It’s not unusual.”
According to Formula One, “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. 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.”
Hamilton’s wing was impounded overnight.
Both title contenders could face penalties this weekend.