A “Right of Review” is what Mercedes has asked for now that onboard video of Max Verstappen’s defense at turn 4 against Lewis Hamilton in Brazil has become available. The team found it “laughable” that the Stewards of the Sao Paulo race did not investigate or penalize Max for his defensive driving.
It was revealed during the race that the stewards did not have access to the onboard camera at the time of the incident so now Mercedes is asking the FIA to review the new evidence. If the FIA do find it egregious, there could be a retroactive penalty for Max at the next race this weekend.
When asked, other drivers were a bit more ambivalent about the incident with Sebastian Vettel suggesting this right of review process may be pointless:
“I think time goes one way, so what changes? I don’t think anything changes. I think Lewis drove a great race. He won. He was faster. That’s it.”
Fernando Alonso said he didn’t have “an opinion because it’s very different from time to time”, but doubted there would be additional action.
“Nothing should happen now,” Alonso said. “I don’t know exactly if it was too bad, but the stewards, they considered that there was no penalty there, there will be no penalty, I guess.”
For McLaren driver Daniel Ricciardo, he sees a tough and tight battle saying:
“Whether the move was call it right or wrong, fighting for a win and I guess the championship at this stage, you’re going to try and fight as long as you can, and try to do everything you can to hold onto that lead,” Ricciardo said.
“Obviously that one took them both off, so maybe that was over the limit.
“I’d say it’s too hard, because no one made the corner. So you could say that. But I think the approach is unchanged.
“I’m not in that position, fighting for a world title, I think you’re going to fight to the end. I don’t know if that will change if that happened again.”
From Max’s perspective, it was a good battle and he defended his line into he corner:
“Yes. You know, as a driver, I think we know exactly what we can or cannot do in a car.
“We were fighting hard, braking late into the corner, the tyres were quite worn. If I would have turned more abrupt to the left, you just spin off the track.
“So that’s why we are the drivers. We try to control the car.”
The press asked if he had gone back and watched the onboard camera:
“I didn’t need to look at the footage because I was driving the car,” he said. “I know exactly what happened.
“And like I said last time out, I thought it was a great battle and I had a lot of fun as well out there.
“At the end of the day, they won the race. Fair enough. They were faster than us. But yeah, it was a good battle.”
The thing I keep thinking about here is how this would have been handled in the past versus the new era of litigation and the continuous quest for a victim and perpetrator. Maybe it’s a sign of the times where in every case there must be a villain and a victim but I tend to see two driver’s battling hard with one braking very late on worn tires and taking a wide line through the corner to close the door and shut off a pass while the other driver made a head’s up move to avoid touching.
Max has a history of making corners difficult but if you ask Alex Albon, he may say that Lewis is very good at it too. In the past, this continuous desire to have on-track driving constantly litigated and micromanaged by the FIA is something I do not think Bernie Ecclestone or Max Mosley would have entertained much. This is the notion that Red Bull argued during the race, this is a case of letting them race.
From the Mercedes standpoint, they are going to complain for sure because driving out wide and running your guy off the track is not fun. If you’re newer to F1 then you may not have seen much of this in the past but it has always been a part of F1 and equally a part of racing…good or bad. Lewis himself has been in some hard battles making corners wide and being aggressive. It is what I like about Lewis—he’s a tiger in the car and doesn’t leave much on the table. Neither does Max.
I think Lewis’s move at Silverstone was aggressive as were his moves against Albon but I think Max’s move in Brazil was also aggressive as was his move in against Charles Leclerc. These two are fighting for a championship and they are not going to make it easy for each other. Lewis is not easy to pass or keep behind you and that’s what makes him such a great driver. Equally, Max isn’t either and he too is a very talented driver. That’s F1.
I think Bernie would have viewed all the excitement and controversy as great for F1 but to litigate the drama and controversy out of F1 would be to reduce the entertainment value and buzz about the sport so they would not have tried to litigate this as to prevent anyone from doing anything on track in the future.
Having said that, there is an issue with consistency in the stewarding and once again, I’ve argued for years now that there should be a consistent stewarding team to bring consistency into the sport but that’s not the model the FIA uses. Then again, the invited stewards and lack of consistency certainly has tongues wagging and maybe that’s why they do it?