Max Verstappen and Red Bull have survived an appeal from Mercedes on whether the Dutchman should be punished following his defensive driving against Lewis Hamilton at the Sao Paulo Grand Prix.
Verstappen’s move that saw him as well as Hamilton forced off track at Interlagos while battling for the lead on lap 48 went unpunished on the day, but Mercedes sought a review after new footage from Verstappen’s car emerged after the race.
Race stewards admitted that the on-board camera footage was ‘new’, ‘unavailable at the time’ and ‘relevant’ but crucially was not significant in determining a different outcome to the ‘racing incident’ verdict given during the race.
Max Verstappen (left) has survived a Mercedes appeal for a review in regards to his defensive driving with Lewis Hamilton (right) at the Sao Paulo Grand Prix last Sunday
Mercedes have called for a new review after on board footage emerged of the incident in which Verstappen forced his Mercedes rival off track at Interlagos
With just 14 points separating Verstappen from Hamilton with three races to go, the ruling could have a dramatic impact on the world championship.
Hamilton did manage to eventually pass Verstappen to win in Brazil. A possible punishment could have seen Verstappen hit with a retrospective five-second time penalty which would have dropped him to third behind Valtteri Bottas and trim his title lead down to 11 points.
After starting an investigation into the right of review on Thursday, the stewards resumed Mercedes request on Friday morning before confirming that no further action was warranted against Verstappen.
Verstappen pushed Hamilton wide of track but the Red Bull escaped any punishment
The outcome of this appeal could have a huge impact on the title chase with three races left
In a statement explaining the decision, the FIA said: ‘The stewards often must make a decision quickly and on a limited set of information.
‘At the time of the decision, the stewards felt they had sufficient information to make a decision, which subsequently broadly aligned with the immediate post-race comments of both drivers involved.’
Asked on Thursday if he would make the manoeuvre again, Verstappen said: ‘Yes. As a driver, you know exactly what you can and can’t do in the car.
After stating after the race he thought the move was fair, Hamilton then changed his opinion of the incident after discovering the footage from on top of Verstappen’s car
‘We were fighting hard, braking late into the corner, and the tyres were worn. If I had turned more abruptly to the left he would have just spun off.’
Hamilton, who produced one of his most outstanding drives to grab his 101st career win, was uncomplaining immediately afterwards, but on Thursday said: ‘It is difficult to judge when you haven’t seen all the angles. I’ve relooked at it and I have a different viewpoint, naturally, now.’
The news will come as a huge boost for Verstappen following the bitter defeat in Brazil, on a day where he also set the pace in the first practice session for the Qatar Grand Prix.