That could be a preliminary decision in the world title fight with Max Verstappen: Lewis Hamilton was subsequently disqualified from qualifying – because of an offense.
Serious and possibly decisive setback for Mercedes star Lewis Hamilton in the Formula 1 title fight: The race stewards have classified the rear wing of the record world champion used in qualifying as illegal. Hamilton was then disqualified from qualifying in Sao Paulo, in which he secured first place on the grid for the sprint on Saturday (8.30 p.m. CET / Sky). Hamilton has to tackle this from the back of the field, while his rival Max Verstappen moves up from second place.
The stewards had also investigated the Dutchman, but left it with a fine of 50,000 euros. After qualifying, Verstappen examined the rear wing of his Red Bull and touched it, which he then repeated on Hamilton’s Mercedes. In doing so, Verstappen violated the Parc-ferme rules.
However, the stewards made it clear that Verstappen had “only exerted a small amount of force” on the rear wing of Hamilton’s racing car. “No direct damage” was caused. Nevertheless, drivers and teams were urged to refrain from doing this in the future. In other cases, “different penalties” could be imposed, said the World Automobile Federation FIA.
The accusation against Hamilton was much more serious: when the Drag Reduction System (DRS) was used, the adjustable rear wing opened wider than the regulations allow.
“The stewards basically accepted the competitor’s explanation that the cause of the failed test was more of a ‘mishap’ than a deliberate act,” said the verdict, which did not save Hamilton from severe punishment.
In the sprint, the top three at the finish are rewarded with points (3-2-1), but above all the starting order for the Grand Prix on Sunday (6:00 p.m. CET / Sky) is determined, in which up to 26 points can be won. For the actual race, the fourth from last World Championship round of the season, Hamilton also expects a penalty transfer due to an engine change, this time by five starting positions.
The Brit already traveled to Brazil 19 points behind Red Bull driver Verstappen. Should the Dutchman leave Sao Paulo by at least 24 points, Hamilton will no longer be able to push his opponent out of the top of the championship standings on his own in the remaining three races.