Max Verstappen ‘accused’ of tampering with Lewis Hamilton’s car as investigation launched

F1: Verstappen and Hamilton verbally spar

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Max Verstappen stands accused of tampering with Lewis Hamilton’s car as an investigation has been launched into an incident following Friday’s qualifying in Sao Paulo. The Mercedes man was comfortably quickest, which seemed to spark suspicion from the Dutchman. 

Hamilton was fastest in all three qualifying sessions on Friday, leaving title-rival Verstappen trailing in his wake. 

When the final times from Q3 trickled in, the Brit ended up almost almost half a second quicker than the Dutchman, with Valtteri Bottas trailing closely behind. 

After Verstappen parked up his car, he went over to take a look at Hamilton’s Mercedes before touching its rear wing. 

The 24-year-old was subsequently summoned to the stewards on Saturday morning, given the incident breached Article 2.5.1 of the International Sporting Code. 

The clause states: “Inside the Parc Ferme, only the officials assigned may enter.

“No operation, checking, tuning or repair is allowed unless authorised by the same officials or by the applicable regulations.”

Complicating matters even further is the fact that the FIA were already looking into Hamilton’s rear wing, which prompted Verstappen’s suspicions in the first place. 

FIA technical delegate Jo Bauer stated that the wing ‘did not fulfil’ the rules, being that the gap between flaps must lie between 10mm and 15mm when open. 

Mercedes were therefore due to meet with stewards on Friday evening, although that was later adjourned to Saturday morning. 

According to Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko, the Silver Arrows then proceded to blame Verstappen’s post-qualification tampering as the reason for their rear-wing issue. 

“The unbelievable thing is that Mercedes is now claiming that Max damaged Hamilton’s rear wing with his fingers,” Marko told F1 Insider. 

However, former F1 driver Karun Chandhok quickly busted that myth on social media. 

“For those asking if Max could have manipulated the wing, let’s all be clear that the wings are designed to sustain hundreds of kilos of load without breaking,” he said.

“Andre the giant could sit on it! As fit and strong as Max is, I doubt he managed to bend the wing.”

The resolution of the current investigation is being awaited ahead of Saturday evening’s sprint, due to begin at 7.30pm. 

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