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Red Bull are surprised that Mercedes have asked for a review of the decision not to penalise Max Verstappen for an incident with Lewis Hamilton during the Sao Paulo Grand Prix, according to reports.
On lap 48 of the Brazil race, Hamilton was forced wide by Verstappen into Turn 4 as he tried to overtake his rival to snatch first place in the latest episode of what is a tight and tense title race.
While the race stewards noted the incident, they decided against investigating it with Red Bull arguing the incident was merely hard racing. Hamilton himself said afterwards: “It was fine. This is what a world championship battle should look like.”
Despite that, the Silver Arrows have now requested a right of review after new evidence came out on Monday, which is thought to be the release of Verstappen’s on-board camera footage.
The footage was not available to the stewards on Sunday and if Mercedes’s appeal is accepted, Verstappen may face a penalty for the upcoming Qatar Grand Prix or a retrospective time penalty could be added to demote the Dutchman to third and promote Valtteri Bottas to second in Interlagos.
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That would have ramifications for both the Drivers’ and Constructors’ Championships with Verstappen currently 14 points head of Hamilton in the former and Mercedes leading the latter by 11 points.
But BBC Sport report that Red Bull sources say the Milton Keynes-based team are surprised that Mercedes have made the request.
Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff had labelled it “laughable” that Verstappen escaped punishment after Hamilton had hit by a 10-second penalty back in July at the British Grand Prix in an incident that was vaguely similar.
Race director Michael Masi said: “I think if you look proximity of the cars, getting into the apex, where it is, nature of the corner. The fact that both cars went off, neither car lost position or anything like that, that was probably the general view of it.
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“If you sort of keep going a little bit further, they’re give or take about side on side. So I think for the benefit of everyone, it was let them race, so let them race.
“It [a black and white flag] certainly came into my mind, and then I sort of looked at it a few more times, and it wasn’t far off a black and white flag, to be brutally honest, for Max.”
Yet Masi also conceded that footage from Verstappen’s on-board camera could “absolutely” be a smoking gun and could offer new insight into the driver’s manoeuvre, adding: “Once the commercial rights holder supplies it, we’ll have a look.”
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Red Bull boss Christian Horner meanwhile said in his assessment of the situation: “It is two guys running hard and Lewis has got a run around the outside. Max has gone in deep and they have both gone wide, so it would have been really unfair to penalise on that.
“If it was the other way around, I would have let my sporting director have a moan about it but I wouldn’t have expected anything from it.
“[Give a] Penalty for what? There is no advantage gained and no contact that has been made. I think it is just hard racing between the two of them.
“I think actually the stewards made the right decision on that. We have talked about this many, many times about the let them race mentality, and I think they made the right call today.
“With Max, he is going to race hard and Lewis is exactly the same. That is two guys fighting for a world championship so it is going to be tough racing. But I think it was fair and there was no contact and they recommenced it a few laps later.”
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