Red Bull’s protest over the 10-sec time penalty that Lewis Hamilton received following contact with Max Verstappen on the first lap of the British Grand Prix has been thrown out by race stewards after a hearing on Thursday.
Red Bull’s case included a “re-enactment” by Alex Albon in a 2019 car, but stewards ruled that there was a lack of relevant substantial and fresh evidence provided by the Milton Keynes team.
Although the review was refused, the controversy doesn’t look to be over, with Mercedes accusing Red Bull of attempting to tarnish Lewis Hamilton’s name with its appeal presentation, ahead of this weekend’s Humgarian Grand Prix.
Red Bull had protested the 10-sec time penalty that Lewis Hamilton received following contact with Max Verstappen on the first lap of the British Grand Prix.
It had made clear it felt the penalty applied to Hamilton during the race was too lenient and did not fit the crime in its view, despite regulations stipulating incidents are judged on merit rather than any additional consequences.
While Christian Horner and Helmut Marko were eager to highlight the 51g impact Verstappen’s car suffered as it hit the tyre barriers at Copse corner, there were no fresh materials brought forward by Red Bull to warrant a re-opening of the investigation into Hamilton’s actions, as per the official documentation on the decision.
Why did Red Bull ask for a review of the incident?
After Lewis Hamilton pitted and served his 10-second time penalty, his victory at the British Grand Prix looked difficult, but in the final stint the Mercedes driver put in fastest laps to close down and eventually overtake Charles Leclerc for the victory.
With Max Verstappen sidelined and scoring zero points due to the lap one crash, his championship lead was cut from 32 points down to eight. Red Bull felt that the in-race punishment was not sufficient for Hamilton.
Following a week of reflection and exploring of options, Red Bull invoked its right of review in order to have the case re-examined by race stewards. To have the decision changed and punishment increased, the team would have to provide new, previously unseen evidence to offer new light on the incident.
So what previously unseen elements did Red Bull provide exactly?
What evidence did Red Bull provide?
Red Bull’s fresh ‘evidence’ was actually created by the team for the meeting in Hungary, rather than unearthed footage or angles that were missed from the British GP weekend.
Four elements were part of Red Bull’s argument and included:
- GPS data from Lewis Hamiton and Max Verstappen on the opening lap of the British Grand Prix at Turn Nine
- ‘Various alleged comparisons’ between the lines taken by Verstappen and Charles Leclerc and Hamilton during the latter’s overtaking attempt on both.
- Various lap simulations of the incident
- “a re-enactment of Hamilton’s lap one line at Silverstone on July 22, 2021” – based on a lap allegedly driven by another driver (Alexander Albon)
So none of the slides Red Bull brought forward actually included any unseen evidence from the relevant race weekend but rather a creation of a case that used elements created by the team that fell short of the requirements.
Albon’s so-called ‘re-enactment’ was completed following a Red Bull/Pirelli tyre test date and took up use of one of two filming days available to teams per season.
Against the required criteria Red Bull had to meet in order to have the investigation re-opened, its offerings fell short of the standard on several levels, explained further in the stewards document.
What did the stewards decide?
After hearing the ‘evidence’ Red Bull had provided, stewards decided to reject the appeal into the penalty.
Any new evidence presented must satisfy four elements: is a new element, is significant and relevant, is discovered (not created), and was unavailable to competitor at the time of original decision.
When the above criteria was applied, stewards determined that:
- There was no “significant and relevant new element discovered which was unavailable to the parties seeking the review at the time of the decision concerned.”
- Slides that were relied upon as evidence were not discovered, rather they were created for submission purposes and using data that was available at the time. This “clearly does not satisfy the requirements of Article 14.”
What else happened?
With the Red Bull review thrown out, it is usually the end of the story but Mercedes fired back with an explosive statement of its own that has prompted a great deal of speculation as to what else Red Bull included in its presentation.
“The Stewards note, with some concern, certain allegations made in the Competitor’s (Red Bull) above letter. Such allegations may or may not have been relevant to the Stewards if the Petition for Review had been granted. The Stewards may have addressed these allegations directly in any decision that would have followed. The Petition having been dismissed, the Stewards make no comments on those allegations.”
Three team representatives from Mercedes were required to be at the hearing in Hungary and reportedly saw the letter in questions and will not comment on the contents.
The team’s response though took direct aim at Red Bull’s conduct during and following the British Grand Prix.
— Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team (@MercedesAMGF1) July 29, 2021
“The Mercedes F1 Team welcomes the decision of the stewards to reject Red Bull Racing’s right of review,”the statement said.
“In addition to bringing this incident to a close, we hope that this decision will mark the end of a concerted attempt by the senior management of Red Bull Racing to tarnish the good name and sporting integrity of Lewis Hamilton, including in the documents submitted for their unsuccessful right of review.
“We now look forward to going racing this weekend and to continuing our hard-fought competition for the 2021 Formula One World Championship.”