In terms of Hamilton, it is done Investigation to find out if Mercedes has broken DRS laws, while Verstappen summoned over accusations that he illegally touched the rear spoiler of his opponent’s car, under the closed pitlane law..
Both incidents may have significant consequences, amid fierce competition between them. So there is very much value to the judges’ decision now.
Let’s discuss both issues separately!
What happened with Hamilton and DRS?
On Friday evening, Joe Bauer, the technical representative for the FIA, sent a note to the stewards in which he indicated that he believed that the rear spoiler of Hamilton’s car did not comply with the regulations.
In his note, he said: “The revised positions of the upper rear wing component were inspected on car number 44 in line with Article 3.6.3 of the F1 Technical Regulations for 2021.”
He added: “The minimum distance required has been met. However, the maximum distance requirement of 85mm, when the DRS system is activated and tested in accordance with Technical Directive TD/011-19, has not been met.”
The technical laws in § 3.6.3 cover this issue clearly, indicating that when the spoiler is closed, the distance between its sections (or components) should be between 10 and 15 mm.
Open rear spoiler
Photography: Giorgio Piola
When the spoiler is open – that is, in the position in which DRS is used to overtake in the race – the distance must be between 10 and 85 millimeters.
This means that the distance must be a maximum of 85 millimeters, and any distance greater is considered a violation of the laws, and may lead to more speed on the straight sections.
How is it verified?
Photo by: Aston Martin
Photo by: Aston Martin
Photo by: Aston Martin
Obviously, it is impossible for the FIA to verify that distance when the car is on the track.
However, there are protocols that can be checked when the car is parked within the closed pit lane.
Paragraph TD/110-19 explains how, through a special device used by the “VIA” to ensure the compliance of the DRS with the laws.
You can watch how this method works in the video below:
Observers in Interlagos revealed that the “FIA” conducted a lengthy examination with that device, as Bauer took pictures on his phone showing an employee of the “FIA” working on it.
What is the explanation?
Mercedes has not yet spoken about the issue publicly. But there seems to be some complications behind it.
On Friday evening, after several hours of deliberation, the judges decided to postpone their decision until Saturday morning, which means that the matter is not a simple matter.
The stewards requested that the Mercedes rear spoiler be quarantined and sealed, for further investigation.
This delinquent will be the same design the team has used throughout the season, as there are no indications that the team is deliberately looking for loopholes in the DRS rules.
Among the possibilities, the possibility of breaking the delinquent during qualifying, which explains the additional width mentioned.
Red Bull had also had some rear spoiler issues in recent races with Verstappen’s car.
This is something Verstappen probably felt, and it led to the closed pit line incident and then the possibility of him breaking the laws as well.
What did Verstappen do?
As news of the investigation into Hamilton’s car spread on Friday evening, a follower captured a video of the closed pitlane right after qualifying, adding to further speculation.
In the video, which was widely shared on social media, Verstappen is seen checking the rear spoiler of his car as the three cars were parked within the closed pit lane area.
In particular, he was seen examining the difference between the components of the DRS, perhaps to check if there was a problem or to check the flexibility of the delinquent.
But surprisingly, Verstappen went to Hamilton’s car and did the same to the rear spoiler of the Mercedes, touching it.
This is a violation of a very strict law that prevents anyone from touching cars in the closed lane line, in order to prevent any interference or modification to them.
Paragraph 2.5.1 of the Regulations states: “Inside the Closed Barn Line (Park Fermi), only relevant personnel are permitted to enter. No operations, inspections, alterations or repairs are permitted except when formally approved by the same personnel or Depending on the laws that apply.
There is little doubt that Verstappen is breaking the rules, especially since it is not unusual for drivers to check their opponents’ cars, and this is what Sebastian Vettel has done many times.
Several videos show the German examining the tires and cars there and feeling the differences and distances with his feet.
And while it doesn’t appear that Verstappen was pushing too hard or trying to change a component, he is not likely to cause any changes to Hamilton’s wing components.
But he touched a part of the car that is heavily stressed in the technical regulations.
The Dutchman will therefore have to give an explanation of what he has done to the referees at a hearing on Saturday morning.
What are the expected penalties?
It is not inconceivable that both drivers’ results will be disqualified from qualifying if the stewards find that they have already broken the rules.
Perhaps Hamilton’s case is more serious, as if the stewards find his car is breaking the rules, it means that the qualifying result is automatically disqualified.
In Verstappen’s case, things are open to different interpretations by each referee – with four referees.
Although what he did seems innocent, the idea that he touched “exactly” the part of Hamilton’s delinquency, which is under investigation, means that the matter is not so simple.
Mercedes may take this idea as evidence that a simple touch can change the distance between the spoiler components, even if this seems at least theoretical, far from reality.
With all this tension in the battle between the two stars, and the importance of each point in deciding the title, the results of the judges’ decision will play a big role indeed!
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