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The moments of Mercedes that the stewards did not investigate

The moments of Mercedes that the stewards did not investigate

06-12-2021 09:40 Last update: 11:08


Max Verstappen was given an additional ten-second penalty by the stewards on Sunday evening for braking unnecessarily hard. Online there was a lot of misunderstanding about the penalty. Why was the Dutchman penalised and why was there no investigation into the incidents of Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas during the race weekend? We've listed all the moments and outcomes from the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix for you.

Hamilton drives on under double yellow

During free practice, Hamilton already made it difficult for himself with two offences. Firstly he drove under a double yellow flag. There was clear footage of Hamilton driving past a yellow light. The stewards investigated this and determined that a penalty wasn't necessary.

The stewards stated: "The Race Director reported to the Stewards that the double yellow flag warning on the FIA Marshalling System was activated at Light Panel Number 6 accidentally, for less than 1 second. As the on-board video of Car 44 clearly shows, there was no yellow flag displayed, no yellow lights were displayed to that driver and the yellow warning light was not visible on the driver’s steering wheel."

Max Verstappen picked up a penalty for a similar offence in Qatar. However, in Saudi Arabia, the stewards noted that unlike previous events in 2021. "There was no yellow flag or yellow light displayed to the driver (the driver already being well into the marshalling sector when the system was briefly activated) hence no breach of the regulations has occurred."

In Qatar, Verstappen had flags waving and a yellow light. And Verstappen also acknowledged that he saw a broken down car ahead of him. "It is reasonable to expect, as was the case of the driver of Car 55, that there was a potential danger and that a yellow flag situation probably existed and therefore to take the appropriate action (i.e. to reduce speed)," the steward's report said in Qatar. 

Hamilton gets in Mazepin's way

Hamilton also got in the way of Mazepin during his fast lap. The Brit stayed in the middle of the road and the Russian had to react at the last moment. This could have ended very differently. Mazepin did well to react and get out of the way to avoid hitting the back of Hamilton's car at a high speed. The steward's report said the mitigating factor was the circuit making it difficult for drivers to use their mirrors because of the blind turns. They also said the Mercedes team were at fault and punished them with a fine. 

"The Stewards accept that this circuit presents challenges for drivers in relation to using their mirrors as the method of determining the approach of overtaking cars. Although it is the driver’s ultimate responsibility to avoid impeding, for this circuit the driver must depend upon the Team to communicate efficiently. This did not happen in this case and accordingly, the penalty for the Competitor is imposed."

Bottas nudges Raikkonen in qualifying

During qualifying, it was Valtteri Bottas who caused a stir by not making way for a faster driver. Instead of simply steering left, he stayed in the middle of the road and tapped the rear wheel of Raikkonen, who was doing a fast lap, with his front wing. Raikkonen could forget his fast lap, but there was no investigation into Bottas.

Bottas holds up Verstappen

Just like in Monaco 2019, Bottas held Verstappen up tremendously at the first safety car. In the end, this would work out well for Verstappen as it kept him on the outside and benefited from the later red flag, but the fact that Bottas was allowed to drive so slowly towards the pits gives pause for thought. It makes for unusual scenes and Bottas might therefore be able to hold up the Dutchman so badly that he couldn't even get in front of Lewis without a pit stop. 

The rules and regulations for the 2021 season state: "From the time at which all teams Competitors have been sent the “SAFETY CAR DEPLOYED” message via the official messaging system until the time that each car crosses the first safety car line for the second time, drivers must stay above the minimum time set by the FIA." Bottas' was at the low end of the delta, and Hamilton was at the high end of the delta allowing for this to happen. This was confirmed by Bottas' steering wheel and a radio message from the FIA. If Bottas was under his delta, then Red Bull would be protesting. 

Hamilton's slow warm-up lap

Heading to the grid for the second start of the Grand Prix, Hamilton took his time. Max Verstappen complained upfront that Hamilton wasn't keeping ten car lengths of distance, cooling Max's tyres. The Briton kept a big distance and there was never an investigation because the ten car lengths rule doesn't apply outside of formation laps. The lap to the grid for a standing start restart is not classed as a formation lap. 

Hamilton hits Verstappen from behind

The seven-time world champion had to go to the stewards for it, but he didn't get a penalty for hitting Verstappen. Mercedes insists that Lewis didn't know at the time. Is that really the case or did Lewis just really not want to pass right before the DRS detection point? The stewards noted both of these incidents in their report, but suggested that Verstappen's sudden braking (69 Bar and 2.4g) was the predominant cause of the collision. 

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