Ahead of this weekend's Hungarian Grand Prix, Red Bull has lodged a formal request for the FIA to review the stewards' decision over the crash between Formula 1 title rivals Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen at the British Grand Prix.
The incident in question happened on the opening lap of the British Grand Prix when Lewis Hamilton was desperate to get past his championship rival Max Verstappen. The Briton failed to pass the Dutchman at the start and was chasing him aggressively through the first corners.
When the pair approached the National Straight, Hamilton totally closed in on Verstappen and went to the inside of the entry of Copse. The seven-time world champion braked late, missed the apex and tagged the right rear of Verstappen’s RB16B. The Red Bull driver was taken out of the race in a 51G impact that required a hospital visit for precautionary checks. The crash caused a huge damage to the Red Bull car, leaving the team with a bill for a whopping £1.3million ($1.8 million) to repair the damage.
While Hamilton was handed a ten-second penalty, he could still win the race and cut Verstappen’s championship lead down to just eight points.
With Red Bull unimpressed by the penalty, the Milton Keynes-based outfit launched a challenge to review the incident, sending a document to the FIA on Friday July 23 which contains their petition.
Up to three representatives from Mercedes and Red Bull are required to attend the virtual meeting at 4pm local time on Thursday afternoon in Budapest. At first, Red Bull needs to present new and significant information at the meeting and the stewards will then decide whether or not a review is viable.
Speaking in his post-race column last Friday, Team Principal Christian Horner said of Verstappen’s conditions: “That was the biggest accident Max has had in his racing career and the first, and hopefully last time he’s hospitalised. When Max was unable to respond on the team radio, time stood still.
“In that moment you forget everything else apart from the safety of the driver, a person who is like family to all of us and it reminds you of the risk and reward in our sport. When he was finally able to speak, the relief was enormous and then to see him helped out of the car by the medical team, albeit somewhat dazed and in need of support, was an incredible feeling.”
The radio messages disclosed that Mercedes Team Principal Toto Wolff tried to influence the race stewards and the FIA Race Director Michael Masi by sending information via email. Horner was left unimpressed by his rival's behaviour: “The stewards themselves are, and always have been, a totally independent body and during the 16 and a half seasons I have been Team Principal, I have never walked into the stewards' room in the middle of a race or session.
"It was brought to my attention through the TV broadcast that Toto was going to see the stewards with information he had tried to email to Michael before they had ruled on a penalty. It is a little bit like trying to lobby a jury while they make their final verdict. The Stewards are locked away to ensure they are independent of external influence in order to reach their own conclusions.
“So having heard that Toto was lobbying the stewards, I went up to see them and raised the point that neither of us should be there and it was not appropriate for anyone to interfere while the decision making process was underway.
“It is also detailed in the sporting code that this is not acceptable and I am now pleased to see that the FIA have clarified that this sort of lobbying will not be tolerated in the future as it may well pressure the stewards into a decision that is not wholly fair or impartial,” Horner concluded.