The bigger mysteries prompted by FIA’s Red Bull rejection

The FIA’s rejection of Red Bull’s request to review the British Grand Prix crash between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen surprised few in Formula 1.

The bigger mysteries prompted by FIA’s Red Bull rejection

After all, with Hamilton having already been sanctioned for the accident based on video and telemetry data, there was little chance of Red Bull being able to cross the threshold of providing some new ‘significant’ and ‘relevant’ evidence to the FIA.

As Ferrari found out to its cost in 2019, when it proposed using a Karun Chandhok Sky TV piece to try to convince the stewards to reopen the investigation over Sebastian Vettel’s Canadian GP penalty, the FIA takes no prisoners when it comes to its criteria being fulfilled.

For however strong teams feel that their new elements may be, the FIA is quite strict about what it demands when it comes to getting the stewards back together again.

In this case, the slides that Red Bull produced of the accident, of Hamilton’s overtaking of Charles Leclerc as a comparison and a re-enactment of Hamilton’s driving line by Alex Albon were not enough to justify a fresh look at the case.

But while the outcome is not a shock to many, the FIA statement surrounding the evidence and Red Bull’s actions has prompted some fresh intrigue that has yet to be explained.

Alexander Albon, Red Bull Racing RB15

Alexander Albon, Red Bull Racing RB15

Photo by: Red Bull Content Pool

The filming day

One of the key points that emerged from the stewards’ ruling was the push by Red Bull to “create” evidence to support its claim, as opposed to discovering evidence.

While Red Bull did present “simulations of the incident”, the team went much further: it literally recreated the line that Hamilton took into Copse at Silverstone with one of its cars to prove a point.

The stewards said that Red Bull presented slides "which showed a ’re-enactment of Hamilton's Lap 1 line at Silverstone on 22 July 2021..’ based on a lap allegedly driven by another driver (Alexander Albon).”

Albon was in action last week for Red Bull in the 2021-spec RB16B car, taking part in the Pirelli tyre test. But all of his running in that was completed on the Tuesday after the British Grand Prix - which was 20 July.

Further Pirelli running took place on 21 July, but 22 July saw Red Bull hold a filming day at the track using its 2019-spec Red Bull RB15.

Video footage of the test that day later emerged.

 

As the RB15 is more than two years old, Red Bull is able complete as much private running as it wishes.

Plus, putting reserve and test driver Albon in the cockpit to stay match sharp hardly seemed like anything of note.

But the stewards’ statement revealed that this filming day was at least in part used to try and get Albon to recreate Hamilton’s line into Copse, most probably to show that he was never going to make the corner and was carrying far too much speed.

To go as far as using part of a filming day to try and re-enact Hamilton’s line shows the lengths - and cost - Red Bull was willing to go to in a bid to fight its case. But was the whole filming day pulled together simply to boost the evidence file?

But no matter how realistic Albon’s recreation was, Red Bull was never going to find “significant and relevant evidence” by going back on-track and attempting to recreate the incident.

As the stewards pointed out, this cannot be deemed a discovery, as is required for the right of review process to move further forward.

The stewards themselves said evidence was “not ‘discovered’ but created for the purposes of submissions to support the Petition for Review.”

There is also an element of irony that it was Albon who completed the re-enactment, given he has twice been involved in collisions with Hamilton (Brazil 2019, Austria 2020).

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB16B is loaded onto a truck after his crash

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB16B is loaded onto a truck after his crash

Photo by: Sutton Images

The mystery allegations

Perhaps an even bigger mystery is the direct reference that the FIA made to some ‘allegations’ that Red Bull put forward in a letter to the governing body.

On July 23, when the team lodged its request for the FIA to review the British GP incident, it appears that Red Bull included some strongly worded claims in a covering letter that supported its hoped-for new evidence.

The FIA statement from the Hungaroring said: “The Stewards note, with some concern, certain allegations made in the Competitor's 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.”

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It is not known what these allegations made by Red Bull are, but it is obvious that the team went on the attack.

In the Mercedes statement issued on Thursday it made reference to Red Bull having attempted to ‘tarnish’ Hamilton’s ‘good name and sporting integrity’ in these documents.

But while it is understood that Red Bull’s anger over Hamilton’s driving was an element of the letter, it is more likely that the FIA stewards would only make such a comment were its criticisms directly aimed at the governing body or its officials.

Red Bull had been clear that it felt Hamilton’s actions should have warranted a tougher sanction, which suggests it felt the stewards had been too weak in their handling of the matter.

The team also disagreed with the FIA’s decision that Hamilton had been ‘predominantly’ to blame for the accident rather than wholly.

Thursday’s FIA ruling should at least mean that the controversy over the British GP incident can move away from being F1’s main focus right now and attention switch back to action on the track in Hungary.

But judging by the latest statements from both teams, this is almost certainly not going to be the last battle of their F1 2021 war.

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