Why Verstappen, Hamilton weren't investigated over "revenge foul" F1 clash

Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton were not investigated over their Austrian Grand Prix sprint Q1 impeding exchange after Mercedes opted not raise queries with the FIA after its communication “mistake”. 

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W14

Toto Wolff did, however, call Verstappen’s driving at Turn 1, after the Red Bull driver had been held up by Hamilton at the final corner with just 12 seconds remaining in Q1, a “revenge foul”.  

Verstappen in turn expressed his annoyance at Hamilton’s driving in the incident and then claimed the second part of what happened was simply “a bit of a shame”. 

What happened in sprint Q1 

Hamilton was preparing for a final Q1 effort as the seconds kicked down to the chequered flag, having had his best time deleted in the first part of the weekend’s second qualifying session for running too wide at the final corner – a lap that would have been enough to progress had it been legal. 

He was driving slowly to build a gap to Yuki Tsunoda ahead and was not warned about Verstappen’s fast arrival on a flying lap by Mercedes until the Dutchman was right behind him. 

The pair then accelerated onto the pit straight, where Hamilton began his flier and Verstappen finished his before the Red Bull then out-dragged and overtook the Mercedes approaching the first corner. 

Verstappen then appeared not to accelerate as normal from the uphill, 90-degree right-hander before gesticulating angrily at Hamilton from the cockpit of his RB19, while aboard the W14 Hamilton said, “Verstappen just quit his lap”. 

The result of the incident meant Hamilton did not have time to set another lap and he was subsequently knocked out in 18th, where he started the Red Bull Ring weekend’s first race, while Verstappen went through with the second-quickest Q1 time.  

He set his personal best in that segment even after coming across Hamilton in Turn 10. 

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19

Photo by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images

What the two sides said of the incident 

Autosport asked both sides to explain the incident following Verstappen’s win in the sprint race from Sergio Perez - a race in which Hamilton finished 10th - and contacted the FIA for an explanation of what happened. 

Verstappen was speaking in the post-race press conference, while Mercedes’ perspective is represented by Wolff – speaking in his usual Saturday media call. 

Max Verstappen: "He blocked me into the last corner, so I had to brake more and I lost like three-tenths. So that wasn’t ideal [and] I think not correct. But there were still a few seconds on the clock [and] I wasn’t sure that lap time was going to be safe, so I wanted to continue. But, yeah, [I] ran out of time and space with the two cars like that. Which was a bit of a shame." 

Toto Wolff: "Yeah so I think the mistake happened on our side – communication between us and Lewis, didn’t give him the right information to get out of Max’s way. And I think no one wants to be in anybody’s way because if you impede, you’re getting penalised. So, that was not the aim. 

"On the other side, Turn 1 was a revenge foul. It was just to make sure that his [Lewis’s] lap was ruined. So, one was not intentional but the other one was intentional. But, who cares? At the end, we looked at it – was it going to change our race or not? But I think they’re gonna talk about it in the drivers’ briefing next week."  

Why there was not even an FIA investigation 

Immediately after the incident occurred, Autosport understands that neither Mercedes nor Red Bull reported the clash to race control.

Then, at no stage in sprint qualifying did the FIA timing and information system announce that their driving had been noted by race control and so sent on to the stewards to assess whether it warranted a full investigation. 

Toto Wolff, Team Principal and CEO, Mercedes-AMG, is interviewed on stage

Toto Wolff, Team Principal and CEO, Mercedes-AMG, is interviewed on stage

Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

Mercedes is understood to have subsequently mentioned what occurred to the FIA, but not with the intention of starting an investigation, as it was aware its lack of information to its driver had started the whole saga, with Hamilton also likely at risk of a penalty for blocking Verstappen. 

It is understood that the FIA will indeed speak with all the drivers about the incident at the pre-British GP drivers’ meeting as Wolff stated. 

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