In a controversial clash on lap 48 of last weekend’s Sao Paulo Grand Prix, championship rivals Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton came together on track, with the seven-time champion passing the Red Bull driver around the outside of turn 4. In defending his position, Verstappen braked late into the corner and ran wide, forcing Hamilton to do the same and cede the position in order to avoid a collision.
The stewards and race director Michael Masi noted the incident but deemed no investigation was necessary. It has now become apparent that onboard footage from Verstappen’s perspective was not available at the time of the decision. Speaking to motorsport.com, race director Masi confirmed the footage was not available at the time.
"No, it was only that the cameras that are broadcast, as I've said before, which is basically what we have access to throughout, The forward facing, the 360, there's all of the camera angles that we don't get live that will be downloaded and we'll have a look at them post-race," he said. "It hasn't been obtained yet. It's been requested."
Masi confirmed that the forward facing footage may have, if available at the time, led to another conclusion.
"Could be, absolutely. Possibly. But no, we didn't have access to it. And obviously, it's being downloaded. And once the commercial rights holder supplies it, we'll have a look."
Five laps to go in Interlagos!!! Lewis six seconds clear as we enter the final stages. 🖤😍 pic.twitter.com/75HNae23NX— Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team (@MercedesAMGF1) November 14, 2021
Rivals Mercedes felt the move warranted a penalty and was not in line with other recent calls by the stewards, while Masi claimed the principals of “let them race” were applied.
"I'd disagree that it's inconsistent. You have a look at it, and as I've said many times before, you judge the incident on its merits, and you have a look at all of it.” he said.
"And let's not forget, we have the overall let them race principles, and looking at it all, with all of the angles that we had available, that philosophy was adopted."
"I think if you look proximity of the cars, getting into the apex, where it is, nature of the corner. The fact that both cars went off, neither car lost position or anything like that, that was probably the general view of it." He explained.
"If you sort of keep going a little bit further, they're give or take about side on side. So I think for the benefit of everyone, it was let them race, so let them race."
Masi did consider a black and white flag for Verstappen but decided against it.
"I did, it certainly came into my mind, and then I sort of looked at it a few more times, and it wasn't far off a black and white flag, to be brutally honest, for Max."
Verstappen did receive a black and white flag later on for weaving on the straight while defending, a decision Masi defended.
"It's absolutely clear cut that's something we've discussed last year at the drivers' request, I might add, the weaving in the straight. We said we will crack down on it. And that was very simple."
Mercedes, today, confirmed a request to a right of review: https://www.motorlat.com/notas/f1/23076/f1-mercedes-request-a-right-of-review-following-verstappen-and-hamilton-incident-at-interlagos