Mercedes’ appeal for a review of their decision not to penalise Red Bull’s championship leader Max Verstappen for a racing collision with Lewis Hamilton was denied on Friday by Formula One stewards.
While new and pertinent video evidence had surfaced ahead of the Qatar Grand Prix, the stewards determined that it was insignificant.
Verstappen could have faced a time penalty for his race in Sao Paulo, which would have dropped him to third and narrowed the gap for Hamilton, or a grid penalty for the forthcoming race in Qatar, but he escaped both.
On Friday, Verstappen set the fastest time in the first practise session for the inaugural Qatar Grand Prix at the Losail circuit.
In a dusty but uneventful practice, the Dutch 24-year-old set the fastest time of one minute 23.723 seconds. Pierre Gasly of AlphaTauri, who also has a Honda engine, finished second and 0.437 seconds slower with a late rapid run.
Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas was third on the timesheets, 0.471 seconds behind Verstappen, with Hamilton fourth. Hamilton finished 0.786 seconds slower than his title opponent, and he also drove wide at turn 14 over kerbs before pitting with a damaged front wing.
Toto Wolff, the CEO of Mercedes-Benz, said he “completely expected” the FIA to deny their plea for a right of review although the team believed the emergence of new footage from Verstappen’s on-board camera would be decisive.
“Completely expected,” Wolff said moments after the verdict was announced.
“We wanted to trigger a discussion around it because probably it will be a theme in the next few races and I think that objective is achieved. We didn’t really think it would go any further.”