Max Verstappen joked that the stewards of the Sao Paulo Grand Prix can treat themselves to dinner and several bottles of expensive wine after they fined him €50,000 for touching Lewis Hamilton’s car in parc ferme after Friday qualifying.
Verstappen was caught physically inspecting the rear wing of Hamilton’s car immediately after the session, which the stewards determined was a breach of the International Sporting Code (ISC). Only track officials and members of the FIA are allowed to touch the cars while they are in parc ferme conditions in order to avoid drivers or team members altering the state of the car.
The drag reduction system (DRS) on the rear wing of Hamilton’s car was later found to be in breach of the technical regulations when it was put under a load test by the FIA, resulting in Hamilton being disqualified from Friday’s results and starting Saturday’s sprint race from the back of the grid.
On Saturday morning, the stewards called Verstappen and a Mercedes team representative to two separate hearings over the incident and determined that Verstappen’s actions had no bearing on the results of the load tests or Hamilton’s disqualification.
However, they still deemed Verstappen touching Hamilton’s car in parc ferme as a breach of the ISC and fined him €50,000, warning all drivers that similar incidents in the future could result in sporting penalties.
“It’s quite a big fine, so I hope they have a nice dinner and a lot of wine — I hope good, expensive wine, that would be nice,” Verstappen joked when asked about the financial penalty in a news conference. “They can invite me for dinner as well, I will pay for that dinner too.”
When Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas, who was sat next to Verstappen in the news conference, asked him if he had to pay the fine or if Red Bull picked up the bill, Verstappen added: “I do have to pay. So that’s a little bit less FIFA points for me on my laptop.”
Verstappen was then asked what he was looking for on Hamilton’s wing.
“Well I was clearly looking at the wing!” he said. “So, yeah, you can see on the video what I did exactly.
“I was just looking at how much the rear wing was flexing at that point …
“Of course, there are still things to look into because at a certain speed it seems like the wing is flexing [down] and, of course, at the beginning of the season we all had to change the rear wing a bit because of the back off [of the wing under aerodynamic load].
“But it seems like something is still backing off over there. So that’s why I went and had a look.
“It had nothing to do with the DRS or what they [the stewards] were looking at.”
Verstappen started Saturday’s sprint race from pole position but lost first place to Bottas at the first corner, meaning he will start second in Sunday’s Sao Paulo Grand Prix.