Charlie Whiting today responded to questions about the Mexican Grand Prix during the Formula 1 Driver’s Press Conference in Brazil ahead of this weekend’s Brazilian Grand Prix.
The FIA Technical Director was keen to wrap up several talking points about the hotly-contested Mexican Grand Prix, hosted two weeks ago, following a series of Stewards decisions which were made after the race.
Despite Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen both cutting the track at turn 1 during the race, only Verstappen was penalised, with many wondering why Hamilton was not even investigated.
Whiting said: “We were going to ask Lewis to back right off to ensure he maintained the same distance he had going into the corner, but we could see from the data he had backed off significantly.
“Then we had the VSC followed by the Safety Car and we [felt we] had no need to take any further action.”
In what was already a unique Driver’s Press Conference due to Whiting’s presence, a TV screen off-centre was used to fully analyse the incidents from the previous race, with Whiting commenting: “[Hamilton] backs off to 80% throttle to give that advantage back.”
Whiting said that the stewards felt Hamilton had no lasting advantage after the Safety Car had come out in response to the collision at the back of the field involving Gutierez, Ericsson and Wehrlein, which had forced Wehrlein to retire due to terminal damage.
Whiting also said that the stewards felt that Verstappen had gained a lasting advantage when overtaking Vettel, in the closing stages of the race, and therefore issued a penalty to the young Dutchman which demoted him to 5th place.
Responding to comments surrounding Vettel’s targeted swearing during the closing stages of the Mexican GP, Whiting said that there were a lot of things that were said in the heat of the moment, but it was his and the FIA’s decision to accept Vettel’s swift apology, and he wished not to speak further on the matter.
Another hot topic after the race was moving-under-braking, a rule that was clarified after Verstappen’s defensive lunge at the Japanese Grand Leicester as Hamilton had tried to overtake him going into the final chicane after 130R.
The rule had come into play again in the Mexican Grand Prix as Vettel tried to defend from Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo, steering left to close the gap into the corner before the two drivers made contact.
The Stewards felt that Vettel had broken the same new rule and issued the Ferrari driver with a penalty after the race and podium celebrations had taken place – denoting him to 5th behund Verstappen who had also been penalised, and promoting Ricciardo into 3rd place.
In response to the FIA’s decision, Ricciardo said that once a driver had committed to a position under braking, it was hard to change that.
The Press Conference had initially been split into two halves, with the first half looking towards the race ahead which would be the final home race for Brazilian driver Felipe Massa.
Hamilton led the tributes, with Massa sitting beside him, as he said that Felipe had been a great friend and rival through the years, even referring to their battle for the 2008 title in a controversial rain-soaked Brazilian GP – a race which Massa had won and seemingly won the title, only for Hamilton’s last-corner-last-lap overtake on Timo Glock to seal the title win over Massa by one point.
Also in attendance for the Press Conference was championship leader Nico Rosberg for Mercedes GP, Red Bull drivers Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen, and Ferrari driver and four-time World Champion Sebastian Vettel.