A video has emerged of Sir Lewis Hamilton walking behind the Red Bull after the Spanish Grand Prix and getting very close to the rear wing, although it is unclear whether or not he touched it.
Hamilton recovered to fifth in Barcelona last weekend after contact with Kevin Magnussen on the opening lap gave him a puncture, while Red Bull claimed a one-two as Max Verstappen won the race after a reliability failure for Charles Leclerc.
Sebastian Vettel was seen taking a good look at the underside of the Red Bull during the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix weekend, and controversy reigned in Spain amid speculation that intimate knowledge of the Austrian outfit’s car had informed their newest design.
Red Bull’s adaptation to the new technical regulations has been far better than that of Mercedes, who have been suffering from “porpoising” and handling problems due to the ground effect aerodynamics.
Red Bull have also simply been fundamentally faster than the Silver Arrows, so one would be forgiven for trying to get a closer glimpse at the brilliant design of the RB18.
This is what Hamilton was seen doing in the aftermath of Sunday’s race having squeezed in between the rear of the car and a wall that it was in front of.
It is said to have taken place after the Briton had gone to the medical centre for a routine doping test long after the race’s completion.
It is therefore quite likely that the Red Bull had already undergone scrutineering at that stage, so a fine for tampering is unlikely even if he did touch the car.
Hamilton was disqualified from qualifying at last year’s Brazilian Grand Prix for a rear wing infringement, but title rival Max Verstappen was seen touching the wing before scrutineering had taken place, leading to accusations that he had tampered with it.
The Dutchman was fined 50,000 euros as a result, and the FIA reminded the drivers that, although the touching is “mostly harmless,” it is still outlawed.
“It is clear to the stewards that it has become a habit of the drivers to touch cars after qualifying and the races,” they stated.
“This was also the explanation of Verstappen, that it was simply habit to touch this area of the car which has been a point of speculation in recent races between both teams.
“This general tendency has been seen as mostly harmless and so has not been uniformly policed. Nevertheless, it is a breach of the parc ferme regulation and has significant potential to cause harm.
“Considering the fact that no direct harm was caused in this case, in the opinion of the stewards, and that no earlier precedent of penalties for this exists – on the one hand; but that it is a breach of the regulation and has potential for serious consequences on the other, the stewards determine to take action in this case and order a fine of €50,000.
“The stewards further note that it is intended that all teams and drivers take notice that future breaches may incur different penalties from the Stewards of those events.”
Additionally, a new sporting regulation was introduced this year in the form of Article 60.5, which dictates that “drivers must not interfere with parc ferme protocols in any way.”
Verstappen’s victory in Spain puts him six points clear of Leclerc in the Drivers’ Championship.