Mercedes has denied that Sir Lewis Hamilton touched the Red Bull rear wing following Sunday’s Spanish Grand Prix.
Hamilton was summoned in for a normal drugs test after his fifth-place finish in Barcelona, and on his way out from the medical centre, he squeezed himself behind Sergio Perez’s Red Bull car.
The seven-time world champion looked at the sidepods of the RB18 after sidling past the rear wing, and the video clip of the incident has prompted to speculation that he may have touched the car.
Mercedes, on the other hand, has drawn attention to Hamilton’s thumb as he manoeuvred between the car and the wall behind it, claiming that no contact was made.
“Some people seem to think he is touching the wing, but his hand isn’t on it. At each end of the flap, you can see the white dot for legality and the bracket which allows the flap to pivot when the DRS opens,” said a Mercedes statement.
“Some people seem to think one of those brackets is his thumb – but it’s clearly not, as it’s the same on both sides.”
Last year, following the Brazilian Grand Prix qualifying session, Max Verstappen was fined 50,000 euros for hitting Hamilton’s rear wing in parc freme.
However, Hamilton was later disqualified for a technical infringement on the wing, but there were suspicions that the Dutchman interfered with the Mercedes car when he placed his hand on it, resulting in the punishment.
The FIA issued a message to the drivers, advising them that while touching other cars in parc freme is unlikely to cause any harm, it is unwise in case they are accused of tampering.
“It is clear to the stewards that it has become a habit of the drivers to touch cars after qualifying and the races,” the statement read.
“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.”
This year, the regulatory board amended Article 60.5 of the technical standards to state that drivers in parc ferme shall not “interfere” with other cars.
It’s also worth noting that Perez’s car would have already been scrutinised when Hamilton passed it, so a minor contact would be unlikely to result in a penalty.