Lewis Hamilton was filmed taking a long hard look at Sergio Perez’s Red Bull car at the Brazilian Grand Prix with the Brit keeping his distance as to avoid any risk of a fine – just as Max Verstappen did two years ago. Red Bull and Verstappen have shattered records this year with Mercedes once again left scratching their heads on how to close the gap for 2024.
They’ve begun to challenge more in the past few weeks with Hamilton in particular pushing to bridge that gap. He came into this weekend in Brazil with high hopes of securing his first F1 race win in two years.
But the 38-year-old was left disappointed in Friday’s qualifying as he could only manage P5. Hamilton was much closer in the Sprint Shootout, but was seemingly still unsure why his Mercedes wasn’t as quick as the Red Bull.
And the seven-time world champion took a keen interest in Perez’s car after the session as he was seen looking closely at the RB19 for nearly a full minute.
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There was a Red Bull mechanic nearby putting up barriers around Perez’s car, but he seemingly had no issue with Hamilton taking a look at the car. The Mercedes star then appeared to shake his head as he walked away.
Hamilton also clearly learned a valuable lesson from Verstappen, who was issued a fine for touching and examining his rival’s rear wing in Brazil two years ago. Hamilton’s car was subject to examination at the 2021 Brazilian Grand Prix with questions raised over the legaility of his rear wing.
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Verstappen wanted to get a closer look himself after Hamilton secured P1 for the Sprint – a result he was stripped of after a technical infringement was found. But the Dutchman breached strict parc ferme rules by touching the rear wing of Hamilton’s car, resulting in a £42,500 fine.
And Red Bull chief Helmut Marko admitted that the team would not cover the cost of the fine for their driver.
“He has to pay it, yes,” Marko said at the time. “Hamilton’s case was clear. As for Max, that was a pretty harsh penalty, even though it doesn’t mean he’s going to lose his job.”
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