Max Verstappen takes part in a rare track walk in Qatar as he sweats over Mercedes appeal hearing


Max Verstappen has been pictured taking a rare track walk in Qatar as he awaits the result of Mercedes’ appeal hearing. 

Mercedes challenged the FIA’s decision not to penalise Verstappen for running Lewis Hamilton off the road during the Sao Paulo Grand Prix. 

Should Verstappen be found guilty of breaking the rules, he could be handed either a grid penalty or five-second penalty ahead of Sunday’s race in Qatar. 

Max Verstappen (above) has been pictured taking a rare track walk in Qatar as he waits to hear the result of Mercedes’ appeal hearing

Mercedes challenged the FIA's decision not to penalise Verstappen for running Lewis Hamilton off the road during the Sao Paulo Grand Prix

Mercedes challenged the FIA’s decision not to penalise Verstappen for running Lewis Hamilton off the road during the Sao Paulo Grand Prix  

The incident in question took place during the Sao Paulo Grand Prix on Sunday the 14th of November. 

Hamilton won the race with an incredible comeback drive to narrow the gap to title rival Verstappen to 14 points with three races left. 

The British driver did so despite being shoved aside by the Dutchman in the second half of Sunday’s race. 

Stewards – who have access to just one live feed per car during a race – decided that Verstappen was not guilty of driving his arch rival off track despite the pair almost colliding on lap 48.

Should Verstappen be found guilty of breaking the rules, he could be handed either a grid penalty or five-second penalty ahead of Sunday's race in Qatar

Should Verstappen be found guilty of breaking the rules, he could be handed either a grid penalty or five-second penalty ahead of Sunday’s race in Qatar 

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff was shocked by the decision and even called it ‘laughable’. 

However, Mercedes won the right of appeal over the decision not to penalise Verstappen after front-facing footage was downloaded. 

The German manufacturer have subsequently been invited to a hearing Thursday afternoon to review the footage and discuss the matter. 

In order to win the hearing, Mercedes need to present ‘a significant and relevant new element which is unavailable to the parties seeking the review at the time of the decision concerned’.  

The incident took place during the Sao Paulo Grand Prix on Sunday the 14th of November

The incident took place during the Sao Paulo Grand Prix on Sunday the 14th of November

Hamilton won the race with an incredible comeback drive to narrow the gap to title rival Verstappen to 14 points with three races left

Hamilton won the race with an incredible comeback drive to narrow the gap to title rival Verstappen to 14 points with three races left 

Verstappen has been left sweating over the result of the hearing as he could be awarded a grid penalty or time penalty as a result. 

To calm his nerves he was seen taking part in a track walk with his Red Bull team on Thursday morning.  

Track walks are an opportunity for drivers to get used to the track with their engineers and discuss their strategy for an upcoming race. 

However, Verstappen is not usually a fan of walking the track before a race – having once said he couldn’t be bothered and that would rather spend the time in bed.

During a press conference in June, Verstappen expressed his opinion on track walking. He told reporters: ‘I haven’t done [a track walk] since 2017. 

‘I’ll have a few more minutes in bed, and if I want to know the track, I will drive my out lap a bit slower, look around, you know?’. 

Track walks are an opportunity for drivers to get used to the track with their engineers and discuss their strategy for an upcoming race

Track walks are an opportunity for drivers to get used to the track with their engineers and discuss their strategy for an upcoming race

However, Verstappen (middle) is not a fan of walking the track before a race and once said he couldn't be bothered and that would rather spend the time in bed

However, Verstappen (middle) is not a fan of walking the track before a race and once said he couldn’t be bothered and that would rather spend the time in bed

Verstappen is not the only driver to dismiss track walking. Lewis Hamilton previously said track walks make ‘zero difference’, while Ricciardo admitted he stopped doing track walks in 2014 because he finds them a ‘waste of time’ – unless he was checking out a new track. 

Nevertheless, it is clear to see that Verstappen took part in the track walk to distract himself from the Mercedes appeal hearing as a five-second penalty would drop him to third place.

Mercedes won the right of appeal over the decision not to penalise Verstappen despite the fact Red Bull insisted it was a racing incident and that their driver was not in the wrong. 

FIA race director Michael Masi revealed that on-board footage from Verstappen’s car was not available to him during the grand prix and that there was cause to review the case once the footage was downloaded.

Therefore, F1 stewards will review the incident on Thursday, November 18 2021 at 5pm Local (Qatar) time and 2pm GMT. 

Therefore, it is clear to see that Verstappen (third from the right)  took part in the track walk to distract himself from the Mercedes appeal hearing

Therefore, it is clear to see that Verstappen (third from the right)  took part in the track walk to distract himself from the Mercedes appeal hearing

A statement declaring their decision read: ‘In accordance with Art. 14 of the International Sporting Code (ISC), and following the petition for review by Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team, lodged on 16 November 2021, the Team Manager and such witnesses as the Competitor may request, up to three, are required to appear via video conference (invitation by separate cover) at 17:00 hrs Local (Qatar) on Thursday, November 18 2021. 

‘In accordance with Art. 14 ISC this hearing is to determine whether the Right of Review exists in this case, ie. whether ‘a significant and relevant new element is discovered which was unavailable to the parties seeking the review at the time of the decision concerned’.

‘The names and positions of all attendees that the Competitor intends to request attend must be provided in writing no later than 12:00hrs Local (Qatar) on 18 November 2021 to the Stewards Secretary.’ 

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