Red Bull boss Christian Horner says no one can “rule out” Lewis Hamilton despite being thrown out of qualifying ahead of the sprint race at Brazil, which determines the grid for the Brazilian Grand Prix on Sunday. Hamilton will start from the back of the grid on Saturday after the FIA deemed part of his car illegal after Friday’s qualifying.
Problems started for Hamilton and Mercedes on Friday afternoon as the seven-time world champion set the fastest time in qualifying to start from the front of the grid on Saturday.
However, hours later the FIA said Hamilton had been called to the stewards after concerns regarding his rear wing on the Mercedes.
It came after Red Bull lodged a complaint to the FIA about the wing on the Mercedes, with the FIA then impounding Hamilton’s rear wing overnight with an investigation ongoing regarding his drag reduction system (DRS).
It was eventually found to have breached the FIA regulations, with Hamilton hit with a huge penalty ahead of Saturday’s race, relegated to the back of the grid, with his main title rival Max Verstappen now starting from the front.
Max Verstappen punishment confirmed for touching Lewis Hamilton’s car
Yet, Hamilton wasn’t the only driver to be investigated after the session however after his main title rival Verstappen was seen touching the back of Hamilton’s Mercedes whilst it was placed in parc ferme.
No one is allowed to touch another competitor’s car, except FIA delegates when the car is placed in parc ferme after the session, meaning the Dutchman picked up a 50,000 euro fine for the incident.
Speaking to Sky Sports F1, Horner believes it was the best decision from the FIA: “I think it was the only conclusion the stewards could really come to.
“We had something very similar in 2012 We failed a front wing test in Abu Dhabi, when we were fighting for the championship and bang that was back in the grid.
“So I’d be surprised if they appealed it.”
Mercedes confirmed they were not planning to appeal the decision, Horner continued: “I think the FIA, it’s a tough, tough decision for them, but that situation is black or white.”
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“Tomorrow is going to be hotter again, degradation is going to be a big factor.
“So you can never rule him out, particularly here, if it was a street track it would be much harder, but here anything’s possible.”
“We’ve got to make sure that we focus on ourselves and convert the opportunities that we’ve got.
“And so that’s what we’re very much focused on, trying to have a good spring race and then convert the sprint into the feature race.”
Verstappen currently leads the way by 19 points heading into the found four races of the season, with 107 points still up for grabs.
Points are awarded in sprint qualifying for first, second, and third-place finishers, with pole awarded to the winner of the race.
Three points are awarded to the pole sitter, with two for second and one point for third.
Sprint qualifying gets underway at 7:30pm BST in Sau Paulo, with the main event on Sunday kicking off at 5pm.