A hearing is to be held on Thursday afternoon, sitting down team representatives from Red Bull Racing and Mercedes with race stewards from the British Grand Prix, with Red Bull presumably trying to get a harsher penalty for Lewis Hamilton. This hearing is the first step towards being granted a right of review by the stewards.
On paper, it all makes sense for Red Bull. They've nothing signifcant to lose from putting these wheels in motion, apart from public support. The crash between Hamilton and Max Verstappen resulted in almost maximum damage in both championships, as well as costing them a fortune and, potentially, a power unit grid penalty later in the season.
But it's difficult to see where Red Bull are going with this first step in the appeals process. Thursday's hearing is a 'petition to review', meaning that they must convince the stewards that there is new, and compelling, evidence that was not available for consideration at the time of the steward's decision to award Hamilton a ten second time penalty early in the British Grand Prix. That evidence must then be accepted by the stewards as relevant and, if they feel Red Bull's case is strong enough, the matter will step up a gear.
Co-incidentally, it was Red Bull vs. Mercedes the last time this process was initiated... and it went in Red Bull's favour. In Austria last year, Red Bull were able to present camera footage to the stewards that showed Hamilton driving past yellow flags at full speed. This had been missed by the stewards, and it resulted in Hamilton being given a grid penalty just forty minutes before the race.
However, it's a different situation regarding the Silverstone crash. There's unlikely to be a camera angle that reveals anything unusually different than what we've seen already, and the stewards will have had access to far more data than what is released to the public.
So what exactly are Red Bull going to be presenting as their 'new' and 'compelling' evidence? The prevailing theory appears to be surrounding GPS data and telemetry traces, which infers that Red Bull don't believe Hamilton was ever going to make Copse corner at the speed and trajectory he was on.
Of course, this is a huge allegation to make. Are Red Bull going to present this information as being intentional on Hamilton's part, or simply a driving error that the Mercedes man got away with?
"As it is an ongoing case, I cannot say what evidence we have, but we believe it puts events at Silverstone in a different light," Red Bull's Helmut Marko told RTL ahead of the weekend. The Red Bull advisor has been hugely critical of Hamilton since the events of Silverstone, calling for a race ban for the reigning Champion. That sentiment hasn't changed, even as tempers have cooled.
"An appropriate penalty would be a penalty that would have prevented Hamilton from winning the race. That could have been a drive through penalty or a suspension of Hamilton in the next race. Something along those lines, anyway," Marko said.
There's also the possibility that Red Bull have nothing. At the 2019 Canadian Grand Prix, Ferrari lodged a petition for a right of review over Sebastian Vettel's time penalty that cost him victory. Presenting seven pieces of evidence, five of those were ruled inadmissable due to being available to stewards in Montreal. A face camera of Sebastian Vettel during the incident was ruled as irrelevant. The final piece of evidence? An analysis of the incident from Sky Sports F1's Karun Chandhok on the SkyPad. Ferrari weren't granted a right of review..
Mercedes, who will also be present at the hearing, can also present evidence to refute anything Red Bull claim. Once both sides have presented their case, anything can happen. The FIA can immediately shut down the entire process, saying Red Bull have no grounds for appeal. If that happens, Red Bull could pursue civil legal action outside of the FIA. Unlikely, but theoretically possible.
If the FIA agrees that Red Bull do have a case, then it's interesting to see what way it will go. After all, re-examining the case could lead to a lighter sentence against Hamilton, or it could be stepped up. This won't be anything that affects the race results from Silverstone, but could be more penalty points on Hamilton's superlicence.
There's also the possibility that the stewards may rule in Mercedes' favour if it gets far enough into the appeals process. After all, Hamilton was only 'predominantly' to blame. What if the stewards suddenly decide blame was equally shared, or even Verstappen was more to blame? Suddenly, it could be the Dutch driver being given penalty points, or Hamilton having his taken away.
The appeals process has the potential to turn against you, even if unlikely. In 1994, at the Brazilian Grand Prix, Jordan's Eddie Irvine was given a race ban for causing a crash with Benetton's Jos Verstappen. Jordan appealed and, on review, the race suspension became a three race suspension.
The hearing will be held at 4pm CET via Zoom, and RacingNews365 will bring you the very latest news from Hungary as the situation unfolds..
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