The “allegations” made by Red Bull in its rejected petition to review Lewis Hamilton’s penalty at the British Grand Prix related to the impartiality of the FIA stewards.
On Thursday ahead of this weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix, the British GP stewards threw out Red Bull’s bid to review the incident from Silverstone two weeks ago.
They did so because Red Bull had not discovered new or significant evidence but in their explanation of the decision the stewards also noted with “some concerns” unspecified allegations made in Red Bull’s official submission.
Mercedes followed that up with a statement criticising Red Bull’s conduct, that included the accusation of a “concerted attempt by the senior management of Red Bull Racing to tarnish the good name and sporting integrity of Lewis Hamilton, including in the documents for their unsuccessful right of review”.
This, combined with the FIA document, was widely interpreted to be a suggestion that Red Bull accused Hamilton of crashing deliberately.
Red Bull says that was never the case, with team boss Christian Horner stating: “We didn’t at any point say in our submission that it was deliberate action.”
It is understood the team did not explicitly state a belief in its FIA documents that Hamilton hit Verstappen on purpose.
However, Mercedes’ statement is believed to be a reference to increasing implications of deliberate intent from Red Bull both publicly after the race and again in the FIA submission – indirectly suggesting that Hamilton did it intentionally.
The FIA stewards’ reference to “allegations” is a different point of contention and relates to Red Bull’s persistence over Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff’s trip to see the stewards.
“Within the submission we talked about the process of approaching the stewards during the course of an event,” said Red Bull team boss Christian Horner.
“The FIA have subsequently clarified the process for that now, which we’re fine with and pleased for that clarification.
“That was one of the main pertinent reasons.”
Wolff had gone to the stewards at the instruction of FIA race director Michael Masi, who Wolff had communicated with over the radio, to put Mercedes’ position on the crash on record after Horner had done the same from Red Bull’s point of view.
Masi supported his decision to invite Wolff to the stewards after the race but has since instructed teams that unsolicited trips to the stewards during an active investigation will not be tolerated.
While the exact wording of Red Bull’s phrasing in the context of the stewards’ decision-making process is unknown, it is understood that it was interpreted as a question mark over the stewards’ impartiality.
Horner said: “The objectivity could be prejudiced if you’re influenced by having a competitor to go in with data prior to a decision being made.
“That, we were assured, had no influence on the decision-making.
“And I think with the clarification that has come out now regarding approaching the stewards’ office during the course of a grand prix deals with that and we’re more than comfortable with that.”
Horner said that Red Bull never questioned the “objectivity” of the FIA and felt they considered the documents supplied by Red Bull for the petition to review fairly.
Asked by The Race if he felt that Red Bull’s concern had been interpreted by the stewards as an implication they had been influenced by Wolff, Horner said: “Well, it’s unusual practice to do that.
“You have to think of the FIA like a jury and of course you don’t want that jury to be influenced one way or another before making the decision.
“We were given the absolute assurance that wasn’t the case. We absolutely respect that from the FIA and with the clarifications moving forward as well it just prevents that scenario even becoming a possibility in the future.
“The clarification has dealt with any of our concerns.”