Daniel Ricciardo backs FIA despite Lewis Hamilton frustration with Max Verstappen call

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McLaren star Daniel Ricciardo has supported the FIA stewards and their decision-making after it was questioned by Lewis Hamilton in the wake of the incident at the Brazilian Grand Prix. The 2021 F1 season has been one of the greatest years in the sport’s modern history thanks to the titanic world championship battle between Mercedes’ Hamilton and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.

On lap 48 of the race at Interlagos, the two rivals were battling for the lead with Hamilton’s Mercedes appearing to narrowly edge ahead of the Red Bull, which was on the inside. 

Verstappen ran wide and the move forced both drivers off the track, with the Dutchman holding the lead for a few more laps before the seven-time world champion finally took the lead.

While Hamilton took the win anyway, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff believes Verstappen should have received a penalty but the FIA opted not to review their decision to not penalise the Dutchman.

As a result, stewarding decisions have been under the microscope but Ricciardo publicly supported the officials.

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“For me, in a way, they were consistent with two of the same moves in Brazil with Charles [Lecerc] and Carlos [Sainz] and Max and Lewis,” said the Australian.

“They didn’t give penalties or make them swap positions for those two.

“Whether that was right or wrong, at least they showed consistency in two very similar incidents.”

In modern F1, drivers have called for more freedom and opportunity to race hard with FIA race director Michael Masi implementing a ‘let them race’ protocol which he cited as the reason why Verstappen went unpunished in Brazil.

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Ricciardo finds it difficult regarding where to draw the line, but admitted it is nice to be a bit more aggressive on the track.

“It’s hard because we also don’t want to…of course, when it’s right, a penalty should be given but a few years ago we did want a bit more freedom to race and if someone has you over, alright, you have the right to have him over in the future,” Ricciardo explained.

“I’m more up for that so I don’t want to get too dialled in on what penalty is what.

“I think the blatant ones will always get a penalty and maybe the ones that are more 50/50 you might see some get away with it. I’m okay with it for the most part.”

In the aftermath of the Brazil incident with Verstappen, Hamilton voiced his frustrations with the lack of clarity regarding moves deemed to be aggressive.

Hamilton called for consistency in decisions at a recent meeting between all 20 drivers and the FIA, with his rival suggesting the briefing made it clear which moves were allowed. 

Hamilton is now just eight points behind Verstappen in the championship standings ahead of the final two races which are believed to both favour the straight-line speed of Mercedes.

In the Constructors’ Championship, Mercedes still have an advantage by 11 points, despite Valterri Bottas’ retirement in Qatar.

The two championships will therefore be decided in the final two races, with the inaugural Saudi Arabian Grand Prix at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit on December 5 followed by the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at the Yas Marina Circuit on December 12. 

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