Max Verstappen fined €50,000 for touching and inspecting Lewis Hamilton’s car

Max Verstappen has been slapped with a fine by stewards after being caught on camera touching the rear of F1 title rival Lewis Hamilton's car after qualifying.

The Briton had gone fastest in the session, to start from the front for Saturday's sprint qualifying – however, he was also under investigation following Friday's qualifying for a potential DRS violation, on top of the five-place grid penalty he is to serve for another engine change.

The DRS breach was impounded by officials overnight for further investigation, and Mercedes were given written permission to fit a new rear wing to his W12 for the second practice session of the weekend.

And just moments after Verstappen's fate was realised, Hamilton was hit with an even bigger punishment – after it was confirmed he would now start the sprint qualifying at the back of the grid after he was disqualified from qualifying.

It leaves Verstappen in an even stronger position now in the title race, with Hamilton set to miss out on points in the sprint qualifying.

Verstappen arrived in Sao Paulo with a 19-point lead over Hamilton in the standings, and will he hopeful of adding another race win and 26 more points to his total at Interlagos.

With only three more races to go after this one, Hamilton would be left needing a miracle if he were to fall further behind his title rival.

Verstappen's fine came after he was spotted closely inspecting and appearing to touch his rival's car after Friday's qualifying session.

Parc Ferme rules prohibit this, and saw the Dutchman called to meet with the stewards to explain himself.

The International Sporting Code reads: "Inside the Parc Ferme, only the officials assigned may enter. No operation, checking, tuning or repair is allowed unless authorised by the same officials or by the applicable regulations."

Officials found Verstappen guilty of breaching this rule after an investigation, which included checking footage from fans as well as onboard cameras on the cars of both drivers, as well as those on the machines driven by Fernando Alonso and Valtteri Bottas.

Stewards said they were satisfied that there was "insignificant force when Verstappen touched the wing", as footage shows there was "absolutely no movement of any of the wing elements on car 44 when Verstappen touches the back of the wing".

However, they still concluded that Verstappen's actions were "a breach of the regulation" and slapped him with the fine and a warning.

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