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Friday November 26th, 2021 6:06PM

Verstappen investigated in Brazil, Alonso tops free practice

By The Associated Press
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SAO PAULO (AP) — Red Bull driver Max Verstappen was summoned to meet with stewards Saturday at the Brazilian Grand Prix after video taken from the grandstands at Interlagos showed the Formula One championship leader touching the rear wing on rival Lewis Hamilton's car.

The video recorded by a spectator at Interlagos shows Verstappen apparently inspecting the rear wing on the Mercedes in the Parc Ferme — a secured area for cars at the track.

“Inside the Parc Ferme, only the officials assigned may enter. No operation, checking, tuning or repair is allowed unless authorized by the same officials or by the applicable regulations," according to Article 2.5.1 of the FIA sporting code.

The FIA also summoned a Mercedes official for a separate meeting Saturday.

Hamilton beat Verstappen by more than 0.4 seconds in qualifying for Saturday's sprint race at Interlagos, but Mercedes is under investigation for its DRS exceeding the maximum distance when opened. The technical infringement typically leads to exclusion from a session.

Saturday's free practice session, which was not very competitive, ended with Alpine driver Fernando Alonso clocking the fastest lap, more than 0.8 ahead of second-placed Verstappen. There was still no decision on the cases involving the Dutch and the British drivers.

Verstappen leads Hamilton by 19 points in the standings with four races left this season. Regardless of the investigation into Hamilton's DRS, the British driver was already set to take a five-place penalty on the starting grid Sunday for an engine change.

The Brazilian GP is the third event of the season with a qualifying sprint race on Saturday to determine Sunday’s grid. The two previous sprint races were held at Silverstone and Monza.

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said he would be surprised to see his driver punished for checking Hamilton's car.

"Drivers are very inquisitive animals sometimes. We’ve seen it many, many times,” Horner said.

___

More AP auto racing: https://apnews.com/hub/auto-racing and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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