The F1 world championship leader was filmed touching the rear wings on his Red Bull and Hamilton’s Mercedes directly after qualifying finished on Friday evening at Interlagos, a violation of the FIA’s parc ferme rules. 

Verstappen met with the stewards on Saturday morning in Brazil over the “alleged breach of Article 2.5.1 of the FIA International Sporting Code.” 

Crucially for the championship, Verstappen has escaped a grid penalty for the incident, meaning he will be able to start from at least second on the grid for Saturday’s sprint. 

The stewards heard from Verstappen and Red Bull sporting director Jonathan Wheatley as well as examining a fan video, CCTV footage taken from the pit lane and in car footage from Verstappen, Hamilton and Fernando Alonso’s cars. 

Full stewards report: 

“Verstappen exits the car, then moves to the rear of his car,” the stewards said in a report. "He then takes his gloves off and puts his right hand at the slot-gap of the rear wing of his car. He then moves to car 44 and repeats the exercise, touching the rear wing in two places, once on either side of the DRS actuation device, but on the bottom rear side of the wing, in the area of the slot gap and never near the actuator or the end fixation points. 

“Clear, high definition video from the rear facing roll-hoop camera on car 44 shows that there is absolutely no movement of any of the wing elements on car 44 when Verstappen touches the back of the wing and the Stewards are satisfied, from watching all the videos, his body position and the video of the wing, that there was insignificant force when Verstappen touched the wing. 

“It is clear to the Stewards that it has become a habit of the drivers to touch cars after qualifying and the races. This was also the explanation of Verstappen, that it was simply habit to touch this area of the car which has been a point of speculation in recent races between both teams. This general tendency has been seen as mostly harmless and so has not been uniformly policed. Nevertheless, it is a breach of the parc fermé regulation and has significant potential to cause harm.

"Considering the fact that no direct harm was caused in this case, in the opinion of the Stewards, and that no earlier precedent of penalties for this exists – on the one hand; but that it is a breach of the regulation and has potential for serious consequences on the other, the Stewards determine to take action in this case and order a fine of €50,000."

However, the stewards warned that future breaches may incur “different penalties”. 

Meanwhile, Hamilton is at risk of disqualification from the qualifying results amid an ongoing hearing over the legality of the rear wing on his Mercedes. 

The seven-time world champion’s car was referred to the stewards following a post-qualifying inspection due to an issue over the gap between the two wing flap elements that make up the drag reduction system (DRS). 

A potential exclusion for Hamilton, who already carries a five-place grid penalty into the grand prix, would put him towards the back of the field for the sprint and mark a severe dent to his already fading title hopes. 

Hamilton is chasing a 19-point deficit to Verstappen in the drivers’ standings with just four races remaining this season.