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Thursday, December 9, 2021

Verstappen hit with five-place grid penalty at Qatar Grand Prix

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After the penalties, controversies, and rancor in Brazil last week – some of which has been carried over into Qatar – more drama has followed Max Verstappen.

Formula 1 racer Max Verstappen, who qualified second behind title rival Lewis Hamilton at Qatar’s inaugural Grand Prix on Saturday, was called to a summit with the stewards before this afternoon’s race and received a five-place penalty.

The Red Bull driver is up on the charge of speeding under double-waved yellow flags at the end of Q3 when Pierre Gasly’s AlphaTauri was stopped on the inside of the pit straight after his front tire punctured. Gasly hit a kerb hard at Turn 15.

Unable to enter the pit lane, which precedes the final corner, Gasly pulled up on the main straight. Hamilton and Tsunoda were ahead while Verstappen, Bottas and Sainz remained behind.

Verstappen was the last driver on track in the session and improved on his final lap to consolidate his second place on the grid.

Lewis Hamilton dominates pole at inaugural Qatar Grand Prix

Verstappen was summoned at 1pm for failing to slow for double waved yellow flags, while Bottas and Sainz have been called up for allegedly failing to slow for single yellow flags. 

Confusion over flags

According to the rules, any driver passing through a double waved yellow marshalling sector must reduce speed significantly and be prepared to change direction or stop.

“In order for the stewards to be satisfied that any such driver has complied with these requirements, it must be clear that he has not attempted to set a meaningful lap time, for practical purposes any driver in a double yellow sector will have that lap time deleted,” the rules state.

The charge of speeding under double-waved flags means Verspatten has as much as a five-place grid drop and single wave flags three-place grid drops.

Onboard footage suggests that the championship leader did pass a flashing yellow light board, as well as double, waved yellow flags on the left-hand side as he crossed the line.

However, other panels on the opposite side of the track give a mixed message, with visible green lights shown at eye level. Verstappen’s steering wheel also didn’t appear to show a yellow flag message at the time of the incident.

The starting grid (before penalties)?

  1. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes
  2. Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri
  3. Fernando Alonso, Alpine
  4. Lando Norris, McLaren
  5. Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes
  6. Carlos Sainz, Ferrari
  7. Max Verstappen, Red Bull
  8. Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri
  9. Esteban Ocon, Alpne
  10. Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin

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