Verstappen drops 5-places

21/11/2021
NEWS STORY

Ninety minutes before the start of today's Qatar Grand Prix, the stewards announced that Max Verstappen has been given a 5-place grid penalty.

The stewards heard from the Dutch driver and a team representative and having reviewed video, marshalling system and telemetry evidence, found that double yellow flags were displayed at Flag point 16.6 after the exit from Turn 16 in the final moments of Q3. However the lights system was not enabled.

The stewards noted the representations of the driver and team for mitigation of penalty in view of the lack of display of the yellow light panels, no dash warning lights and no audio signal to the driver, and whilst having sympathy for this request, the stewards took into account the following:

1. Article 27.1 of the Formula One Sporting Regulations states that the driver must drive the car alone and unaided.

2. Appendix H of the Code states that flags and lights have the same meaning (and hence a flag signal must be complied with).

3. Article 27.2 requires the driver to observe the International Sporting Code at all times. That code, in Appendix H places the onus of responsibility of complying with flag signals clearly on the driver, so notwithstanding the fact the team argued that the turning off of the yellow sector on the FIA marshalling system some 34 second prior to the driver reaching the yellow flag, signified that it was "play on", it was the driver's responsibility to take the appropriate action when entering what was a double yellow flag area.

4. The Stewards examined the audio communications between the team and the driver and at no time did the team indicate to the driver the situation referred to in 3. above.

5. The driver acknowledged his awareness of the presence of Car 10 on the right side of the track. Having seen a disabled car, it is reasonable to expect, as was the case of the driver of Car 55, that there was a potential danger and that a yellow flag situation probably existed and therefore to take the appropriate action (i.e. to reduce speed).

6. The penalty for the driver of Car 44 in Austria 2020 resulted in a grid penalty of 3 positions which is the usual penalty for breaching a single flag situation, and the penalty for the driver of Car 5 in Bahrain 2021 which resulted in a grid penalty of 5 positions which is the usual penalty for breaching a double flag situation.

Accordingly, the stewards believe they have no option but to impose the standard penalty for a breach of the double yellow flag requirements referred to above, and handed Verstappen a 5-place grid drop and 2 penalty points.

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Published: 21/11/2021
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