Max Verstappen escapes penalty in three post-qualifying investigations; starts P11 in Singapore GP


SINGAPORE — Max Verstappen has escaped a grid penalty at the Singapore Grand Prix despite being reprimanded for two separate incidents during qualifying.

The Red Bull driver was the subject of three stewards’ investigations after qualifying, but none resulted in a penalty.

The championship leader will start 11th on the grid and faces an uphill struggle to extend his record winning streak to 11 on Sunday.

The first incident occurred in Q1 when Verstappen was slow to leave the pit lane, holding up a number of cars behind him in the final minutes of the session.

The 25-year-old was only reprimanded as the stewards believed it did not impact the cars behind him in a negative way.

“The driver stated that he waited [approximately 14 seconds] to leave the pit exit in order to create a gap to the cars in front,” the stewards report said. “The team representative explained that his gap was negated by Turn 5 due to other cars slowing on the out lap, whilst the car behind Car 1 [Verstappen] had increased its gap to 12 seconds.

“Whilst no obvious advantage was gained by the driver in waiting at the pit exit for what is deemed to be an extraordinary long time, the potential for this to negatively impact other drivers warrants a penalty. Whilst it is noted that the car behind could have overtaken Car 1, it is preferable that cars depart the pit exit in an orderly manner.”

The second incident occurred at the end of Q1 when Verstappen was among a group of cars preparing for their laps in the final few corners as Logan Sargeant came through on a hot lap.

Verstappen appeared to drive across the line of Sargeant, but the stewards decided it did not impact the Williams driver’s lap.

“The driver of Car 1 stated that he was surrounded by many other cars on preparation laps, some of which chose to overtake him on the left and some on the right, and therefore he decided the safest option was for him to drive straight and keep the line, leaving a car width on his right,” the stewards said.

“He stated he felt any movement to the left or right could have caused a collision with one of the cars around him. The stewards accept these statements.

“The driver of Car 2 stated that he did not believe that the driver of Car 1 was at fault and that there was room for him to pass. We therefore determine that the driver of Car 1 did not unnecessarily impede Car 2.”

The third occurred when Verstappen held up Yuki Tsunoda while the AlphaTauri driver was on a fast lap.

The stewards issued a reprimand and also noted that AlphaTauri, which is owned by Red Bull, did not send a team representative to fight the case for a stricter stewards’ ruling.

“Just prior to Car 22 passing Car 1, the driver of Car 1 saw the car behind approaching and moved to the left, however quite late. The team admitted that there was poor communication on its part and that it did not advise its driver until Car 22 was alongside.

“The stewards reviewed a number of impeding and alleged impeding incident from this current season and consistent with previous decisions in relation to the severity of the breach, impose a penalty of a reprimand on the driver and a fine on the competitor.

“It was noted that the representative of Car 22 chose not to attend the hearing.”

Although the reprimands do not alter Verstappen’s grid position in Singapore, a third reprimand at one of the remaining races this year would result in a ten-place grid penalty at the next race.

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