Doha [Qatar], November 21 (ANI): Red Bull Racing driver Max Verstappen has been hit with a five-place grid penalty for the Qatar Grand Prix after the stewards found he failed to slow for double waved yellow flags during qualifying.
At the very end of the final segment of qualifying on Saturday, Pierre Gasly ran wide at Turn 15 and dislodged his front wing, which also caused him to puncture his front right tyre. As he slowed his stricken AlphaTauri on the pit straight the yellow flags were flown.
Meanwhile, Verstappen was on his final flying run as he tried to overhaul title rival Lewis Hamilton who held provisional pole position at the time.
“Verstappen crossed the line and improved his time by around two-tenths of a second, but it was not enough to dislodge Hamilton from pole, with the Dutchman remaining in P2.
But some three hours after qualifying, Verstappen was issued a summons from the stewards for allegedly “not respecting double waved yellow flags”, and he went to see them in Qatar on Sunday.
And with just hours to go before the start of the race, the stewards handed Verstappen a five-place grid drop and two penalty points – despite having “sympathy” with the Dutchman because of the “lack of display of the yellow light panels, no dash warning lights and no audio signal to the driver” to warn him of the issue.
Their statement said: “notwithstanding the fact the team argued that the turning off of the yellow sector on the FIA marshalling system some 34 seconds 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.
“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 [Carlos Sainz], 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).”
Going into the race Verstappen – who was due to start P2 – has a 14-point lead over Hamilton, who starts the race from pole.
Valtteri Bottas has been handed a three-place grid penalty for failing to slow under single waved yellow flags. (ANI)