Max Verstappen, Toro Rosso, Suzuka, 2015

Verstappen given grid penalty for stopping on racing line

2015 Japanese Grand Prix

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Max Verstappen has been given a three-place grid penalty as a result of his stoppage during the first part of qualifying at Suzuka.

The Toro Rosso driver was judged to have “stopped on the racing line in a potentially dangerous position” after experiencing an electrical failure at the exit of the hairpin.

“Car 33 experienced a sudden power loss at the exit of turn 11, the driver initially moved to the left side of the track towards a safe position and when it was about to stop, moved to the right onto the racing line, where it eventually stopped,” the stewards explained.

“This caused double yellow flags to be shown and endangered oncoming drivers.”

Verstappen said the car failures was “very frustrating, because the car was going very well”.

“I had a sudden loss of power, all the electricity shut-down in the hairpin and from there on I couldn’t do anything.”

The stewards also cleared Marcus Ericsson of driving too quickly under yellow flags during qualifying. “The telemetry clearly indicated that car nine had braked earlier under the double yellow flags and had slowed through that section compared to the his previous lap,” they noted.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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67 comments on “Verstappen given grid penalty for stopping on racing line”

  1. Incredibly harsh and a bit draconian, as Will Buxton says the track is actually quite steep at that point so a total loss of power (and in this case, of everything, including communication with the team) means you stop instantly. To give a penalty for that…

    1. The FIA state he could of stopped on the left and then made a conscious decision to move over to the right and onto the racing line, nothing harsh or draconian about that at all.

      1. The FIA know how he made conscious decisions? Are they tapped into driver’s brains now too, not just their telemetry?

        1. um they have onboard cameras you know… they probably saw him move left then TURN WITH HIS HANDS ON THE WHEEL (ie. a conscious decision) to the right.

        2. Cars don’t turn right by themselves; Verstappen had to deliberately steer it that way.

          1. Maybe he is Verstappen’s Dad :) thats why he is defending his actions, you know otherwise he will be kicked in the nuts or something like that…

      2. Looking at the replay there was clearly an orange gap in the barrier which he will have been trying to drive to, in my opinion that justifies it.

        Besides which, it wasn’t dangerous that spot is after a hairpin, so cars have more than enough time to not accelerate straight into him.

        1. There’s a replay? I missed that

          1. No, but you can see the positions of the orange barriers on the shot of him stopped.

            However, on closer inspection it looks like he was positioning it to actually be rolled backwards easily into the gap.

        2. It doesn’t matter how slow the cars are going; you do not stop on the racing line.

          1. He had a loss of electrical power and was stuck in 3rd gear on a slightly upward slope. I don’t think he would deliberately stop on the racing line. In one of his earlier races he was even praised for his stopping near an exit point after his car broke down.

          2. Here’s the bit of the article it’s clear you didn’t bother to read:

            the driver initially moved to the left side of the track towards a safe position and when it was about to stop, moved to the right onto the racing line

      3. @olliekart

        The FIA state he could of stopped on the left and then made a conscious decision to move over to the right and onto the racing line, nothing harsh or draconian about that at all.

        I think the reason Verstappen pulled over to the right is because one of the driver pick-up points around the track is situated on that side of the track. There isn’t one on the inside part of the circuit on the other side of the crossover from the pits.

        He may not have realised his car was going to stop before then on the racing line. Or, given how slowly it was going, he may have reasoned that wherever he stopped yellow flags would be needed and other drivers would not be able to improve their lap times. Either way I do not believe there was a cynical intention on Verstappen’s part.

        I can see why the FIA consider it less safe to stop on the racing line instead of off it, but it’s not as if he was parked around a blind corner or brow or at a high-speed part of the circuit – drivers accelerating out of the hairpin would have had ample time to see and avoid him. So I think a grid penalty was excessive: a reprimand would have been fine.

        1. @keithcollantine

          I didn’t know about that, so if that is the case it’s understandable. Maybe experience would let him know his car wouldn’t make it off the track., even so a grid-drop could be considered unfair.

          1. @olliekart Yep – also he said he was stuck in gear.

    2. Did you read the article? It’s explained why he was given the penalty. It makes sense.

    3. That was absolutely deserved if he had the option of staying in a safe place.

    4. No it’s absolutely correct. And should have been considerably more severe.

      His actions were a bit of muscle memory from karting and the year of f3 year he did (I have noticed its across the board recently – even to the extent I have seen young kart kids fall out on the track after an issue to get the session stopped) where no doubt, placing a car where it interfered with the session is the thing to do today.

      In F1 – well frankly not so bright an idea and his penalty was really light. Both him and his team mate need to understand that impeding races and qualifying sessions by such behaviour is absolutely not to be tolerated.

      Get rid of the childish antics and get off the racing line. As soon as you can. Full stop. Parking anywhere else either intentionally or because your just nasty and maybe a team mate is behind you. Not cool and is quite simply not going to win you anything. Yet I have seen more and more of it lately as the younger lads come in. It’s a stunt best left behind in the baby classes – and akin to paring your car in an interesting spot at Monaco… No names no pack drill.

      Wonder who taught him that?

      1. placing a car where it interfered with the session is the thing to do today

        I don’t necessarily agree that is what Verstappen was doing, and if he was it’s certainly nothing new: Schumacher did it at the A1-Ring 15 years ago.

        1. Whether he did it on purpose or not, I don´t know, but I believe he did not, however acts should ever be diminished/justified, because someone else has done it already in the past.. Thats plain stupid if I may say..

  2. Presumably to be more convenient for getting back to the pits. Typical thoughtless yoof, really! A bit of discipline from the adults in his life, no biggie but appropriate.

    1. Obviously his dad never disciplined him – maybe he will learn from it but probably not.

  3. Can they also penalise Kvyat then, how inconsiderate of him to crash. I mean, he even left a wheel on the track.

    1. If you read the article you will see that Verstappen had the option of parking in a safe place on the left having initially moved over to the left, But for whatever reason he then tried to go over to the right & this put him across the track.

      There’s a gap in the wall on the left, Had he stayed on that side he could have easily & quickly been pushed behind the barrier out of the way.

      1. Hans (@hanswesterbeek)
        26th September 2015, 11:07

        Having seen qualifying I would say that Kvyat had the option of staying on track safely, but for whatever reason he tried to go over the gras on the outside of the cure and this put him all over te track.

        There’s a grey line of asphalt in the middle, had he stayed on there he could have easily & quickly carry on and drive to pits.

        1. Kvyat made a msitake and lost control and did not intentionally cause the crash nor intentionally stop in the middle of the track while he could park in a safe place.

        2. I guess people are pushing it for the love of Verstappen, but that sounds ridiculous.

          1. Its sarcasm mate

  4. They are just making up the rules as they go along, aren’t they?

    1. @andae23 – the regulations state that a driver can be penalised if he intentionally stops his car on the track in a way that obstructs the race track without any justifiable reason for stopping in that position.

      In this case, the statement from the stewards would indicate that Verstappen chose to intentionally turn away from a potentially safe position on the side of the track and parked on the racing line, thereby not only blocking the track but also making it more difficult for the marshals to recover the car by driving away from the marshals post on the inside of the track.

      1. He said to the BBC that he tried to get out of the way but he didn’t (couldn’t?) pull the clutch while in third so he stalled the engine. Just imagine how this goes in the stewards office then: “OK so you lost all electricity, tried to get out of the way but then you accidentally stalled the engine, have we got all the details? OK, cool. Yup, that’s clearly intentionally blocking the racing line, 3-place penalty it is.”

        And I don’t get the ‘stopping on the racing line’ part of the penalty anyway. If he had pulled over, their would have been a yellow flag as well and people who were doing their hot laps would have had to slow down. Was he in a dangerous spot? Well no, since people coming out of the hairpin could have easily spotted him and moved around. This just seems like a penalty just for the sake of penalties.

        1. I think it’s quite obvious what happened. I don’t understand what’s there to make fuss about. I think you misunderstood something. Because it looks quite clear what happened. And yes, it’s a dangerous place to park.

        2. He was off the racing line, then he went into it and stopped.

          The racing line is where the cars go.

          Maybe if we change the name “racing line” to “super danger death location” we wouldn’t be having this conversation?

        3. He’s got a thing about stalling his car, doesn’t he? Lol (his great recovery drive necessitated by stalling on the grid…)

    2. Monaco 2006, Michael Schumacher.

      1. That was clearly intentional. Not only is there no evidence Verstappen did it on purpose, he hand’t set a time yet, so he would only harm his own chances.

        1. He didnt set a time yet? I believe he was on 8th position ;)

    3. Yes, they just randomly made up a rule that’s been on the books for decades.

  5. Considering the time Verstappen set before this incident I sincerely doubt his intent was to block off others from improving, but each their own. Not sure what he would stand to gain from that, considering 15 was as good as he was going to get, what with his car not working.

    1. Probably not intention, but still dangerous and he should know better

  6. Well, there is certainly one positive all out of this

    There will be some brilliant overtakes again from young Max, like there’s no one else on the grid…looking forward to it allready.

    Go Max…show the world why you are the biggest and brightest talent since the late great Ayrton Senna

    1. Some say he’s the next Senna – more likely the next Vetstappen.

  7. ColdFly F1 - @coldfly (@)
    26th September 2015, 11:13

    Guys this is the most inconsiderate penalty ever given by the Stewards.
    We all know that Max has to sit his driving exam next week, and in Belgium you have to stop the car on the right hand shoulder (if possible) after you brake down!
    We could even see that he looked for his yellow vest, and then swiftly moved to a safe place behind the barrier!

    1. Haha! so that’s why it took so long for him to disembark

  8. Can’t believe people are outraged about this. If he deliberately placed his car in a dangerous place and therefore endangered marshals, other drivers and indeed himself then surely it should be a punishable offence, no two ways about it.

    1. Yeah. He’s got the opposite of whatever Vettel’s got obviously. MV gets people so understanding and tolerant whereas SV’s been rubbing people the wrong way. Same for LH for the most part.

      1. @oya: spot on
        Last race Verstappen was praised for ignoring team orders while Vettel was under attack for ignoring team orders in Malaysia 2013
        Double standards !

        1. There are just obviously two camps! A big group (including myself) love the guy and he is one of the few drivers that really makes things interesting! I also think Max has been handed a few very strange penalties this year, not necessarily this one, but the FIA comes down on him hard!

          The other group just desperately tries to downplay Max’ obvious talent and try to play the ‘young age’ card whenever they can. Sure the guy is 17 yo but I see almost all other drivers on the grid do stupid things and I hear noone about them! Grosjean, Hulkenberg, Massa, Sainz and ofcourse Maldonado anyone? But okay people that rather see ‘dull’ / play-it-safe drivers like Massa or Rosberg (to name a few) just look differently at the sport! I want to see action, overtakes, speedy and daring manoeuvres….those are synonyms for Max… period!

        2. Again what the heΙΙ to you people not understand about Malaysia? The problem thee was Vettel going back at something he agreed before hand and attacking someone that had no idea he would be attacked.
          Stop comparing different things.

          1. @solo For a start, Vettel hadn’t agreed to any team order, otherwise his engineer wouldn’t have been telling him to “be patient”. And claiming someone “had no idea he would be attacked” is total nonsense. MW had mirrors on his car, and another car filling them.

          2. The fact that the Multi-21 and Multi-12 order even existed and by telling it they expected the drivers to understand, showed that this was obviously discussed before hand and drivers agreed for this to exist.
            Even the way Webber told Vettel afterwards before the podium “Multi-21 Seb, Multi-21” and how he saw and didn’t reply was obvious that this was an agreed order that Seb knew very well.
            Webber said this was put at the start of the season and both drivers agreed. If Webber was lying on that why did nether Vettel or Horner(that loved throwing nail hints at Webber) dispute it? Not even Marko that hated Webber said Webber was lying about that.
            Trying to say there was no agreement is ridiculous really.
            And it takes no genius to figure were that idea came to Red Bull.
            They wanted a safe 1-2 and previous incidents made them think it was a good idea to not have drama.
            So Vettel agreed thinking “Good, now i won’t have him being a pain in the ass when i am trying to win GP and his behind like last time” Thinking of how Webber attacked him in Silvertone etc and how Webber was usually attacking from behind.
            Unfortunately it ended being the other way in Malaysia and Vettel immediately threw his word out of the window when the scenario appeared differently from what he imagined.
            That was what showed bad character from him. He wanted to keep an agreement only when it was going his way, and he immediately threw the agreement out of the window when it was bad for him.
            There was a reason he was all ashamed and down-faced after the race and it wasn’t simply because he didn’t do what Horner asked in the radio. Is because he knew he went back at his own word and did a petty thing.

            Also i do not see how it is nonsense at all. When i think an agreed order by the team was given that i should keep my position and the other guy should stay put then i assume that that is going to happen even if the other guy is in my mirrors. Lewis had the same thing when Button passed him when the team told him he wasn’t going to be attacked(admittedly he managed to re-pass but that is irrelevant).
            Didn’t Hamilton have mirrors? Gilles Villeneuve too was passed after being told he wasn’t going to be attacked and was furious. Did he not have mirrors?

          3. @solo
            The “multi” orders actually dated back to 2012, but even then it was only used towards the end of the season. They were allowed to fight on track until Vettel pulled away in the championship. It’s one thing RBR implementing team orders the way they eventually did in 2012, and another to do so in round two of the 2013 season.

            And yeah, you cannot justify not expecting an attack in this instance. Webber came out of his final pitstop literally side-by-side with Vettel. You can’t expect that to be the cutoff point for a possible battle. If the cutoff point was even before that, then why was Vettel being told to “be patient” on the radio? Why was Vettel’s strategy set up so that he’d use his extra tyres saved from quali in the final stint? None of these applied for Button or Pironi.

    2. Then you know nothing about racing and should watch some of the antics from the lower classes

      1. Do you really think it’s sensible or safe to park on the racing line? If so, I hope you never get the chance to go racing yourself.

  9. If he had simply ran out of power and came to a stop like he did I would have been outraged by this, but he had initially pulled to the left towards he marshal post. So that in itself explains why the stewards came to this conclusion.

    However… can we please stop penalizing drivers for every little mistake they make? I think a reprimand and a big fine would have been a far fairer punishment for his transgression.

    1. They don’t care about hearing a marshall’s blah blah blah and loosing a few bucks, they DO care about loosing places, so, I think penalties are actually quite fair in such cases.

  10. Now, before making an opinion… Why is there no footage of it?

    1. Exactly.

      Still it probably wouldn’t explain his reasons either. Perhaps he felt he could make it past the racing line and more safely park the car on that side of the track and then the car stopped rolling before he reached that spot.

  11. It’s a good thing they don’t hand out grid and/or race penalties based on the “quality” of fan comments. It would however be an interesting use of interactive technology were it possible to implement.

    1. Hans (@hanswesterbeek)
      26th September 2015, 17:07

      Like… in-race Fanboost? Horror.

    2. Vettel would have never won any world championships with a thing like that.

      “Instant disqualification for raising the index finger.”

  12. Pit Wall: Max, we need you to pull off the racing line.
    Max: NO!

    FIA: We need you to pull off the racing line to stop.
    MAX: NO!

    Driving Test Instructor: Okay Max, that was good, can we pull over now?
    MAX: NO!
    …pops the clutch, stalls his car.

    Supporters of Max: Why was he penalized? He’s a racer trying to stay racing!

  13. Here’s a video that kind of shows what he did-
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TwG3IdapHZA

    Having seen that i’d say the penalty was fair, He looked to have an opportunity where he could have pulled off to the left where there was a marshal post but he instead for whatever reason tried to move across the track towards the right where there wasn’t even a gap for him to get behind.

  14. It’s clear what he did; it is unclear as to exactly WHY the punishment. Would help if the stewards word be more clear in that. And come on if a car is stopped you have marshalls and double yellow flag … Never the less… more overtaking expected!

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