Verstappen’s comments did not cause yellow flag penalty investigation – Masi

2019 Mexican Grand Prix

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Max Verstappen’s admission that he did not slow down for yellow flags at the end of qualifying did not lead the stewards to investigate and penalise him, according FIA race director Michael Masi.

The Red Bull driver lost pole position for yesterday’s race after he was given a three-place grid penalty for failing to slow when he passed the scene of Valtteri Bottas’s crash at the end of Q3.

Over one-and-three-quarter hours passed between the incident occuring and the stewards announcing the provisional pole winner was under investigation. During that time, Verstappen admitted in the official FIA press conference that he hadn’t slowed down, though he did not confirm if he had seen the yellow flags.

This prompted speculation the stewards began investigating Verstappen in reaction to his comments. But Masi denied “100 percent” this was the case.

“By the time I referred it to the stewards, and told the stewards that the matter’s to be looked at, it was after that that Max’s comments came to light,” he said in response to a question from RaceFans.

According to Masi there was a delay to the notification of the investigation because he was overseeing repair work at the crash scene and the stewards were busy with another matter.

“We were actually looking into it straight away,” he said. “But with the sequence of what happened, the primary thing was Valtteri’s health, getting the Medical Car out there, making sure that he was all OK.

“So, [that] being at the end of the session was one part. The second part, once that happened, was obviously getting the car back to the team.

“The third element [was] repairing the circuit for the next activity. So as part of my role as the safety delegate, I went out there to make sure that everything was back in position.”

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Once that was taken care of Masi began looking into whether Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen had driven correctly while passing the crash scene.

“[I] got back to the office and started working through all the various bits of data that exists and had all three cars that were after Valtteri’s incident, which was Lewis, Sebastian and Max, and reviewed all three.”

After his penalty was announced, Verstappen claimed that Hamilton had not been penalised despite the fact he hadn’t slowed down. But Masi pointed out Hamilton did not pass a yellow flag, and did not have to back off.

“Lewis’s one was quite easy: There was no yellow flag,” he said. “The marshal did an amazing job at that point and showed the yellow flag relatively quickly. There was none for Lewis but for Sebastian and Max there was. So all of that happened.

“The stewards were then in the middle of a hearing with Toro Rosso and Renault about the alleged unsafe [releases]. So they [couldn’t] issue a summons to attend a hearing, which is the formal notification.

“As soon as that hearing concluded with Renault and Toro Rosso they wrote up the summons. I effectively reported the incident to them at that point, once there was an incident to report.”

During the press conference Verstappen said the stewards should delete his lap time if he broke the rules, but Masi confirmed that sanction is not used for yellow flag infringements.

“The penalty in the stewards’ guidelines is three grid spots and has been for a long time for a single yellow,” he said. “The penalty in the stewards guidelines for double yellow is five grid spots.”

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26 comments on “Verstappen’s comments did not cause yellow flag penalty investigation – Masi”

  1. Not a very smart desicion by max to keep it planted through the flag. But I always wonder why they dont have a better system, with a big colored light inside the cockpit in the field of view or similar, so they can see the flag without taking eyes of the road.

    1. @maisch Drivers indeed do get warning-lights on their steering wheels, but this time that didn’t happen because apparently, the crash broke some transmitter, which led to no yellow-warning lights appearing on his steering wheel nor the trackside light-panel showing yellow-light.

      1. Thanks, i obviously havent noticed it :) Smart move to put the transmitter on the inside of the barrier..

        1. Ahah, yes, weird decision there.

    2. @maisch They do, but it has to be activated by Race Control which might take a few seconds after an incident.

  2. There is a big yellow light inside the cockpit, on the steering wheel, but it is manually operated by the stewards. They obviously don’t react as quick as the marshalls.

    1. @chrisr1718 in Verstappen’s defence, Bottas’ crash apparently broke something (I think some sort of transmitter) in that marshalling sector so no yellow lights were displayed.

      Still foolish that he missed the physical flags, but understandable when doing the speeds they are doing.

      1. Blaize Falconberger (@)
        28th October 2019, 10:32

        You honestly think he missed the flags?

      2. The yellow light in the cockpit did not show (it was either broken or not activated) and the electronic signaling board was destroyed (maybe it is linked with the cockpit light?) but the flag was there and Verstappen was well aware of the crash, as he veered off the race line to pass the incident with a fair distance, as did Lewis.

        I get the feeling Max gets bashed mostly because he got a penalty. Many praised him right after qualifying, the bashing only started when the investigation was announced.

        1. Well if people heard he did well of course they praised him. I’m sure some only heard what he did only after it came out in the news that he was being investigated.

        2. Blaize Falconberger (@)
          28th October 2019, 15:16

          Perhaps we should adopt mob rule… guilty by viewer vote!

          Or, go with me on this, perhaps it is best to wait until it is determined that he did something wrong, as happened here. The bashing was thoroughly deserved, especially once his comments were broadcast.

  3. After the comments he made, he should have been given a harsher penalty for bring the sport into disrepute!

  4. GtisBetter (@)
    28th October 2019, 8:04

    This all makes perfect sense.

  5. Joe Pineapples
    28th October 2019, 8:34

    Verstappen claimed that Hamilton had not been penalised despite the fact he hadn’t slowed down.

    Sounds like school classroom desperation. Sir, Sir, he was talking as well.

  6. It sounds as if the stewards room is a chaotic place without a clear priority list or work process.

    Was the barrier repair urgent? Should all the investigations not have been sequenced and set up With teams notified before any were started?

    It sounds as if they are rushing around living from hand to mouth.

    1. What’s the rush to check the issue with Max either? Sounds like they weren’t rushing around and decided to look at the barrier first. I see no problem with that.

    2. There does seem to be some micromanagement taking place– Masi needs to delegate more. I thought that was the whole reason for having a “Technical Delegate” was so that the “Race Director” can, well, “direct”.

      What I’m hearing is that Masi didn’t hand the matter over to the stewards for review immediately, but went out on-site to supervise the repairs– which was totally unnecessary, since qualifying was over. Get the stewards going on their issues, *then* make sure everyone did their jobs and that the barrier is repaired properly.

      Easy for me to armchair QB a process I’m not involved in, and Masi’s pretty new at this, but still. Get the priorities right.

    3. It’s beyond belief they aren’t able investigate a simple matter as this, and the obvious lie to cover it up their ineptness is grating (“looking into it straight away” then “had to wait till after X,Y and Z before looking into it).

      But personally I don’t think it’s incompetence. It’s about being able to steer outcomes, just like the previous race director (remember some ‘decisions’ were so obvious and ridiculous that Whiting even had to come on press conferences to having to explain himself (which he obviously couldn’t) at a previous Mexican GP)

    1. Even more disgrace were stewards(not surprising) and then this comment that Masi seems to be making a lot more frequently these days.

  7. Blaize Falconberger (@)
    28th October 2019, 10:33

    Excellent article… nice and thorough.

  8. Great article. Thanks for that. So, this whole yellow flag system, is that automated? I mean are there sensors in the barriers that can set off the yellow light system or is it all manual?

    1. I think the marshal presses a button at the same time they start waving flags. But the transmitter had apparently just been hit by an F1 car doing a hundred+ MPH.

  9. To answer questions regarding the electronic system.

    The electronic flag system is controlled by the track workers who all have a panel at there post that allows them to trigger the various flags.

    That system is not only linked to the LED board in there sector but also race control, The flag lights in the cars, The timing screens & TV graphics.

    As soon as a marshal hits the yellow flag button it will display the yellow on the LED board it’s linked to as well as automatically trigger on the timing/race control systems which will then also automatically trigger the yellow flag display a yellow flag on the TV graphics. The flag lights in the cockpits are also automatic & work off the tracking system, The electronic system will show which sector the flag has been activated in & when the tracking system detects a car entering that sector it will automatically display the lights in the cockpit.

    @maisch There not on the inside of the barriers, Everything is behind them aside from the LED panels that have to stick out through the fencing for the drivers to see them. It’s likely that the impact put a shock through the barriers which either damaged some of the cabling or knocked something off the catch fencing that’s attached to the LED panel. Could even have been that some debris went up & hit one of the LED panel’s which knocked out the system in that sector.

    1. @gt-racer Thanks for this information. Nice to know!

  10. Was it a single yellow flag or a double yellow? In your article “Hamilton expects FIA to take “very strict” stance on Verstappen yellow flag incident” Hamilton said it was a double yellow flag. He recalled also the incident with Maldonado in Monaco 2005, when he didn’t see a double yellow and almost killed a marshal while racing for World Series by Renault. Masi says the penalty for double yell flags is five grid spots… Which one is correct?…

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