Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Hungaroring, 2021

Hamilton on pole as Mercedes confine Verstappen to second-row start

2021 Hungarian Grand Prix qualifying

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Lewis Hamilton led a Mercedes one-two in qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix after a tense end to the session.

Max Verstappen had to settle for third on the grid after narrowly making the cut to start his final lap time. The Red Bull drivers were queued up behind Hamilton at the end of the session, and Sergio Perez was unable to begin his final lap before the session ended.


Verstappen led the way after the opening exchanges between the front runners in Q1. The Mercedes pair were first to run, Hamilton leading the way with a 1’16.424, but Verstappen beat that by two-tenths of a second. He opted for softs as his rivals did, and was called to stop on the weighbridge as he returned to the pits.

Sergio Perez couldn’t match his team mate’s pace and immediately went for another run on the same set of tyres. But he remained a second behind the other Red Bull in a lowly ninth place.

Carlos Sainz Jnr set the fourth-fastest time ahead of Pierre Gasly, though the pair met on-track. Sainz clambered all over the kerb on the inside of turn one after leaving the pits as he tried to avoid holding up the AlphaTauri driver, who’d also been impeded by Antonio Giovinazzi in final practice.

Having lost time after his crash in first practice yesterday, Yuki Tsunoda fell into the bottom five before the final runs began, joined by the Williams and Haas drivers. Mick Schumacher did not emerge from the Haas garage at all as the team were unable to repair the car he crashed in final practice in time for him to take part in Q1.

There was no change after the final runs, which meant not only did George Russell’s bid to continue his run of Q3 appearances come to an end, but for the first time this year he was unable to make it out of Q1. “Sorry guys, no good,” he said after missing the cut by less than a tenth of a second, “just couldn’t get the car working.”

Team mate Nicholas Latifi also went no further and complained about his engine cutting out during his last run. “I lost so much time from the cutting,” he said. “This is new. I’m not doing anything wrong here.”

Drivers eliminated in Q1

16 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri-Honda 1’17.919
17 George Russell Williams-Mercedes 1’17.944
18 Nicholas Latifi Williams-Mercedes 1’18.036
19 Nikita Mazepin Haas-Ferrari 1’18.922
20 Mick Schumacher Haas-Ferrari No time

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The session was red-flagged after Sainz crashed
Forecasts that the track would be cooler in qualifying than it was on Friday, or even damp, were not realised. By the time drivers came to choose their race starting tyres in Q2 the surface temperatures had soared past 60C as they had on Friday afternoon.

Pace-setters Red Bull and Mercedes opted for the medium tyre compound while the rest chose softs. Hamilton produced a superbly committed lap, stopping the clocks at 1’16.553, half a second quicker than his team mate. Verstappen was quicker in the opening part of the lap, but lost too much to Hamilton in the middle of the lap, ending up two-tenths down on his championship rival. Encouragingly for Red Bull, Perez was much closer to his team mate’s pace on the harder rubber.

The midfield runners on soft tyres immediately got in among the medium-tyre times. First Sebastian Vettel and Gasly got ahead of Bottas, then Fernando Alonso joined them. Charles Leclerc was next, moments before his team mate spun into the barrier at the final corner.

Sainz’s Ferrari snapped away from him on the way into the long right-hander, and he thudded into the barrier with the left-hand side of his car. He briefly tried to drive his car back to the pits, but was told to stop as the session was red-flagged with six-and-a-half minutes remaining.

No one dashed for the pit lane exit when the session resumed – the remaining runners waited until the final three-and-a-half minutes. When they emerged, Bottas took a new set of medium tyres, while Perez opted for softs.

If that was not entirely unexpected, Verstappen sprang a surprise by doing the same. While front-runners habitually use soft tyres for a pre-Q3 ‘sighter’ lap at the end of Q2, Verstappen improved his time, committing himself to starting the race on the soft tyres.

Perez improved to fourth with a 1’16.443, though he was almost eight-tenths of a second slower than Verstappen. A thrilling flurry of late improvements saw Vettel deny Daniel Ricciardo a place in the final 10 by less than a tenth of a second; Ricciardo was almost half a second behind team mate Norris.

Lance Stroll also failed to accompany his team mate into Q3. The Alfa Romeo drivers went no further, though Ktrimi Raikkonen managed to narrowly out-qualify Antonio Giovinazzi.

Drivers eliminated in Q2

11 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren-Mercedes 1’16.871
12 Lance Stroll Aston Martin-Mercedes 1’16.893
13 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1’17.564
14 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1’17.583
15 Carlos Sainz Jnr Ferrari No time

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Verstappen was puzzled after his first run in Q3, which left him three-tenths of a second down on his later flier in Q2. “I don’t know why but I had just a massive lack of grip on this set,” he told the team.

The Mercedes pair took advantage: Hamilton’s 1’15.419 was over half a second faster than Verstappen managed, and Bottas split the two title contenders. Perez, fourth, was over a second off Hamilton.

The tension between the leading teams came to a head as the drivers began their final laps. The two Red Bull drivers followed the Mercedes pair around the track as the seconds ticked down. “We should be good,” Hugh Bird told Perez, the last of the four drivers.

Bottas was first to start his run, followed by Hamilton. Verstappen followed his title rival around and reached the chequered flag with barely a second to spare. But as Perez emerged from the last corner the lights at the start/finish line were already red.

Whether any driver will face a penalty for holding up the cars behind remains to be seen – the stewards have not announced any investigation. It proved academic, however, as the track conditions seemed to have deteriorated and the front runners either failed to improve their times or made no significant gains.

That confirmed Hamilton on pole position for the race, with Bottas alongside and the Red Bull pair behind. Perez was fortunate not to pay heavily for failing to start his final time, as Gasly, Norris and Leclerc all got within a tenth of a second of him. The Alpine pair and Vettel completed the top 10.

Top ten in Q3

1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1’15.419
2 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1’15.734
3 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda 1’15.840
4 Sergio Perez Red Bull-Honda 1’16.421
5 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri-Honda 1’16.483
6 Lando Norris McLaren-Mercedes 1’16.489
7 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1’16.496
8 Esteban Ocon Alpine-Renault 1’16.653
9 Fernando Alonso Alpine-Renault 1’16.715
10 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin-Mercedes 1’16.750

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2021 Hungarian Grand Prix

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Author information

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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100 comments on “Hamilton on pole as Mercedes confine Verstappen to second-row start”

  1. Pathetic crowd for booing Lewis. First lap will be very interesting tomorrow. Hope the top 3 keep it clean.

    1. Well, that crowd was just a Max fans sector. Nothing to worry about. Business as usual.

    2. I remember the English crowd booing every single non-English national anthem only a couple of months ago. Booing is the most common sound I hear from the English fans. Sometimes it goes the other way around.

  2. Any information from Stewards? Will they investigate Hamilton behavior?

    1. There is nothing to investigate. Max wanted to stay behind Lewis and get advantage from it.

    2. Well, if his (and BOT) outlap times meet the regulations, there’s nothing they can do as far as I know.

      1. The problem is the camera was soly on lewis and max and not showing the rest of the grid or the graphic to show where they all are again to drum up the fans and they fell for it.

    3. There is a minimum lap time of 1.32 to do in out lap, Ham exceeded that for sure. Let’s see if Rb is right in saying Merc is treated differently by fia

      1. Incorrect @Manto, the minimum time is between the two safety car lines rather than a lap time. And there is nothing to suggest Hamilton exceeded that.

      2. impending other driver

      3. They would have all exceeded that time then surely?

      4. @Manto 1:31.000, but only from SC line 2 to SC1, not for the entire lap.

    4. What was wrong with his behaviour? The gap between him and bottas was the same as between Ham and Max? People that hate Lewis have lost their heads a bit.

    5. @regs
      Breaking news! Horner prepare to submit complain of Lewis’ Q3 out lap to the stewards. Word in the paddock is Albon is currently recreating said out lap in the sim.

      1. Hamilton was actually quicker on his final run out lap than his first in Q3 and his soft run in Q2. Probably looked worse because Max was behind him, but he actually didn’t change his strategy.

      2. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
        31st July 2021, 20:27

        @lums Albon claims Pole Position in simulator with Red Bull!

    6. @regs if you knew what you were talking about then you would know Lewis was right behind Bottas who was right behind ocon who was right behind Norris. There was no where for them to go

      Lewis did not hold-up max, as usual, they all left it too late to go out

      Do you expect Lewis to compromise his own lap so drivers behind have more space?

      1. they all left it too late to go out

        This! Even though there was 6 minutes on the clock after the Red Flag event ended, each team chose until there was just enough time for their drivers to complete an outlap and start a hot lap. Obviously the teams knew what the latest departure time was when their cars could leave the garage, do an outlap and start a hot lap before the Chequered Flag was waved. Logic is the closer you get to that latest time the more you have to expect things to go perfectly. Not being obstructed by a competitor is actually part of “expecting things to go perfectly”. Red Bull could have left as soon as the track was opened. If they had done that they might have gotten better times than what Mercedes produced. Instead they left at nearly the latest time possible, so they were expecting things to go perfectly. Things didn’t go perfectly and consequently they didn’t get a Front Row result.

        1. @drycrust, Good analysis, perhaps we need a different system for qualifying, something like a short race where they can all go for it together should do it.

      2. Do you expect Lewis to compromise his own lap

        Not sure on purpose, but he really messed up his lap. Including a lockup in the last corner before the start.
        And a really lousy time

    7. @regs there have been individuals posting information from the driver tracking software that shows that it’s really more of a case of nine of the drivers in the top 10 shootout all tripping up over each other, with the two Mercedes drivers and two Red Bull drivers being the last four drivers in a queue of cars.

      When the drivers commenced their first set of runs at the end of the session, you had Gasly at the head of the queue, who was leading Leclerc, Alonso, Norris, Ocon, Bottas, Hamilton, Verstappen and finally Perez (see https://i.imgur.com/Z4FsaeE.jpg).

      When you take a look at that wider picture and what all of the other drivers ahead were doing, then the picture that emerges looks different. Gasly is running his own outlap (https://i.imgur.com/lAViVEI.jpg for a little later on) at a moderate pace, which meant that Leclerc and Alonso then ended up being closer to Gasly than they wanted to be as they went through the middle sector.

      That then resulted in Leclerc slowing down at Turn 11, as he wanted to try and create a bit of a gap to Gasly ahead of him (https://i.imgur.com/lxgxI02.jpg). That then has the effect of making all the drivers behind also start backing off – Alonso slowed down to create a gap to try and create a gap to Leclerc, which in turn meant Norris and Ocon slowed down to create a gap to Alonso (https://i.imgur.com/0RqRhTN.jpg).

      In turn, as Norris and Ocon slowed down to try and create a gap to Alonso, that meant that Bottas, too, slowed down to create a gap to them in the final turns (https://i.imgur.com/QSXWzJw.jpg), which in turn backed up Hamilton, Verstappen and Perez.

      To me, when you look at that wider context and at what the drivers at the head of the queue were doing, I’d say that it looks more like the drivers in front slowing down, with that cascading all the way down the line to eventually cause problems for those at the tail (i.e. the two Mercedes and two Red Bull drivers).

      1. Have rocketpanda and erikje and the rest seen this?

        1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
          31st July 2021, 21:05

          lol, do you believe that it would change anything? :-)

        2. ian dearing
          31st July 2021, 21:15

          I hope they have. This is pretty bad even for a Ham fan like me. Who was at the head of the field and slowed the rest down? Gasly and LeClerc. Who has their own team on Call of Duty? Gasly, LeClerc and Hamilton. The three of them obviously cooked this up whilst winning WW11.

          1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
            31st July 2021, 21:21

            You serious, they play CoD?

        3. You do not have to wait for our balanced analysis. These kind of things are even simple to understand for you.

      2. thank you, I’m surprised people are just looking at lewis but not looking at what was happening in front of him first to understand the domino effect it had.

      3. Great explanation of the events. Unfortunately seems like F1/Liberty are almost trying to make stories out of nothing. Just showing Lewis/Max created a storyline that in reality, just wasn’t true. It was a mistake by Red Bull sending their drivers out to late (which nearly caught out Mercedes as well), but in the current climate it’s easily to for Horner to stoke the fire than accept they made a mistake.

        In my opinion the summer break can’t come soon enough, to hopefully calm the tensions in the fans. The F1 community is the most toxic I’ve seen it in the 23 years I’ve followed it, it’s not a good look on a sport that was usually much better than this

  3. I am baffled by Red Bull’s risks in this sessions, unless they were caught off guard. They were probably already in the backfoot going into the final run of Q3, and still decided to be the last cars out on track. Unless there is a rule stating that you need to maintain a specific laptime on the outlap, which I don’t remember if we have one implemented, this is all Red Bull’s fault. We had this with Ferrari in 2019 at Abu Dhabi. The team should have told Max and Sergio that outlap time is critical because upon them being sent out in the pitlane, I already knew they were tight, and with Hamilton in front of them, I knew that he was going to try and slow them down. In qualifying, drivers have to make all their laps count.

    Lap is going to be fireworks tomorrow, but from that point, it’s all dependent on strategy.

    1. As someone pointed out during live, minimum lap time between safety car lines for slow lap is 1.31 or so.

    2. The track evolution is so steep here going out last is ideal. But everyone is going to have the same idea.

      Similar thing happened in Austria with Mercedes and Hamilton decided to pass everyone on the outlap and got it wrong. Waiting is a big risk.

    3. @krichelle RB spending the past two weeks looking backwards rather than forwards? Might explain some of their off-key performance.

      1. And that is precisely the point …

      2. Blaize Falconberger (@)
        31st July 2021, 17:49


  4. Leonard ‘Big Lenny’ Persin (@)
    31st July 2021, 15:36

    Once a cheat, always a cheat 😂

    1. Who cheated?

      1. Andy (@andyfromsandy)
        31st July 2021, 16:29

        Some don’t know the actual rule for the outlap.
        They also don’t understand gamesmanship or brinkmanship.

        1. There was no gamesmanship ship, Lewis was behind Bottas who was behind ocon who was behind Norris… who were all evenly spaced

          Problem was RB simply came out too late

          Don’t listen to sky commentators storing the pot

          1. RB had everything to lose yet they chose to leave it to the last moment.
            My guess is they were hoping for some kind of tow behind the faster Mercs.

            Lewis would have known this, all the same there was no gamesmanship as intimated by horner.
            the only gamesmanship was RB leaving it late to give that impression, although to be fair, the sky commentators were also making that suggestion before they corrected themselves.

            If anything i’d say Mercedes was better at estimating the time remaining, than RB.

    2. Blaize Falconberger (@)
      31st July 2021, 16:39

      Bit rich to call Max a cheat. But Hey…

    3. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      31st July 2021, 20:40

      I think he’s talking about the use of steroids in bodybuilding!

      1. Good one!

  5. What an intense battle between Red Bull and Mercedes! Congratulations to Lewis with his 101st Pole Position!

  6. As frustrated as some people might be with the end, I think Merc had a much quicker car today so Red Bull wouldn’t have been able to get pole regardless. And Red Bull kind of messed up anyway by sending Max out behind the two mercs for the final run, it was obvious what was going to happen in that situation.

    1. Throughout the year RBR have been sending their cars behind Mercs.

      1. Even today for the first run in Q3 both Mercedes cars were sent behind Max, so check out your info, Chaitanya.

        1. I was talking about Q3 runs, its quite common for RBR to wait for Mercs to go out before they send their drivers. Anyways given Max is starting on softs and tomorrow its expected to be hotter the race is certainly lost for him(similar to how lewis lost race in Sochi last year with Q2 mistake).

  7. Max, go for 44’s rear wheel

    1. Yeah but he needs to do it in a way where he can still race, receive a measly penalty, then come back from said penalty and win.

    2. Andy (@andyfromsandy)
      31st July 2021, 16:32

      If Max touches the back of Lewis’ car the brakes go on and Max is going nowhere. Bottas wins the GP and with it MB retake the lead in the constructors.

  8. Was that really a more interesting pole shootout than Monaco? I guess it was, those yellow sectors looked so delicious.

    As for the booing, it’s a country with a racist and homophobic government. Don’t race there. You seriously think one Lewis Hamilton will be able to socially engineer the European neo-fascist movement? And don’t race in Russia and Saudi Arabia and Brazil. Not until they clean up their act. F1 should stop being greedy and start putting their money where their mouth is.

    1. @wsrgo If we go that route let’s bring back Swiss GP to the calendar and repeat it 20 times and call it a season. It’s the only country politically suitable.

    2. @wsrgo

      Let’s not go banning racist countries. I want another race here in the States.

  9. Not as worse as democratic British fans

  10. This has got to be one of the most polarising championship fights ever. God help you if you have an opinion on anything Hamilton or Verstappen do, you’ll get flamed regardless. It’s becoming almost unenjoyable discussing F1.

    1. Agree, I enjoy reading the comments a lot less because of it.

    2. +2
      Coming here less and less, last 2 weeks have been awful in the comments.

    3. I agree Bonno

    4. Agree, the comments section used to be such a nice place with entertaining debates. It’s all full of hate towards anybody now… what a shame.
      Hey, at least we have a championship battle.

    5. @inininin

      No offence but 1988, 89, 90 and 2007 put this season to shame. But with the way things are heading, particularly with the conduct of the senior Red Bull management- it may well surpass the aforementioned seasons.

      1. I think having social media nowadays has added an new level of toxic-ness and polarisation that didn’t exist before (between the fans at least). I agree that relations between Lewis and Max are way better than the seasons you mention though!

  11. I don’t understand why all these “fans” say HAM did smth wrong. First of all he had BOT in front who was driving slow, allegedly. Although none of them breached the min delta time. Second of all VER could have overtaken him, he had plenty of opportunities. It looks to me that people are blinded by their bias towards one or another and just comment rubbish here without looking at the facts. Get over yourself people, just try to enjoy this fierce rivalry.
    If anything RB should have sent their drivers first, they had plenty of time, and usually they do right in front of Merc drivers, so why not now? They dropped the ball this time. And even if this is payback from Merc, it is deserved after all the antics from RB this week. Just get over it and focus on championship instead of useless appeals and statements. If Merc did anything intentionally, which led to this, well as long as they were in the rules then Kudos to them. They take advantage of any trick in the book and that is why, like it or not, they won both championships for so many years in a row.

    1. It’s not the effect that it had, but the objective. Merc intended to prevent RB from participating in the final runs and they partially succeeded. Something being “right” by the rules does not making it sporting.

      RB are equally to blame for falling for an obvious trick.

      1. Yes RB got played here, its going to be a long season.

    2. I would not lose my time trying to explain you or Sir Egesta the meaning of the word “sportsmanship”

      1. Andy (@andyfromsandy)
        31st July 2021, 16:34

        Or gamesmanship or brinkmanship

        1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
          31st July 2021, 20:43

          @andyfromsandy what about shipmanship?

      2. Or better, lack of..

        But its obvious Lewis feels the pressure and will use every option available.
        “Winning at all costs”

        1. Also known simply as ‘winning within the rules.’ Beats Red Bull’s ‘losing at whatever cost to their reputation.’

          1. That’s what schumacher often was doing, and I hear a lot of people criticized him.

          2. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
            31st July 2021, 21:08

            I have to say that Max was a class act after the qualifying today and in condoning the “booing”.

  12. Using Strategy is a valid strategy.

    1. Agree, nothing new under the sun. I think it’s a matter of fans of particular drivers vs fans of the sport in general.
      I just want to see them race closely, and fight for position until the very last lap.
      Don’t suppose we’ll see that tommorow, at least not for the win.

  13. If one would listen to Mercedes that unsuspecting fool would never have predicted such advantage for them in this qualifying. I’ve said it before but some insist in the error: almost always you need to discount three or four tenths to the sandbaggers’ expectation.

    1. Agree with that.

  14. Should be an interesting first couple of laps as I expect Rbr to be very competitive tomorrow.

    1. Andy (@andyfromsandy)
      31st July 2021, 16:36

      Yes, I can’t believe they haven’t instead gone for race pace and just hoped qualifying wouldn’t be too bad.

  15. 4th to 10th within 3.5 tenths, that could be interesting. Maybe we get some fighting in the midfield.
    The race is HAMs to lose, BOT is nowhere near him in lap times, and RB is nowhere near the Merc, and the Mercs have the optimal strategy.
    Unless VER manages to get in front of BOT on the start, it’s an easy Mer 1-2, with VER distant, but comfortable 3rd. 4th downwards seems to be up for grabs, so I’m hoping for some close racing in the midfield tomorrow.
    It looks like whoever gets the most out of the softs in the first stint will have an advantage, but who knows, maybe tomorrow’s track temps will be different, and it might shuffle the board a bit.

  16. Pity. Both Mercs again way ahead of the rest if the field. Feels like the last 8 years. Luckily Max does make it a bit bearable to watch the sport. Wish RedBull would build a more competitive car so Perez can participate as well

    1. I know what you mean, I’m not a fan of a particular driver, I just want to see them race, and I was spoiled by the races this season.
      I’m still hoping this is a track thing, and we get back to close racing soon.

    2. Reminds me of 2013 a bit. We had fantastically competitive racing at the start, but once Pirelli introduced the new (non-exploding) tire compounds, Vettel won nine in a row. It seems these new tires suit the Merc package very well. I’m sure Pirelli doesn’t plan these things, it’s just a shame to see a mid-season change so dramatically benefit one team.

      1. Merc seem to have the advantage when the weather gets hot, and Hungaroring seems to be experiencing extreme heat. Maybe after the summer break things even out as the weather changes.

        1. Ian Stephens
          31st July 2021, 17:53

          True … and interesting because a few years ago the opposite was true. The Mercs suffered on the hot tracks.

          I can’t see why, but taking the rear floor advantage away from low rake cars seems to gave given them a hot weather advantage this year.

      2. Andy (@andyfromsandy)
        31st July 2021, 16:40

        A strong suspicion that RBR have gone for race pace. If they can jump the Mercs they will be away.

        I just cannot believe there is that much difference in the cars once the lights go out tomorrow.

      3. Which new tires have Pirelli introduced mid season?

  17. I for 1 dis not expect to see lewis amd Bottas lockong the front row. Maybe Horner knows something that we dont about the might of the mercs especially in Lewis hands that we dont know. Perhaps he looked into his ball and saw what was coming. Because is we just take last race and this races pace then mercs are either evened up with redbull or found another gear. And Horner is deficating in his undies….

  18. Too bad Max couldn’t get a better lap in in Q3. Redbull could’ve put their drivers out a bit earlier so Mercedes couldn’t play them the way they did.

    Now let’s see what Sunday brings.

  19. I had heard some people say the championship was over after the austria races, doesn’t look like it, does it?

    Seems those of us who pointed out some particular tracks suited red bull (monaco, baku, austria x2) were right.

    1. Silverstone suited redbull as well

  20. Max got his lap in. If anyone should get a penalty it should be Max as he prevented his teammate from getting a lap in. I think Max was concerned that Perez was going to put in a top 3 lap.

    1. I guess this is a true sign of your f1 “knowledge”.
      Keep up the good work!

      1. As if you know what F1 knowledge is!?

        Started watching in ’16, now an expert ROFL

    2. @jimfromus
      isnt that right, but shhhh dont tell erikje and other unbiased max fans who are blooming with “f1 knowledge” :) you will hurt their feelings.

  21. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
    31st July 2021, 20:56

    Lewis is the first driver in the history of the sport to break the double century mark with 99 wins and 101 poles!


  22. So what would happen in a race if a driver goes half speed down the pitlane and doesn’t accelerate on the exit with a car right behind them?

    1. @tommy-c He would be passed.

  23. Did Sainz pick a penalty for impeding Gasly?

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