Verstappen, Bottas and Sainz could face grid penalties over yellow flag incidents

2021 Qatar Grand Prix

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Three drivers are under investigation for allegedly failing to respect yellow flags at the end of qualifying for the Qatar Grand Prix.

Max Verstappen, who qualified second for tomorrow’s race, has been summoned to appear before the stewards for “not respecting double waved yellow flags” during his final lap in Q3.

Valtteri Bottas, who took third on the grid, is also investigation, but for an incident involving single waved yellow flags. Carlos Sainz Jnr, who took seventh, is under investigation for the same.

All three incidents occurred when yellow flags were waved at the end of the session after Pierre Gasly damaged his car on a kerb at the exit of turn 15. The AlphaTauri driver lost his front wing and came to a stop on the pit straight. Yellow flags were briefly shown, then cancelled, in marshalling sectors 18 and 20.

Onboard footage from Verstappen’s car showed a yellow flashing light on his left at the exit of the final corner, turn 16, as he completed his final lap. The Red Bull driver did not appear to lift off.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Circuit of the Americas, 2021
Analysis: What penalties are Verstappen, Bottas and Sainz at risk of in Qatar?
Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff said he had seen the footage of the Verstappen incident. “He’s passing a flashing red or flashing yellow light on the left and then is passing a double waved yellow and there is a standing car on the road. So I guess that’s a bit of a triple-whammy.”

In 2019 Verstappen lost pole position for the Mexican Grand Prix after he was found not to have slowed for yellow flags. He was given a three-place grid penalty.

Last year Lewis Hamilton was given a three-place grid penalty in Austria for the same violation. On that occasion Red Bull successfully petitioned the stewards to review a decision not to penalise him after presenting new video evidence.

The stewards will not meet with Verstappen until 1pm on Sunday in Qatar, four hours before the start of the race. The meetings with Bottas and Sainz will follow at 1:30pm and 1:45pm respectively.

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2021 Qatar Grand Prix

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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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109 comments on “Verstappen, Bottas and Sainz could face grid penalties over yellow flag incidents”

  1. Let’s see how these stewards choose to interpret this one. No point looking at precedents previously set or let alone the rule book. 🤦‍♂️

    It’s all we can do as F1 fans. Bring out the wheel of fortune. Who will be out guest wheel spinner this week?

    1. There is a precedent in Monza 2019, where Bottas got to keep his pole after ignoring red flags.

      1. Sorry, third place not pole

      2. RandomMallard (@)
        20th November 2021, 18:12

        @silfen No, the difference was Bottas set his lap time before the red flags where announced; it had been deleted by mistake I believe. Also, he wasn’t on pole, it was only good enough for P3, and no reaction on the planet could have realistically slowed him down very much before he finished the lap. Here, it’s different in that these yellows had been out for most of the lap, and Max definitely had the opportunity to slow down.

        1. No he didn’t. It was clearly visible on his dash before Bottas crossed the line.

          And in this case the track was given the all clear moments before he crossed the line as was shown on tv. There were even green panels visible to the right side of the track.

          1. Green lights on the right were in the pit lane and not relevant to the this incident.

          2. @silfen IIRC, he didn’t get red lights on his steering wheel, nor did trackside light panels show red yet because the system reacted slowly or something like this. Nevertheless, he set his lap time legally.

      3. It doesn’t matter either which way you argue, that’s the point.

        1. @jerejj from Autosport:

          However, onboard video from Bottas’s Mercedes shows he passes a red light just before completing his lap.

          Bottas also received a warning on his dash immediately, before crossing the line, and was told by his team that the red flag is out just afterwards.

  2. Hayyyyy can they be clear with flags? Just show the yellow flag and don’t wave the green flag when incident is not cleared? Again just like in Austria last year, there was a brief moment in green and yellow today. Plus there was no yellow flag on the tv when they were showing Gasly’s car at the main straight.

    1. On the other hand, if there were yellow flags, but not shown on the tv, then this is definitely a no argument penalty, as he did improve his time.

      1. RandomMallard (@)
        20th November 2021, 18:06

        @krichelle Yep fully agree with this second point. It’s not unheard of for yellows not to be shown on TV, so I expect this may be the case

      2. I’ve just watched his onboard and he 100% passes a marshal waving two bright yellow flags on the straight. He doesn’t lift at all and continues to set a faster lap. Let’s see how the FIA get him out of this one. Let’s not forget Hamilton got a penalty for missing a yellow light box which was behind a shower of dust earlier this season. Should be 3 place grid drop, but as it’s Verstappen this is all about “let them win” I mean race…

        1. @Ben
          Then you should also note the multiple panels on the right, they flashed green. Don’t get me wrong, those should be yellow, but I’d be surprised if there is a penalty now

          1. As I’ve also commented below, I think the green panels to the right of the track are actually in the pit lane and are for the weighbridge.

            Look at this video of the safety car doing a lap of the track at the end of the lap you can clearly see a green panel flashing on the left on the circuit, yet those panels on the right are showing red. I’m sure they’re in the pit lane.

          2. Marshall posts don’t randomly move to the other side of the track after a few metres, they’re generally kept on the same side and spaced a long way apart. The panel you’re pointing out would have been in the pits.

  3. I thought they’d decided that anytime a double yellow was waved that all lap times were automatically deleted?

    1. its a slam dunk…..yellow flags being waved right oppossite the stationary car

    2. RandomMallard (@)
      20th November 2021, 18:08

      @johnnyrye I believe that option has been talked about, but has not yet been implemented. It would make more sense than the current rule which means the drivers have to ‘abandon their lap’, but has led to situations like Turkey last year where drivers still improve, despite not trying to, simply because of how the track is evolving.

      1. RandomMallard (@)
        20th November 2021, 18:19

        Maybe I’m wrong actually. There is a document on the FIA site for ‘P3 Deleted Lap Times – Double Yellows’ so maybe this rule did eventually get enforced

        1. RandomMallard (@)
          20th November 2021, 18:21

          Ahh it’s in the Race Director’s notes. You’re right after all @johnnyrye. My bad

          In order for the stewards to be satisfied that any such driver has complied with these requirements it must be clear that he has not attempted to set a meaningful lap time, for practical purposes any driver in a double yellow sector will have that lap time deleted.

          Still expect a penalty though as he was flat through double yellows.

          1. All good @randommallard, I honestly only vaguely remember them talking about it after Turkey and didn’t investigate any further.

  4. If Verstappen can get away with Brazil’s turn 4 incident without even any investigation, I have a feeling stewards would find a way to let him go scot-free all in the name of keeping the championship spicy.

    1. Stop talking about “an incident” that never happened.
      I know there are a lot of misguided mostly Lewis fans that call for a penalty. But there has to be an incident to get a penalty.
      There was none and even the master moaner Lewis did not saw it as such

      1. lexusreliability?
        20th November 2021, 18:50


        Stop talking about “an incident” that never happened.

        You then follow up by calling Lewis fans misguided? Besides, you’re not exactly the voice of reason and impartiality when it comes to anything Verstappen are you really.

      2. We’re all “misguided” apparently, and incident never occurred. Nothing to see hear, I repeat, nothing to see hear lol.

        1. @john-h i laugh hard everytime erikje comments

      3. There absolutely was an “incident” in Brazil. How else do you explain the two lead cars that far off the track at the same time on the same corner? The fact that the stewards chose to ignore it is a related but separate issue and doesn’t change the fact that something did happen.

      4. Lewis taking the high road doesn’t mean his car did not end up 5 car widths away from the kerbs trying to avoid reckless Verstappen. Now sayin there’s been no incident is 1984 levels revisionism.

  5. I don’t understand this: surely with bottas in front of verstappen, slowing and not beating verstappen’s previous time, red bull should’ve told him to slow down.

    1. The track was given the all clear moments before, even though Gasly was still on track driving slowly. There were even green panels visible to the right.

      1. And that possibly explains why then the stewards in the section decided there needed to be double waved yellows, but it took a bit to get out, which is maybe why only Verstappen got them @silfen, not sure about it;

        I’d expect Masi to explain tomorrow that while the lap was deleted (which still gives Verstappen 2nd, I think), there’s no need for a further penalty because the situation was confusing. Not sure I agree, but that’s what I could see happening.

      2. Those panels were in the pit lane. If it was a marshal post it would have been much further down the track and on the same side.

  6. I noticed this, Verstappen improved on his lap-time on the final lap when Gasly stopped, although it looked as though there were no yellow flags at that particular time and I don’t know about his pace in the mini-sectors. Lando Norris and Esteban Ocon also improved their times, so would be surprised if they are not investigated.

    1. Sorry, I have now seen the video and there were definitely double yellow flags shown on the main straight, so I think that’s a penalty for Verstappen.

      1. And green panels to the right of the track.

        1. In short… A mess.
          But when indeed yellow a grid drop is unavoidable.

        2. Doesn’t matter. The green came first so he went past at full speed and that’s fine. Yellow was later and clearly visible. 3 place grid drop. No it’s and buts. As RedBull fans were saying just last week “rules are rules” but not when you drive a RedBull apparently…

        3. I think the green panels to the right of the track are actually in the pit lane and are for the weighbridge. Confusing nonetheless.

          I believe this to be the case because looking at this video of the safety car doing a lap of the track at the end of the lap you can clearly see a green panel flashing on the left on the circuit, yet those panels on the right are showing red. I’m sure they’re in the pit lane.

        4. Physical waved Yellow flags trump lights on the panel. Just an FYI.

  7. “Everyone is different and everyone has their own of racing and defending and overtaking,”

    Well according to Verstappen, the stewards have to take into account that people drive differently.

  8. I heard Bottas is in danger too?

    1. I’d imagine yes because it looked like he was also flat on the main straight with DRS opened.

      1. And ocon and alonso

        1. Jordan Labrecque
          20th November 2021, 18:44

          nah Alonso lifted

        2. Alonso and Vettel clearly slowed.

  9. This guy will never get a penalty and he gets away with most things. I feel he will collide soon with his championship rival. He is from the Senna and Schumacher school of drivers who wouldn’t shy away from a collision if it goes in their favour.

    1. Ah, ofc, and mexico 2019 doesn’t exist in your world.

      1. Verstappen wasn’t in contention to win the Championship in Mexico 2019.

    2. Well maybe not “never”, but by giving him something occasionally for perhaps 1 in 10 of his violations helps the VER fanboys and stewards mount a defense that they aren’t biased.

  10. I take it this comes under the ‘let them race’ banner, so no action?

  11. Sounds like a definite penalty which in terms of spectacle really is a shame. Would love to see them tussle it out tomorrow and not be separated on track at the start.

  12. RandomMallard (@)
    20th November 2021, 18:17

    Yep that’s a stonewall penalty. I’m not sure if there are any yellow flag boards (the video makes them appear more blue than yellow, so they may be yellow flags, they may not be), but there is definitely a marshal waving yellows at 8 seconds in this video.

    Don’t think it’s even defendable. Especially given Max has history of this before (Mexico 2019).

    1. RandomMallard (@)
      20th November 2021, 18:27

      Actually there are green panels on the right that I missed. In which case it may be that due to conflicting signals, he may get away with it. The flags displayed on the boards are what gets displayed inside the cockpit as well I believe

      1. Thanks for the video. I assumed instant penalty but if there’s a green light on the side with Gaslys car as shown he should be alright.

        1. There’s no light on the side where Gasley is parked. There is a Marshall waving two big yellow flags on the other side! Guess the FIA will say it was a fan waving inflatable bananas and let Max get away with it… again.

          1. RandomMallard (@)
            20th November 2021, 19:05

            There are green panels on the right hand side, and there is a marshall waving double yellows on the left hand side. Both of these are undisputable facts. However, as cdavman points out, those green panels may be in the pitlane for the weighbridge (and I have a suspicion he’s probably right, although I can’t find anything to confirm it yet). In which case @glynh we’re back to instant penalty.

          2. @randommallard the FIA’s circuit maps, which show the marshal posts around the circuit, confirm those lighting panels on the right hand side of the track are not marshals posts – the only marshal post in that area is M26, which is the one on the left hand side of the straight where the double yellow flags were being waived.

      2. I think the green panels to the right of the track are actually in the pit lane and are for the weighbridge. Confusing nonetheless.

        I believe this to be the case because looking at this video of the safety car doing a lap of the track at the end of the lap you can clearly see a green panel flashing on the left on the circuit, yet those panels on the right are showing red. I’m sure they’re in the pit lane.

        1. RandomMallard (@)
          20th November 2021, 19:01

          @cdavman You may be right. It was one of the first things that popped into my mind as well, but I wasn’t too sure, as I wouldn’t have expected two panels so close together (either on track or in the pits). I’ve had a look at the Race Director’s Notes, which helpfully has a map of the circuit, showing all the light panels, and a map of the pit lane, showing the light panels there as well. Less helpfully, neither of these maps show these two panels, so I suppose we’re back to square one.

        2. @cdavman @randommallard Those lights form clear arrows/chevrons, though the unfocused onboards cameras (or rather, focused on the cars instead of the track, because reasons) doesn’t really show it. The drivers knows, or should know, that those are not flag panels, but weighbridge panels, so they’re rather irrelevant.

          1. RandomMallard (@)
            20th November 2021, 19:35

            @losd Thanks so much! Yh I’m pretty sure they’re not track status panels (I also thought they looked the wrong shape when I first saw them on the onboard) so I reckon it’s a stonewall penalty

  13. Looks like Max deliberately do that so he can start at clean side.

  14. Max will get away with it as usual. Should be a slam dunk, same as Hamilton got a penalty for earlier this year. We all know the same rules don’t apply to Max… what a farce this “sport” is

  15. So that means Bottas starts second and Gasly third on the softs. That will be an interesting first corner tomorrow.

    1. Nope bottas ignored them too.
      With full Drs on straight.

  16. On the broadcast, the yellows were for such a brief time that I wondered exactly what was going on (this was before we got to know it was Gasly in trouble). But their on/off nature really made it easy to catch out a driver on a hot lap and I was actually suprised they didn’t catch any one out at the time. This suggests that the actual flags were probably not entirely in sync with the broadcast but the fact it’s only popped up hours after qualifying is quite perturbing.

    1. You registered here before so why do you keep commenting anonymously?

  17. The Alpha Tauri just kept messing up the Red Bull drivers.

    1. Gasly might end up second because of this. May be they should adopt the IndyCar rule that if you cause a yellow you lose your fastest lap.

      1. @silfen Only, in this case, given he continued on track with damage despite having a realistic chance to pit.

  18. geoffgroom44 (@)
    20th November 2021, 18:55

    These ‘stewards inquiries’ are becoming a severe distraction from the real business of F1.It is not an issue of ‘enforcing the rules’, but more an issue of ‘entertainment’ caused by wondering if the rules will be enforced and to what extent and upon whom.
    And if Max does get a penalty, we can all look forward to the Marko/Horner version of ‘Z’s in crisis’.

  19. Red Bull will argue Max was temporarily made yellow green colourblind by the sand and how really that is the stewards fault and they must now apologise to Max for doubting his omnipotence.

    1. I wouldn’t be surprised if they give Lewis the penalty….

    2. Say hi!

  20. I’m not seeing any yellows myself:

    1. RandomMallard (@)
      20th November 2021, 19:33

      @davidjwest I can’t tell if this is a serious comment or not, but I’m going to assume it is and respond as such.

      If you look to the left of the track at about 8 seconds into the video, there is a marshall, waving double yellows. Off to the right, there are two green panels, however my suspicion (with many thanks to cdavman for pointing this out) are that these are for the weighbridge in the pit lane, and not track status panels. However I cannot back this up as the maps in the Race Director’s Notes are (in a huge surprise for an FIA document /endsarcasm) inconclusive.

      It’s a stonewall penalty most likely.

      1. Yes I hadn’t seen that initially as I was looking for lights, there’s a blue flashing light a bit earlier on.

        Looks pretty much a slam dunk penalty but this is Max so probably no penalty as “let them race!”.

    2. Pause it at the 8 second mark… before the bridge, on the left.

      1. You meant the squarish light panel? I’m not sure what that is and I’m not seeing any flags.

  21. I’m sure Horner is going to get Albon to do a simulation of it next week and it will be fine.

  22. They didn’t even get yellows. No one got yellows at the end.
    The two yellow cautions caused by Gasly were very brief at roughly 3.6 & 4.3 sec, & everyone got lucky they didn’t get compromised.
    Yellow wasn’t on while Gasly was parked beside the pit wall (which was good).
    Alonso voluntarily lifted off following the final corner anyway.
    Vettel & Norris passed Gasly on the S/F straight, by which point green had returned.
    Vettel may have voluntarily abandoned his push lap towards the timing line, while behind him Norris didn’t.
    Even more certainly VER, BOT, & SAI, especially the former two, didn’t pass any caution section, given how far behind Gasly they were when those brief yellows were on.
    The proof for Bottas is he was on the world feed at the time doing his final flyer.
    BTW, this is about ‘single’ waved rather than double.
    The single option had seemingly got forgotten, considering how often doubles have got out recently, even though not every situation necessarily required them.

    1. RandomMallard (@)
      20th November 2021, 19:38

      @jerejj There are definitely double waved yellows at the marshall’s post about 8 seconds in to this video. It appears that there weren’t any flags shown on the LED panels or the driver’s dash (these often appear quite big and noticeably on the dash), but I’m pretty sure that before that hasn’t been successful as an excuse.

    2. How can a disabled car stopped on track not warrant a double? I did see the car stopped and saw no flags on tv and thought that was strange. BTW why did gasly pass the pits and stop on track? Why not drive into an fence opening much earlier?

      1. I believe on C4 he said he was told to carry on, which given where he was would cement his 4th place on the grid.

      2. @dmw Why should a stationary car on a straight line outside the racing line warrant a double? Single is perfectly safe.
        I agree with you on Gasly, though.
        Ironically, nothing would’ve happened if he bothered to enter the pit lane as he should’ve done, given he hadn’t passed the entry yet.
        If anything, he’s the one who should get penalized for deliberately staying on track with damage, no one else.
        Inexcusable behavior by him, even slightly unsportsmanlike.

        1. @jerejj I think that Gasly’s front brakes and steering were compromised, to be fair.

    3. @jerejj the footage from Max’s onboard camera shows that, on the run to Turn 16, the signal board at marshal post M23 is showing a white flag, which is the warning signal given to drivers when there is an abnormally slow moving car ahead of them on the track.

      That same white flag warning signal is then repeated at marshal post M24 and M25, with the double waived yellow then being waived at marshal post M26. I suspect that Alonso and Vettel slowed because they had noticed those warning flags and decided that, even if there was a green light where they were, there was likely to be a yellow flag ahead of them and thus they’d have to abandon the lap anyway.

      As for why they were using a double waived yellow, a double waived yellow is used to signify that there is a potential obstruction, such as a broken down car, which is obstructing part of the track, and that there may be marshals or recovery equipment on the circuit that is trying to remove that obstruction. In this situation, Gasly’s slow moving car was obstructing part of the track, which is why a double waived yellow was likely chosen there.

      I think that there may be some confusion being caused by the way the TV graphics were operating – I suspect that, because Gasly was slowly moving around the track, what was happening was that, as he was passing a marshal post, that marshal would fly their yellow flags at that location, and then switch back to another flag, most likely the white flag to signal a slow moving car ahead. That might have been interpreted as the yellow flags being withdrawn, but I think it is more likely that the yellow flag zone was effectively following Gasly around the circuit by having each post waive their flag in turn as he passed.

  23. It looks like this weekend’s stewarts are going to investigate everything. I would not exceed the track limits tomorrow.

    The FIA had finally found a way to make the sport more exciting: inconsistent stewarding as a principle and delayed decisions to keep the suspense going…

  24. On the FIA website there is a summons for car 77 and car 55 but not one for car 33.

    Anyhow if Max was going through double yellow and Valtteri and Carlos ignored single yellow, do they command a different penalty?

    1. Summons has now been posted car 33

      Alleged breach of Appendix H, Art. 2.5.5.b) of the FIA International Sporting Code and
      non-compliance with Race Director’s Event Notes 7.1, not respecting double waved
      yellow flags at 18:00.

    2. Single yellows have been three-place drops in the past, so I assume double yellows could be a five-place grid penalty.

    3. Interesting… Cars 77 and 55 summoned for ignoring single waved yellow, Car 33 summoned for ignoring double waved yellows

  25. Lewis Hamilton seems to have lady luck on his side. It’s normally a force that tends to push the destined champion along through the year. I remember in the Vettel era when I was extremely annoyed at the luck he was getting. Luck just never seemed to come McLaren’s way back then! But now I admit I am quite enjoying Lewis’ run of luck since 2016. #Blessed is what I see people call it!

  26. It is really becoming clear who the FIA wants to be champion this year. Max can do no wrong this year. This is not F1 we know.

  27. Obviously, no penalty for Verstappen because he can do whatever he wants (although his transgression was blatant, but who cares). Obviously, Bottas and Sainz will get a penalty.

  28. Masi will bottle it. If there’s something we’ve learnt over this championship, it is that Masi and his band of merry stewards will bend over backwards to avoid penalising Max for pretty much anything.
    There won’t be a penalty. As Lewis remarked in Brazil when Bono told him Max would not be investigated for THAT incident, “of course not.”

  29. I found this to be very confusing on TV so I checked the onboard from Max and that was very unclear to me as well.

    After looking multiple times I was a guys waving with a flag but nothing the dash.

    It looks like a penalty

  30. Another prefessional foul from Max I think. If he didnt gun it he wouldnt improve and Merc are 1-2. If he improves and there is an invrstigation Merc still end up 1-2, and there is a chance that there may not be a penalty. Clever

  31. A three place grid drop for Max…..although the way the stewards have been ruling recently I expect Max to be promoted as a result of his yellow flag infringement to pole and Lewis sent to the back…..

  32. Fair enough too. I thought it odd that Max improved his time with a stationary car on the main straight. The Alpine in front was basically walking pace! I thought this had been resolved by deleting lap times with double waved yellows following turkey…?

    1. @tommy-c Lap times are automatically deleted now in a double yellow sector, but a grid penalty is still given if a driver fails to lift in that sector. Dangerous driving is still (supposedly) not allowed.

      1. Lap times are deleted because of those situations where the track is constantly improving, like a drying track and drivers suddenly find themselves going several seconds faster than a previos lap, even though they lifted for a long time.

  33. Shouldnt be an issue as gasly was already safely at the side of the track and its only a straight

    1. Shouldnt even be a yellow flag in the first place

      1. @f1fan-2000 Single at maximum. Double was slightly overboard, given he was off the racing line & on a straight.

  34. Definitely passed the double waved yellows so I cannot see how he can escape a penalty.
    Having said that, I think that having double waved yellows for this incident is just stupid…

  35. Verstappen to get a fine with penalties for Sainz and Bottas.

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