Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin, Losail International Circuit, 2021

Vettel suspects yellow flag was withdrawn at end of Q3 “because Max was coming”

2021 Qatar Grand Prix

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Sebastian Vettel believes a yellow flag was cancelled at the end of qualifying in order to allow Max Verstappen to complete his final flying lap.

Footage from the end of Q3 appeared to show Verstappen sighting an illuminated yellow flag board as he exited the final corner on his last timed lap. The Red Bull driver is now under investigation for failing to slow sufficiently in response to the signal.

Vettel said he was happy with his qualifying performance but believes he could have done better if he hadn’t had to slow down for yellow flags on his final lap.

“I’m pretty happy,” said the Aston Martin driver. “We out-qualified a Red Bull, Ferrari and McLaren, so I think we can be happy with that.

“It’s a bit of a shame because I had the yellow flag in the last sector and then the yellow flag cleared, I guess, because Max was coming.”

Vettel doubted he “could have made a huge jump” if he had been able to complete his lap. “It was just a bit disappointing to have the yellow flag.”

Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Circuit of the Americas, 2021
Analysis: What penalties are Verstappen, Bottas and Sainz at risk of in Qatar?
Vettel did not improve from his best lap time of 1’22.785, as a yellow flag was waved near the start-finish line when Gasly’s stricken AlphaTauri came to a stop off of the racing line.

Meanwhile, Verstappen improved by a tenth of a second on his final flying lap despite the waved yellows, though not by enough to displace Lewis Hamilton from pole position for tomorrow’s race.

“I don’t know if it was a single yellow or double yellow, but if there’s a car standing on track, then it should be a double yellow – and double yellows are ‘abort the lap’ so I lifted,” Vettel added. “Maybe I was the only one.”

This was the first time that Vettel had reached Q3 in the Aston Martin-Mercedes since the Belgian Grand Prix, where he qualified fifth.

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Author information

Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
RJ O'Connell
Motorsport has been a lifelong interest for RJ, both virtual and ‘in the carbon’, since childhood. RJ picked up motorsports writing as a hobby...

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95 comments on “Vettel suspects yellow flag was withdrawn at end of Q3 “because Max was coming””

  1. Strange, the yellow was lifted before max and before him bottas entered the third sector. So there still was a flag/sign active?

    1. Safety is taking the championship into consideration also.

      Seriously if Vettel’s assumption is correct then there is something seriously wrong with F1 right now.

      1. Well, Gasly’s car was still stationary on the main straight when they both completed that lap…

      2. I mean only he knows what he’s trying to imply. My guess is that he’s not trying to say FIA is helping Max, rather FIA wants to keep the championship interesting and not be too nitpicky on safety.

        1. i guess one equals another in that case
          FIA is helping Max with both hands to get “new champion” and thus will boost interest in the sport, but frankly this looks bad, really bad

    2. @erikje Indeed.
      I don’t know why people claim they got yellows when clearly they didn’t as obvious from the world feed footage.
      Yellows weren’t on while Gasly was stationary beside the pit wall either, although Seb & Alonso voluntarily abandoned their flying laps after the final corner anyway.

    3. The yellow was briefly withdrawn, reinstated and then withdrawn again.

    4. Why does Vettel state it was lifted? If it was there is an escape for RedBull as apparently there wasn’t a 100% clear situation created by race control

  2. Interesting subtext here.

    Theres is a lot of subleties on Vettel comments here — maybe suggesting that FIA are over protecting Verstappen?

    1. Subtle? He’s pretty blunt about it tbh

    2. I don’t think they’re protecting Verstappen per se, but rather not wanting the Championship battle to be interrupted. Which is also wrong, especially around issues of safety. That’s if they did remove the flag like Vettel is suggesting ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

      1. If they didn’t want it interupted,then why DSQ Lewis and send him to the back of the grid.

        1. I guess this valid point will soon get submerged in the sea of narcisistic beliefs.

        2. It’s coming across as the FIA wanting to decide this championship themselves, rather than letting the actual protagonists decide it. Between this and the sheer length of the championship, the number of face-to-face people I know who follow F1 has dropped from 12 mid-season to 3 now (only 1 of whom believes there’s enough legitimacy in the championship to care who gets the trophy).

          1. FIA is a joke. I will not pay for watching a farce too.

    3. I think he is making a wise crack as he is known to do.

      1. To be honest, his wise cracks are often based on fact… They are often a dig at someone whether it be a particular driver or the FIA themselves…

        If indeed the yellow flags happened to be cancelled just in time for max to make it through and then reinstated then something corrupt it happening

    4. Maybe Vettel is the third Merc driver that wants a seat on the main team. The yellow sector cleared up really early before Max came round, possibly because of Max, hopefully it was a glitch with Gasly’s car rolling off the finishing line.

  3. And the plot thickens….

  4. FIA undoing one hell of a championship…

    1. Silverstone opened the can of worms. There is no bottom in this barrel. Whoever has even the slightest of the brain and is not fanatical over a specific driver can see it clear as day.

      1. What does Silverstone has to do with the can of worms? Hamilton was penalized there although Max could have avoided the accident if he chose something other than we crash or I stay on top persistent attitude. Hamilton was even predominantly to blame for the incident, many considered it to be a racing incident but not the FIA who are trying to interfere in all possible dirty ways to offer fake entertainment, including delaying their decision on the Mercedes right of review and announcing the same during the Horner/Wolff meeting with the press.

        1. Which driver do you support? Just wondering. :)

          1. I don’t think its about which Driver he supports but rather why the rules aren’t being applied evenly in a fair and consistent manner. I don’t support any Driver . Just as Vettel felt he was being done wrong ,as a Fan of the Sport I feel the same .

    2. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      21st November 2021, 1:19

      @fer-no65 you summed it up perfectly…. They have totally stolen the limelight away from the teams and drivers.

  5. Staggering considering Seb is Red Bulls only driver world champion. Seb is one of the most respected voices on the grid.

    1. Red bull only really had the best car in the vettel era, there’s a reason he’s the only red bull wdc.

      1. They have had the best car this year.

        1. Keep telling that to yourself :)

          1. @tifoso1989 Red Bull has the best car this year, the FIA changed to floor regulation to help Red Bull out and hamper Mercedes but you folks are really blind to facts

          2. @noname Go and compare the results for Bottas and Pérez if you want a true picture, they are the ones who don’t out drive whatever car they’re in (because lets be honest here, both Hamilton and Verstappen are something special, and clearly the best drivers currently competing):

            Bottas has outqualified Pérez 15 times out of 20 so far this season.
            Bottas has finished ahead of Pérez in every Sprint Qualifying race.
            Pérez has been eliminated from qualifying before Q3 on three occasions this season, Bottas never has.
            The fastest lap has gone to a Mercedes driver 9 times, a Red Bull driver 6 times.

            So, Mercedes can keep claiming that Red Bull have a quicker car, and their fans can keep believing that if they choose, but the statistics don’t back those claims up

        2. If you believe that, you’re clearly not watching the same races. Look at the performance difference in Brazil for example.

          1. Interlagos was one race, where Hamilton had a new engine. Look at every race overall. Verstappen could been way further ahead not for tyre failure in Baku, not avoiding a crash in Silverstone and crashing into Hamilton in Monza. Look who still has more poles and wins… it is Redbull’s season to lose, but Mercedes have seemed to found a turn in form for Hamilton’s car with a fresh ICE, and it wouldn’t surprise me one bit if they put another new ICE in these last couple races going by last weekend and yesterday’s qualifying.

          2. @nvherman Red Bull has the best car, i really can’t believe people like you believe otherwise despite the FIA did benefit Red Bull with the floor regulation this year. Get real dude.

          3. @kpcart yep, Max would have been ahead in that way. But I still wouldn’t call him a champion because I’m one of his backstabbers.

          4. @kpcart I mean sure, you Mercedes/Hamilton fans can keep telling yourself that if you really must believe that they are the underdogs, but you’re only fooling yourselves. As posted in reply to @noname above

            Go and compare the results for Bottas and Pérez if you want a true picture, they are the ones who don’t out drive whatever car they’re in (because lets be honest here, both Hamilton and Verstappen are something special, and clearly the best drivers currently competing):

            Bottas has outqualified Pérez 15 times out of 20 so far this season.
            Bottas has finished ahead of Pérez in every Sprint Qualifying race.
            Pérez has been eliminated from qualifying before Q3 on three occasions this season, Bottas never has.
            The fastest lap has gone to a Mercedes driver 9 times, a Red Bull driver 6 times.

            So, Mercedes can keep claiming that Red Bull have a quicker car, and their fans can keep believing that if they choose, but the statistics don’t back those claims up

    2. More of a human being.

  6. One rule for RB another for everyone else??

    Masi is obviously an RB fan.

    1. or on there pay roll

      1. Or he bet big on his dog. It def looks like he has a dog in this fight

    2. I think he’s just weak and indecisive. Look at the Spa farce. Never should have been points awarded if there was no actual race.

  7. The onboard I have seen doesn’t show any yellows, anyone seen any?

    1. @davidjwest look at the marshal post on the left hand side of the circuit, just after the DRS activation marker – that is where there is a marshal waiving double yellow flags.

      1. Ah yes, well spotted. Slam dunk then, say hi!

        1. David was looking for a yellow flag and even he didn’t see it at first glance. On the other side of the track you can see that the lights are green and not yellow and now yellow lights on Max his steering wheel.

    2. Look at the marshals post on the left just after the DRS sign.

    3. At 0:08 it is VERY clear a yellow flag being shown on the left side.

      1. It is also very clear that the lights on the other side of the track were green and not yellow and no yellow lights on his steering wheel.

        1. Huh? These green lights are for pit entry not for the race track

        2. @kavu The green blinking lights on the right are for the pit entry. They are also very odd as Gasly’s car was stationary in there……..

        3. @kavu This is embarrassing

        4. I don’t think the electronics have to match. There will be some delay after a marshal has spotted something and started waving flags.

  8. “Let them race” (even through yellows).

    1. Let max race or no one else should. More likely…

  9. What’s the minimum penalty for this, 3 grid places?

    1. Max gets Pole?

      1. I place grid penalty so he starts on clean side off track

        1. The standard penalty is 3 spots, which also grants a start on the clean side of the grid.

          1. (Unless Bottas gets pinged as well, then Verstappen may only lose 2 spots, which paradoxically might be worse for him than a 3-spot penalty this time due to the dirty track).

  10. Gasly front row start!

    1. @davidjwest LOL. He’s the one who should get penalized if anyone, given he caused this whole entirely avoidable mess by deliberately staying on track with damage instead of pitting despite having enough time for this, given he hadn’t reached the entry yet. Inexcusable behavior by him, even slightly unsportsmanlike.
      Drivers should always use the earliest possible opportunity for entering pit lane, or pit in general, when driving a damaged car or about to DNF, if they haven’t passed the entry yet/are already close, full stop.

      1. Yes, when I saw the first replay of Gasly’s puncture I was wondering why he ended up on the main straight instead of pitting. From the replay it looked like to me, that maybe he not realised soon enough that he has a puncture or bigger damage, and as it happened close to the pit entry his speed was still too high to safely enter the pits. But I have not replayed it enough times to be sure of it. Now rewatched once more, and it seems unlcuky, and hard to react as he was close to the pit entry.

        At now there is an onboard replay, I see the first pieces of the tyre flying aroung at 0:21, at 0:22 he continues to drive an “usual” line and speed I guess (in the opposite direction of the pit entry), and by 0:23 he already passed the pit entry. I am a bit slowie, so I could not react properly to this form this speed and direcion within something like 1 seconds, if we consider a reaction time of 1 second in the case of unpredictable and rare events. They are faster than me, but I guess it happened too qucikly.

        1. Haha nice typo fest by me :)

      2. I kind of like IndyCar’s rules on this… in qualifying, if you bring out a yellow, your fastest time is deleted. If you bring it out in the “Fast 6” (Q3), all your times are deleted, and you start 6th. If you bring out a red flag, your best two times are deleted.

        Speaking of lap times being deleted, I thought anyone in the same sector as double-waved yellows gets their lap time deleted automatically..?

  11. This is huge because I think no one really expected Either Hamilton or verstappen to finish lower than 2nd. Bottas won’t get more of a drop than him and there is no Perez there to give way.

    1. I’d expect Max to get through the field without too much trouble by the end but it does mean another win for Hamilton most likely so he will close that gap for the title.

      What’s the Red Bulls speed like on the straight?

      1. What’s the Red Bulls speed like on the straight?

        Before or after they are allowed to modify I mean repiar their wings after qualifying?

      2. @davidjwest QLF maximum speeds at speed trap for Mercedes & RBR drivers:
        HAM 323.9 kph
        BOT 322.3
        PER 320.7
        VER 320.5

        1. Thanks, similar to Brazil then, DRS will more than compensate for that.

  12. I have found a solution for the Stewards.
    It was a green flag waving but filmed through red filters.
    Else it’s that they can’t find the marshall who waved the flag.

    1. So the rule of just having the lap time deleted as it will still allow for Max to keep P2.

      I believe however part of the double yellow flag rule is a driver should not improve his lap time.

      1. What about the safety argument. The directive was automatically abandon the lap. They didn’t talk about erasing laps because it was assumed drivers would automatically abort their laps.

        1. The Race Director’s Event Notes (vers. 4), specifically states that all competitors in a double waved yellow sector will have their times deleted. It’s the same section that Verstappen was cited as breaking in the summons to the steward’s office tomorrow.

          1. By aborting the lap or having the lap deleted still leaves Max in P2. It just remains if the stewards actually think he deserves a penalty of some sort. The same applies to Valtteri and Carlos.

  13. The light boards are controlled by the race director’s office.

    The Marshalls wave their flags according to strict guide lines and will only retract their flags if told to do so.

    It seemed to me that whoever was controlling the lightboards wanted to path the red sea to get Max to complete his lap.

  14. Formule one is slowly becoming a joke under Masi’s watch.

    1. @Bagaman
      You’re absolutely correct on this

    2. Agreed, I would even say, fast becoming…

    3. i totally agree this massi is a mess.. an amateur at most who is in redbulls payroll it seems.
      charlie whitting rip could not let such farcical officiating ..though he was not a paragon himself..

    4. Totally! Never forget Baku 2021.

    5. I think it is time Ross brown takes the charge. I can’t see anyone else suitable for the job, he has been to so many teams and he s engineer too, he doesn’t need any excuse and crap for decisions.

  15. Nothing to see here, removing yellows so Max does not get a penalty is normal(!)
    Its beyond doubt now that Max is given preferential treatment by the FIA

    I think someone at the FIA (as well as david croft) has got a huge wager on Max to win the title and doing everything possible for him to win.
    Why else is Wunderkind Max protected like this?

    1. agreed even the punditry on live tv is skewd…they refuse to tell it as it is and create doubts in the stewarding, and i hate this radio interjection by HONER all the time during the race with David croft

  16. Should have remained double yellow or even red. Gasly tore off his wing on the high speed corner. Debris was everywhere so that was a safety issue. And his car was stopped off the racing but still stopped on the track so if some picked up debris and spun he was at risk.

  17. FIA has become a Farce In Autosport.

  18. Jakefromstatefarm
    20th November 2021, 21:57

    I’m pretty sure Sebastian was joking when he said this and people are just taking his sarcasm too seriously.

  19. Easy decision. 5 places grid drop for Bottas for ignoring single yellows, no penalty for Verstappen because it was a mistake that the double yellows were shown to him in the first place, they were meant for the other drivers.

  20. Maybe the team told him to stop immediately to not further damage the car?

    1. That was to an above post asking why gasly stopped on straight

  21. Considering decissions last two weeks, it seems FIA and Liberty media have decided it is in F1 intrest to have a new champion.

    Mercedes and Lewis are booring and old.

    Offcorse personally I want racing to happen on the track, with two cars of roughly equal performance and drivers who are equally matched.

    But those are entertainment goals.

    Sporting regulations should ensure atleast some fairness and decent level of safety.

    Maybe it would be best to just delete laptime if driver passes a Double Yellow.

  22. Well, this is an inside job…

  23. It’s OK, F1 will make whatever decision is *correct.

    [*Please note that F1 deems the ‘correct’ decision to be whatever takes the championship to the final round and/or hands the challenger an advantage over the incumbent champion.]

  24. Bottas 3 place grid drop

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