Hulkenberg loses front row start after penalty for speeding through red flags

2023 Canadian Grand Prix

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Nico Hulkenberg has lost his front row starting position for the Canadian Grand Prix after being given a three-place grid penalty for failing to slow sufficiently for red flags.

The stewards issued a more lenient penalty than usual after noting the breach was relatively minor. However they also said Hulkenberg should pay more heed to the delta time target when red flags are displayed in future.

The red flag was shown in response to Oscar Piastri’s crash early in Q3. Hulkenberg had just crossed the finishing line when it was shown and failed to bring his speed down quickly enough in response to it, the stewards decided.

“The driver had just finished his fastest lap and had started another push lap,” the stewards explained. “He was at [turn one] when the red flag was displayed, however at that point he was already 1.5 seconds over his delta time. He claimed this made it extremely difficult for him to come below the delta in the next sector.”

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, 2023
Gallery: 2023 Canadian Grand Prix qualifying in pictures
Hulkenberg’s radio revealed he thought he was not driving quickly enough at one point. “He also admitted to confusion about the beep signal in his headset, and therefore at one stage thought he was going too slow,” said the stewards.

However the stewards took in mitigation the fact Hulkenberg’s driving was other wise in line with another driver who obeyed the speed limit, Esteban Ocon, and therefore did not issue the full 10-place grid penalty which is normally used for this kind of infraction.

“Comparison of telemetry with that of car 31 [Ocon] showed that in general for the rest of the lap he was approximately the same speed as car 31 which complied with the delta times in each mini-sector,” the stewards noted. “We regard this as a mitigating circumstance.

“However, the regulation is very clear and whilst there is no question of the driver acting dangerously or driving unsafely, there was a breach and thus a penalty has to be imposed. The normal penalty for failure to slow under red flags is 10 grid positions however in view of the mitigating circumstance, a lower penalty is appropriate. We note the intention of the regulation is to ensure a car is not speeding during a red flag situation and there is no evidence that the speed was excessive in this case.

“We also note that the driver should make himself more familiar with the operational aspects of the delta signals.”

Hulkenberg’s penalty means he will start fifth instead of second.

This article will be updated

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2023 Canadian 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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38 comments on “Hulkenberg loses front row start after penalty for speeding through red flags”

  1. I was rooting for Alonso, but still didn’t want Hulk to get a penalty. He was on the opposite side of the track from the incident (a minor one to boot) when he going slightly too fast. That said, the incident is the reason he was so high up. So, HAAS shouldn’t be overly gutted.

    They would’ve commended a “top driver” for only breaching the delta so marginally despite being in such a fast car. “Rules are rules,”unless we, for example, don’t want Gasly to get a race ban when he clearly rejoined the track in extremely dangerous fashion.

  2. BTW, didn’t Piastri end up driving away himself from the incident? Another example where a double yellow to see if he could get going again first instead of a red, that effectively ended the session, would have sufficed.

  3. Man, being a diehard Haas fan really is a rollercoaster. KMag getting pole was wicked last year. I was so excited to have Nico on the front row, even if we all knew it wouldn’t last.

    1. I have to ask: what on Earth would make you a die hard fan of Haas?

      1. CheeseBucket
        18th June 2023, 9:16

        He has a real respect for the quality of HAAS tooling.

        1. they just don’t make ’em like they used to you know?

      2. If I had to guess – Drive to survive and Steiner’s “charisma”. Could be wrong. :) I really can’t say I like anything about the team, at the same time I want them to survive and don’t just sell the team to the next Audi. They did sell their name already, which isn’t promising. Alfa’s maketing strategy is kinda pathetic though, but that’s another subject.

      3. I’ve been a big fan from day 1. Haas is an insanely cool technical company and as an American fan it felt natural to support that team. Additionally I feel that the drivers and personality of the team, especially felon owner Gene Haas are equal parts fascinating and fun.

  4. Good to know that a minor breach that MUST BE PUNNISHED (even after a “lenient” penalty) is worth the same as dangerous driving (Sainz)

    1. Actually harsher than Sainz because Hulk also had one penalty point added to his license.

    2. While I agree it makes no sense to give them the same penalty, they said the normal penalty for red flags infringiments is 10 places, while I’m guessing (not expert about f1 regulations) the one for sainz situation (which wasn’t during red flag ofc) has a lower amount of places as standard, most likely 3.

      1. Nikos (@exeviolthor)
        18th June 2023, 6:22


        That’s because Sainz was punished for impeding. He should have been punished for going unnecessarily slowly and dangerous driving.
        What he did was very dangerous and in my opinion was worthy of a DSQ.

        The rules are the rules, but sometimes common sense must prevail.

        1. I was very surprised he didn’t receive a black flag after doing it 2-3 times in a row. Very surprised.

    3. At least I want to hope it’s 3 cause I don’t see any mitigating circumstances in sainz’s situation.

    4. Speeding during red flag is not a minor breach. He got off light in fact considering the normal penalty is 10-grid place penalty but stewards took mitigation circumstances into account.

    5. Because Ferrari International Assistance is run by ex-Ferrari staff…

    6. Minor? If you can’t drive correctly in a red flag situation, it’s definitely major.

  5. Doesn’t really matter as he would be in 17th place by lap 10 anyway. Can’t believe how bad the drivers Haas has had. Even maybe someone like Ricciardo could be good once he figures out he isn’t going to a good team ever again.

    1. CheeseBucket
      18th June 2023, 9:19

      Lol, Hulk is too good for Haas.

      1. He sucks. 16th by lap 12. I wasn’t far off. Not sure who is worse after the last few seasons; Mag, Hulk, Mick or the Russian dude with the bad hair. Hulk’s been in F1 15 years without a podium.

  6. Yes (@come-on-kubica)
    18th June 2023, 3:26

    I mean it sounds like a woolly reason especially when the throw red flag for a spec of dust.

  7. Yellow Baron
    18th June 2023, 3:31

    How can he be at fault if he was already at turn one when the flag was displayed and 1.5 seconds up? Perhaps I’m a bit dumb and missing something.
    Yet he gets a penalty equal to Carlos. Very odd.

    1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      18th June 2023, 4:16

      Yeah, I’m not sure I follow either – how can he be 1.5 seconds up when the red flag was displayed?

      Thank god, it wasn’t a 10 spot penalty – that would turned Sainz into the lottery winner today.

    2. That was what got his penalty reduced.

    3. The flag was thrown almost immediately after he crossed the line (at racing speed). He carried racing speed into turn 1 and that is how he gained so much time which he didn’t manage to give back.

      Feels like a penalty on a technicality more than anything else. Aside from slamming on the brakes as some point within the sector I’m not sure what else he could have done. And would slamming on the brakes on a wet track be any safer?

  8. So he would’ve got the standard 10 in dry conditions.
    Nevertheless, unfortunate, but ultimately rules are rules.

    1. @jerejj in dry conditions, that red flag wouldn’t have happened because Piastri wouldn’t have crashed

      1. Red flags in dry conditions happpen.

      2. @nvherman Maybe, maybe not.
        More unlikely, but not impossible & my point was also about the general approach in dry conditions.

  9. I almost feel like they just wanted him out the way so they could have Max, Fernando and Lewis fighting into turn one.

    1. My first thoughts as well when I saw it. If it was Alonso or Hamilton, they’d have said because of the circumstances, they’re giving no penalty out. Because it’s a Haas in the way at the start, they’re happy to shift him.

      1. Anyone needs a tinfoil hat :D

  10. Pretty difficult to unravel that statement without knowing where the mini sectors are for the deltas, but if it’s anywhere near turn 3 there’s really no excuse as he could just lower his speed down that straight.

    It seems like he just forgot the procedure, perhaps his engineer got a bit overexcited on the radio and distracted him or something.

  11. Does anyone know if Carlos has made it through the chicane yet?

  12. Asd, as others have pointed out, the IndyCar team you’re referring to was run by Carl Haas, who is not related in any way to Gene Haas.

  13. Whatever the merits of red flagging for this incident, the red flag procedure is absolutely non-negotiable.

    Next time it’s called, it may well be completely necessary and the drivers have no excuse not to play it exactly as they should.

Comments are closed.