Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Singapore, 2023

Verstappen avoids grid penalty as AlphaTauri stay away from Tsunoda hearing

Formula 1

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Max Verstappen has avoided collecting a grid penalty for the Singapore Grand Prix despite being investigated for three separate potential infringements after qualifying.

The Red Bull driver was given two reprimands and cleared over the third incident.

Verstappen qualified down in 11th on the grid after failing to progress into Q3. He was placed under investigation by the stewards for multiple impeding incidents which occurred during the first two phases of qualifying.

The championship leader was alleged to have impeded Mercedes drivers George Russell and Lewis Hamilton near the end of Q1 by waiting at the end of the pit lane to try and create a gap to cars ahead before setting off for his final run of the session. His race engineer Gianpiero Lambiase even asked him if everything was good with his car before he eventually pulled away.

The Red Bull driver was summoned to the stewards for a potential breach of Article 37.5 of the sporting regulations, regarding drivers stopping on the circuit unnecessarily and impeding other drivers. After a hearing, Verstappen was handed a reprimand after his 14-second wait was deemed to have the “potential… to negatively impact other drivers.”

Verstappen was also investigated for potentially impeding Logan Sargeant in the closing minutes of Q1 as one of several cars who were waiting on the approach to the penultimate corner to begin their final laps. However, the stewards cleared Verstappen of wrongdoing after he explained he was trying not to keep on his line and not risk a collision with the cars around him. Sargeant also backed his rival in the hearing.

The third investigation concerned an incident in Q1 between Verstappen and Yuki Tsunoda of Red Bull’s junior team AlphaTauri. Verstappen was the first driver to set a time in the session, passing Tsunoda on the exit of turn 17 as Tsunoda was on his out lap. As Verstappen backed off for his in-lap and began to offer feedback to Lambiase over the radio on the exit of turn three, Tsunoda came up behind him on his flying lap and was caught out by the Red Bull on the racing line.

The stewards noted AlphaTauri unusually chose not to send any team representation to their hearing on the incident between their driver and Verstappen. Red Bull admitted they had failed to warn Verstappen about Tsunoda until he was almost alongside. The stewards handed Red Bull a €5,000 (£4,308) fine and gave Verstappen a second reprimand, a decision they said was consistent with previous decisions made for similar incidents this season.

Verstappen’s two reprimands are his first of the season and come with no penalty points. Any driver who accrues five driving reprimands in a single season will earn a 10-place grid penalty for the next grand prix they participate in.

The world champion remains on two penalty points on his superlicence, both from a collision with Lewis Hamilton during the early laps of last year’s Brazilian Grand Prix.

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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76 comments on “Verstappen avoids grid penalty as AlphaTauri stay away from Tsunoda hearing”

  1. Shameful by Red Bull – Alpha Tauri – FIA

    1. Yep, that stinks. They should be forced to send a representative. This is why there should not be more than one team owned by one owner .

      However surely the footage gives the FIA enough evidence anyway? As for the 14 second hold up in the pit lane. I am lost for word as to how that is not a penalty! 14seconds!!!! He was clearly waiting for the track to clear, he said so on the radio!

      Absolute rubbish by the FIA again as usual….

      The Logan Seargant incident however does make a bit more sense so I can understand why that was let go.

      1. Unfortunately if a team was forced to send a representative then what is to say they won’t talk nonsense in a case like this. I agree with the idea the team owners shouldn’t own a second team, but I suspect reality means this wouldn’t be easy to implement.

    2. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      16th September 2023, 21:40

      What’s more shameful is Verstappen having 3 infringements just because things don’t go his way. The fact that he got away with all 3 is really a testament to Red Bull’s hold over F1. They are in complete and utter control and the only way to break this is for the other 8 teams to complete revamp the governance.

      The FIA gifted a championship in 2021, let Red Bull break the rules on 2022, and Max has had a “get out of jail” card ever since he got into F1. To watch Max is like watching a soccer player who can foul anyone and get away with it for his entire career.

      If this were a job, everyone would be jumping ship. Clearly F1 has failed…

      1. To watch Max is like watching a soccer player

        Yep, that’s why you are not a F1 fan but only a single drivers fan

        1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
          17th September 2023, 12:22

          Yep, that’s why you are not a F1 fan but only a single drivers fan

          What does that have to do with Max being treated differently for 8 years? If he were any other driver, Max would have gotten a guaranteed grid penalty yesterday, if not two. No ifs, ands, or buts about it.

          I’ve been watching this happen for 8 years. It makes me wonder why Pastor Maldonado was so mistreated in F1 – had his name been Max Verstappen he would have been glorified for his driving.

    3. In case you didn’t notice, Sargeant also got reprimanded, so zero favoring, which most lower posters also seem to mistakenly think.

  2. Do these ‘reprimand’ penalties actually mean anything?

    1. Yeah, once you get to 3 reprimands in a season you get an automatic grid penalty. So Verstappen is just 1 reprimand away now.

      1. Any driver who accrues five driving reprimands in a single season will earn a 10-place grid penalty for the next grand prix they participate in.

        1. It used to be 3, but it was changed for the 2022 season and onwards so it is an easy mistake to make.

          1. Mr Raymond Pang
            17th September 2023, 10:06

            Except the article explicitly states what it is now.

    2. Probably not, I’m guessing like penalty points they will be wary of giving reprimends when a driver nears the penalty, and I don’t remember any driver ever getting a penalty from those.

    3. Essentially it means nothing

  3. Is that allowed by Alpha Tauri? Abstaining from attending important steward meetings. They also deserve a fine for not showing.

    1. Indeed. If that’s not in the regulations, it should!

    2. Yeah it’s in the regulations alright.

    3. They should actually not be competing at all!! I am not aware of any other sport where two rival teams can have the same owner. This particular case is a very good example why.

  4. Wow. Also that Tsunoda didnt finish his final attempt in Q2, when he may have kicked Verstappen out of Q3 (which his teammate did just seconds after).

    1. @madmax He’d gone off – actually just in front of Lawson, who was lucky the yellows weren’t out or he wouldn’t have got into Q3.

      1. I have to say though tsunoda is always very blatant when it comes to favouring red bull, so him going off in front of lawson could’ve ruined both laps, hence ensuring verstappen made it to q3, when there’s something untoward I easily get into conspiracy theories, so I don’t trust he didn’t go off on purpose.

        Just like they didn’t go to the hearing on purpose.

        1. He hasn’t got driver tracker in his head.

          1. They probably see whos on the hot seat and the time. So he probably knew its Verstappen to beat for 10th.

  5. Bit farcical. I hope Liam Lawson doesn’t get anything bad said to him by RB/AT behind the scenes for having the nerve to knock out a RB driver.

    1. He’s now surely on the red bull’s naughty list, just like perez (in his case for underperforming)!

  6. Does Alpha Tauri not sending a rep mean the potential penalty is void or weakend? Does that not make Redbull a 4 team? Is that fair? Does that foster competition?
    Does Redbull need more assistence?

    If the stewards recognizes the no show as a interteam issue, does it not becone unfair against rivals?

    I am not sensitive against colorful language. But Max uses expletives way way to often! Also as Hamilton fan it rankles me because if Hamiton said 1th of what Max did he would be fined by the FIA for putting the formula 1 in disrepute and then tarred and feathered by journalists and online racists pretending to be protectors of proprierty.

    1. In addition to recognizing that RB and AT were colluding, the stewards should have handed VER a grid penalty to make a point that collusion will not be tolerated.

      1. That wouldn’t be fair to any driver, to be made an example of for what team principals and owners decide behind the scenes.

  7. Another absolute disgrace from the FIA.

    The sooner AlphaTauri are sold off, the better.

  8. What does it matter who attended the meeting? An impeding is an impeding and should be penalized. To quote a famous saying,

    This is so not right.

    1. Yes, 100% agree.

    2. Rorally agree Imre. In fact, I’d say there is an argument for the impeded driver to be excluded from such meetings. They have the trackside and onboard video evidence. Why do they need the wronged driver wailing about how close they came and how it was going to be his best lap ever for the stewards to decide how severe the impeding was?

  9. A reprimand is a consistent penalty for impeding since when? I guess they changed the rules after the Monaco GP. Or maybe after the Spanish GP. Or maybe after Belgian GP. Or maybe after the Dutch GP.

    1. @casjo +1 One of the most absurd decisions by FIA in some time.
      Really, they’re now going to simply ‘reprimand’ a driver who keeps other cars waiting 14 seconds in the pit lane in qualifying just so he can get his ideal gap? Whoever the driver is, this should be a grid penalty.

      1. I think erstappen deserved a gridpenalty for impeding Tsunoda, hands down.
        But he didn’t impede anyone in the pitlane, nobody was in a fast lap, and cars behind could have gone easily around.

        1. “cars behind could have gone easily around”

          I am not sure that is the case. I don’t think cars are allowed to overtake other cars in the pit lane for obvious safety reasons. DOes that rule apply to stationary cars as well? I don’t know. I’d have to go look at the 2023 sporting regs to see what applies this year. Thing is though, it is clear impeding. If MV didn’t want to go on track, he should have stayed in the pit box, not blocked other cars. I think when Alonso blocked Hamilton in the pit lane in Hungary(?) in 2007(?) I am pretty sure McLaren were penalised and fined even though both cars were in the same team.

        2. As far as I am aware you are not allowed to overtake in the pit lane and you have no idea what each teams plans were for the runs so it is not possible to say if it affected them or not, you have to assume it did in some way or there. However the rule does not mention if it affects other drivers or not, it is simply for unnecessarily going slow or stopping, which the stewards clearly agreed happened….so it is baffling that he just got reprimands…

      2. a driver who keeps other cars waiting 14 seconds in the pit lane in qualifying just so he can get his ideal gap?

        Extract from stewards decision (my emphasis): Whilst no obvious advantage was gained by the driver in waiting at the Pit Exit for what is deemed to be an extraordinary long time, the potential for this to negatively impact other drivers warrants a penalty.

        i.e. as far as the stewards could determine that was no obvious advantage to stopping at the pit exit.
        Pure co-incidence that it was two MB cars held up behind, of course.

        Are RBR really, that desperate this weekend?

  10. Surprise – surprise if Tsunoda was held up by a driver from another team other than RB or AT they would have attended the stewards meeting and pushed for a penalty. Typical weak stewarding Verstappen should have got 2 x 5 place grid drops.

    1. That’s exagerated, a fairer outcome would’ve been 2 3x grid drops, I’m not sure if the pit lane one warranted it as it’s a very unusual event.

  11. Don’t know what is bugging Max and the Bulls but they don’t need these kind of shenanigans. Unless of course something is bugging them more than they let on? Marko? Rules? Up-set with the set-up? Toto? Anyway come on Bulls show some class and own up to your mistakes (on and off track) you don’t need silly games..

  12. And then when they do suspicious stuff like sending a broken car to the track for it to break disrupting the race (2 times already), people are wrong to find it strange.

    1. Yes, I’m a big conspiracy theorist and I always said it was odd.

      May I also point out how odd it is that tsunoda goes off the track to not improve his time, beat verstappen’s one, just in front of lawson, getting close to stop him from knocking verstappen out too?

  13. Another episode of very disappoint policing of the sport by the FIA.

    And shame on Red Bull for instructing Alpha Tauri to stay away. (Even if there wasn’t a specific directive in this instance, it will have been crystal clear to Franz Tost what Christian Horner expected.)

    Why on earth have these two teams been allowed to continue colluding for so long? Ridiculously unsporting.

    1. In fact they even had one heavily aid them in attaining a contested wdc.

  14. Impeding during quali should be more than just a reprimand.
    I understand though that AT didn’t send a representative, they were still partying Lawson’s Q3 and kicking out the big sister team ;)

  15. What a joke is Fia

  16. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
    16th September 2023, 21:32

    That’s why no one takes Max Verstappen as a driver seriously. He gets away with murder.

    3 infringements and no penalty. They should call it Red Bull qualifying with the other teams invited to participate.

    1. This is not about verstappen though, it’s about red bull having a 2nd team, they would’ve never pushed for a penalty, what’s wrong is that the fia needs teams to push for penalties and can’t just look with their own eyes.

      1. Perhaps not but suzuka last year was daft not to hand a grid penalty for. Infact that deserved a penalty more than any of the 3 incidents today

  17. Leclerc was hit with three-place grid penalties for impeding Norris and Piastri in Monaco and Austria Sprint race respectively. If Ferrari are serious about competing with the likes of RBR and Mercedes, then they should stand up against the F1/FIA and make some noise.

    Horner and Wolff have mastered the art of leveraging their PR machinery against F1/FIA whenever circumstances don’t align with their interests. Vasseur is a B-class team principle.

    1. Those penalties were fair though, it’s a bigger problem that the FIA is openly treating this as in ‘intra team issue’, where they have indeed in the past looked the other way.

      That is dubious in and of itself, because the regulations make no such provisions, nor is the regulation set up as an English common law ‘precedence is law’ type of deal. This is about as obvious an indication that the FIA doesn’t see this as two teams, but rather one with four cars.

      Which isn’t allowed.

  18. Amusing to see everyone tumbling over themselves. Got to love the passion.

    1. Well, it’s pretty clear there’s foul play here, with alpha tauri always being at red bull’s service, and penalties should be given irrespective of teams’ wishes.

      1. I agree but it is more the extent to which people jump on it, finally having found a stick. The strange thing is actually some-one from the opposition needs to show up while they do have the VAR like imagery. That’s definitely not a RB or AT fault but a flaw in the FIA rules. You can’t blame AT for not showing up if these are the rules.

    2. You come from WWE? I guess you also thought Abudhabi 21 was great sports?

      1. Not at all, on the contrary. It’s just the excessive behavior and commenting of some. Bringing the overall quality of conversations down and undermining the value this forum can have. So amusing was rather sarcastic.

        1. I agree, this is becoming more HamFans than RaceFans…

  19. Wasn’t Tsunoda only recently moaning that other drivers don’t get penalties like he does then lo and behold his team don’t show to ensure justice is done.

    It’s pretty shameful and spineless of the FIA but entirely predictable now. Hopefully karma will strike in turn one tomorrow.

    1. You can be assured if, however unfortunately, max were to have to sit out the rest of the season, they would make sure Perez does not win it, however subtly done.

  20. I hear that the FIA is to be renamed RBIA, and Christian Horner has now resigned from his role as a Sky TV presenter to join them.

    1. But of course with sky TV to become the official media partner of the FIA begining 2024 hahahahah

  21. Um…. what….? The Tsunoda incident was the most slam dunk impeding penalty I’ve seen in a while, perhaps even moreso as Tsunoda subsequently didn’t set a time. Surely that was a 3 place grid penalty at the very least.

  22. Just another example for the long list of reasons Red Bull shouldn’t be allowed to race with four cars.

    Its high time to dump the so called “Alpha Tauri team” and get some real racers in. The FIA has a list of applications. Get on with it.

    1. +1
      Having the best car (on merit apart from a little overspend) and being the only team with a B-team to share drivers and, ahem, costs/research, as well as ‘help’ with qualifying and race strategies. It’s not exactly a level playing field.

      1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
        17th September 2023, 3:07


        This is like having a friend on a poker table who’s not allowed to play against you. Of course, it’s a huge advantage. They are racing 8 teams while everyone else is racing 9. That alone is a 12.5% advantage in and of itself without taking into consideration the benefits of the drivers, the research and using another team to try out upgrades etc. All the other teams have to try them on their own team. That’s easily another 25%.

        Now they have the FIA in their pocket with clear favoritism in 2021 (the entire season), 2022 (Catergate), and now 2023.

        I don’t understand how McLaren, Mercedes, Ferrari, and Williams are okay with that.

        Even looking at Monza, how is Hamilton’s collision with Piastri a penalty when Verstappen pushed Gasly completely off track at Zandvoort without an investigation? To be consistent, Hamilton didn’t do much wrong there. He actually barely moved into Piastri – it should not have even been noted as an incident by the stewards. So what if he moved into the other driver? It’s clearly acceptable at Zandvoort and acceptable in Monza… You can’t swap a driver and get a different penalty for lesser offenses.

        1. Unfortunately seems f1 looks first of all at money, and where they have commercial interests, etc., as such you can forget penalties for verstappen at zandvoort, or hamilton at silverstone and so on, and when they get them they’re not significant.

          Then you have penalty points, reprimands, and you know that when a team is about to collect that last penalty point or reprimand that would give him a race ban or a grid drop they’re gonna be super lenient (see gasly) and it’s not gonna happen.

          Then you have this horrible example where just because alpha tauri didn’t protest (why would they? They’re working with red bull!) there’s no penalty, even though it should’ve been clearcut.

        2. @freelittlebirds @esploratore1 I always hear Tsunoda’s bad mouthed radio complaints at AlphaTauri as a message to Red Bull: “I’m a Red Bull celebrity driver! Get me out of here!” Possibly unfair. But no, I can’t ever imagine him doing anything to dent even 0.1 of a second of the top team’s race weekend.
          I’m not sure how this evolved that one team, just one team, has a B-team on the grid. I guess there was a moment when Haas was seen as the Ferrari B-team and Williams (?) as the Mercedes B-team, so kind of balanced out among the ‘top 3,’ but really they weren’t and certainly aren’t now comparable.

  23. So a reprimand is the norm this weekend rather than 3-place grid penalty as usual for impeding in qualifyings.
    At least some consistency with Sargeant also only getting reprimanded.

  24. pizza_pazzo2004
    17th September 2023, 7:27


  25. After overturning 2021 WDC and letting RBR get away with breaching the cost cap they still keep helping out the dominant team. F1 became such a poor show

  26. I really enjoyed these comments 😺
    It’s good to see so much enthousiasm for the sport /s

  27. Well my opinion would be that of 3 impeding events individually, only the Tsunoda one should have incurred a penalty BUT for none of them to deemed worthy of a penalty is unbelievable! Surely 3 impeding events by 1 driver in the qualifying session should have been looked at as a frame of mind by the team and driver and should have warranted a 3 place grid penalty as a minimum. I guess the stewards didn’t want to hamper Max’s recovery drive too much??

  28. Thought about this some more and VER stopping in the pit lane is definitely impeding. During qualifying, teams are looking at the time on the clock and who is going out at the moment. The teams then release their cars accordingly. If one car is just parked in the lane, then anyone that is sent out is impeded and it changes their qualifying.

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