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