Why AlphaTauri skipped Verstappen's Singapore F1 impeding hearing

An unusual procedural call by the FIA Formula 1 stewards that saw AlphaTauri miss an FIA stewards hearing in Singapore surprised teams and kickstarted conspiracy theories among fans.

Franz Tost, Team Principal, Scuderia AlphaTauri

The saga was related to the verdict issued after the stewards investigated Max Verstappen for impeding Yuki Tsunoda in Q2, and which saw the Dutchman escape with a reprimand.

An intriguing note at the bottom of the stewards’ decision said that “it was noted that the representative of car 22 chose not to attend the hearing”.

The inference that people inevitably took from that statement was that AlphaTauri has skipped the hearing in order to minimise the chances of a driver from sister team Red Bull receiving a penalty.

In fact the matter was more complicated than that, because the Faenza outfit didn’t receive a formal summons about attending the hearing.

Usually in impeding cases summonses come in pairs, with both parties asked to attend at a set time.

In this case the Verstappen/Tsunoda example appears to have been impacted by an entirely separate case that emerged earlier in qualifying.

That one involved Logan Sargeant being investigated for allegedly impeding Lance Stroll.

However Stroll crashed heavily at the end of Q1 and was seeing the FIA medical delegate, so it appears that the stewards decided not to issue a formal summons for him to attend, presumably because they felt that they had enough evidence to review without speaking to the Canadian.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19

Photo by: Lionel Ng / Motorsport Images

Instead an informal invitation – understood to be delivered by WhatsApp – was sent to Aston Martin for sporting director Andy Stevenson to attend the Sargeant hearing, if he so wished.

However Stevenson was with Stroll and the medical team at the time, and arrived in race control a few minutes after the hearing had concluded.

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In their verdict the stewards noted “that the team representative of Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant F1 Team was not present at the time of the hearing but did attend the stewards' room after the hearing had finished”.

Having adopted an informal approach with Aston and Stroll the same approach appears to have been taken with AlphaTauri.

With no formal summons, which teams regard as a compulsory request, AlphaTauri did not go to the hearing.

Team principal Franz Tost confirmed to Autosport that the team had made no complaint to the FIA about Verstappen.

It's logical to assume that had the team been represented at the hearing it would in any case not have pushed for a penalty, for obvious reasons given the relationship between the teams.

However that doesn't necessarily infer that the final verdict was impacted, as the stewards have plenty of evidence with which to make such calls without hearing from the affected driver.

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