Why the FIA punished Verstappen despite no yellow lights

The FIA’s decision to hand Max Verstappen a five-place grid penalty for Formula 1’s Qatar Grand Prix came despite stewards having some ‘sympathy’ for the circumstances surrounding the matter.

Why the FIA punished Verstappen despite no yellow lights

While analysis of Verstappen’s onboard footage from qualifying clearly showed that the Dutchman had passed a double waved yellow flag for Pierre Gasly’s stationary AlphaTauri before finishing his lap, the overall situation was not crystal clear because of the lack of other warnings.

In particular, as Red Bull duly argued with the stewards, the regular yellow warning light panels that are used were not flashing in this area of track at the time.

Furthermore, the FIA’s official marshalling system had switched off its yellow alert status shortly beforehand – meaning that Verstappen did not receive a dashboard warning nor audible signal as could be expected when he enters a double yellow sector.

But despite the mitigating circumstances, the FIA stewards were clear that Verstappen had been in breach of the rules simply for ignoring the yellow warning flags.

In their statement explaining the decision, the stewards admitted there was some ‘sympathy’ because of the lack of lights, dashboard alert and audio signal, but they said that the rules breach still took place.

As they pointed out, Article 27.1 of F1’s Sporting Regulations says that drivers must drive the car alone and unaided, while Appendix H of the International Sporting Code states the flags and lights have exactly the same meaning.

They added: “Article 27.2 requires the driver to observe the International Sporting Code at all times.

“That code, in Appendix H places the onus of responsibility of complying with flag signals clearly on the driver, so notwithstanding the fact the team argued that the turning off of the yellow sector on the FIA marshalling system some 34 second prior to the driver reaching the yellow flag, signified that it was “play on”, it was the driver’s responsibility to take the appropriate action when entering what was a double yellow flag area.”

Read Also:

The stewards said they had listened to the radio conversation between the Red Bull pit wall and Verstappen’s car, and the team had not communicated anything about it being a ‘play on’ situation.

Verstappen admitted in the hearing that he had been aware of Gasly’s stricken car – but that simply left the stewards feeling that the Red Bull driver should have taken appropriate action to back off.

With precedent from previous decisions being a three-place grid penalty for a single yellow offence, and a five-place grid penalty for ignoring double yellows, the stewards said they had no choice but to impose the drop.

shares
comments

Related video

Verstappen given five-place grid drop for Qatar GP for yellow flag rule break
Previous article

Verstappen given five-place grid drop for Qatar GP for yellow flag rule break

Next article

Live: F1 Qatar Grand Prix commentary and updates

Live: F1 Qatar Grand Prix commentary and updates
Load comments
Why Ferrari is sure its long-term Leclerc investment will be vindicated Plus

Why Ferrari is sure its long-term Leclerc investment will be vindicated

Humble yet blisteringly quick, Charles Leclerc is the driver Ferrari sees as its next
 world champion, and a rightful heir to the greats of Ferrari’s past – even though, by the team’s own admission, he’s not the finished article yet. Here's why it is confident that the 24-year-old can be the man to end a drought stretching back to 2008

The downside to F1's show and tell proposal Plus

The downside to F1's show and tell proposal

Technology lies at the heart of the F1 story and it fascinates fans, which is why the commercial rights holder plans to compel teams to show more of their ‘secrets’. STUART CODLING fears this will encourage techno-quackery…

Formula 1
Nov 29, 2021
How getting sacked gave Mercedes F1’s tech wizard lasting benefits Plus

How getting sacked gave Mercedes F1’s tech wizard lasting benefits

He’s had a hand in world championship-winning Formula 1 cars for Benetton, Renault and Mercedes, and was also a cog in the Schumacher-Ferrari axis. Having recently ‘moved upstairs’ as Mercedes chief technical officer, James Allison tells STUART CODLING about his career path and why being axed by Benetton was one of the best things that ever happened to him

Formula 1
Nov 28, 2021
The remarkable qualities that propelled Kubica’s F1 comeback Plus

The remarkable qualities that propelled Kubica’s F1 comeback

It’s easy to look at
 Robert Kubica’s second Formula 1 career and feel a sense of sadness that he didn’t reach the heights for which he seemed destined. But as BEN ANDERSON discovered, performance and results are almost meaningless in this context – something more fundamental and incredible happened…

Formula 1
Nov 27, 2021
The humbling changes Ricciardo made to deliver the goods for McLaren  Plus

The humbling changes Ricciardo made to deliver the goods for McLaren 

From being lapped by his own team-mate in Monaco to winning at Monza, it’s been a tumultuous first season at McLaren for Daniel Ricciardo. But, as he tells STUART CODLING, there’s more to the story of his turnaround than having a lovely summer holiday during Formula 1's summer break...

Formula 1
Nov 26, 2021
The potential benefits of losing the F1 constructors' title Plus

The potential benefits of losing the F1 constructors' title

As the battle continues to rage over the F1 2021 drivers' championship, teams up and down the grid are turning their attentions to the prize money attributed to each position in the constructors' standings. But F1's sliding scale rules governing windtunnel and CFD use will soften the blow for those who miss out on the top places

Formula 1
Nov 25, 2021
The invisible enemy that’s made Hamilton’s title charge tougher Plus

The invisible enemy that’s made Hamilton’s title charge tougher

After winning his past few Formula 1 titles at a canter, Lewis Hamilton currently trails Max Verstappen by eight points heading into the final double-header of 2021. Although Red Bull has been his biggest on-track challenge, Hamilton feels that he has just as much to grapple with away from the circuit

Formula 1
Nov 24, 2021
Why F1’s inconvenient penalties have to stay Plus

Why F1’s inconvenient penalties have to stay

OPINION: Quibbles over the length of time taken by Formula 1's stewards over decisions are entirely valid. But however inconvenient it is, there can be no questioning the importance of having clearly defined rules that everyone understands and can stick to. Recent events have shown that ambiguity could have big consequences

Formula 1
Nov 23, 2021