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Verstappen hit with five-place grid penalty for Qatar Grand Prix

Max Verstappen. Photo: F1

Doha, Nov 21 (MNN) Max Verstappen has been hit with a five-place grid penalty for the Qatar Grand Prix after the stewards found he failed to slow for double waved yellow flags during qualifying, meaning he will start the race from P7.

At the very end of the final segment of qualifying on Saturday evening Pierre Gasly ran wide at Turn 15 and dislodged his front wing, which also caused him to puncture his front right tyre. As he slowed his stricken AlphaTauri on the pit straight the yellow flags were flown.

Meanwhile Verstappen was on his final flying run as he tried to overhaul title rival Lewis Hamilton who held provisional pole position at the time.

As you can see in the clip above, Verstappen crossed the line and improved his time by around two tenths of a second, but it was not enough to dislodge Hamilton from pole, with the Dutchman remaining in P2.

But some three hours after qualifying, Verstappen was issued a summons from the stewards for allegedly “not respecting double waved yellow flags”, and he went to see them at 1pm local time in Qatar on Sunday.

And with just hours to go before the start of the race, the stewards handed Verstappen a five place grid drop and two penalty points – despite having “sympathy” with the Dutchman because of the “lack of display of the yellow light panels, no dash warning lights and no audio signal to the driver” to warn him of the issue.

Their statement said: “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.

“The driver acknowledged his awareness of the presence of Car 10 on the right side of the track. Having seen a disabled car, it is reasonable to expect, as was the case of the driver of Car 55 [Carlos Sainz], that there was a potential danger and that a yellow flag situation probably existed and therefore to take the appropriate action (i.e. to reduce speed).”

The stewards also pointed to a precedent involving Lewis Hamilton at last year’s Austrian Grand Prix and Sebastian Vettel in Bahrain earlier this season.

“The penalty for the driver of Car 44 [Hamilton] in Austria 2020 resulted in a grid penalty of 3 positions which is the usual penalty for breaching a single flag situation, and the penalty for the driver of Car 5 [Vettel] in Bahrain 2021 which resulted in a grid penalty of 5 positions which is the usual penalty for breaching a double flag situation.

“Accordingly, the Stewards believe they have no option but to impose the standard penalty for a breach of the double yellow flag requirements referred to above.”

Going into the race Verstappen – who was due to start P2 – has a 14-point lead over Hamilton, who starts the race from pole.

Meanwhile Valtteri Bottas has also been handed a three-place grid penalty for failing to slow under single waved yellow flags, while Carlos Sainz – who was also investigated for the same offence – has not been given a penalty.

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