Why Are Max Verstappen, Valtteri Bottas & Carlos Sainz Under Threat of a Grid Penalty for Qatar GP?

Published 11/21/2021, 3:36 AM EST
Formula One F1 – Brazilian Grand Prix – Jose Carlos Pace Circuit, Sao Paulo, Brazil – November 13, 2021 Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas ahead of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen during sprint qualifying REUTERS/Amanda Perobelli


The Saturday qualifying in Qatar was no less dramatic than it was expected on this high-speed circuit. It was another Lewis Hamilton pole position, who was four and a half tenths quicker than the Red Bull of Max Verstappen, followed by Valtteri Bottas in the third.

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However, the second and third quickest have been summoned by the Stewards for an alleged breach of the Yellow flag in the final sector. Pierre Gasly had a puncture in the final sector, but Bottas, Verstappen, and Sainz were unaffected by it in their flying laps.

Drives summoned by the stewards

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After the Frenchman had the puncture on the kerb, Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso immediately aborted their flying laps. However, Bottas and Sainz went ahead in a potential single yellow flag situation. Meanwhile, the Dutchman’s transgression involves a double yellow flag breach.

As per F1 regulations, a driver must slow down under yellow flags and is required to abort the lap in the double yellow flag situation. This was included in the notes sent by race director Michael Masi before the weekend as well.

Reduce your speed, do not overtake, and be prepared to change direction. There is a hazard beside or partly on the track. It must be evident that a driver has reduced speed; this means a driver is expected to have braked earlier and/or noticeably reduced speed in that sector,” says the rulebook.

Toto Wolff calls Verstappen’s rule breach a “triple-whammy”

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff was critical of Max Verstappen for this alleged transgression.

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“He’s passing a… flashing yellow light on the left and then is passing a double waved yellow and there is a standing car on the road. So I guess that’s a bit of a triple-whammy.” said Wolff as reported by Motorsport.

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Four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel also called out the double standards in the regulations. “There was a car parked on the track, normally that’s a double yellow. I don’t know what happened after or behind me,” he said.

The three drivers will put their case to the regulating body against the alleged breach. It would be crucial to see how things unfold before the main race. If they get penalized for the same after the investigation today, Gasly will start on the front row alongside Hamilton.

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Rituraj Tripathi

90 articles

Rituraj Tripathi is an F1 author at EssentiallySports. A true lover of speed, he is big fan of Lewis Hamilton and finds a future world champion in Lando Norris. Rituraj eagerly looks forward to the paddock moving to the Circuit de Monaco, and he finds Portier corner as the most exciting part of the track.

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