Red Bull driver Max Verstappen was summoned by the FIA stewards after the Hungarian GP qualifying session. The Dutchman seemingly appeared to impede Haas driver Romain Grosjean in the final segment of qualifying.
The team informed Verstappen that the Haas driver was bearing down on him. However, the 20-year old could not get out of the way in time. The irate Frenchman pulled no punches when expressing his feelings. What followed was an expletive-filled message to the Haas pit wall.
“F**k, f**k, f**k, the Red Bull completely f**ked me,” Grosjean screamed over the radio.
“That is not on, I was on a push lap, then I had massive spray on the next lap.”
The FIA took notice of the incident and deemed it an “alleged breach of Article 31.5 of the FIA Formula One Sporting Regulations”. According to their statement, car 33 [Verstappen] unnecessarily impeded car 8 [Grosjean] at 15:59 in turn 14.
Under normal circumstances, an impeding offence usually results in a drop of three grid positions. With Verstappen qualifying seventh, a penalty would drop him to 10th. This in turn would be beneficial for Toro Rosso’s Brendon Hartley and Haas duo Kevin Magnussen and Grosjean.
The penalty would also put him a couple of places ahead of teammate Daniel Ricciardo. The only car splitting the two Red Bulls is Fernando Alonso’s McLaren.
It was a fairly poor showing for the Austrian marquee considering that this is a track where they are theoretically good at. It certainly surprised many when Mercedes scored a 1-2 ahead of both Ferraris. However, this was in damp conditions and Mother Nature is a great leveller of performance.
UPDATE: Fortunately for Red Bull, Verstappen has escaped any sanctions. The FIA stewards explained that Max backed off to create a gap to the Toro Rosso of Pierre Gasly. The distance between the 3 cars involved altered dramatically in a short span of time in conditions with “limited visibility”.