The FIA commissioners admitted that Max should have received a grid penalty for “impairment”. But here comes the clarification: from Japan onwards, confirmed cases will be punished with three starting places
It took a week, but in the end the International Automobile Federation admitted – albeit implicitly – that it had not made the right decision on the incidents Max Verstappen in qualifying for the last Singapore GP. The world champion, who was excluded in Q2 and only qualified eleventh, i.eHe was investigated three times for “obstruction”. and that’s because he hindered other drivers during their fastest lap. However, the investigation ended with a kind of “quasi-acquittal” for Max, who was not sent back to the starting lineup, but only received two insignificant reprimands (the penalty of ten penalty places is punished only after the fifth yellow card of the season).
However, at Suzuka there was a clear about-face from the commissioners, who stated in a meeting with team representatives that the wrong decision in the Verstappen case would not set a precedent for future similar situations. The Italian Matteo Perini, already a member of the jury in Singapore and also represented on the jury in Japan, actually clarified with the teams that from now on the next clear cases of hinder – like Verstappens on Tsunoda last Saturday – They will always be penalized by three places on the grid. In this case, Max had actually hindered the young AlphaTauri driver’s lap, but had only received a reprimand and no sanction because he had rightly not been informed in time by radio of Tsunoda’s arrival.
A similar wrong decision was also made with regard to Logan Sargeant, who committed a clear crime in Singapore hinder on Lance Stroll in Q1, but received a simple reprimand due to poor communication with the pits. Situations that, as many noted in the week before the Japanese GP, would have set a dangerous precedent: from Marina Bay in practice it would have been enough not to inform the pilots by radio (with obvious implications also for security) to avoid any penalty hinder. In addition, the commissioners’ decision also stood in clear contrast to previous judgments: this year, for example, in Monte Carlo Leclerc was punished for obstructing Norris under the tunnel, although the error was due to the Ferrari wall (which Charles had not warned) rather than the driver.
So The FIA implicitly admitted that it had judged too softly at least one of the three alleged hinder committed by Verstappen. And above all, he made it clear that future violations of this type, regardless of whether the responsibility lies with the engineers in the pits or with the driver, will be punished with a penalty of three starting places. As for the incident in the pit lane – Max had stopped to take up space in front of the cars in front, but this also caused Russell and Leclerc to collide in the pit lane – the stewards found that the maneuver was not prohibited by the regulations and therefore called for a stop Federal intervention in the regulatory context. In order to avoid further chaos à la Singapore, race director Niels Wittich informed the teams, among other things, that there will be a minimum time of 1 minute and 54 seconds for the exit from the pits in qualifying, with the aim of avoiding the formation of dangerous ones Trains of wagons that progress very slowly in the last section.
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