Max Verstappen has been handed a three place grid penalty by stewards after he was deemed to have parked his car in a “potentially dangerous” way when it broke down during qualifying.
The Dutchman lost power coming out of the hairpin in the final seconds of the Q1 session and could not safely park his car out of the way of the oncoming traffic. Yet when stewards investigated the incident, it was found that Verstappen had first tried to park on the left side before crossing the track and attempting to park on the right side – which subsequently left his car parked diagonally across the track.
The stewards judgement read: “Car 33 experienced a sudden power loss at the exit of turn 11. The driver initially moved to the left side of the track towards a safe position and when it was about to stop, moved to the right onto the racing line, where it eventually stopped. This caused double yellow flags to be shown and endangered oncoming drivers.”
The rookie had already set a time which allowed him to progress to Q2 but could not participate, meaning he would start 15th. With the 3 place penalty he will start from 18th.
Jenson Button and Alexander Rossi were two drivers who were particularly affected by Verstappen’s break-down: Button wasn’t told which engine setting to choose before his first timed lap which led to a slow lap and when he tried to set a second timed lap he encountered the yellow flags and had to slow down, meaning he had to abandon the lap which may have seen him progress to Q2. Rossi, who’s racing in his second Grand Prix this weekend, had been affected by an earlier spin by Marcus Ericsson which left him trying to set a single flying lap in the final seconds of qualifying. Having to slow down for Verstappen, the American eventually set a lap outside the 107% rule, meaning he had to persuade the stewards to allow him to start, which they agreed to.
Nico Hulkenberg also took a three-place grid penalty today, dropping from eleventh to fourteenth, for his part in the collision with Felipe Massa at last weekend’s Singapore Grand Prix.
You can read my qualifying report here.
Image courtesy of Toro Rosso/Getty Images.