The FIA confirmed that the Dutchman should have received the standard three-place grid penalty for one of his two infringements, which would have dropped him from 11th to 14th on the grid.
The FIA has also promised that the Singapore decisions will not be used as precedents and will effectively be erased from the database of past incidents that stewards refer to for their decisions.
Verstappen was the subject of three investigations: the first for having obstructed Yuki Tsunoda, another for blocking Logan Sargeant and a third for having stopped at the end of the pit lane creating a queue of cars behind him.
In the end the Dutchman escaped any possible sanction for the Sargeant incident and received two reprimands for the other two incidents, namely for obstructing Tsunoda and for waiting in the pit lane.
The fact that it had not received a radio message relating to Tsunoda was considered a mitigating circumstance and the team was fined 5000 euros. The decision surprised rival teams and drivers, given that incidents of this kind traditionally lead to grid penalties, so much so that several teams went to the stewards to discuss the issue.
At the end of qualifying, Verstappen himself also expected to receive at least one grid penalty and took full responsibility for the Tsunoda accident. Interviewed by Motorsport.com, the two-time world champion explained: “Yes, it wasn’t good. I didn’t see it because I was on the radio talking about a problem. And then I didn’t receive any indications until it was practically behind me. That sums up my qualification: It was super hectic and messy.”
Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19
Photo by: Mark Sutton
Pierre Gasly, who received two three-place penalties for impeding over the weekend in Spain, was one of many who were confused by the outcome of the race. “I’ve had decisions go against me, with penalties totaling six places in Barcelona this year, and it was definitely a lot less than what I saw yesterday (Saturday’s qualifying in Singapore). Maybe that’s allowed now. I know, I’ll ask.”
Lando Norris was another driver who didn’t understand why he was only given a reprimand: “I think there should be more severe sanctions for those who crash, because a lot of people do it. It ruins the lap, it ruins the qualifying, it knocked out the game. Yuki in qualifying, who was first in Q1. Nobody seems to worry enough. It’s happened often this season, it’s happened to me several times, especially with certain teams,” said the Englishman on the eve of the weekend in Japan.
The topic was addressed in the meeting of the team managers on Friday in Suzuka and the steward Matteo Perini, who worked in Singapore and is providing continuity here in Japan. Perini admitted that, after reviewing the episode Verstappen was involved in, there should have been a grid penalty.
Furthermore, Sargeant should probably have received a penalty for a separate incident involving Lance Stroll, although in his case there were other circumstances that led to the choice not to sanction him.
Photo: Erik Junius
Perini confirmed that Verstappen’s reprimands will not be used as a precedent in future and that the lack of radio warnings from teams about approaching cars should not be considered a mitigating circumstance protecting the driver from more severe punishment.
Regarding Verstappen’s pitlane accident, the Singapore stewards confirmed their original decision to give a reprimand as waiting in the pitlane is not expressly prohibited by the regulations, but told the FIA that there should be a regulation that covers such circumstances.
While teams and drivers now have clear ideas, they may also question the fact that in Singapore Verstappen started three places further ahead than he should have, thus potentially denying rivals valuable points, with an easier climb to his fifth place finish.