The Formula One race control officers, also known as stewards, have conceded that an error was made the previous weekend at Singapore when they failed to issue a grid penalty to Red Bull driver Max Verstappen for impeding during the qualifying rounds. The officials emphasize that this decision will not constitute a precedent moving forward.
Verstappen, who is currently leading in the championship, received two separate reprimands relating to three incidents that were reviewed. However, he did not receive a penalty impacting his position in the Sunday race at Marina Bay.
Media outlets have reported that Matteo Perini, the only steward who officiated at both the Singapore Grand Prix and this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix, acknowledged the oversight during a meeting with team managers at Suzuka. This information has been confirmed by an FIA spokesperson.
During the Singapore Grand Prix, Verstappen qualified 11th but was later called in over possible impeding incidents involving AlphaTauri‘s Yuki Tsunoda and Williams‘ Logan Sergeant. However, no representatives from AlphaTauri, which is also under the Red Bull umbrella, attended the hearing. The standard penalty for such an offense would usually be a three-place grid drop.
McLaren‘s Lando Norris voiced his opinion on the matter this past Thursday, suggesting that the penalties for impeding should be more severe. He specifically questioned why Verstappen was not penalized for the incident involving Tsunoda.
Mercedes‘ driver and director of the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association, George Russell, also expressed his dissatisfaction with the decision, stating, “It doesn’t matter if you’re leading the championship or you’re last, if you get in somebody’s way you should be penalised for it.”
Alpine‘s Pierre Gasly, a recipient of two grid drops himself at the Spanish Grand Prix, expressed confusion over the decision. “Maybe now this is allowed. I don’t know, I’ll ask,” he told reporters this past Thursday.
The decision in question followed Red Bull‘s first defeat in an otherwise dominant season. It also broke Verstappen’s impressive streak of ten consecutive victories.