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Edmund So

FIA confess to making a mistake with Verstappen’s Singapore GP penalty

Verstappen was issued with two reprimands after two instances of impeding in Singapore

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The FIA admits that it made a mistake by issuing Verstappen with a more lenient penalty for impeding on three different occasions during the Singapore Grand Prix.

Photo credits: Mark Thompson via Getty Images
Photo credits: Mark Thompson via Getty Images

The FIA confirmed that a mistake was made regarding Verstappens’ Singapore punishments. It said Verstappen should have received the usual three-place grid drop for his impeding on Tsunoda and a possible further penalty for the pit lane incident.

The penalty Verstappen instead received was two formal reprimands and Red Bull was punished with a fine of €5000. The fine was issued to Red Bull after they admitted to ‘poor communication on its part’ and not alerting Verstappen properly of the upcoming Scuderia AlpthaTauri car. However, in the past, it has been stated that a lack of communication should not be used in mitigation of the usual three-place grid penalty.

`The whole incident has caused several drivers to speak out and question the decision. Lando Norris is just one of the drivers to provide their opinion. The Brit called for ‘harsher’ penalties to be handed out if a driver impedes another during a qualifying session:

“I don’t want to say too much as I’ll just create controversy. I think the blocking one on track was the one that should have been a penalty,

“He blocked someone. It’s not just down to the team. I know the team got fined in the end of the day but it should be down to the driver as well to look in his mirrors and see if someone else is behind.

“You’ve got nothing else to do the whole lap, you’ve got to look in your mirrors, and it seems like a lot of people struggle to do that. It should just be harsher penalties for blocking people because so many people do it. It ruins your lap, it ruins your qualifying. It put Yuki out in qualifying. He was P1 in Q1 and probably would have been P1 in Q3…all the way! Just no one seems to care enough.”

Verstappen himself expected to receive a grid drop because of the issue. After the qualifying session, Verstappen spoke to Autosport and admitted to impeding Tsunoda:

“Yeah, that was not good. I didn’t see him because I was on the radio talking about what was the problem.

“And then I didn’t get a call up until he was basically behind me. It basically sums up my qualifying, it was just super hectic and messy.”

What’s the verdict?

A team manager’s meeting took place on Friday, where the lenient penalty on Verstappen came up in conversation and steward Matteo Perini – who was a steward during the Singapore Grand Prix and will be continuing this weekend in Suzuka – admitted that the issue should’ve been a grid penalty.

Verstappen wasn’t the only one who received a lighter punishment, Logan Sargeant impeded Lance Stroll during qualifying, however, it was ruled that Williams was at fault – due to more miscommunication – and a €5000 fine was issued to the team. It seems that Sargeant should have also been issued with a grid drop for this.

The incident seems to be resolved with the FIA admitting it was at fault. Perini confirmed that in the future teams shouldn’t use miscommunication as a mitigation for a penalty. He also confirmed that the calls they made for Verstappen will not set a precedent for the future.

Featured image credits: Edmund So via Getty Images


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