F1 title leader Max Verstappen’s front-row starting position at the Qatar GP is under threat after he was summoned to meet with F1 stewards ahead of Sunday’s race for allegedly failing to slow for yellow flags on his final lap of qualifying.
The Red Bull driver, who leads the championship by 14 points, qualified second behind a dominant Lewis Hamilton but will now head to see the stewards at 10am UK time. The race is at 2pm live on Sky Sports F1.
Verstappen would almost certainly receive a grid penalty were the stewards to rule against him.
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On the final laps of Q3, AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly stopped on the inside of the pit straight after his front tyre punctured.
Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas (third on the grid) and Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz (seventh) have also been summoned ahead of the race for allegedly not respecting single-waved yellows on their final attempts.
Verstappen was the last driver on track in the session and improved on his final lap to consolidate his second place on the grid.
“Not respecting double waved yellow flags,” said the stewards of the alleged offence when issuing the summons to Verstappen on Saturday night, nearly three hours after the incident in question.
What do the regulations say?
The alleged breach of the rules relates to both the FIA International Sporting Code and the race director’s event notes in Qatar regarding double-waved yellow flags.
“Any driver passing through a double waved yellow marshalling sector must reduce speed significantly and be prepared to change direction or stop,” reads Article 7.1 of the event notes this weekend.
“In order for the stewards to be satisfied that any such driver has complied with these requirements it must be clear that he has not attempted to set a meaningful lap time, for practical purposes any driver in a double yellow sector will have that lap time deleted.”
Verstappen lost a pole position in Mexico in 2019 when a three-place grid penalty was applied by stewards when he was found to have not slowed sufficiently for single yellow flags when Valtteri Bottas crashed. Hamilton, meanwhile, was handed the same penalty in Austria for a similar offence last year.
However, the charge of speeding under double-waved flags is more serious. McLaren’s Lando Norris was handed a five-place grid drop for such an offence at last season’s Turkish GP.
In what will be a busy pre-race for the stewards in Qatar, Verstappen’s meeting is scheduled first at 10am, with Sainz next up at 10.30am and then Bottas at 10.45am (all times GMT).
Sky F1’s live Sunday schedule at Qatar GP
12.30pm: Race build-up – Grand Prix Sunday Live
2pm: THE QATAR GRAND PRIX LIVE
4pm: Race reaction – Chequered Flag Live
5pm: Ted’s Notebook Live
6pm: Qatar GP highlights