F1 Championship leader Max Verstappen will face race stewards later today after he allegedly failed to slow for double waved yellow flags.
The Red Bull driver was on his second run in Q3 during this morning’s qualifying session in Qatar when AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly suffered a front wing.
Gasly was forced to slow down and stop on on the main straight.
As double waved yellow flags appeared, Verstappen completed his lap and improved his timing to finish 0.455 seconds behind Lewis Hamilton.
Verstappen qualified second for Red Bull and Valtteri Bottas, a teammate of Hamilton’s at Mercedes, was third. Both drivers, along with Carlos Sainz who qualified seventh, went into Sunday under investigation for violating yellow flag rules in qualifying.
“I heard after the session he had damaged his front wing, but from my side, it was all okay,” Verstappen said after the race.
Bottas also echoed similar comments: “Same thing I heard only afterwards, and I had no yellow flags or anything.”
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff spoke on the incident after the session.
“I’ve just seen it. I’ve seen that he is passing a flashing light, I think a flashing red or flashing yellow light on the left,” he said.
“Then he’s passing the double waved yellows and there is a standing car on the road. I guess it’s a bit of a triple whammy.
“They’ve gone after us with a yellow flag, passing a yellow flag on the outside. It’s in the stewards’ hands.
“I wouldn’t want to comment much more of what should happen or not happen. I think the stewards are looking at it and they need to come up with a verdict.”
Hamilton had been slowed by a stomach ache, he said, when he first arrived at the circuit and he was fourth in both of Friday’s practices. He stayed late with the team working on changes as Mercedes surged ahead of Red Bull in learning the newest of four F1 circuits in the Middle East.
Hamilton was fastest in all three qualifying sessions, was the first driver to head out for a final qualifying run and was the only driver to log a lap in the 1 minute, 20-second range. He was nearly a half-second faster than Verstappen.
“That last lap was beautiful, it was a really sweet lap,” Hamilton said. “This track is amazing to drive, it is incredibly fast. It felt good.”
Red Bull didn’t have the same speed and Sergio Perez failed to even advance to the final group. Perez qualified 11th.
“It’s been just a bit more tricky for us in qualifying,” Verstappen said. “We are struggling a bit more than normal. We’ve never done a race here, so there’s a lot of unknowns.”
The race is the first in a 10-year deal between F1 and Qatar.