Lack of penalties for Verstappen at F1 Singapore GP brings heavy scrutiny

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photo: Red Bull Content Pool

A point of contention during the Singapore Grand Prix weekend centered on championship leader Max Verstappen, who was cited in three separate incidents on Saturday: one for blocking at the end of the pit lane in Q1; one for potentially getting in the way of Logan Sargeant in Q1; and then another blocking the line for the cousin car of AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda.

Verstappen, who, starting 11th, had one of his worst qualifying performances of 2023, was spared further grid penalties, but was reprimanded and fined €5,000 for blocking the pitlane and impeding Tsunoda. While some issue was taken with regard to Alpha Tauri—Red Bull’s sister team—not sending a representative, ultimately the stewards based their decision on reviewing “a number of impeding and alleged impeding incidents from this current season” before determining that the punishment was “consistent with previous decisions in relation to the severity of the breach”.

The decision rankled Alpine driver Pierre Gasly, who has been on the wrong side of these decisions in 2023. “I read the regulations, I know the regulations, but then it doesn’t always translate to what happens on the track. It might be the way I look at things, I don’t know.[…] I’ve had tough decisions against me with [a] six places penalty in Barcelona this year for impeding, and it was definitely way less than what I’ve seen in qualifying.”

Aston Martin performance director Tom McCullough seemed to empathize with both sides of the argument. Lance Stroll had been blocked by Sargeant during Q1, but the American driver also only got a reprimand: “From the outside, when you’ve been impeding it’s frustrating, but the stewards do their job. That was a reminder to me that what we want really is consistency.”

When asked about the possibility of amendments and clarifications to the assessment of impeding penalties going forward, Ferrari team principal Frederic Vasseur—who, with Carlos Sainz taking his first win of 2023, ultimately benefited most from Verstappen’s poor starting position—simply said “we will discuss about this later on.”