Max Verstappen summoned to see the stewards in Qatar as title drama continues

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Red Bull’s Max Verstappen has been summoned to the stewards on Sunday for allegedly “not respecting double waved yellow flags” during qualifying ahead of the Qatar Grand Prix. Verstappen is due to line up alongside Lewis Hamilton on the front row, with Valtteri Bottas in third.

The incident occurred as the Red Bull driver was on his second run in the final part of qualifying, looking to pip Lewis Hamilton to pole position when AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly suffered a puncture, grinding to a halt on the start-finish straight. 

Gasly hit the curb hard during the final moments of qualifying, ripping off his front wing with yellow flags shown in the final sector as the car slowly came to a stop.

Verstappen managed to finish the lap 0.455s slower than Hamilton, however, will now have to speak to the stewards before the race for the alleged offense.

The stewards’ document read: “Max Verstappen. Alleged breach of Appendix H, Art. 2.5.5.b) of the FIA International Sporting Code and non-compliance with Race Director’s Event Notes 7.1, not respecting double waved yellow flags at 18:00.

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Rules surrounding yellow flags are strict in Formula One, and this weekend state that drivers must abandon laps when double waved yellows, which means there’s a hazard on track and you must slow accordingly, are shown.

If found guilty, Verstappen would lose his final lap time and could also face a grid penalty for ignoring the flags ahead of the inaugural race in Qatar.

Speaking after qualifying, Verstappen was already unhappy with Red Bull’s performance, as his team-mate Sergio Perez failed to get into the final part of qualifying.

With Verstappen leading the way by 14 points over Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton, the Dutchman knew how important the final few qualifying sessions of the season would be.

“[We were just] lacking a bit of pace,” he said.

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“It’s been a bit more tricky for us again in qualifying because Checo isn’t even in Q3 so it just shows we are definitely struggling a bit more than normal.

“Nevertheless it’s still second so all to play for but of course I wish we could have had more.”

Hamilton will start from pole tomorrow after carrying on his fine form from Brazil last weekend. 

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The 36-year-old was lucky as he left the pits earlier than his main rivals, as Gasly suffered the puncture, and remained fastest overall.

Speaking after though, Hamilton admitted it’s not all been plain sailing in the build-up to the weekend.

“Yesterday was a really difficult day for me actually, Thursday and Friday wasn’t feeling too well,” admitted Hamilton. “And so really struggled through throughout practice and I was just off yesterday, so really had to dig deep. 

“I was here until midnight last night working with the engineers, who also always work so late, they’re such hard workers, and found a lot of areas which I could improve.

“Made a lot of changes for P3 and it seemed to work. Then of course you’ve got to carry that through to qualifying, but I’m so grateful for the timings they put us out on track, we didn’t have any traffic.

“Then that last lap was beautiful. It was a really sweet lap.”

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