Max Verstappen is handed a FIVE-PLACE grid penalty for Qatar Grand Prix after ignoring double-waved yellow flags during qualifying in huge boost to Lewis Hamilton’s title hopes… as Valterri Bottas is also penalised to move Pierre Gasly on to front row
- Lewis Hamilton has been given a boost after Max Verstappen’s five-place penalty
- The Dutchman ignored double-waved yellow flags during Saturday’s qualifying
- He sinks from second to seventh on the grid ahead of the Qatar Grand Prix
- Valtteri Bottas has also been demoted to sixth, with Pierre Gasly on front row
Max Verstappen was dramatically demoted five grid places for the Qatar Grand Prix in a major boost to Lewis Hamilton’s world championship dreams.
The stewards took an age to determine the penalty with the verdict coming just an hour and a half prior to the race start in Doha. Verstappen sinks from second on the grid to seventh.
The case against Verstappen was open-and-shut after he failed to oblige the double-waved yellow flags – meaning he must reduce speed – in the final throes of qualifying on Saturday.
Max Verstappen has been handed a five-place grid penalty for the Qatar Grand Prix on Sunday
Hamilton has been given a boost as he looks to fight back in the race for the Championship
Pole-sitter Hamilton, who trails Verstappen by 14 points with three races including the Qatar round, said: ‘Consistency is key. I got a grid penalty for a single-waved flags I didn’t see. It is good they stick to the book.’
Hamilton’s team-mate Valtteri Bottas was penalised three places for the same offence, only the lesser single-waved yellow flags. He moved from third to sixth, with Carlos Sainz ahead of him in fifth.
The British star is hoping to reduce a 14-point deficit in the race for the championship in what promises to be a nail-biting finish.
The Briton already has pole to his name, with Verstappen second quickest, nearly four-tenths back.
Lewis Hamilton celebrates taking an ultra dominant pole position for the Qatar Grand Prix
The video evidence looked damning against the Red Bull man.
Verstappen will have to say why he did not slow down significantly at the end of his final flying lap after Pierre Gasly’s AlphaTauri suffered a debris-spewing puncture.
Immediately before and after Verstappen’s apparent misdemeanour, Hamilton performed two deliberate acts of oneupmanship on his rival: the first, the fizzing lap on the flowing Losail track that put him convincingly top of the timesheets.
The second, away from the cameras, was to delay his appearance at the post-qualifying press conference for a minute or two.
The Red Bull star and championship leader had no answer for Hamilton or Mercedes pace
Verstappen was left twiddling his thumbs, just as Nico Rosberg frustratedly tapped the table when Hamilton played a similar trick on him by turning up late for their debriefs.
The Dutchman said: ‘Everyone is different and everyone has their own way of racing, defending and overtaking. It’s very hard for the FIA to get everyone on the same line. They decide, but every driver has a different opinion.
‘Yesterday it was all about sharing opinions and then the FIA explained their thought processes. We’ve come a very long way to an understanding and it was in the end pretty clear.’
QATAR GRAND PRIX – QUALIFYING
POLE POSITION SHOOTOUT
1 Lewis Hamilton 1min 20.827secs
2 Max Verstappen 1:21.282
3 Valtteri Bottas 1:21.478
4 Pierre Gasly 1:21.640
5 Fernando Alonso 1:21.670
6 Lando Norris 1:21.731
7 Carlos Sainz 1:21.840
8 Yuki Tsunoda 1:21.881
9 Esteban Ocon 1:22.028
10 Sebastian Vettel 1:22.785
ELIMINATED FROM Q2
11 Sergio Perez 1:22.346
12 Lance Stroll 1:22.460
13 Charles Leclerc 1:22.463
14 Daniel Ricciardo 1:22.597
15 George Russell 1:22.756
ELIMINATED FROM Q1
16 Kimi Raikkonen 1:23.156
17 Nicholas Latifi 1:23.213
18 Antonio Giovinazzi 1:23.262
19 Mick Schumacher 1:23.407
20 Nikita Mazepin 1:25.859