During the Singapore Grand Prix, Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen found himself at the center of not one but three impeding investigations. These incidents included obstructing Yuki Tsunoda on the track, blocking Logan Sargeant, and creating a queue of cars behind him at the end of the pitlane in an attempt to create a gap.
Verstappen himself had anticipated some form of penalty in the immediate aftermath of qualifying, taking full responsibility for the incident involving Tsunoda. However, when the stewards’ decision was announced, it left many within the Formula 1 fraternity perplexed, including fellow driver Pierre Gasly.
Gasly, who had previously received two three-place impeding penalties in Spain, expressed his bewilderment over the outcome, stating, “I’ve had tough decisions against me, with a six-place penalty in Barcelona this year for impeding, and it was definitely way less than what I’ve seen yesterday. Maybe now this is allowed. I don’t know, I’ll ask.”
Another driver, Lando Norris, also voiced his dissatisfaction with the reprimand decisions and suggested that there should be stricter penalties for blocking competitors. Norris emphasized that such incidents frequently occur, adversely affecting laps and qualifying sessions. He remarked, “I think there should just be harsher penalties for blocking people because so many people do it. It ruins your lap; it ruins your qualifying. It put Yuki out in qualifying, and he was P1 in Q1. Just no one seems to care enough. And it’s happened a lot this season, it’s happened to me quite a few times, especially with certain teams.”
In a significant development, the FIA has not only acknowledged the mistake in the Verstappen reprimand but has also made a commitment that this decision will not set a precedent. Effectively, the incident will be erased from the database of past incidents that stewards consult when making decisions.
This admission by the FIA marks a crucial step toward ensuring fairness and consistency in stewardship decisions in Formula 1. It also underscores the importance of addressing impeding incidents with appropriate penalties to maintain the integrity of the sport. As the Formula 1 season continues, all eyes will be on the stewards and their decisions, hoping for a more consistent approach to such contentious matters in the future.