Escaping with not one but two reprimands instead of grid penalties for his actions in qualifying for the Singapore Grand Prix, F1’s conspiracy theorists were out in force when it emerged AlphaTauri were a no-show for one of Max Verstappen’s hearings.
That, however, comes with a simple explanation.
Verstappen had a nightmare weekend at the Marina Bay circuit where he was off the pace in practice, qualified down in 11th place, and had nothing in the bag to stop Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz from ending his 10-race winning streak.
Reprimand, no action, reprimand for Max Verstappen
The Red Bull driver finished the grand prix in fifth place, recovering from what was a P11 starting position on the grid, but one that could’ve been even lower given he faced not one but three investigations after qualifying.
Verstappen was called before the stewards for an extended wait at the end of the pit lane that held up rival drivers, as well as impeding Logan Sargeant and also Yuki Tsunoda. That resulted in a reprimand, no action, and a reprimand.
However, the latter was, pundits declared, a slam dunk as onboard footage showed Verstappen was in the middle of the track, not on a push lap, and that the positioning of his car prevented Tsunoda from taking the ideal line.
Verstappen, though, was only given a reprimand for that even though the stewards used the words “unnecessary impeding”.
The stewards also noted in their ruling that “the representative of Car 22 chose not to attend the Hearing.”
This had the conspiracy theorists out in force as to why AlphaTauri didn’t show up for the hearing, the tinfoil hats claiming it was maybe to minimise any penalty coming Verstappen’s way.
It wasn’t that at all, Motorsport.com reporting that AlphaTauri “didn’t receive a formal summons about attending the hearing” and therefore didn’t attend.
As the night’s hearings played out, Williams were called to the stewards’ office for Sargeant allegedly impeding Lance Stroll.
But given that the Canadian was in the medical centre following his qualifying crash, the stewards sent “an informal invitation – understood to be delivered by WhatsApp – to Aston Martin for sporting director Andy Stevenson to attend the Sargeant hearing.”
And having sent Stevenson an informal WhatsApp, they went on to do the same with AlphaTauri meaning they weren’t obliged to attend.
The report adds that “AlphaTauri did not go to the hearing” with team boss Franz Tost revealing they’d “made no complaint to the FIA about Verstappen” and weren’t “pushing for a penalty”.
The stewards, it be noted, didn’t need AlphaTauri’s version of the events to make a ruling as they had “plenty of evidence” from the various cameras around the circuit as well as the onboard footage.