‘Erratic’ driving earns Max an extra 10-second penalty

Date published: December 5 2021 - Henry Valantine

Max Verstappen with his helmet off. Saudi Arabia December 2021.

Max Verstappen has received an additional 10-second time penalty from the stewards for “erratic” driving while trying to let Lewis Hamilton past in Jeddah.

He and Hamilton both appeared in front of the stewarding panel for an “alleged breach of Article 2 (d) Chapter IV Appendix L of the FIA International Sporting Code, incident in turn 27 at 22:19”.

That was when Hamilton ran into the back of a slowing Verstappen, who was being instructed by his team to let the Mercedes driver past and return the position he had gained by allegedly making an illegal move on Hamilton.

Verstappen’s 10-second addition to his race time will not affect his finishing position though, as he was 16 seconds ahead of Valtteri Bottas at the end of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

It means he and Hamilton will remain locked on equal points heading into the final race of the season in Abu Dhabi next weekend.

The full verdict from the stewards read: “At turn 21, the driver of Car 33 [Verstappen] was given the instruction to give back a position to car 44 and was told by the team to do so “strategically”. Car 33 slowed significantly at turn 26. However, it was obvious neither driver wanted to take the lead prior to DRS detection line 3.

“The driver of Car 33 stated he was wondering why Car 44 [Hamilton] had not overtaken and the driver of Car 44 stated that, not having been aware at that stage that Car 33 was giving the position back, was unaware of the reason Car 33 was slowing. In deciding to penalise the driver of Car 33, the key point for the Stewards was that the driver of Car 33 then braked suddenly (69 bar) and significantly, resulting in 2.4g deceleration.

 

“Whilst accepting the driver of Car 44 could have overtaken Car 33 when that car first slowed, we understand why he (and the driver of Car 33) did not wish to be the first to cross the DRS.

“However, the sudden braking by the driver of Car 33 was determined by the Stewards to be erratic, hence the predominant cause of the collision and hence the standard penalty of 10 seconds for this type of incident is imposed.”