Verstappen, Stroll avoid penalties for FP2 collision

Jon Wilde
Lance Stroll spins his Racing Point into the gravel after colliding with Max Verstappen during FP2 for the Portuguese Grand Prix

Max Verstappen and Lance Stroll have avoided punishment for their collision in FP2 for the Portuguese Grand Prix.

The Red Bull and Racing Point drivers were placed under investigation by the stewards after the incident at turn one of the Algarve International Circuit, in which Stroll spun off into the gravel, causing the session to be red-flagged.

On the pits straight, Stroll was just ahead in his Racing Point with Verstappen’s Red Bull close behind on his inside. As Stroll turned in to the corner, Verstappen was almost alongside and the two cars touched.

Both team bosses launched a vigorous defence of their driver, although Red Bull’s Christian Horner described it as “50-50”, while Racing Point’s Otmar Szafnauer called Verstappen’s positioning “ridiculous”.

But after hearing from the drivers, team representatives and reviewing video and audio evidence, the stewards decided not to blame one over the other and chose to take no further action.

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A stewards’ statement on the matter read: “Stroll was on a fast lap and was allowed to pass by Verstappen on the lap preceding the incident.

“Given the information from his team and usual practice, Verstappen assumed Stroll would back off for the next lap and moved to overtake along the main straight. However, Stroll was instructed by his team to go for a second flying lap.

“Stroll assumed Verstappen would have backed off to gain a gap between them, also in line with usual practice, and so was not looking for the overtaking Verstappen.

“The drivers agreed in the hearing that the incident was the result of a misunderstanding between them and with hindsight, both could have contributed to avoid the incident.

“The stewards therefore find that neither driver was wholly or predominantly at fault and take no further action.”

The decision not to issue any grid penalties will be a relief for Verstappen in particular, who will be hopeful that at this new venue for Formula 1 he can challenge Mercedes duo Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas for victory.

However, the Dutchman was unable to get within half a second of Bottas’ fastest time in Friday practice, with the Finn topping the order for both sessions.

Stroll, who is back in action after missing the Eifel Grand Prix due to illness, was 15th in FP1 and 19th in FP2 when his running was curtailed by the incident with Verstappen.

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