Verstappen escapes penalty for FP2 infringement

Michelle Foster
Max Verstappen at the Dutch Grand Prix. Zandvoort September 2021

Max Verstappen drives past a gravel trap with his home fans looking on at the Dutch Grand Prix. Zandvoort September 2021

Max Verstappen was called to face the Dutch GP stewards for an alleged red flag infringement in Friday’s second practice – but no further action was taken.

Putting in the laps around the Zandvoort circuit, Nikita Mazepin brought out the red flags when he sent his Haas spinning off into the gravel.

Immediately the yellow flags were waved but were quickly changed to reds as there was no other way to clear the stricken Haas.

Verstappen, who was on a hot lap on a brand new set of soft Pirellis, backed off but footage of the moment shows that he overtook another car at the time.

Speaking to Sky Sports after the session, former driver turned pundit Anthony Davidson said: “On this lap with Verstappen, he comes through turn 10.

“There’s a yellow flag, but after running through the traffic it goes red. By the time he gets to the hill, the circuit has gone red with a light ahead.

“There is a car on the right, I don’t know if the stewards will look at this. He had a radio call from the engineer saying red flag. I just hope the stewards allow that moment to happen.

“From personal experience, they are aggressive when it comes to the ruling of red flags. We’ll see how that unfolds later.”

Later turned out to be Saturday morning with the stewards finally made aware of the possible infringement.

They announced two hours before FP3 that Verstappen has been called to the stewards’ office.

But, having spoken to Verstappen and reviewed the footage, the stewards agreed that the Dutchman did everything in his power to slow down as soon as the red flags were waved.

‘The Stewards heard from the driver of Car 33 (Max Verstappen) and the team representative,’ the verdict read.

‘The Stewards having reviewed positioning/marshalling system data, telemetry, team radio and in-car and CCTV video.

‘The Race Management System indicates that the red flag and red lights were initiated at 15:10:12. When VER passed Light Panel 14 (which is prior to the point of the overtake) it was not illuminated.

‘As VER approached the rear of the car (within a few metres) of STR, the red light on VER’s steering wheel activated. At this point VER’s speed was 260 km/h and STR’s was 110km/h, a delta of 150 km/h.

‘At this point, telemetry shows that VER immediately lifted and braked. Because of the speed delta, VER’s momentum carried him past STR.

‘Simultaneously the Light Panel 15 (showing red) became visible to VER. At approximately 15:10:17 the team radioed VER “Red Flag”.

‘It is our conclusion that the driver of Car 33 took every reasonable action to comply with the regulations in that he immediately reduced speed in a safe manner at the earliest opportunity upon the first indication of the red flag, even before a red flag or red light panel was visible to him, and that this satisfies the requirements of the Code (Art b of Appendix H of the International Sporting Code).’