Singapore shock as Max Verstappen out in Q2 with grid penalty looming

Oliver Harden
Red Bull driver Max Verstappen speaks to the media at the 2023 Singapore Grand Prix.

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen speaks to the media at the 2023 Singapore Grand Prix.

Max Verstappen’s Singapore Grand Prix weekend may be set to go from bad to worse after the FIA stewards launched two separate investigations into impeding incidents during qualifying.

Verstappen fell in Q2 for only the second time in 2023 as Liam Lawson, competing for Red Bull junior team AlphaTauri, knocked Red Bull’s reigning double World Champion out of qualifying in dramatic fashion.

“I don’t know if you saw that, but that was f****** shocking. Absolutely shocking experience,” Verstappen fumed over team radio at the end of his final lap, which was only good enough for 11th.

Max Verstappen’s disastrous Singapore Grand Prix weekend

Verstappen’s team-mate Sergio Perez was also out in Q2 having been classified 13th, but the former’s weekend may be set to get even worse after the FIA confirmed Verstappen is being investigated for three separate incidents of alleged impeding.

Having complained of traffic in Q1, Verstappen appeared to park his car in the pit lane at the start of Q2, seemingly to create room behind other cars for his own flying lap.

Verstappen’s action was pounced on by his fellow competitors in the queue, with Mercedes driver George Russell among the first to call into question his move.

“Verstappen has just stopped in the pit lane. Does he have a problem?” Russell was head asking his race engineer over team radio.

Charles Leclerc, the Ferrari driver, also expressed his annoyance with Verstappen’s move: “You cannot stop like this, come on.”

Verstappen was then asked by his race engineer, Gianpiero Lambiase, if everything was OK, to which Verstappen replied: “It’s just a lot of…” before eventually leaving the pit lane and taking to the track.

As the session then developed, Verstappen was then seen holding up Lawson’s AlphaTauri team-mate, Yuki Tsunoda, on the short straight between Turns 3 and 5.

“What the f*** is he doing, man? Honestly,” Tsunoda was heard commenting over team radio.

Documentation from the FIA also shows that Verstappen has also been summoned for an alleged impeding of Logan Sargeant between Turns 17 and 18.

The FIA have announced all three moments are under investigation, with Verstappen likely to fall even further down the grid at the tight and twisty Marina Bay street circuit if found guilty for even a single one of the incidents.

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Christian Horner weighs in on penalty prospects for Max Verstappen

With three investigations hanging over his driver, Christian Horner was downbeat as he spoke to Sky F1 following the session.

“It’s been a top day so far!” he laughed.

“The one in the pit lane, we’ve seen hundreds of examples of drivers driving slowly out of the pitlane. I think even George [Russell] slotted behind us in the pitlane or certainly very slow coming out, so I don’t really see that’s an issue.

“The Tsunoda one, I think there was enough space up the inside for him. Having looked at the replay, I think that’s marginal. I think the Sargeant one was also part of… there was so much going on with the half the grid down there. So let’s see, that’s with the stewards. When it doesn’t rain here, it pours usually, and that’s what we’ve had today.”

Verstappen himself was asked about the possibility of taking a penalty to further add to his qualifying woes, but the Dutch driver wasn’t too bothered.

“Honestly, at this point, we are just so messy that it doesn’t matter if we start P10, P15, or last,” he said.

“At this point, it’s more important that we just understand why it was so bad. For me, that’s way more important than trying to score a couple of points this weekend.”

Red Bull’s struggles in Singapore have come as a major shock with the team setting a new record by winning each of the 14 races held in 2023 so far.

Verstappen himself set a new F1 record by claiming his 10th successive victory at the Italian GP at Monza earlier this month.

With overtaking opportunities limited in Singapore, a grid penalty would all but end his chances of making it 11 in a row on Sunday.

Carlos Sainz went on to claim his second consecutive pole position for Ferrari, with Russell – the last non-Red Bull driver to win a race, at Interlagos last November – starting alongside the Spaniard on the front row.

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