Verstappen awarded a five-place penalty ahead of Qatar GP

Verstappen awarded a five-place penalty ahead of Qatar GP

Lucille Formula One leader Max Verstappen received a five-point penalty at the grid on Sunday ahead of the inaugural Qatar Grand Prix for violating the yellow flag in qualifying.

Verstappen leads Lewis Hamilton by 14 points in the standings and was scheduled to start second alongside the seven-times champion on the front row at Losail International Circuit.

But he reported the track under investigation, along with Valtteri Bottas and Carols Sainz, of violating the yellow flag rules when a warning was issued near the end of qualifying.

Bottas, who was scheduled to start third, received a three-place penalty on the starting grid. Sainz was not punished.

Pierre Gasly, who qualified for fourth, will now start in the front row alongside Hamilton. Verstappen will start in seventh.

Red Bull boss Christian Horner said Verstappen had not seen the yellow flag when he was shown Gasly’s flat tire on Saturday. Horner blamed “a rogue field marshal who raised the flag and was not directed by the FIA. They have to control their guards, it’s that simple.”

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“We’re really struggling to understand that,” Horner said. “This is a decisive blow in this world championship for us, we are now starting P7, and this is huge. There have to be adults making the decisions for the adults.”

Hamilton, who received a three-place penalty earlier this year in Austria, believes the hosts’ verdict against his rival was correct.

“Consistency is key,” said Hamilton. “It’s good that they are clearly committed to the book.”

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