The Formula One paddock is abuzz with controversy as several teams join forces to demand answers from the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) over recent decisions made at the Singapore Grand Prix. This collective discontent revolves around the treatment of Max Verstappen, with some suggesting that the reigning world champion may have escaped legitimate penalties.
The Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka is just around the corner, but the storm clouds of uncertainty and discontent from the previous race in Singapore are looming large. Paddock chatter is rife with speculation as teams demand that the FIA review the incidents at the Marina Bay circuit and provide a full explanation for their decisions.
At the centre of this growing furore are the actions of Max Verstappen during the Singapore Grand Prix. The Dutchman found himself in the spotlight not for his racing skills, but for allegedly obstructing other drivers. Surprisingly, Verstappen emerged from these incidents without the penalties that many felt were warranted.
The first incident occurred during qualifying, when Verstappen left his garage just before his final hot lap in Q1.
In a bizarre turn of events, he came to an abrupt halt at the exit of the pit lane. This unexpected stop allegedly impeded the drivers behind him, including Charles Leclerc, George Russell and Lewis Hamilton, who were all forced to slam on their brakes.
Verstappen and Red Bull defended the move, claiming it was an attempt to allow those in front to gain some distance and ensure a fair start to his own flying lap.
The second incident, also in Q1, happened just before Verstappen was about to start his final hot lap. In the final sector of the track, a traffic jam had formed and Verstappen was caught up in the chaos. Navigating this chaotic terrain, he suddenly had to swerve to avoid Logan Sargeant, who was on his final push lap for Q1.
Remarkably, Verstappen escaped penalties for both incidents, much to the bemusement of many.
The third and final incident eventually led to a reprimand for Verstappen. In Q2, he blatantly obstructed Yuki Tsunoda, forcing the Japanese driver to abandon his flying lap. It’s worth noting that similar incidents had previously resulted in a three-place grid penalty, making Verstappen’s reprimand seem rather lenient.
Calls for clarity
The FIA’s handling of these incidents has sparked a chorus of discontent among the F1 teams. Their collective demand is that the FIA reopen these cases, scrutinise the details and provide transparent explanations for its decisions.
According to Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport, teams have called for incidents from last weekend at the Marina Bay Circuit to be “reopened, and the verdicts explained” by the FIA.
The central question plaguing the paddock is why Max Verstappen, the championship leader, avoided more severe penalties. Instead, Red Bull Racing was fined €5,000 for poor communication, a decision that has left several teams scratching their heads.
As the Suzuka Grand Prix beckons, the cloud of uncertainty over Verstappen’s Singapore saga remains. The F1 world awaits the FIA’s response to these demands, hoping for clarity and fairness in their quest for a level playing field. The championship hangs in the balance, with fans and teams alike eager to see this contentious chapter resolved for the 2023 season.
MORE F1 NEWS: How Leclerc Flips Ferrari order
Since the return of Formula One from the summer break, Charles Leclerc has looked distinctly second best to his Ferrari team mate. In Zandvoort Sainz was over a third quicker than his Monegasque Ferrari counterpart then claimed pole position at the team’s home race in Monza and again in Singapore.
Yet in Suzuka, the Ferraro form guide was flipped and it was Leclerc who looked the quicker driver in the red cars throughout practice and then in qualifying…. more on this story
Red Bull push for Ricciardo
Liam Lawson would not be happy to return to F1 as a reserve driver in 2024 but he might need to wait his turn as rumours suggest Red Bull are keen to see Daniel Ricciardo back in a Formula 1 race seat as soon as possible, despite replacement rookie Liam Lawson impressing with his stand in races covering the injured Australian.
Having experienced the joys of being a Formula 1 driver, New Zealander Liam Lawson admits that he would find it very difficult…… READ MORE ON THIS STORY