Nico Hulkenberg, Carlos Sainz and Lance Stroll all received reprimands for their roles in the farcical end to Q3 at the Italian Grand Prix but escaped grid penalties.
The FIA had warned drivers against driving unnecessarily slowly during their out laps during qualifying, with the slipstream having a major impact to the tune of around half a second per lap. However, at the start of the final attempts in Q3, Hulkenberg, Sainz and Stroll were at the head of the field and slowed dramatically to try and avoid being the lead car — without a tow — but blocking the track as a result.
The delay ultimately meant all except the first two cars to finish the out laps were too late to start a timed lap as the checkered flag was waved, with only Sainz and provisional polesitter Charles Leclerc making it in time.
The stewards investigated the final runs and summoned Hulkenberg, Sainz and Stroll after the session, but opted to only hand out driving reprimands to the trio.
“The driver conceded that he drove ‘unnecessarily slowly’ because he wanted to ‘get a tow’ for his qualifying lap,” the stewards decision read. “He also pointed out that in his opinion other drivers drove slowly. However, the stewards believe that the driver (of each of the three cars) played a significant role in the backing up of cars at a critical stage of the final out lap for Q3.
“The stewards strongly recommend that the FIA expedite a solution to this type of situation.”
For each driver, the reprimand is their first of the current season. The decisions mean Hulkenberg will start Sunday’s race from sixth on the grid, one position ahead of Sainz while Stroll provisionally lines up in 10th, subject to any penalty for Kimi Raikkonen, who crashed in Q3. It remains to be seen if any components on the Alfa driver’s car need replacing for ones of a different specification.