Max Verstappen has been handed a 10-second time penalty for causing a collision with Lewis Hamilton in the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, but remains in second place.
Hamilton ran into the rear of Verstappen as the Red Bull driver slowed trying to give up the lead, having retained it by forcing both cars off track at Turn 1. Both drivers were keen to avoid leading into the final corner where a DRS detection point would give the following car an advantage, but after an investigation the stewards decided that Verstappen braking on a straight caused the collision.
“At turn 21 the driver of car 33 was given the instruction to give back a position to car 44 and was told by the team to do so ‘strategically’,” the stewards’ decision read. “Car 33 slowed significantly at turn 26. However, it was obvious that neither driver wanted to take the lead prior to DRS detection line 3.
“The driver of Car 33 stated that he was wondering why Car 44 had not overtaken and the driver of Car 44 stated that, not having been aware at that stage that Car 33 was giving the position back, was unaware of the reason Car 33 was slowing. In deciding to penalize the driver of Car 33, the key point for the Stewards was that the driver of Car 33 then braked suddenly (69 bar) and significantly, resulting in 2.4g deceleration.
“Whilst accepting that the driver of Car 44 could have overtaken Car 33 when that car first slowed, we understand why he (and the driver of Car 33) did not wish to be the first to cross the DRS.
“However, the sudden braking by the driver of Car 33 was determined by the Stewards to be erratic and hence the predominant cause of the collision and hence the standard penalty of 10 seconds for this type of incident, is imposed.”
Verstappen finished over 15 seconds clear of third-place Valtteri Bottas, so the penalty does not affect his finishing position, although the two penalty points leave him five points away from a one-race ban until September 2022, having also been given a point for leaving the track and gaining an advantage in the earlier incident with Hamilton.