Formula One

Penalties in Canadian GP Qualifying – Hulkenberg, Sainz, Stroll and Tsunoda hit with grid penalties

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Photo by XPB / Icon Sport

Plenty of penalties have been applied after a hectic qualifying session at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, which saw a lot of action in wet conditions and Max Verstappen come out on top. With the weather uncertain during the entirety of the session, drivers pretty much had to be out on track attempting quick laps all the way through, which led to a few incidents that the stewards had to investigate.

Hulkenberg down to fifth

Nico Hulkenberg scored his first front row start since the 2016 Austrian Grand Prix on Saturday, but it has been taken away from him after he was found travelling too fast under red flag conditions. The incident took place in Q3, after Oscar Piastri hit the wall coming out of Turn 7, as rain returned to the track. Despite the German broke the rules regarding his speed under the red flag, the stewards recognise that he did not drive dangerously and only applied light penalty, as they explained:

The driver had just finished his fastest lap and had started another push lap. He was at T1 when the red flag was displayed, however at that point he was already 1.5 seconds over his delta time. He claimed this made it extremely difficult for him to come below the delta in the next sector. He also admitted to confusion about the beep signal in his headset, and therefore at one stage thought he was going too slow.

Comparison of telemetry with that of Car 31 showed that in general for the rest of the lap he was approximately the same speed as Car 31 which complied with the delta times in each mini-sector. We regard this as a mitigating circumstance.

However, the regulation is very clear and whilst there is no question of the driver acting dangerously or driving unsafely, there was a breach and thus a penalty has to be imposed. The normal penalty for failure to slow under red flags is 10 grid positions however in view of the mitigating circumstance, a lower penalty is appropriate.

The penalty also costs Haas its first ever front row start for a Grand Prix. Kevin Magnussen was fastest last year in the qualifying session at Interlagos, but he only started first in the sprint race. This elevates Fernando Alonso to the front row for the second year in a row in Canada, with Mercedes now on the second row with Lewis Hamilton and George Russell.

Sainz, Stroll and Tsunoda penalised for blocking

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Photo by XPB / Icon Sport

Three more penalties took place, all for blocking. Carlos Sainz impeded Pierre Gasly at the final chicane during the closing stages of Q1, leaving the Frenchman out of Q2 and incensed at the Spaniard, as he stated to

I am just completely gutted and what Carlos did is unacceptable. It was so dangerous, I am coming at 300[kph], the bare minimum is to get out of the line. He impedes me, puts both of ourselves in an extremely dangerous position if I smash him at that speed and it was completely unnecessary. That lap would put me in the top six, even if he impeded me by two or three tenths we would still be in the top ten. It just ruined our qualifying, so I have no words for it.

The Ferrari driver drops from eighth to eleventh on the grid, just behind his teammate, Charles Leclerc. Lance Stroll will also drop three places, from thirteenth to sixteenth after staying on the racing line blocking Esteban Ocon in Q2. The last penalty is for Yuki Tsunoda, who will start second-to-last, after impeding Hulkenberg in Q1, following an off-track excursion.

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