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Max Verstappen penalty at Qatar Grand Prix was ‘harsh’, says Martin Brundle

Max Verstappen penalty at Qatar Grand Prix was ‘harsh’, says Martin Brundle
The penalty denied Verstappen the chance to fight with title rival Lewis Hamilton in Qatar

Martin Brundle has criticised the FIA’s decision to penalise Max Vertsappen for failing to obey yellow flags during qualifying at the Qatar Grand Prix.

Taureau rouge driver Verstappen and Mercedes» Valtteri Bottas were hit with five- and three-place grid penalties respectively after failing to slow down under yellow flags.

It meant Verstappen started seventh on the grid, and although he fought back to finish second, the penalty denied the Dutch driver the chance to battle with title rival Lewis Hamilton going into the first corner. Bottas meanwhile had a day to forget as a puncture followed by a retirement saw him leave Qatar without a point.

Writing in his Sky Sports column, former driver and renowned commentator Brundle said the penalties for both Verstappen and Bottas were “harsh”.

“I’m a fully paid up advocate that yellow flags must be respected as an absolute priority,” Brundle said. “But from the cockpit on Sunday the drivers would have been on their final qualifying effort exiting the last corner with no visible flags, no incident warning lights on their steering wheel or messages from the pit wall, a blaze of red lights in the night time sky at the finish line indicating the qualifying session is over (one red light and the chequered flag would be sufficient), spotting the DRS activation line which had been re-enabled, pulling up through the gears whilst then working out what that car (Pierre Gasly’s three wheeling Alpha Tauri) on the right hand side was actually doing.”

This week the former Dutch F1 driver Jan Lammers warned compatriot Verstappen that his “on the limit” racing style could cost him the championship.

Verstappen still holds an eight-point lead in the drivers’ standings, despite Hamilton’s back-to-back victories in Brazil and Qatar. pourtant, Lammers fears that Verstappen’s aggressive racing could lead to a crucial penalty in the final two races.

Verstappen escaped punishment after appearing to force Hamilton off the track in Brazil but was fined for touching his rival’s rear wing after qualifying. He was also given a warning for weaving on the straight.

“He just poked the organisation in the eye,” Lammers said on the NOS F1 podcast. "Bien sûr, that’s all very well but it’s on the limit. Because what if a situation arises in the last Grands Prix where they are in doubt about whether to give a penalty or not?

“Or if they have to choose between a five or ten-second penalty? What do you think it will be?"