Max is BACK in the dock! Verstappen is called in front of the stewards for 'ignoring' yellow flags in frantic Qatar GP qualifying session... with pole sitter Lewis Hamilton hoping for a race-day boost against title rival

Daily Mail
Daily Mail

Lewis Hamilton was handed a world championship boost on Saturday night when Max Verstappen was summoned to the stewards for seemingly ignoring double-waved yellow flags during qualifying for the Qatar Grand Prix.

The championship leader will learn his fate following the hearing today at 1pm here in Doha and 10am British time.

Any punishment would be a massive fillip for Hamilton, who has three races including today’s to claw back a 14-point deficit in this nail-biting title fight.
Lewis Hamilton celebrates taking an ultra dominant pole position for the Qatar Grand Prix
The Brit dominated throughout the session, ending the evening half-a-second quicker
Hamilton now looks to have the championship advantage at a key point with a superior car

The Briton already has pole to his name, with Verstappen second quickest, nearly four-tenths back.

If he is found guilty of over-exuberance, the 24-year-old Red Bull man is likely to be pinged three or five places down the grid. The video evidence looks damning.

Verstappen will have to say why he did not slow down significantly at the end of his final flying lap after Pierre Gasly’s AlphaTauri suffered a debris-spewing puncture.

Hamilton’s Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas has also been called up to answer the lesser charge of failing to react to single-waved yellow flags at the same point.

Immediately before and after Verstappen’s apparent misdemeanour, Hamilton performed two deliberate acts of oneupmanship on his rival: the first, the fizzing lap on the flowing Losail track that put him convincingly top of the timesheets.
The Brit observes the rear wing of his Mercedes following the end of qualifying in Qatar



1 Lewis Hamilton 1min 20.827secs

2 Max Verstappen 1:21.282

3 Valtteri Bottas 1:21.478

4 Pierre Gasly 1:21.640

5 Fernando Alonso 1:21.670

6 Lando Norris 1:21.731

7 Carlos Sainz 1:21.840

8 Yuki Tsunoda 1:21.881

9 Esteban Ocon 1:22.028

10 Sebastian Vettel 1:22.785


11 Sergio Perez 1:22.346

12 Lance Stroll 1:22.460

13 Charles Leclerc 1:22.463

14 Daniel Ricciardo 1:22.597

15 George Russell 1:22.756


16 Kimi Raikkonen 1:23.156

17 Nicholas Latifi 1:23.213

18 Antonio Giovinazzi 1:23.262

19 Mick Schumacher 1:23.407

20 Nikita Mazepin 1:25.859

The second, away from the cameras, was to delay his appearance at the post-qualifying press conference for a minute or two.

Verstappen was left twiddling his thumbs, just as Nico Rosberg frustratedly tapped the table when Hamilton played a similar trick on him by turning up late for their debriefs.

Mind games are one thing, and close dancing on the track at 200mph quite another. Not least after last week’s hairy duel in Brazil, where the two contenders fought for the lead and Verstappen defended strongly from the inside of Turn 4. There was no contact and Hamilton went on to win in style.

Since Mercedes appealed unsuccessfully against the stewards’ decision not to penalise Verstappen, the atmosphere between the two leading teams turned acrid. And it was hardly perfume before.

Regardless of Verstappen’s starting place, another high-speed conflagration can hardly be discounted today, with Hamilton saying he now believes ‘that what happened in the last race is OK’.
Chief title rival Max Verstappen will line up alongside Hamilton on the front row

The defending champion was speaking after the drivers’ briefing on Friday night, a race-by-race occurrence that typically takes no longer than 30 minutes but on this occasion dragged on for more than an hour.

Several members of the grid asked for clarification over what constituted fair driving. Verstappen believes what is and is not allowed was made clear. Hamilton believes it was not.

The Dutchman said: ‘Everyone is different and everyone has their own way of racing, defending and overtaking. It’s very hard for the FIA to get everyone on the same line. They decide, but every driver has a different opinion.

‘Yesterday it was all about sharing opinions and then the FIA explained their thought processes. We’ve come a very long way to an understanding and it was in the end pretty clear.’
The Red Bull star and championship leader had no answer for Hamilton or Mercedes pace

Hamilton said: ‘No, it’s not clear. Every driver I think except for Max was asking for clarity but it wasn’t very clear. It’s still not clear what the limits of the track are. It’s clearly not the white line anymore on overtaking, so we just go for it.

‘We just ask for consistency. So if it’s the same as the last race and that’s the ruling for all of us in those scenarios, then it’s fine.’

There was a hint of sarcasm in those final three words.



Surprisingly, Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen have been relatively reserved at least in public and it appears the most showing the most combustible natures has been the team bosses Toto Wolff and Christian Horner.... right on cue they were put in a press conference together yesterday. Sparks flew...

Max Verstappen has a 14-point lead over Lewis Hamilton ahead of the Qatar Grand Prix this weekend, with their rivalry heating up after the Brit reduced the deficit with a comeback victory in Brazil.


Why are Mercedes all of a sudden so quick? Red Bull think it has something to do with their ring wing. They elected not to protest after Brazil, but that could change if they lose again in Qatar.

JONATHAN McEVOY IN DOHA: One protest rejected. One more likely inbound. Barbs flying. Welcome back to the most fractious world championship fight in recent memory.

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