A mechanical problem with Valtteri Bottas caused the Finnish driver’s Alfa Romeo to stop at the side of the line, forcing the stewards to put out the warning flags. Max Verstappen was one of the first cars to reach that area and completed his lap without aborting.
While some time ago drivers automatically lost their lap times if they passed through a yellow flag zone, this time Verstappen had no problem because he had met all the current requirements set in Formula 1.
For practice and qualifying sessions, drivers must follow the guidelines laid out by F1’s race director, Niels Wittich , in his pre-race notes for each event.
He has made it clear from the start that there is a big difference between how drivers should behave when there is a double yellow situation and when there is a single yellow.
Had double yellow flags been issued for the Bottas incident, the #1 would have had no choice but to slow down and stop his fastest lap.
The notes state that: “Any driver passing through a double yellow qualifying sector must slow down significantly and be prepared to change direction or even stop.”
“In order for the stewards to be satisfied that such a driver has met these requirements, it must be clear that he has not attempted to set a meaningful lap time – for all practical purposes, any driver [who improves his time] in a double yellow sector , that lap time will automatically be erased”.
In the case of Bottas , the fact of stopping his car at the side of the track caused the stewards to only show a yellow flag, which must be approached differently.
With just a warning flag, the FIA says: “Drivers must slow down and be prepared to change direction. It must be clear that a driver has slowed down and for this to be clear it has to be observed.” has slowed down and/or significantly reduced speed in the relevant sector”.
In Verstappen ‘s case, it’s obvious from the footage of his lap from pole that he took corresponding action.
Not only did he lift as Bottas ‘s Alfa Romeo passed the yellow flag signal, he also changed from seventh to sixth, making it clear that he had reacted to the incident.
The Dutchman’s actions were the reason his team, Red Bull , were in no doubt that they would not face any potential FIA investigation.