Lewis Hamilton and George Russell have received an advantageous boost for the Canadian Grand Prix as Nico Hulkenberg has been handed a three-place grid penalty for exceeding the speed limit during red-flag conditions.
Consequently, Hamilton will start the race in third, with Russell joining him on the second row.
Hulkenberg’s misfortune unfolded shortly after Oscar Piastri lost control of his McLaren at turn seven.
Despite the incident, Hulkenberg achieved the second-fastest qualifying time in Q3, positioning him second on the grid for Sunday’s race.
However, his hopes were dashed when a red flag interrupted Fernando Alonso’s flying lap behind him.
In light of the heavy rain, Hulkenberg appeared to have tactfully timed his session to secure a front-row start.
Nevertheless, his fortunes took a turn for the worse as the stewards penalised him for failing to adhere to the mandated speed limit following Piastri’s crash.
Although a 10-place grid penalty is typically imposed for such violations, the stewards took into account mitigating factors surrounding Hulkenberg’s actions.
The stewards’ report stated: “The driver had just completed his fastest lap and had begun another push lap.
“He was at T1 when the red flag was displayed, but at that point, he was already 1.5 seconds over his delta time.
“He claimed that this made it extremely difficult for him to reduce his speed below the delta in the next sector. He also admitted to confusion regarding the beep signal in his headset, leading him to believe he was driving too slowly at one point.
“A comparison of telemetry with Car 31 [Esteban Ocon] indicated that, in general, he was traveling at approximately the same speed as Car 31, which complied with the delta times in each mini-sector. We consider this a mitigating circumstance.
“However, the regulation is clear, and despite no question of dangerous or unsafe driving, a breach occurred, necessitating a penalty.
“The standard penalty for failure to slow under red flags is a 10-grid position drop.
“However, considering the mitigating circumstance, a lesser penalty is appropriate.
“We acknowledge that the regulation aims to prevent speeding during red flag situations, and there is no evidence of excessive speed in this case.
“We also note that the driver should familiarise himself more with the operational aspects of the delta signals.”
As a result of the penalty, Hamilton and Russell will now start the race in third and fourth positions, respectively.
Alonso will begin in second place, with Max Verstappen claiming the pole position.
Hulkenberg finds himself demoted to fifth, trailing behind the two Mercedes drivers.