Max Verstappen still at risk of race ban

The stewards have been busy so far this season with a variety of issues.

Generally this season, not an awful lot of drivers have been sent to the naughty step by the stewards, but there have been some incidents, some more amusing than others.

In recent races, Charles Leclerc, Max Verstappen and Sir Lewis Hamilton were all fined for being in breach of parc ferme regulations after the Austrian Grand Prix.

The FIA have come down harder on a few things this season, jewellery being one of them, while corner cutting and track extensions have also been a common theme.

The governing body has been more stringent on driver protocol after qualifying and the race.

It is mandatory for the drivers to be weight before the session, and for that weight to be recorded by an FIA official.

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There is a minimum combined weight of car and driver that must be met at all times, and this includes the helmet, balaclava, HANS device, gloves, earphones, heart monitor and gloves the driver has on them.

Scrutineers will also regularly bring cars into the weigh bridge during practice and qualifying sessions to make sure they make weight.

What is not permitted is for the drivers to bump their weight up after sessions by drinking or eating anything, and this is something the stewards were quite relaxed about before.

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Now though, they have clamped down on this, and they strongly advise that the drivers get out of the car, head straight to the scales and get themselves weighed before they take in any fluids.

All of the top three finishers in Austria last month were given fines when they were in breach of this very rule after their respective physios had handed them some water.

“The stewards received a report from the media delegate, which was subsequently confirmed by video evidence, that the physio/drivers’ assistants of the top three finishers entered parc ferme without permission and in violation of the procedure that was published prior to the race ‘for the orderly conduct of the event,” read the stewards’ report.

“In part, this is to prevent handing over of items to the drivers prior to them being weighed.

“The competitor is fined €10,000, which will be suspended for the remainder of the season pending any further violation of the procedure, and the competitors are warned that the passes of the individuals concerned may be revoked in case of systemic violation.”

This fine is not as harsh as the one Sebastian Vettel received in the same weekend after he walked out of the drivers’ briefing.

The German had become tired of listening to a rant from Fernando Alonso, as well as various discussions that were not relevant to the briefing, so he picked up a suspended 20,000 euro fine.

George Russell was then warned for walking across the track without permission after he crashed in qualifying that weekend.

Carlos Sainz’s Ferrari team were also fined 25,000 euros for failing to notify him that Lance Stroll was approaching him during a practice session in Monaco.

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The stewards also noted that the Spaniard had been going unnecessary, and they made it clear that they were not at all happy.

“Approaching Turns 17 and 18 the driver of Car 55 was given a series of grossly incorrect messages, by radio, about the gaps to the cars behind,” they said.

“It is unclear to the Stewards why such misleading information was given to the driver, who was under the impression that there was no car immediately behind him. 

“Due to the poor rear visibility at that part of the circuit, the driver was relying entirely on the team’s messages.

“Notwithstanding the above, it was noted that the driver of Car 55 almost came to a stop on the circuit. This is unacceptable and hence the penalty of a Reprimand is imposed. We note that similar behaviour by any driver during Qualification may involve much more severe penalties.”

In terms of penalty points, Max Verstappen and Pierre Gasly have the most on seven, while Hamilton, Leclerc, Sainz and Mick Schumacher are all clean.

If Verstappen and Gasly pick up another five points, they will be handed an automatic one-race ban.