Red Bull team principal Christian Horner says he is struggling to understand why Max Verstappen was handed a grid drop for the Qatar Grand Prix.
The Dutchman received a five-place grid penalty after he was found guilty of not respecting double-waved yellow flags at the end of Q3.
A lone marshal was waving the flags across from Pierre Gasly’s stricken AlphaTauri car, however no other panel or information was communicated to Verstappen.
Horner says that the FIA deemed the track safe by not sending a yellow flag update to the drivers via the circuit panels or their steering wheel dashboard, and asserts race control must have power over the circuit and not leave decisions to the “rouge marshal”.
“We’re really struggling to understand it,” Horner told Sky F1. “It looks like a complete balls-up.
“The FIA have effectively said ‘play on, the circuit is safe, it’s clear’. Max was in the first sector, we had so much time to look at it.
“If indicated otherwise, we would of course, have informed him. Unfortunately there’s a yellow flag, he just didn’t see it.
“He saw the white one [panel], he saw the car, he even saw a green light on the right hand side. I think it’s just a rouge marshal that stuck a flag out.
“He’s not instructed to by the FIA, they’ve got to have control of the marshals. It’s as simple as that. That’s a crucial blow in the championship for us. We’re now starting P7 at a track you can’t overtake at. That is massive.”
Horner also questioned why Carlos Sainz escaped a penalty, accusing the Spaniard of only lifting off the throttle a handful of metres before the finish line.
“The other one I really don’t understand is Carlos Sainz,” Horner said. “It’s not exactly the same thing.
“[But] he hasn’t seen it and he’s driven straight past, gone past with his DRS open, fully planted and he’s lifted about 10 metres before the line and that’s OK.
“I think there needs to be some grown-ups making grown-up decisions. If somebody sticks a yellow flag out… it’s just frustrating and I think the race director should have control of the circuit. He’s the referee at the end of the day.”
Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas was also dealt a penalty, dropping three places from his qualifying positions for the start of the race.