Nico Hulkenberg will start Formula 1’s Canadian Grand Prix from fifth place after receiving a post-session penalty.
Hulkenberg’s sanction means Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso will join Max Verstappen on the front row of the grid.
Hulkenberg set the second-fastest time in a rain-hit Q3 shortly before McLaren driver Oscar Piastri crashed, bringing out the red flags.
The rain intensified during the stoppage, denying drivers the chance to improve on lap times, and consequently sealing Hulkenberg’s front-row spot.
Hulkenberg was summoned post-session for allegedly driving too quickly en route back to the pits under the red flag conditions.
Stewards deemed he had transgressed and handed a three-place penalty, relegating him to fifth spot.
They noted that Hulkenberg “had just finished his fastest lap and had started another push lap. He was at Turn 1 when the red flag was displayed, however at that point he was already 1.5 seconds over his delta time.
“He claimed this made it extremely difficult for him to come below the delta in the next sector. He also admitted to confusion about the beep signal in his headset, and therefore at one stage thought he was going too slowly.”
A comparison was also made between Hulkenberg’s times and Esteban Ocon’s times and stewards noted that “he was approximately the same speed as Car 31 [Ocon], which complied with the delta times in each mini-sector.”
That was noted as a mitigating circumstance but stewards outlined “the regulation is vert clear and whilst there is no question of the driver acting dangerously or driving unsafely, there was a breach and thus a penalty has to be imposed.”
A normal penalty for failure to slow under red flags is a 10-place demotion but stewards deemed that a lower penalty was appropriate.
Hulkenberg was also advised to make himself more familiar with the operational aspects of the delta signals.
Elsewhere Lance Stroll and Yuki Tsunoda were both issues three-place penalties for blocking Esteban Ocon and Hulkenberg respectively.
Stroll will drop to 16th on the grid while Tsunoda will start from 19th place.