Formula 1 drivers have called on the FIA to ensure more consistency is applied in stewarding decisions, particularly impeding incidents.
The reaction ahead of the Japanese Grand Prix has been prompted by the reprimands Max Verstappen received in Singapore.
Verstappen, who was eliminated in Q2 last Saturday, was under investigation at the end of qualifying for three separate alleged cases that involved impeding other drivers.
Firstly, he appeared to block the two Mercedes drivers and Charles Leclerc at the exit of the pit lane before then being suspected of impeding Logan Sargeant at Turns 17/18 during the final minutes of Q1.
Finally, and unquestionably the most contentious one, the Dutchman was ahead of Yuki Tsunoda between Turns 3 and 4, ruining the AlphaTauri’s Q2 lap as a result.
However, Verstappen escaped with two reprimands and no grid drop, leaving him to line up 11th on the grid for Sunday’s race, where he eventually recovered to fifth.
McLaren’s Lando Norris believes that Verstappen should have been penalised for the incident involving Tsunoda, insisting penalties for impeding should be a formality.
“I don’t want to say too much because I’ll just create controversy. I think the blocking one on track should have been a penalty,” he addressed.
“He [Verstappen] blocked someone: it’s not just down to the team. I know the team got the fine in the end of the day, but it should be down to the driver as well to look in his mirrors and see if someone’s… you’ve got nothing else to do the whole lap but look in your mirrors and it seems like a lot of people struggle to do that.
“But I think, yeah, it should just be harsher penalties for blocking people, because so many people do it, it ruins your lap, it ruins your qualifying. It put Yuki out in Qualifying and he was P1 in Q1. Probably would have been P1 in Q3 if he went all the way.
“Just no one seems to care enough. It’s happened a lot this season, happened to me quite a few times, especially with certain teams – but it’s also down to the driver to look in the mirror, like they got nothing else to do but hit the recharge button and look in your mirror and people seem to struggle to be able to do that in Formula 1, which is a surprise.”
While the likes of Esteban Ocon and Valtteri Bottas refrained from commenting, Lewis Hamilton touched on the first investigation surrounding Verstappen stopping his RB19 at the pit lane exit ahead of the Mercedes.
“I don’t really know what to say. I didn’t really see them,” the Briton admitted.
“Obviously I was in the pit lane when everyone stopped and I couldn’t see what was happening up ahead. And we always push and work as closely as we can with the FIA to have consistency and there is some variation so we have to continue to work on it for sure.
Leclerc added: “Yeah, I was a bit surprised especially the one in the pit lane because that could open quite bad situations in the future.
“But again, as Lewis said, it’s always an open discussion with the FIA and trying to explain them what our point of view is and improve and I’m sure we’ll have that discussion tomorrow evening at the briefing.”
Meanwhile, the sister Red Bull of Sergio Perez only received a five-second time penalty in the race for barging Alex Albon’s Williams out of the way at Turn 13.
The collision dropped the Williams driver out of the points, with Albon believing he was on course for eighth place without the clash.
“Yeah, I think it’s quite a tricky one because I think consistency is… we push on it a lot as drivers, I think as teams as well and viewers as well, but it’s a tricky one,” Albon said.
“For example, you could take my incident with Checo, when he has a five-second penalty, it’s consistent with everything else, but is it really fair? Maybe not.
“So I do think there needs to be flexibility in some ways. To answer the question about Max, I haven’t really seen it but I do think things don’t need to be as consistent as they are right now.”
George Russell believes the failure to penalise either Red Bull driver in Singapore threatens to set a precedent going forward.
“It definitely sets a bit of a precedent and you want to have consistency across the board and yeah, It seemed pretty, pretty clear cut with a number of those incidents,” he warned.
“Yeah, I don’t really know to be honest. It was strange that they got away with that one. It didn’t really affect any results. But it’s it doesn’t matter if you’re leading the championship or your last if you get in somebody’s way you should be penalized for it.”