Formula One: Verstappen risks grid penalty after summons to stewards

Dutch driver Max Verstappen is interviewed in the parc ferme after the qualifying session. PHOTO: AFP

DOHA (REUTERS) - Formula One championship leader Max Verstappen could face a grid penalty after being summoned by stewards for allegedly failing to slow when warning flags were waved during his final qualifying lap at the Qatar Grand Prix on Saturday (Nov 20).

The Dutch 24-year-old qualified second, with title rival Lewis Hamilton's Mercedes on pole position.

Stewards said in a statement that Verstappen and a team representative must report to them at 1pm local time on Sunday.

The floodlit night race is due to start four hours later, at 5pm.

The yellow warning flags - under which drivers must reduce speed significantly and be prepared to stop - were double waved after AlphaTauri's Pierre Gasly lost his front wing and suffered a puncture, stopping on track.

Verstappen completed his final lap after Gasly's incident and improved his qualifying time.

He leads seven-times world champion Hamilton by 14 points with three races remaining.

Ferrari's Carlos Sainz, who was seventh on the provisional grid, was also summoned to the stewards at 1.30pm local time for allegedly not respecting a single-waved yellow.

Aston Martin four-times world champion Sebastian Vettel said he had slowed for yellow flags and lost out as a result.

"I don't know if it was a single yellow or double yellow, but if there's a car standing on track, then it should be a double yellow. And double yellows are 'abort the lap' so I lifted. Maybe I was the only one," he told reporters.

The German also suggested Verstappen had been helped by the signalling.

"It's a bit of a shame because I had the yellow flag in the last sector and then the yellow flag cleared, I guess, because Max was coming," he said.

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