Why there is so much doubt about Verstappen’s starting position in Italy


The fact that the provisional starting grid for the Italian Grand Prix is not known, more than two hours after the end of qualifying, is not good for the image of Formula 1.

No fewer than nine drivers have so far collected a grid penalty for the Monza race. Max Verstappen qualified himself second, but will he start in fourth or seventh?

The FIA are trying to work this out on their abacuses at the moment.

In 2022, the rule is that drivers with 15 places worth of grid penalties or more must start ‘at the back’.

The qualifying position ultimately determines which driver starts before the other, in the event that several drivers have this penalty. A good example is that Carlos Sainz will start ahead of Lewis Hamilton at Monza as both have back of the grid penalties – although the former qualified ahead.

The situation is different with Verstappen, he only has a five-place grid penalty with fellow penalty drivers Sainz and Sergio Perez qualifying just behind.

The Dutchman was originally going to be reduced to seventh position, but because Sainz, Perez and Hamilton also had penalties – third through fifth in qualifying, Verstappen was put fourth by some.

The interpretation of the rules is then as follows: 2 + 5 = 7, but then Verstappen is promoted back up to P4 as P5/6/7 would be vacant following the trio of penalties.

Version number two of the interpretation of the rules is that a five-place grid penalty must always be a five-place penalty.

In this version it is assumed that 2+5=7 always stays that way.

In this case, the disappearance of Sainz, Perez and Hamilton would mean that drivers who are behind this trio get bumped up even more places.

For their part, Verstappen and Christian Horner believe he is set for P7, with Fernando Alonso – who stands to benefit – echoing those thoughts.

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