Helmut Marko has ripped into the FIA for giving Max Verstappen a penalty before the Qatar GP began.

Verstappen would have started second on the grid for the race on Sunday. However, he was hit with a five-place grid penalty before the race, and started it from seventh place.

The FIA handed him the penalty because he failed to recognise double yellow flags at the end of Q3 during qualifying. He did not lift off at the time, which means what he did was illegal.

However, Marko ripped into the FIA for giving Verstappen a penalty, saying that it was outrageous at best.

“It is completely incomprehensible that the FIA does not have the whole marshal system in order,” the Red Bull team advisor told Servus TV, as quoted by Racingnews365.com.

“In the digital system, it suddenly gave no yellow flag, but an inexperienced marshal first shows a yellow flag, and then double yellow.

Marko (left) talking to Verstappen (right). Source: Getty Images

“This is at the expense of the drivers and in a billion-dollar sport. It is simply unacceptable,” he concluded.

Earlier, Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner failed to mince his words regarding the situation. The boss cut a frustrated figure after qualifying, and called out a “rogue marshal” for waving the double yellow flags.

The FIA did not take kindly to his remark, and gave him a formal warning for unsportsmanlike accusations.

Flouting rules

Verstappen’s penalty is clear now, but on Saturday, there was confusion regarding it. It wasn’t clear whether a single or double yellow flag had been waved.

However, after hearing accounts from Verstappen and Red Bull and looking at the marshalling system and the telemetry evidence, the FIA concluded that double yellow flags were displayed when the Dutchman crossed the line.

In addition to Verstappen, Valtteri Bottas was also hit with a grid penalty, but it was three places instead of five.

Read more: Helmut Marko pours cold ice on Toto Wolff’s blazing legal threats

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