Max Verstappen was ultimately blamed for the incident between him and Lando Norris during the final part of Japanese Grand Prix qualifying. The Red Bull driver was warming up for his first pole attempt when he appeared to lose control of his RB18 reacting to Norris, who was about to overtake him through the high speed 130R. Verstappen didn't want the McLaren to compromise his attempt so tried to keep him behind, in doing so he spun the cold rear tyres up and nearly caused a collision. Norris had to swerve off track to avoid Verstappen, narrowly escaping a bad crash, and a potential premature end for both drivers.
Stewards decide in favour of Norris
As with some on-track incidents the stewards elected to hear from both Verstappen and Norris after the qualifying session before handing out any penalty. They noted that the main reason Verstappen elected to react to Norris was because of Carlos Sainz further up the road, which would've compromised his first run for pole even more. The stewards said: "Unfortunately, the driver of car #1 [Verstappen] briefly lost control of the car due to a lack of temperature in the tires, which caused the car to sway briefly to the left." "The driver of car #4 [Norris] indicated that it was the unfortunate incident, but that does not alter the fact that it is the driver's own responsibility to maintain control of the car at all times." The stewards confirmed that a reprimand has been the precedent for similar incidents that have happened previously, which is why Verstappen did not receive any grid drop. This is the first driving-related reprimand of the season for Verstappen. Any driver that receives more than five driving-related reprimands in a season will be given a 10-place grid penalty, as is what happened to Yuki Tsunoda earlier this year.