Nico Hulkenberg gets three-place penalty, loses front row start

Haas driver Nico Hulkenberg was one of the star qualifiers for the Canadian Grand Prix but a penalty for driving too fast under a red flag has relegated him off the front row of the grid.

The penalty moves Aston Martin's Fernando Alonso up to second position alongside Max Verstappen, with Mercedes duo Lewis Hamilton and George Russell now both on the second row.

Hulkenberg had mastered the changing conditions in a rainy Q3 to finish a shock second behind Verstappen but after qualifying was summoned to see the race stewards for not keeping within a certain lap time while red flags were being waved.

In such situations, drivers are helped to regulate their speed through beeps in their earpiece, but Hulkenberg later explained these had confused him as he did not know if it meant he needed to speed up or slow down.

It was a slam-dunk penalty, although the stewards were satisfied Hulkenberg had not committed the offence through carelessness so did not issue him with the full 10-place drop he might otherwise have got.

The verdict said: "The regulation is very clear and whilst there is no question of the driver acting dangerously or driving unsafely, there was a breach and thus a penalty has to be imposed. The normal penalty for failure to slow under red flags is 10 grid positions however in view of the mitigating circumstance, a lower penalty is appropriate. We note the intention of the regulation is to ensure a car is not speeding during a red flag situation and there is no evidence that the speed was excessive in this case."

Carlos Sainz and Lance Stroll were also handed three-place grid penalties for impeding other drivers.

Sainz dropped from eighth to 11th for blocking Alpine's Pierre Gasly in the opening phase of qualifying, while Stroll dropped from 13th to 16th for doing the same with Gasly's teammate Esteban Ocon.