F1 Mexican Grand Prix qualifying: Max Verstappen stripped of pole, giving Ferrari front row
Stewards give Red Bull driver three-grid penalty
Red Bull F1 driver Max Verstappen had a reason to celebrate Saturday afternoon after he was initially awarded the pole for the Mexican Grand Prix.
Seconds from the end of Q3 in Mexico City, Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas crashed at the final corner, turn 17. Verstappen was following the Finn on track and crossed the line to claim his what would have been his second career pole.
However, after the session the race stewards summoned the Red Bull driver. The stewards said they had “reviewed video, audio and telemetry evidences which clearly showed that the driver attempted to set a meaningful lap time and failed to reduce his speed in the relevant marshalling sector.” After hearing from the driver and a team representative, the stewards said, they would be imposing “a drop of three grid positions at the driver’s next race [Mexico] and two penalty points.”
The stewards pointed out that “the driver of Car 33 (Verstappen) admitted that he was aware that car 77 (Bottas) crashed and did see the car on the left-hand side of the track but was not aware of the waved yellow flag. He also admitted not reducing his speed on the yellow sector. The Stewards noted from the on-board images of Car 33, that the waved yellow flag was clearly visible and was shown with enough notice. The previous driver (Car 5, Sebastian Vettel) reduced the speed significantly as per the regulations.”
Verstappen was sent to fourth place on the grid. Charles Leclerc was promoted to pole position, with Ferrari teammate Vettel second. Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton will start third.
“The first lap was quite good,” said Leclerc after initially taking the second spot. “The second one we tried to put a bit more balance in the car to have a bit more from which helped the first sector, but then the last sector was too tricky and I lost the rear, so I lost all the time I made up in the first sector. But Red Bull were very quick.”
Said Vettel: “I had a mistake on my first run so obviously I was quite confident that in the second run I could make up for it, but unfortunately there was a double-yellow so I had to slow down.”
That slowdown for the yellow, as noted by the stewards, ended up promoting him to second on the grid.
Bottas was scored sixth despite his heavy contact with the wall in the final turn and will now be slotted fifth. His Mercedes teammate Hamilton will take a sixth title if he can outscore Bottas by 14 points on Sunday.
|4||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing Honda|
|5||Alexander Albon||Red Bull Racing Honda|
|7||Carlos Sainz||McLaren Renault|
|8||Lando Norris||McLaren Renault|
|9||Daniil Kvyat||Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda|
|10||Pierre Gasly||Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda|
|11||Sergio Perez||Racing Point BWT Mercedes|
|14||Kimi Räikkönen||Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari|
|15||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari|
|16||Lance Stroll||Racing Point BWT Mercedes|
|17||Kevin Magnussen||Haas Ferrari|
|18||Romain Grosjean||Haas Ferrari|
|19||George Russell||Williams Mercedes|
|20||Robert Kubica||Williams Mercedes|