Max Verstappen has lost pole position at the Mexican Grand Prix after being given a three-place grid penalty for ignoring yellow flags in qualifying.
Valtteri Bottas crashed at the final corner on the last laps in Q3, bringing out the yellow flags for the cars behind. While Lewis Hamilton was directly behind his team-mate and only lost a small amount of time, the yellow flags were not yet waving, whereas Sebastian Vettel was next to reach the incident and backed off to the tune of about one second. Verstappen, however, set the fastest final sector and later admitted he had not backed off when passing the crash, with the stewards giving him a grid penalty that promotes Charles Leclerc to pole position ahead of Vettel.
“Driver of Car 33 admitted that he was aware that Car 77 (Valtteri Bottas) crashed and did see the car on the left hand side of the track, but was not aware of the waved yellow flag,” the stewards decision read. “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) reduced the speed significantly as per the regulations.
“Taking into account all the available evidence and the statement from the driver the stewards impose a drop of 3 grid positions at the driver’s next race and 2 penalty points.”
The penalty promotes Leclerc to pole, Vettel alongside him and Hamilton into third place, with Verstappen now starting from fourth.
Verstappen had claimed he should simply have his final lap time deleted if the stewards were unhappy, given that his first lap proved good enough for pole position.