FIA: Max Verstappen didn't talk himself into a penalty

FIA: Max Verstappen didn't talk himself into a penalty

Image via Max Verstappen twitter: @Max33Verstappen

Max Verstappen claimed pole position for the Mexican Grand Prix but, two hours later, was informed that he was under investigation for ignoring the yellow flags that were waving for Valtteri Bottas’ crash.

The Red Bull driver was slapped with a grid penalty, dropping him from first to fourth.

But while it seems that Verstappen has only himself to blame for being bullish in the post-qualifying press conference, F1 race director Michael Masi says that’s not the case.

Verstappen ignored yellow flags

Bottas crashed at the end of Q3 on Saturday, sliding into the wall at the final corner before connecting with the TecPro barrier.

The yellow flags, warning of an incident, were immediately waved by the marshals.

However, the digital light did not display as Verstappen came up to Bottas’ crash.

Photos, though, prove that the Dutchman did have a pass a yellow flag and, while his rivals slowed down, he didn’t.

He claimed pole position ahead of the Ferraris with many perplexed by the stewards’ silence.

And then put his foot in it

Verstappen was asked about the yellow flags during the post-race press conference and whether he had seen Bottas’ crash.

He added fuel to the fire, telling the gathered media:

“We all know what a yellow flag means.”

Asked why he then didn’t back off, he replied:

“Well, it doesn’t matter, does it?”

Told that the FIA may look into it, he bullishly said: “Well, then delete my lap. The second. The other lap was fine as well.”

He added: “It’s qualifying and, yeah, you go for it. But like I said before, if they want to delete the lap, then delete the lap.”

The stewards did more than delete his final lap time; they handed him a three-place grid penalty as per the regulations.

FIA insist they were already on top of it

Two hours after qualifying concluded, the Mexican GP stewards announced that Verstappen was under investigation for ignoring the yellow flags.

They later announced his penalty with many headlines screaming that the Dutchman had talked himself into a penalty.

FIA race director Michael Masi says that’s not true.

“We were actually looking into it straight away,” he told, “but with the sequence of what happened, the primary thing was Valtteri’s health, getting the Medical Car out there, making sure that he was all OK.

“So, [that] being at the end of the session was one part. The second part, once that happened, was obviously getting the car back to the team.

“The third element [was] repairing the circuit for the next activity. So as part of my role as the safety delegate, I went out there to make sure that everything was back in position.”

He added that he had already spoken with the stewards before being made aware of Verstappen’s press conference comments.

“By the time I referred it to the stewards, and told the stewards that the matter’s to be looked at, it was after that that Max’s comments came to light.”

The bigger consequence

As a result of his P4 on the start grid, Verstappen tried to make up ground on the opening lap only to tangle with Lewis Hamilton and, three laps later, with Bottas.

The latter incident, again his own doing, punctured his right-rear tyre and forced him to make an early stop.

He dropped to the very back of the grid and could only recover as far as P6.

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