December 2, 2020, 4:51

Mexican GP: Max Verstappen avoids penalty for alleged Valtteri Bottas qualifying block

Mexican GP: Max Verstappen avoids penalty for alleged Valtteri Bottas qualifying block

Max Verstappen had to visit the stewards again after it was alleged he had wrecked Valtteri Bottas' first pole attempt during qualifying for the Mexican GP

Max Verstappen has avoided a penalty for allegedly impeding Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas during qualifying for the Mexican GP.

After hearing from both drivers and reviewing footage of the incident, the stewards ruled that no further action was required.

It means that Verstappen will start Sunday’s race on the front-row alongside Sebastian Vettel and just ahead of the third-placed Lewis Hamilton.

The incident occurred when Bottas encountered a slow Verstappen entering Mexico City’s atmospheric Stadium Section, with the Mercedes locking up as it passed the Red Bull which was on the inside of the track.

Mercedes said Bottas’ flying lap had been “wrecked” by a “dawdling” Verstappen and Bottas told Sky F1 that Verstappen “definitely ruined my lap”.

But a confident Verstappen responded: “For me, there is no incident.”

“The driver of car 33 was clearly aware from the team radio and using his mirrors that car 77 was approaching on a hot lap.

“He moved from the racing line on the exit of turn 12 to avoid impeding car 77.

“The driver of car 33 did move slowly from the racing line which could have affected car 77, but the stewards do not consider this as impeding.”

The post-qualifying investigation came just six days after Verstappen lost a podium place at the US GP after a final-lap pass on Kimi Raikkonen was deemed illegal. He heavily criticised the stewards, calling them “idiots”, before issuing an apology for his language late on Thursday in Mexico.

In Saturday’s thrilling qualifying hour, Verstappen had appeared on course to become F1’s youngest-ever pole-sitter during a scintillating performance, but failed to improve on his Q2 time in the final phase and was pipped by Sebastian Vettel on the final laps.

“I’m super annoyed,” the Dutchman told Sky F1. “In Q3, it got a bit more difficult and I couldn’t get the tyres to work. Second is good but not given the way it went.

“I really wanted that pole position.”

The Vettel-Verstappen front row is a repeat of September’s Singapore GP, when they were involved in a big start-line crash which also featured Kimi Raikkonen.

Hamilton will secure the world championship if he finishes fifth or higher.

See if Lewis Hamilton can clinch his fourth world championship at the Mexican GP exclusively live on Sky Sports F1. Sunday’s race begins at 7pm. Want to watch but not got Sky F1? Buy a NOW TV pass from £6.99!


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