Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, 2019

Verstappen stripped of pole for speeding through yellow flags, Leclerc to start first

2019 Mexican Grand Prix

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Max Verstappen has been stripped of pole position for the Mexican Grand Prix after the stewards ruled he failed to slow for yellow flags as he passed the scene of Valtteri Bottas’s crash.

He has been given a three-place grid drop for the infringement, which promotes Charles Leclerc to pole position for tomorrow’s race at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez. Leclerc’s Ferrari team mate Sebastian Vettel will join him on the front row.

The stewards said Verstappen “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.”

“He also admitted not reducing his speed on the yellow sector,” the stewards added. Verstappen passed a single waved yellow flag.

“The stewards noted from the onboard images of car 33, that the waved yellow flag was clearly visible and was shown with enough notice. The previous driver (car five [Sebastian Vettel]) reduced the speed [significantly] as per the regulations.”

Verstappen was also given two penalty points on his licence, taking him up to a total of four. The penalty matches the one he was given at last year’s Russian Grand Prix for the same offence.

In a statement issued by the team Verstappen described his penalty as “very disappointing”.

NB. The FIA’s official ruling on Verstappen’s penalty states he broke “Appendix H Article 2.4.5.1. (b) of the FIA International Sporting Code”. There is no such article. RaceFans understands from the FIA the rule Verstappen actually broke was Article 2.5.5 (b).

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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113 comments on “Verstappen stripped of pole for speeding through yellow flags, Leclerc to start first”

  1. Just decision imo.

    1. It is safety of course. However, would it have not made a difference? He was already on pole, and no one else improve on his provisional pole of a 1:14.9…

      1. And if officials don’t severely punish this sort of behavior, then drivers will just ignore double yellows knowing that they lose only that particular lap, essentially losing nothing because if they had lifted, they wouldn’t have a lap to lose at all.

      2. So what were stewards smoking last weekend in Japan? Safety concerns have turned into a joke this year by Masi.

        1. Well, MV is F1 driver, he knows what he’s doing. If not, he wouldnt be in F1. Lols.

      3. @krichelle

        This kind of attitude needs to be curbed immediately. We lost a GP2 driver and nearly a second just a few short weeks ago specifically because of the throttle in thought process.

      4. Isn’t that even more of an argument for Verstappen to slow down @krichelle

  2. Good. But FIA’s indecisions lately are becoming more and more frustrating.

    1. Yeah, since forever.
      What “becomes more and more” is our realization that the FIA is a shambolic group as we get to know the sport more and more.
      This decision was good though.

      1. Agreed.
        I think they should have delayed any decision to officially announce Q3 finishing pending inquiries.

        I missed the end of Q3 and was astounded to learn that MV was the last driver to cross the line. I thought he had set the time ahead of Valterri.
        Even without yellow flags just having sight of a car off the apex is enough to suggest that a driver should lift.

  3. FINALLY.
    I knew Verstappen would be stripped of his pole position the moment he crossed the line and saw that he improved. IT WAS THAT CLEAR. Why are the stewards so lazy?

    See that Verstappen set a purple sector 3 –> Watch an on-board to see if he noticeably slowed down –> He didn’t –>Announce investigation

    HOW DIFFICULT IS THAT? It literally takes a minute. And then 2 hours later tops, announce his penalty. To do anything other than this is disrespectful to fans. Why upset and divide the fans over the simplest of situations?
    Another display of incompetence following the fiasco that was the Japanese GP. They are ruining the sport for me. They are the main issue of this sport to me right now.
    All I ask are respect, consistency and integrity from the people who regulate this extremely expensive sport watched by millions.

    Also, I didn’t like how they media treated Verstappen as the sure pole-sitter, without openly expressing doubt. Of course, the FIA is to blame again for this for not investigating immediately.

    1. Who is devided? you believe there is a normal fan that has a bit of brain and so the situation and things Verstappen didnt deserve a penalty?

      1. and so the situation –> and saw the situation

    2. Because its max I’m honestly impressed the stewards actually penalized their golden boy. They always have let that guy get away with so much

      1. @carlosmedrano True that.
        The stewards finally grew some.

        1. Rubbish, RdF working I see.

  4. It would have been a farce had the penalty not been applied.

  5. I agree with the decision, but man the kid needs to shut his mouth some times…

    1. He may remain loudmouth as much as he wants… more important for him to get some common sense and intelligence into his head.

  6. So what about Lewis?

    1. What about Lewis?

      1. Exactly. The yellow was not out for Lewis because he was right behind Bottas.

      2. Improved his own time as well…

        1. ALewis was immediately behind Bottas. He slowed as soon as he saw debris, but was what, 1.5-2.0 secs behind…. by the time the stewards have their flags out he is through. Did you even watch qualification ??

          1. He was more like 3-4sec behind BOT so, he saw BOT in the wall perfectly.

        2. So give us his time for sector 1, 2 and 3; plus the mini sector compared to previous sectors and mini sector he achieved on his first run. I assume; although I could be wrong, that you are not arguing he should be punished for not slowing down for a yellow that was not there in the first place?

      3. What about him?
        He slowed down, didn’t improve his sector time, and was visibly aware of crash – without deliberately driving by while pushing the gas pedal down

    2. Lewis was immediately behind Bottas accident and would not have been shown any flags.

      1. But he saw the crash….shouldn’t that be enough to slow down?

        1. It is up to Lewis, as no rule was broken.

        2. Hamilton claimed he didn’t see the car. While I’m a little skeptical, his vision is obscured enough it is plausible. It doesn’t seem sporting to oblige him to slow done before the flags.

          1. But didn’t Bottas crash after the last corner were its almost flat out. No way hamilton saw the crash he was coming out of the stadium section were its kinda a blind corner

        3. He slowed down, check his last sector time, and actual video footage

    3. Lewis was right behind Bottas, so a yellow flag was shown after he passed the corner when Bottas crashed. Case closed.

      1. So its the flag that counts, not safety? Lewis probably had the best view of the situation from everyone.

        1. Lewis said he was a bit hesitating to go full speed, so don’t worry, Lewis slowed down, but others had to slowed down more because of a yellow flag. Is it clear to you, Mike?

          1. Yes of course. Max is an idiot. But this could have gone both ways…F1 electronics failure..only a yellow flag in the last corner (just before the crash sight) when Max is full of adrenaline fighting for pole which is a rare occasion.

        2. Yes – it’s the flag that counts. The drivers don’t slow down because it’s a safe thing to do – they slow down because they have to. If they didn’t have to slow down under yellows, none of them would.

        3. Actually yes, there was very little time to react. The others were further back.

  7. @keithcollantine, how does this affect the predictions? Do we use LeClerc as the poletime?

    1. Lewis can finish P3(no FLAP) with Bottas needing to be in P10(P9 if Lewis takes FLAP) just to keep championship alive. P4 or lower finish for Lewis means championship goes to Austin.

      1. He’s referring to the RaceFans predictions championship, not the actual F1 championship.

        1. I thought he was refering to actual championship. Havent checked racefans championship predictions. But with Bottas crash and penalty for Verstappen its going to be thrown out of whack.

    2. More importantly, where do they get a mini tyre for Charles to sign.

      1. @coldfly – asking the important questions 😉

  8. Considering Max himself said he saw the crash & the car (And therefore should have known yellows were out) yet admitted that he still didn’t lift I don’t see how they could have let him go unpunished.

    With a crashed car on the edge of the track like Bottas’ was & track workers likely making there way to it I think it should be seen as unacceptable to keep your foot down. Max had no idea what had led to the crash, There could have been fluid on track which caused the accident which he himself could have hit & been sent into the crashed car & we all saw at Spa what the results of that can be.

    1. A real daft moment from Verstappen. Completely goes against all road safety stance of the FIA especially considering the recent racing accidents and tragedies.

    2. @roger-ayles could have VERY easily turned into another incident like we saw in GP2.

  9. I can see the adrenaline flowing at the end of the lap and not wanting to lift, but especially in light of recent events pretty stupid.

    1. The irony is he would have had pole anyway of course. He wasn’t to know I guess but still.

      1. @john-h It’s annoying, Max deserved Pole, albeit challenging for his engineer to call it over the radio given the timings, but still he only needed a marginal lift from seeing the flag and would have secured P1 from his first run. A learning experience, he won’t do it again!

  10. I bet Charles is thrilled to be penalised as well… Sitting duck in the slip stream to turn 1. Sochi all over again!

  11. Dumb stuff from Verstappen. Needless and he is or was in a strong position to fight for 3rd place in the championship over the last few races, which would be impressive. The second part of his season hasn’t been the same standard as the first. Still think he could do it though – good recovery this race, then one of his best tracks, Interlagos, in two races time.

    1. I’m not counting him out for the win tomorrow.

    2. he can still win this from 4th, especially if it rains.

  12. Fast and thick. Only a fool continues flat out while yellow flags are waving.

  13. A shame. Was so happy to see him do it too. Dull race tomorrow then.

    1. I’m not sure we’re there yet…. Verstappen clearly has a lot of pace and I can’t see him being cautious at the start. Ferrari will be aware that Hamilton will get a tow from Leclerc at the start so their tactics will be interesting. Hopefully they all get away safely and without damage as we could be in for a very interesting race.

      1. @rocketpanda Dull race? Bet not. I’m envisioning a Max who’ll be on fire tomorrow.

        1. @robbie

          Max who’ll be on fire tomorrow

          I don’t see why the Honda has been OK on reliability so far this yr. :)
          But anyway bit of a hill for Verstappen to climb unless Leclerc and Vettel make a mistake, going on his yr overall more likely to be Vettel. The Ferraris have shown to be reliable also.
          Hamilton can wrap up his WDC if he wins, he rarely makes serious mistakes and either do the rest of the team besides Bottas, and the car is pretty much bullet proof.
          If Verstappen was on pole and he had Albon in support I think it may be a different matter. But I’m sure he will go for it from the start. Which means Hamilton may be forced to take evasion action avoid contact.
          I’ m also looking forward to a good race.

  14. Verstappen deserved pole, I don’t agree with this, I don’t agree with people having to slow down because one crashes AT ALL!

    Let vettel have his shot if he was to be beating verstappen’s old lap and let verstappen defend it.

    Having said this, it’s very clear there was a high risk of penalty, with how the rules are and red bull should’ve told him asap on the radio: you’re on pole, bottas crashed, slow down, no one can beat your old lap!

    And a more fair rule would be just deleting the last lap, he was still on pole after all.

    1. Stupid comment

    2. @esploratore, you have actually written in support of other drivers being given the same penalties for the same offence, and complained when drivers have not slowed down because of a hazard on track or because another driver crashed. It comes across as very hypocritical to say that others should be penalised for that offence, but to demand that Verstappen is then let off.

    3. I agree that Verstappen deserved pole but both he and his team screwed up and threw it away. He should have been aware of the flags and even if he wasn’t, his team should have been on the radio telling him to slow down. They had enough time to do so.

      One change I think the FIA should make is that there should be an automatic audible warning when yellows are out – in addition to a light on the dashboard, an automatic warning should come over the radio. There would then no excuse for drivers saying they were focusing on the racing line etc.

      1. You risk ‘infornation overload’ – a problem faced by fast jet pilots.

      2. @petebaldwin You mean like a sound in your ears asking you to slow down? Mercedes already has that on Valtteri’s car, you know.
        They call their system James.

    4. So your answer to a driver ignoring flags that protect all involved in motorsport is no penalty at all????
      Even a 3 place drop is not right, should be to the back of the grid. If you don’t want to get the penalty then respect the marshalls instructions.

      1. True. A 3-place drop is very lenient.

      2. “I think we know what we’re doing otherwise we wouldn’t be driving an F1 car,” (VER)
        “I saw the stranded car on track, but didn’t slow down…..”
        What is it with this guy…..? I’m trying hard not to dislike him, but be makes it hard…

  15. Stupid comment.

  16. Ok rules are there to be obeyed. Even for the best and fastest driver on the grid today. Another present for the Ferrari International Assistent group.

  17. To me, this just emphasizes that the FIA do not take safety as seriously as other aspects of the sport. If you contrast two recent qualifying incidents:

    RIC’s car was found to have breached a technical regulation (related to MGU-K power IIRC) during the Singapore GP weekend. In this case it was related to a verb strike (IE may not actually be a design issue but rather poor luck/timing) it wasn’t set on his fastest lap (IE it did not actually affect the result) yet he was excluded from qualifying because the FIA make it quite clear there is a no tolerance stance on technical infringements. Don’t misunderstand me, I fully support this stance.

    VES knowingly and admittedly breached a safety standard, publicly stated it and dismissed the issue. And the penalty is 3 grid places. This is perfectly consistent with previous breaches, but for me it shows that the FIA does not “walk the talk” when it comes to safety. If there was there same approach as technical infringements, I am sure drivers would be much more conscious of these yellow flags at times like this. And ultimately this isn’t about punishing a driver/team, it is about protecting the safety of the drivers and marshals who put it all on the line.

  18. Full marks to Verstappen for putting his hand up to his mistake. He’ll still be on the 2nd row and the RB is quick, a podium is possible taking into account Ferraris/Vettels ability to self destruct.

    1. Now he might get a slipstream instead of being the windbreaker for the Ferraris.

      1. that will be Hamilton though. start is going to be fun

    2. Actually he wanted this as the first place get slipstreamed before the 1 corner. So i think he did this on purpose.

    3. Help me……which hand did be raise…?

  19. Some saying Hamilton should get a penalty for improving his time- well his last sector was slower than his previous run because he lifted. The genius Max didn’t and went on to tell the media all about it. How could he not get a penalty after that post qualy interview? Max really isn’t the brightest tool in the box.

    This penalty was avoidable, fact.

  20. I see a lot of people elsewhere using the mini sectors to show that he didn’t gain time as his last sector was slower but in this instance the mini sectors aren’t the relevant piece of data. You can be slower in a sector due to been a bit slower out the previous turn, Making a small mistake etc…

    The relevant bit of data to look at is the telemetry (which is available on the timing app), In particular the throttle trace and that very clearly shows that he didn’t lift through the yellow flag zone and as such deserved the penalty irrespective on what his split times were.

    1. Oh for sure but even just looking at his on-board, you can just see and hear him on it as he blows by VB.

  21. OK, lap deleted like you requested.

  22. Max just perpetuating the idea that drivers are ignorant of safety if they feel like they will lose out. This is stupidity at it’s finest and continues to show the troubling safety record in Formula 1. People demanded safety innovation after we lost Bianchi several years ago but they don’t want to fall so far as to have the “American” caution flag culture — but what’s worse, the “American” culture of SAFETY or the apparent Formula 1 culture of self-service over someone else’s life?

  23. When you celebrate scoring, but miss the offside flag.

    1. Good analogy, except more dangerous and with a punishment of course.

  24. Nothing to say against the decission. He broke the rules but he did not create a real unsafe sittuation and those who liften did not drive more safe. It is just rules.
    Bottas however messed up several times in a hopeless attempt to be fast. He brought himself in danger. It was the crash you could wait for.

  25. What is strange is that the interview afterwards activated the Marchals. They could have decided in a few minutes after the incident. Was it not clear to anyone?

  26. This decision hurts but it’s the right thing to do

  27. Tholithemba Ntsele
    27th October 2019, 6:27

    Don’t defend the indefensible.

  28. I am just happy he set a time good enough for pole.

    3 place drop is the lowest penalty in their arsenal. Purple sector under yellows is not very smart. But hey Max is a racing driver. Asking them to lift goes against every fibre of their body.

    Without penalties we would have 300kph 1m from marshals removing wrecks.

  29. That’s a shame. But this is literally rule #1 at every kart circuit. You can’t have one of the most famous drivers in the most famous motorsport breaking that rule and just dismissing it as inconsequential. Nobody likes seeing penalties like this, but rules are rules.

  30. So the overall time improvement did come from the specific mini-sector, after all, which is all that matters.

  31. A fair and only correct decision, only failure of the stewards was to only investigate after the interviews.

    They should have immediate check the footage and penalize Max. Yellow flags were waved and he must have seen Bottas car.

    Bad of Max and also bad of Red Bull, they should have called Max into the pits or told him to slow down.

    Now my question – looking at Stats – who gets creditted with the Mexican pole? Max set the pole but does not start on pole due to grid penalty.

  32. On the other side this means Charles has 7 poles now.

    1. No Max keeps his pole position

  33. Soooo Leclerc gets the Mexican GP pole in the books but the track record stays with Ricciardo or goes to Verstappen?

    I mean if it was a technical infringement and got pole, he would have be DSQ and his laps wouldn’t count, but now he violated a sporting regulation while breaking the record… ‘Legal’ lap track record, unsporting way to do it.

  34. Fully agree with the penalty. The stewarding is becoming an absolute farce. The initial decision was not to penalize based on mini sector times showing no improvement, which was a very bad decision.

    Only after Ver admitted,in an interview he didn’t lift the penalty was issued. Making the stewards incompetent in deciding on a penalty. Lesson learned by VER dont be honest if you know you were on the edge

    1. The initial decision was not to penalize based on mini sector times showing no improvement

      According to who?

      1. Motorsport.com:
        However, there were suggestions that the mini-sector times – which are used by the FIA to judge in more detail how a driver has reacted – did show he slowed.

        – all articles up to this point mentioned VER keeps pole. After this:

        “ after Verstappen declared in the post-qualifying press conference that he had not slowed for Bottas’ crash and the stewards have further evaluated the matter, the FIA has now summoned him for investigation.”

        If VER would have been more defensive in his press conference I am conviced that he would have gotten away with it. Which would be very wrong.

        Penalty should have been given directly after qualy

  35. I don’t care about mini sectors or best section or fastest lap. To me the video shows a guy passing a yellow flag with full pedal on the metal and correcting with the steering his oversteer .
    This in my book is huge, not rule breaking but dangerous behavior and a proper ruling would had been to sent him in the end of the field or send him home for this race.

    His post event comments are irrelevant totally and im not the one that will judge that.

    1. @bluechris

      I agree with the first part, but I don’t think you can ignore the post-qualy comments. They were an admission of what Verstappen was thinking, where normally we wouldn’t know and could only punish the actions. He admitted to doing it deliberately, in an attempt to gain an advantage, because he doesn’t believe he needs to follow safety instructions. That greatly compounds the seriousness of the offence.

      Frankly, Max needed to have his superlicence suspended until he can prove he’s reformed. It would be a great shame not to see him race, but safety comes first. People talk about zero tolerance for safety
      breaches, but zero tolerance really means reacting quickly and extremely harshly, not a three place grid penalty. If we’re not wondering if it might be verging on an overreaction, the penalty isn’t part of a regime of zero tolerance.

  36. While Verstappen has been penalised appropriately, it seems this only happened because he openly boasted about ignoring the yellows in public.

    The stewards seemed about to ignore the dangerous behaviour until that happened. On cockpit video the yellow light is clearly visible on Verstappen’s steering wheel and so the infringement must have shown up on the stewards bank of electronics at their disposal.

    This, then, is another failure in race direction and stewarding. Will the incompetence continue from the chaos of Japan to Mexico? it seems so, not only because of that incident, but also suggested by the strange direction that more than three infringement of one track limit will be flagged as a warning. So the drivers can abused the track limits at least four times before the stewards consider a more realistic penalty. And what that penalty will be I am not at all sure after their recent record.

    Sounds to me a lawyer’s dream and a racing nonsense.

    1. Witan, I do agree that, particularly when it comes to the safety and welfare of those on track, stewarding and marshalling seems to have become noticeably worse this year. We had the marshal incident in Monaco, the unusually lenient penalty to Leclerc in Germany for an unsafe release, the mess over Leclerc’s behaviour in Japan and now this incident (and those are the ones that immediately come to mind).

      Now, you could argue that the Monaco incident was not the FIA’s fault, as in that case the marshals seem to have disobeyed instructions from the Clerk of the Course and entered the track when they should not, but it still points to a communication failure that could have had significantly worse consequences.

      In quite a few of these incidents, it feels as if the FIA made poor decisions – the Leclerc penalty in Germany provoked such a backlash that they were forced to make the penalties harsher in future, Japan could and should have been resolved more rapidly and, in this incident, even a cursory inspection of the video footage would have shown Verstappen was breaking the rules there.

      It raises a lot of questions about the reliability of the FIA and whether they can be trusted with the fundamental question of the safety and welfare of others. The focus is almost always on the drivers, but the FIA has a duty of care to the marshals and, all too often, it feels as if their welfare is little more than a secondary thought (and to some extent, I feel that attitude is not just a problem with the FIA – I sometimes feel that the media and the fan base tend to pay little attention until something goes badly wrong).

      I feel as if, for now, the FIA have somewhat gotten away with things because the policies that they have implemented in the past have insulated them for now, and to some extent because I think they’ve also been rather lucky. However, I fear that, sooner or later, you’re going to see something go badly wrong, particularly when you get the sense from some of the drivers that they don’t care about what could go wrong and they can do what they want.

  37. Jose Lopes da Silva
    27th October 2019, 9:46

    Change the qualifying system so that you don’t have a ton of cars on track at the same time.

    Everyone debating the tree (lawyers, stewards, Verstappen’s “recklessness”, Hubert, regulations, etc.) and no one debating the forest. Having 6 or 8 or 10 cars qualifying simultaneously is the reason for all this.

    1. We might as well change the races too. Having 16 or 18 or 20 cars racing simultaneously is the reason for all the accidents and violations.

      We tried one-shot qualifying in the past and not mentioning it was inferior to the system we have now, it always favored the driver running to the most-rubbered by other cars track, or the driver lucking into the sweat spot in changing conditions. The system is fine as it is now.

      1. Jose Lopes da Silva
        28th October 2019, 11:30

        Thanks for your reply.
        It underlines my point: no one even dreams of the 1996-2002 system.
        That one-shot was awful for the reasons you mentioned.

  38. Penalty for Max…no question….but not a 3 place grid penalty…thats all of us watching penalised…..the stewards initially were not taking action…wonder if a team put in a protest..and if so..who could it be??

  39. Penalty served and done. Look forward to race.
    Hope it will be a good one, better a great one.

    Lewis takes his 6th WDC at Mexico.

  40. I think the penalty is a great shame, as Max being on pole could have made for a great race, but I dont get why the penalty is so lenient, the sport seems to consider the show ahead of rules and safety. The worst part about it is Max already had pole, there was no reason to do it, it was just stupidity and he showed afterwards in interviews how little he cared, and the fact that after he crossed the line all he could do was celebrate the pole position, without even having the decency to ask if Bottas was ok just shows what kind of person he is, it was a complete disregard for such an important rule, very light punishment for something that could have been critical. It seems crazy to me that the pinnacle of motorsport, where drivers should know better, the punishments for major offences are so lenient, like vetel a few times with dangerous driving in races, like spinning a few races ago and just coming straight back on track without waiting for cars to pass and hitting stroll, or when he purposely turned into hamilton at Azerbaijan under SC. In a professional karting race all these offences would have the driver disqualified from the race without doubt, ignoring any flag is instant disqualification, so why do they make it acceptable in formula one when its 10 times more dangerous and these drivers are supposed to be role models, showing an example for the junior formulas. FIA making a mockery of safety, and i worry it will take another death in Formula One before they take these situations seriously.

  41. And now, I have become a traitor.

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