Max Verstappen will keep his front-row qualifying position for Sunday’s Mexican Grand Prix after an FIA Stewards investigation found that he did not impede Valtteri Bottas in qualifying.
Bottas was on his first flying run in Q3 when he came across Verstappen, on a slow lap, between Turns 12 and 13 in the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez’ iconic baseball stadium section.
Verstappen kept to the left-hand side of the short straight between the two corners to allow Bottas to stay on the racing line, however the Finn appeared distracted by the Red Bull Racing driver and locked up on approach to the Turn 13 left-hander.
“I was on my lap and I could see coming through the last sector that he [Verstappen] was going quite slow,” Bottas recalled in post-qualifying interviews.
“He was going slow on the exit of Turn 12, which compromised my line a little bit for Turn 13, and I had a lock up there, so it definitely ruined my lap.”
Verstappen, who was pipped to pole position by Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, shrugged off suggestions he had impeded Bottas, who qualified fourth-fastest on his next qualifying run.
The FIA Stewards’ panel summoned both drivers to a hearing after qualifying, and while they noted that Bottas “could have [been] affected” by Verstappen, they did not feel the Dutch youngster had impeded him.
“The stewards examined multiple angles of video evidence and radio calls to car 33, and heard from Max Verstappen, the driver of car 33, Valtteri Bottas, the driver of car 77 and the team representatives,” read their statement, following the investigation.
“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 to 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.”
Image via Red Bull Content Pool
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