By George Stephens • 27 October 2019 • 4:44
Lewis Hamilton called on the FIA to punish Max Verstappen for failing to slow down following team-mates Valtteri Bottas’ crash in Mexican Grand Prix qualifying.
Verstappen put his Red Bull car on pole and then admitted he ignored the double yellow flags which had been waved after Bottas lost control of his Mercedes powered car at the final corner.
Verstappen was summoned by the FIA on the charge of ignoring the safety instruction.
Late into the evening Stewards stripped Verstappen of the pole and placed him to 4th.
Hamilton, who will win his sixth world championship In today’s race in Mexico if he outscores Bottas by 14 points, is to start from third now on the grid after only any average qualifying performance.
He must finish at least in the top 3 to claim the title. Bottas will start from sixth with his Mercedes team working through the night fixing his damaged car attempting not to incur any penalties.
“It is really important that the FIA are very strict on double yellow flags,” said Hamilton. “There could have been marshals on the track.
“These volunteers put their lives on the line to make sure drivers are safe on the road and you have got people who are being careless and not abiding by the rules.Max didn’t need to stay flat-out, he had already got pole. The FIA need to be very strict on that.Luckily, there were no marshals on the track, but for all he knew Valtteri could have been in the middle of the circuit and the marshals could have been there. A double yellow flag means slow the f*** down, there could be a massive incident ahead. The fact that he ignored it is not great. Hopefully the right calls are put in place so the drivers need to know to respect these things.”
The stewards at first chose not to investigate Verstappen, but launched a probe in the wake of comments made by the Dutch driver in the post-qualifying press conference.
When asked if he had slowed down, Verstappen replied: “Didn’t really look like it, did it? No.”
15 minutes earlier, Verstappen had claimed the second pole of his career to start as the pole sitter to seal a hat-trick of wins at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez.
The Ferrari team of Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel finished second and third with Hamilton one place back, half-a-second slower than Verstapppen in his Red Bull.
Hamilton’s Mercedes car is not suited to the high-altitude venue which sits 2,200 metres above sea level. Air flow being the largest issue for the team. Last year Mercedes finished fourth and ninth in 2018.
Hamiltons wing man and sole challenger now for the championship Bottas slammed into the wall before crashing into the advertising hoardings in the closing moments of qualifiying, the crash again caused by poor air flow and the driver losing control.
Bottas took a number of deep breaths on the radio and remained in his car for some moments, but eventually walked away from the accident. He was taken to the medical centre, and was given the all-clear by F1 medics.
Bottas said”It was quite nasty actually in the end,I hit my knees together. It was a nerve thing, so for the first five minutes after the accident I couldn’t feel my right knee but there is no pain now.”
Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff said “The car is pretty damaged but we are 90 per cent confident we can fix it without any penalties. We got away with it. They are rebuilding it as we speak so we will know later tonight.”
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