Mexican GP: Verstappen demoted from pole after stewards decision

Max Verstappen has been stripped of his pole position for the Mexican Grand Prix after failing to adhere to yellow flags and slow down after Valtteri Bottas’ late crash.

Verstappen had initially been awarded pole, but his flying lap was deemed unsafe because he was behind the Mercedes on the circuit when the yellow flags were waved.

Bizarrely, it may have escaped the attention of the stewards has Verstappen not been pressed about the incident by ESPN’s Laurence Edmonson in the press conference.

“Do we have to go there? To safety? I think we know what we are doing — otherwise we would not be driving an F1 car,” said Verstappen. “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.”

And delete the lap, they did, meaning Verstappen now starts fourth behind new pole-sitter Charles Leclerc, Sebastian Vettel and title-hunting Lewis Hamilton.

The second Red Bull of Alexander Albon starts from fifth on the grid ahead of Bottas, the McLarens of Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris, Daniil Kvyat and Pierre Gasly.

It still means that Hamilton faces an uphill task to win the title, as the Englishman needs to outscore title rival Bottas by 14 points and with Ferrari now holding the whip hand.

“I think that third was possible but the third sector went to pot but I’m generally happy with today but it’s hard to keep up with the others,” Hamilton told Sky Sports afterward. “We knew that it would be difficult coming here, but I gave it everything. It wasn’t enough for pole but I think I got everything out of the car I could and I think it puts us in a fighting position tomorrow so I hope we can get a good start.”

Fraser Masefield

Sports news and features writer, web editor and author.