Max Verstappen, Lewis Hamilton and George Russell have all avoided a grid penalty for Sunday’s Mexican Grand Prix, with the FIA having decided that they didn’t break the rules.
As is always the case, qualifying was particularly messy at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, where traffic is a problem every season.
Saturday was no different, with the stadium section having been more of a car park than part of a circuit.
To avoid driving slowly in the final sector and to stay out of the way of cars on hot laps in Q1, Verstappen and Russell both opted to stop at the end of the pit-lane.
This caused a traffic jam in the pits, something the three-time World Champion received a reprimand for at the Singapore Grand Prix.
As the incident appeared to be identical, most expected Verstappen and Russell to both receive a grid penalty; however, the stewards decided that both drivers were actually “acting in good faith” to those on a push lap.
The stewards believe the drivers prioritised safety by stopping in the pits and not joining the circuit, to ensure a fast-moving car didn’t suddenly approach them.
“The Stewards noted in particular the evidence of the drivers of Car 1, 14 and 63 and also noted that several other cars slowed either at the pit exit or in the pit road leading up to the SC2 line,” read the FIA’s decision document.
“The Stewards consider that the entire set of incidents occurred as a direct result of the implementation of the minimum lap time between SC2 and SC1 which is designed (correctly so, in our view) to avoid dangerous backing-up of cars on the circuit during qualification.
“We note that there are contrary requirements on drivers in that they must respect the minimum time, they are attempting to create manageable gaps to cars in front, yet they are also required to avoid unnecessarily stopping at the pit exit or driving unnecessarily slowly.
“It was also particularly noted that the Race Director accepted that these contrary requirements exist. All parties including the Stewards are firmly of the view that it is better to have the potential of cars backing-up in the pit lane or at the pit exit, instead of the potentially dangerous situation of large speed differences on track.
“We consider that in the main all drivers involved in these incidents were acting in good faith and with safety as a priority. We also accept that Race Direction has taken the correct approach in apply the minimum lap time. It is desirable that a better solution be found for the pit exit however at this stage, what that solution would be, is unknown. In view of the above, no further action is taken.”
As for Hamilton, he was investigated for speeding under yellow flags, after Fernando Alonso span at the end of Q1.
This would usually result in a slam dunk penalty; however, the stewards acknowledged that Hamilton wasn’t informed by a yellow “light or flag” that there was an incident ahead.
“Our determination is that there was no breach of the regulations,” another of the FIA’s decision document read.
“The on board video clearly shows there is no light or flag displayed to Car 44 on the straight into Turn 1, then a green light shows as he enters Turn 2, which is followed by two pulses of a yellow light then moments later, the light panel is blank. The driver was slightly slower in the mini sector than on his previous push lap.”
With all three drivers not being penalised, Verstappen will start from third with Hamilton in sixth and Russell in eighth.