Leclerc promoted to Mexican Grand Prix pole due to Verstappen penalty

Omnisport
Leclerc promoted to Mexican Grand Prix pole due to Verstappen penalty
Leclerc promoted to Mexican Grand Prix pole due to Verstappen penalty

Max Verstappen has lost his spot at the front of the grid for the Mexican Grand Prix due to a penalty that has resulted in Ferrari's Charles Leclerc being promoted to pole.

Red Bull's Verstappen secured the second pole position of his Formula One career in qualification on Saturday, but he was quickly called to see the stewards after he delivered his fastest time on his final lap under yellow flags, which were out after Valtteri Bottas crashed into a wall.

Verstappen had already set a time good enough to clinch pole, yet his failure to slow down meant he landed in hot water with the stewards, who gave the 22-year-old a three-place grid penalty.

Scroll to continue with content
Ad

That means Leclerc and Ferrari team-mate Sebastian Vettel will now make up the front row for Sunday's race, with Verstappen dropping down to fourth behind Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton.

The stewards reviewing Verstappen's lap said he "attempted to set a meaningful lap time and failed to reduce his speed in the relevant marshalling sector."

They added: "[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 noted from the on-board images of Car 33, that the waved yellow flag was clearly visible and was shown with enough notice.

"The previous driver [Vettel] reduced the speed significantly as per the regulations."

Verstappen has won the last two races in Mexico and his demotion means a Ferrari will sit on the front of the grid at the start of a sixth successive race.

"It is very disappointing to be handed a grid penalty for the race and Ferrari will be very quick tomorrow so tyre life will be important, but we have a really good race car so it should be a close fight," Verstappen said.

The news was a boost to Hamilton, who is hoping to wrap up a sixth F1 title this weekend.

He leads the standings by 64 points and needs to score 14 points more than team-mate Bottas to be crowned champion once again.

What to read next