Stewards handed Verstappen a three-place grid penalty, promoting Charles Leclerc to P1, with Ferrari team-mate Sebastian Vettel alongside him and Lewis Hamilton in third with the Red Bull driver alongside him on row two.
The caution flags were waved after Valtteri Bottas crashed at the final corner of the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Q3.
Vettel and Hamilton both slowed down and did not improve their lap times, but Verstappen did beat his previous effort, setting a new circuit record in the process.
The stewards report said evidence “clearly showed that the driver [Verstappen] attempted to set a meaningful lap time and failed to reduce his speed”.
Asked about the incident after the session, Verstappen openly admitted he did not slow down and was aware that Bottas had gone off the track.
Verstappen had argued that he had not seen where Bottas’ car had come to rest and did not notice yellow flags being waved. Reports have claimed that Bottas’ crash destroyed equipment at the marshalling post that would have sent a warning to Verstappen’s dashboard.
However the FIA report read: “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 (Car 5) reduced the speed significantly as per the regulations.”
Verstappen has also had two penalty points added to his superlicence.