Masi denies that Verstappen comments prompted investigation

Following Saturday’s qualifying session all appeared well, with no hint of the drama that was to follow.

Speaking at the post-qualifying press conference, Sebastian Vettel admitted that the yellow flag that was waved following Valtteri Bottas‘ crash cost him any hope of improving his time.

“Unfortunately there was the double yellow so I had to slow down,” said the German. “So the lap was lost.”

However, pole-man Max Verstappen openly declared that he hadn’t slowed, and when the Red Bull driver was subsequently summoned by the stewards, who had previously appeared to show no interest in the incident, it was widely speculated that the move was in reaction to the youngster’s comments.

Not so, says race director, Michael Masi, who revealed that Verstappen was under investigation before he made the comments.

“By the time I had referred it to the stewards and told the stewards the matter was to be looked at, it was after that that Max’s comments came to light,” said the Australian.

“We were actually looking at it straight away,” he revealed. “But with the sequence of what happened, the primary thing was Valtteri’s health, getting the medical car out there, making sure he was all OK.

“Being at the end of the session, that was one part,” he continued. “The second part was then once that happened getting the car back to the team, the third element repairing the circuit for the next activity, so as my role as the safety delegate I went out there to make sure that everything was there in position.

“When I got back to the office and started working through the data that exists and looked over all three cars that were after Valtteri’s incident, which was Lewis, Sebastian and Max, and reviewed all three of them. So once I did that and looked at all the video evidence and the data…”

Speaking after the race, Verstappen suggested that Hamilton had not slowed for the yellows either.

“The rule is very clear, the only thing I want to say about it from my side is, because there were a lot of comments about it, and looking back, for sure I should’ve lifted, but then everybody should do the same,” he said.

“I know Seb did the same, but one silver car didn’t, and then he doesn’t get a penalty, and that annoys me. But it is what it is. I can’t decide for other drivers about the rules.”

“Lewis’ one was quite easy,” said Masi in response, “there was no yellow flag, even though the marshal did an amazing job at that point and showed the yellow flag relatively quickly, there was none for Lewis. But for Sebastian and Max there was.”

Check out our Sunday gallery from Mexico City, here.