FIA race director Michael Masi explained that Lewis Hamilton avoided a similar punishment to Max Verstappen after qualifying for the Mexican Grand Prix because yellow flags were not waved when he passed the scene of Valtteri Bottas‘ crash.
Verstappen had pole position stripped by dint of a three-place grid penalty for not slowing when the yellow flags were waved.
Speaking after finishing the race sixth, with Hamilton celebrating victory, Verstappen said he was annoyed that the Mercedes driver had not been punished as he was.
“Looking back, for sure I should’ve lifted – but then everybody should do the same,” Verstappen said. “And I know Seb [Vettel] did the same, but one silver [Mercedes] car didn’t. And then he doesn’t get a penalty, and that annoys me as well.”
However, Masi explained that Hamilton’s proximity to Bottas played a role in the rules not applying to him.
“Lewis’s one was quite easy: There was no yellow flag,” he said.
“”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.”
After admitting he had not lifted off the accelerator when aware that Bottas had crashed, Verstappen called on the stewards to delete his relevant lap time, having previously set another good enough for pole too.
However, Masi ruled that out, and said the infraction will always be punished with a grid drop.
“The penalty in the stewards’ guidelines is three grid spots and has been for a long time for a single yellow,” he said. “The penalty in the stewards guidelines for double yellow is five grid spots.”