Max Verstappen wins third consecutive Formula One world championship
Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has called for a sit-down with the FIA after confusion at the Mexican Grand Prix. Max Verstappen was among those to escape punishment after slowing to a halt in the pit-lane during qualifying, delaying those behind him from getting out on track to set a lap time.
Traffic issues in qualifying forced race director Niels Wittich to implement a maximum lap time earlier this season, in the hope that it would deter drivers from crawling around the final few corners to hang back from those ahead.
In spite of the new requirement, F1 stars still need clear air in which to set their flying lap time. So instead of slowing his pace on track in Mexico, Verstappen came to a dead stop at the front of the pit-lane queue until a gap emerged.
The Dutchman’s antics sparked confusion from the rivals waiting behind him, who were unable to get through and resume their sessions, but an investigation by stewards ultimately yielded no punishment.
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“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 qualifying,” read their statement.
“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 unnecessary stopping at the pit exit or driving unnecessarily slowly.”
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Despite Mercedes star George Russell also escaping punishment for a similar incident in Mexico, team principal Wolff feels that something should be done. “I think the FIA needs to sit down with the drivers and Sporting Directors and ask what exactly we want to achieve,” he said.
“In the end, fundamentally we don’t want any impeding at all, we don’t want anybody stuck in the pit lane. So how can we achieve that? I understand it is better to be stationary in the pit lane than to block someone out there [on track] but it still looks awkward. It is not right because some people may not make the lap.”
Mercedes struggled to make their mark in qualifying, with Lewis Hamilton taking P6 and Russell two behind. Eyebrows were raised when even AlphaTauri’s Daniel Ricciardo pipped the two Silver Arrows stars, who are still chasing a first Grand Prix win of the season.
Despite Hamilton’s best efforts, it didn’t come at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, with Verstappen once again dominating the rest of the field to win by almost 14 seconds.
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