Verstappen hit with grid penalty - Leclerc inherits pole!

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Max Verstappen has been stripped of pole position for Sunday's Mexican Grand Prix after being handed a three-place grid penalty by the race stewards.

Verstappen was summoned to the stewards' office after admitting that he had not slowed down on his final qualifying lap despite yellow flags for Valtteri Bottas crashing at the last corner.

It means that Ferrari has picked up a front row lock-out for tomorrow's race, with Charles Leclerc assuming pole position and Sebastian Vettel promoted to second.

A formal statement issued by the FIA said that Verstappen had been reported for "a breach of Appendix H Article b) of the FIA International Sporting Code.

It continued: "The Stewards heard from the driver of car 33 (Max Verstappen) and the team representative and have reviewed video, audio and telemetry evidences which clearly showed that the driver attempted to set a meaningful lap time and failed to reduce his speed in the relevant marshalling sector."

The statement said that this was "contrary to the Appendix H, Article b) as well as, the requirements set out in the item 9.2 of the Race Director’s Event Notes (version 3) in breach of Article 12.1.1 I of the FIA International Sporting Code."

The statement continued with the observation that the "driver of car 33 [Max 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.

Pole Position for Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing RB15.

"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) [Sebastian Vettel] reduced the speed significantly as per the regulations.

"Taking into account all the available evidence and the statement from the driver the Stewards impose a drop of three grid positions at the driver’s next race, and two penalty points."

The statement added that Verstappen and Red Bull had the right of appeal, but the team swiftly indicated that this would not be taken up.

"It is a great shame that Max has lost pole position," said Red Bull principal Christian Horner in a team press release issued after the news. "He will now start from fourth place on the grid following a penalty for being found to not slow sufficiently following Bottas’ incident."

"It is very disappointing to be handed a grid penalty for the race," stated Verstappen, who will now start the race from fourth place on the grid with Lewis Hamilton alongside him on the second row.

The stewards also investigated an alleged unsafe pit lane release of Daniil Kvyat's car into the path of Daniel Ricciardo, but concluded that no further action was required against either Toro Rosso or Renault for the near-miss.

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